The Great Irrawaddy Delta

March 12, 2017

The Irrawaddy Delta, which comprises nine main tributaries and a capillary system of smaller creeks and waterways, stretches over 10,000 square miles. Heavily populated, this water-logged maze has played a major part in Burmese history and in 2008 came to the world’s attention when struck by Cyclone Nargis.

This is a water world of rich ecological diversity not to mention human endeavour. Not for nothing was it known in colonial times as ‘the rice basket of Asia’. The old Irrawaddy Flotilla ran over one hundred vessels, known as creek steamers, in a complex web of operations that opened the area to cultivation and trading.

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The Delta towns are picturesque and the creeks we wind our way through filled with life, with every sort of water-bourn craft busy about their business. We will visit an island national park where it is said crocodiles are still to be found and spend time in the delta capital of Bassein, famed for its umbrella factories. From there we can visit the beach at Ngwesaung for a swim and lunch.

We plan just two seven-night reconnaissance expeditions in March 2018 on the slightly deeper draft Katha Pandaw, the fastest ship in our Burma fleet. Should these prove successful then we will launch a regular service for the 2017/18 season. As with all recces these will be subject to ever shifting changes of plan, and we intend to see and do far more than the skeleton itinerary indicates.

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This is an area far more diverse than the Mekong Delta, not just so much larger with so much more to see geographically and culturally, yet there is virtually no tourism and certainly no other cruise ships. This promises to be very exciting…
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