The Irrawaddy may be the “Mother River” of Myanmar, but the wild and unspoiled Chindwin is the country’s pristine heart.
The Chindwin River is the main tributary of the fabled Irrawaddy River, in northern Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Formed in the Patkai and Kumon mountain ranges of the Indo-Myanmar border, the Chindwin River drains northwest through the Hukawng valley before beginning its 520-mile course southward through the Naga Hills, past pristine forests and unspoiled villages and towns clinging to its banks.
This is about as far off the beaten track as a traveler can go — in fact, up until the Christian missionaries arrived in the 19th century, Nagaland was home to Burma’s infamous headhunters! Today’s traveler is rewarded with vistas of stunning beauty, sailing through dramatic scenery of dense jungles, high cliffs, deep gorges, and remote villages, each with its own unique way of life.
Although the Chindwin is a river less traveled, there are a number of companies offering cruises on the river, many featuring the RV Pandaw Zawagyi, a small ship specially designed with a very low draught, allowing it to pass over the river’s numerous sandbanks to progress upstream as far as Nagaland.