The far north of Myanmar, where the headwaters of Chindwin and Ayeyarwady rivers rise amid the perma snows of the outer subranges of the Himalayas, is one of Asia’s last untrammelled frontiers. Most of its vast swaths of jungle and mountains – where tigers, red pandas, takin and stone martens still roam wild – are strictly off limits to outsiders.
With some advance planning, however, it’s possible to catch a flight to the remote airstrip at Putao, in Kachin State, and from there travel onwards for an hour to the exquisite Malikha Lodge, a boutique hideaway overlooking the Nam Lang River that makes a perfect springboard for explorations of the surrounding forest and tribal areas.
Fashioned from local teak and stone, its eight exclusive chalets offer rustic-luxury, with their own log fires and wooden hot tubs, overlooking a pristine valley filled with stands of giant bamboo. In addition to Malikha’s signature river rafting trips, treks of varying lengths are offered to guests, passing through local villages.
For the more committed, the recommended route is the ten-day trek to the summit of Phon Kan Razi (3,635m / 11,925ft) – close to the meeting point of the Chinese, Indian and Myanmar border, from where the views of the snow-clad mountains are superb. With plans to develop Putao as Myanmar’s eco-tourism gateway rapidly gathering pace, this is the perfect time to visit Myanmar’s wild north.