The Irrawaddy Delta covers an area of over 1000 square miles with Rangoon, its most famous port and capital of all Burma from 1886 to 2005. Originally a vast inhabited wetland and jungle, much of it was cleared and cultivated by the British who annexed Lower Burma in 1855. It subsequently became the rice basket of Asia, effectively feeding much of the Indian Raj. During this period of prosperity a number of rice towns developed in the colonial style. The most famous of which was Bassein. The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company by the 1920s operated over 100 creek steamers across the Delta connecting these towns and villages at a time when there were neither roads nor bridges.
There are seven main channels and myriad lesser ones forming a complex labyrinth of waterways understood only by the most experienced pilots. In the backwaters there is the feel of Kerala, on the larger channels it could be New Orleans and the Deep South.
Contrary to expectation these great wetlands are not monotonous at all and there is considerable human interest in the form of pretty towns, markets, temples, churches and mosques. There is also profuse bird life in the less populated areas.
Our 7-night programme aboard the stunning Katha Pandaw enables relaxed exploration of this fascinating region, starting and returning to Rangoon.