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Fri 12 Oct - Sun 21 Oct 2018

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

ESSENTIAL INFO

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of Difficulty

Typical day

Safety

Responsible Tourism

Flights

Visa

Insurance

Vaccinations

Climate & Terrain

Training

Training weekends

Luggage allowance and valuables

Leadership

Group Size

Clothing & equipment

Accommodation & Toilets

Food & Drink

Money

Phone & WiFi

Level of Difficulty

The Burma Trek has been graded as “Challenging”. This is the perfect challenge for participants who are of an adventurous spirit and an open mind, and who enjoy walking in the UK. This will be an opportunity to test yourself physically, but the cultural and comfort differences on this trek will be the real challenge.
You can tell your supporters that on your Burma Trek you will be:

  • Trekking for around 5-8 hours per day.
  • Covering approximately 80km across 5 days of hiking.
  • Depending on the weather, you could be trekking through fields of mud, or in the soaring heat. Burma’s weather goes one of two ways!
  • On clear days, temperatures in Burma can reach the mid-30s. You should be covering up, wearing a sun hat and sun cream, and hydrating constantly.
  • Staying in monasteries each night, using bucket showers and squat toilets. Facilities will be very basic while on the trek, and in 2 of the monasteries, there are no shower facilities available at all. 

Typical day

You will usually be woken early by the sounds of life in the monasteries, and eating breakfast by around 7 am. You will pack up your belongings to put in the support vehicle for onward transport, and then fill up your water bottles, put together your daypack and set off for your trek around 8 am. You will stop for an early lunch (between 11.30am-1pm) in a local village, and generally, the lunch will be a long one of perhaps 1-2 hours. You will be walking for 4-7 hours each day and arriving in the late afternoon at your next accommodation. Most people are in bed early, by around 10 pm. Specific hours of activity for each day are given in the itinerary

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of its participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up one of the most advanced and thorough safety management systems in the industry. In a nutshell, Our Challenge Safe brand formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the activity itself. Your welfare is paramount!
In terms of your Burma Trek, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • On clear days, temperatures in Burma can reach the mid 30s. You should be ideally be covering up, wearing a sun hat and sun cream, and hydrating constantly.
  • Your trip is in an incredibly remote area, and some parts do not have vehicle access. This means that evacuation to hospital could take up to around 14 hours depending on the situation. You will be with remote first-aid trained leaders at all times, but you should take this into account in terms of any existing health problems.
  • You will be flying internally from Heho to Yangon with a Burmese airline. We have had an external safety audit carried out on the available airlines, and we will only request those carriers that have fulfilled the audit checks.
  • Smoke alarms are not a legal requirement in Burma, and as such the monasteries and hotels we use do not have them in place. Your leader will explain the emergency fire procedures to you.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. In addition to taking these practical steps to ensure that our challenges are sustainable, we also make a contribution each year to a number of local community projects, so as to give something back directly to the communities that we visit. Since 2000 we have donated almost £200,000 to such projects, supporting a range of initiatives, including schooling for children in Africa, the shelter for street children in Brazil, and Orang-utan conservation in Indonesia. We recommend that any gifts brought over for children are given to the UK challenge leader and distributed where needed by them and our local Ground Agent. If you wish to do more, you should consider buying drinks, postcards and souvenirs from the local vendors. For many, it is their sole source of income. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism pages, where you will be able to view a list of the projects that we currently support.

Flights

You will be flying indirect from London Heathrow to Yangon. The flying time is approx. 13-14 hours, with one stop. Your flight tickets will be issued to you upon departure at the airport.  If you choose to book your own flights please confirm with the Charity Challenge office first, otherwise, you may be liable for your included group flights (please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance).

For more general flights questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Visa

UK citizens do require a visa to enter Burma, and we will provide you with information at 3 months prior to departure. There are two different methods of applying for a Burmese visa: either an e-visa, or the traditional paper form. This will be explained on our visa application advice. The visa costs approximately £14/£35 depending on the method of application. You will need at least 6 months validity on your passport after the end of the challenge.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have a suitable travel insurance policy whilst participating on the challenge. We have a special policy which covers among other things, medical (emergency, evacuation and repatriation) arrangements, cancellation and curtailment of the challenge, and more specifically for the adventurous activities undertaken on this challenge. If you have your own travel insurance policy, you must ensure that it provides at least the same level of cover as our recommended policy, including protecting the charity in the event of your cancellation 56 days or less prior to departure. If you choose not to purchase our recommended policy when you book we will send you a disclaimer which you should complete and return.

For more general travel insurance questions, please refer to our main Q&As page.

Vaccinations

For up to date vaccination information please check the NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx. Although the Charity Challenge team are travel professionals, they are not medical experts and we would encourage you to visit your GP or travel nurse to discuss vaccination requirements. Your GP may ask questions about the specific locations that you are visiting in Burma, and as such, it may be useful to take a copy of your itinerary with you.

Climate & Terrain

Burma has two distinct seasons – wet and dry. At all times, it’s fairly hot. The wet season runs from May-September, with the dry season from October-April. We run our treks mainly in October or January/February. October is just out of the rainy season, so the surroundings will be lush and the agricultural land will be full of buffalo, often rolling around in the mud! Jan/Feb is dry, the terrain is hard underfoot and the farmers are preparing for the real heat of March/April. You can expect daily temperatures from 25 – 35 degrees. Obviously, like the UK, the weather is changeable, and these are rough guidelines.

The trek takes place entirely in the agricultural areas around the Shan State. You will be trekking through different landscapes including potato, ginger and chilli fields, pine woods, farmland and steep muddy hillsides. In October the trek is made more difficult by the land being muddy and wet after the rainy season. You will have many challenging climbs in high temperatures.

Training

Training and fitness are definitely required. It is important that you work specifically on your stamina, leg and joint strength, and balance in order to get as much out of the challenge as possible. You will be trekking up and down thousands of steps so climb stairs as often and wherever you can! The trek takes place in a mountainous environment, so the best training advice is to get outdoors into some of the mountains of the UK to familiarise yourself with walking on rugged terrain while carrying weight in your daypack. You need to be able to sustain around 4-7 hours of trekking for 5 continuous days, so if you can then replicating this over a weekend would be fantastic training. You can also look to join one of our training weekends.

Training weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, including dates and prices, check out our dedicated page.

Luggage allowance and valuables

The luggage allowance will depend on the airline we are using for your challenge, but in general, it will be one piece of checked baggage at around 23kg. However, we suggest that for our Burma challenge you should only need around 15kg-17kg. If you don’t need it, don’t bring it, is a good rule. Carry your passport with you and make sure you have a photocopy of your documents (travel insurance etc.) in case they get lost or damaged.

Leadership

There will be an English-speaking challenge leader who will be responsible for the logistics and co-ordination of your challenge. There will also be numerous support staff to assist them. The challenge leader will be ultimately responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group.

Group Size

Each group is intended to be 13 people minimum in order to run and maximum of approx. 16 people. We will be able to run this challenge for 8 to 12 people by charging a small group supplement of £75 which will be added to your final balance invoice (self funders) or charged to your charity (minimum sponsorship or flexi).

Clothing & equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For this challenge, waterproof, well-worn in boots will be indispensable, particularly coupled with some really good quality walking socks. The benefits of a comfortable day sack cannot be underestimated, so make sure that you train with this. Other essentials are a high quality gore-tex waterproof jacket and technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. Walking poles are also highly recommended. A full kit list for this challenge can be found here, and once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners The Outdoor Shop, Outdoorhire and Cotswold Outdoor.

Accommodation & Toilets

Whilst on the trek, you will be staying in working monasteries, and a sleeping bag is essential. The facilities are very basic, but adequate, with bucket showers and squat toilets being the order of the day. In some locations, there may not be shower facilities available at all. You will also be sharing a large room with the rest of your fellow trekkers, or split into two or three smaller rooms. However, once you arrive at Inle Lake you will be roomed in twin-rooms in a much more comfortable 3-star standard hotel. All rooms here are en-suite, so if you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with please ensure that you note this where appropriate when booking or email challenges@charitychallenge.com.

Toilets range from very basic (‘communing with nature’ on the trek itself, and squat toilets in the monasteries) to normal western standards in the hotel at Inle Lake.

Food & Drink

Food in Burma is mainly South-East Asian fare, and delicious. For breakfasts you will have a mixture of Western and Asian fare, including eggs, pancakes, fruit, cake, fried rice, eggy bread etc. Lunch is eaten en route at a local village, and could consist of a range of things including noodles, soup, avocados, sesame biscuits, fruit. Dinners will be a range of vegetarian and meat dishes, with noodles and rice. It is important that you eat as much as possible during the trekking phase in order to replace body salts lost due to increased perspiration, and you should bring snacks to keep yourself going while trekking. The tap-water is not safe to drink. Bottled water will be provided during the trekking sections. Please let Charity Challenge know prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Money

Currency: The currency in Burma is the Kyat (pronounced Chat), but we recommend that you carry a mixture of Kyat and US Dollars, which are widely accepted in hotels and by currency exchange houses. However, please ensure that any bills are in good condition. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com.

Credit Cards: Credit cards will be used for emergencies, but are not widely accepted aside from in large hotels.

ATMs: ATMs are not widely available in Burma, and throughout the trek you will not have any access to money. You should carry small amounts of Kyat with you, and larger amounts of US Dollars which you can exchange at Inle Lake and in Yangon.

How much to bring: All accommodation and meals are included within the price of the trip, as well as water during the days of your trek. You will not need to carry a lot of money with you during the challenge, but you may have the opportunity to purchase drinks or snacks in the small local villages that you pass through on the way. The real shopping and spending opportunities come in Inle Lake, where there are lots of incredible artisanal products. We recommend carrying approximately £200 in a mixture of Kyat and US Dollars. Please get small denominations of dollars for exchanging.

Tipping: Tipping is at your sole discretion and all staff are paid a fair wage. However, tourism is a tipping culture, and Burmese guides will generally receive a tip at the end of a job well done. If you choose to tip, we would suggest an amount of approximately $75USD per person, which will be split across the team for your whole challenge. Your challenge leader may collect a small ‘kitty’ amount at the start of the trek, which will be distributed to all members of staff, hotels, boatmen and rest stops along the way.

Phone & WiFi

Phone signal on the challenge will be patchy, and certainly in the mountains you won’t have access to signal or WiFi. Depending on the service provider, your phone may or may not work. Equally, in most of the hotels WiFi is advertised, although it is not often reliable or fast. Don’t rely on having WiFi available every night, and when it is, some websites such as Facebook may be blocked. In Burma, you can look forward to a simpler way of living, technology-free!

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ATOL protected

We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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