- Trek in the remote Chin Hills
- Meet tribal people of the area
- Explore Bagan's mystical temples
We visit the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, the cultural heart of the nation, and Bagan with its plain of 4000 temples. For our trekking we head to the Chin Hills of north west Burma. This area is home to the ethnic Chin people whose culture and traditions have changed little over the centuries. Women are adorned with tattooed faces and we will stay in monasteries and school houses, immersing ourselves amongst this welcoming culture. Passing forested hills, tea plantations and lush valleys we end the trek with an ascent of Mt Victoria (3063m) for magnificent views of the surrounding area.
What makes this trip responsible?
Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company.
There are many sensitive issues in returning to Burma and many questions asked about whether tour operators such as ourselves should be going back following years of boycott. George Orwell's famous novel 'Burmese Days' based on his experiences their during British rule includes the lines 'Free speech is unthinkable. All other kinds of freedom are permitted. You are free to be a drunkard, an idler, a coward, a backbiter, a fornicator; but you are not free to think for yourself. Your opinion on every subject of any conceivable importance is dictated for you by the pukka sahibs' code'. Applying this quote to politics today and replacing 'pukka sahibs' with 'military junta' would arguably give an accurate reflection of life in Burma. The debate will continue to rage on if anything has changed under the current ruling junta but the simple answer is we still do not know; although we can research supply chains and try to ensure as much benefit as possible filters down directly to the people and communities there will be monies flowing into the military regime (junta).
Why we have chosen to return is on the back of a press release from the National League for Democracy in May 2011, this stated 'the NLD would welcome visitors who are keen to promote the welfare of the common people and the conservation of the environment and to acquire an insight into the cultural, political and social life of the country'. This statement echoes true with Exodus' long standing responsible tourism policy that, amongst other things states:
We will design and operate our holidays in a way that gives the highest degree of long-term economic benefit to the host communities, whilst also maintaining and/or improving the environment.
We will attempt to operate our holidays in a way that encourages positive cultural exchanges.
We will attempt to impart an insight and understanding of the host culture and community to our clients so that they can gain more from visiting them.
We have also taken advice from industry experts and organisations on our stance, Justin Francis the respected Managing Director of Responsibletravel.com and a leading voice in sustainable operations has endorsed our return stating 'The message from Aung San Suu Kyi is clear - she only wants tourism that will help the people of Burma and the conservation of the environment. Exodus, past winner of our Responsible Tourism Awards, has always excelled in this regard and I support their return to Burma and continuing commitment to responsible tourism.'
For full details of our see our Responsible Tourism Policy page.
Pagodas in Bagan