As Myanmar’s longest and most prominent waterway, the mighty Ayeyarwady River (also spelled Irrawaddy) acts as the country’s primary commercial, historical and cultural corridor. Originating in the far northern reaches of the country at the confluence of the N’mai and Mali rivers, the Ayeyarwady flows southward through the center of Myanmar for nearly 2,200 km (1,350 mi) before entering the Andaman Sea.
Between its starting point and Mandalay, the ancient capital of Burma, are three narrow river gorges flanked by steep vertical cliffs, otherwise known as ‘defiles’.
The Second Defile
The First and Second Defiles are just north and southwest of Bhamo, respectively, while the Third lies roughly 65 km (40 mi) north of Mandalay. At each of these rocky passages, the Ayeyarwady gets considerably thinner while faster-moving currents aid the waters in cutting through the thick limestone bluffs.
But topping the list for any river cruise aficionado is the most dramatic of the defiles, the Second. Here, the narrowest stretch of river is a mere 90 metres (300 ft) wide and surrounded by tree-topped hills and imposing gorges up to 90 metres high. It is often said that one must behold the sheer beauty of the passing through the Second Defile with their very own eyes, as photos cannot fully illustrate its splendour.
Heritage Line’s Upper Ayeyarwady River Cruise
Because they are located in the remote countryside regions of Myanmar, the best way to experience the Ayeyarwady’s spectacular defiles is via river cruise. Heritage Line is proud to offer an unforgettable 7-Night roundtrip luxury cruise departing from Mandalay and aboard our most luxurious flagship, Anawrahta.
The vessel first navigates through the Third Defile on the Day 2 (as well as Day 6 during the return trip), but the journey culminates on Day 5 as we approach the breath-taking Second Defile. Breakfast is served on the open-air sun deck this morning so passengers can take in every second of this once-in-a-lifetime occasion – be sure to have your binoculars and camera ready!