Irrawaddy River

Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River a

There is an extensive river system from the very north down to the Irrawaddy Delta where the river empties into the Andaman Sea. It extends into the east and west and is used by the river and coastal vessels. A popular touristic tool and slowly emerging again today are Irrawaddy River Cruises but theflotilla company was gone with the British. 

The Irrawaddy River flows through one country and this is Myanmar the former Burma and it is also the longest river of the country it is possible to enlarge this picture a bit including several of the contributing streams such as the Chindwin Waterway in the western part of Burma. Part of the Chindwin River sources are moving into Myanmar from India it is the  largest contributing stream merging with the Irrawaddy south of Mandalay.

To discover the sources of the Irrawaddy was a constant challenge to many English adventurers during colonial times and they haven't found even yet why? Because the contributing streams in the Myanmar Mountains are far too many nobody really know where it starts. 

Until the British left the Burmese river transport was operated by the "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company" on the Chindwin plus Salween and other waterways. After the British left it was ruined just as usual when communist and military take over something.

In the Irrawaddy Delta

The Irrawaddy at Sagaing is flowing through the old center of the country with several old capitals around, on the other side is Mandalay the last capital before the British took over. Today this is a beautiful stretch along the water with countless pagodas and temples around.

The Irrawaddy river around Mogok ruby land north of Mandalay

The stream around Mogok north of Mandalay was the main traffic lane until the British came into the country since there were no roads at that time. Actually not much has changed since WW2t. The British collected the rubies and other precious stones and gave back nothing.

Houses on stilts in the Irrawaddy River Delta east of Yangon

The Irrawaddy Delta is a vast stretch of wetland covering around 20% of the country in the upper south. The best to see this is when you approach Yangon by aircraft just look out by the window. It's very flat and green although in February it gets brown and becomes green again with the monsoon, read more. 
fishing for irrawaddy dophines

Here are some River Pictures  to make a better understanding and this is for sure. They tell among other, who poor the people are after the past sixty years they really have to start at zero again. See the water at the source in the mountains with eternal glaciers all the way where it pours into the Andaman Sea, read more.    

Ayeyarwady at Bagan  is the life support for the city but the water is badly used.

River Life is often quite busy.     

Tributary & Sources are not known very well even the British already tried to figure them out but failed.

Around Mandalay the stream becomes very busy because most upcountry traffic runs through here.  

Other Waterways are many the British run a network on them known as the "Irrawaddy Flotilla Company" of about 4000 km lenght.
This is one of the great waterways of Asia. 

The Irrawaddy is the virtual lifeline of the country, if no water from the stream large part would have a very arid climate. Flowing through the country for around thousand miles. From the sources in the mountains of the north, uniting with many tributary and finally pouring through the delta into the Andaman Sea, read more.

 one of the sources in the mountain

 Irrawaddy river sources in mountains of the north

Irrawaddy river mapHere are some Irrawaddy River Maps it took a long time until the sources of the stream were found or rather identified because there are hundreds of small tributaries in the mountains of Kachin State read more
Some time ago the authorities defined the the confluence of the N'mai and Mali River as the source.

The British were very active to find a "real" source but nobody can do that because there are too many, .

 the river flood near Mandalay to water paddy fields
irrawaddy cruises attraction

Boarding at Bagan

The Chindwin is the biggest tributary it comes from the north west. 
irrawaddy river life

Irrawaddy River Delta at Pathein

Also the water is very badly used who have no idea about management. A good example is the so called "dry zone" in the center, where there is no need

Dry Zone of the center in Bagan 

at all that anything is dry since this stream runs through. It could be a "Garden of Eden effectively it's a semi desert why? Because the laziness is extremely widespread and nobody does anything to get "Mother Earth" a fresh cover.

The present-day travelers are different one.

They are the tourists who try to peep into the past of famous Burma using the great highway under very pleasant conditions with wide and long river ships mainly cruising between Mandalay and Bagan both cities where "Myanmar kings" ruled.

 Irrawaddy river in the 19th Century

In the 19th Century for waterway was navigated by steamers of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, most of which have been well equipped with the comforts of civilization. Today because of poor maintenance only very limited distances can be navigated by bigger ships. 

 The river vessel at Sagaing

From the luxury steamer of today such as the "Road to Mandalay" travelers can see local color and more for the insight into the life of the people in the villages along the brown water and watch the smaller Ayeyarwady cargo boats, bamboo and teak rafts.

Road to Mandalay is Myanmar Luxury Travel 

Villages are regular stops

Some villages are regular stops on the journey and they do a little show to explain the real rural Myanmar and sometimes bathe in the cool river. At small hamlets at the steep banks secluded 
 small hamlets at the steep banks

from the real world beyond people are help the wide bamboo and teak wood rafts to navigate downstream. The river vessels with the foreign travelers leave Mandalay the center of "upper Burma" for the hardly 2 day voyage down to Bagan. It is an interesting encounter between the modern age and a countryside still stuck in colonial time.

The journey has a great start and end. 

The start is at Bagan and at the other end the the white an golden temples close to the Sagaing Hills opposite Mandalay.

 golden temples on the Sagaing Hills
Irrawaddy River cruises at Mandalay

Local cargo and passenger ships around Mandalay
huge bamboo rafts floating down from the north
irrawaddy cruises in the delta
cruises in the delta
collecting flowers in the delta
Irrawaddy River Cruises at Yangon Harbor

Harbor ferry in Yangon
Yangon Harbor River Cruise

The little problem on this sampan cruises is they wont take foreigner as passenger, they are very afraid what could happen in case of an accident. 
This deliberation makes sense because the Yangon river here is about one kilometers wide, it is a lively waterway and not even life jackets are in the boat the tourists of today have a continuous changing panorama on a visit to Myanmar from a different perspective read more.
Myanmar Luxury Travel on board the Orcaella

There are 3 main companies in this luxury segment. 

The first is the Orient Express Comp. which also operate the train in Europe and one between Bangkok and Singapore plus two high end ships which are the "Road to Mandalay" and 'Orcealla" plus a high end boutique hotel "Governor's Residence" in Yangon. Which was converted into a colonial style villa.

luxury beach resort at Ngwe Saung which is in the Irrawaddy Delta

Another local luxury hotel provider operates the Treasure beach resort at Ngwe Saung and a few other high end lodges at Inle Lake and Mandalay they also own Bagan Air and Kandawgyi Palace Hotel which is probably the most idyllic in Yangon right at the lake read more.

Kandawgyi Palace Hotel in Yangon