Mount Popa in Myanmar is a monkey filled day trip from Bagan
A 4,900 foot high extinct volcano, its age undeterminable and no one can agree on when the last eruption happened, although it’s safe to say it was a really long time ago. Home to 37 ‘Nats’ or Spirits, makes Mount Popa in Myanmar the prime location for spirit worship. Although we didn’t make the 90 minute drive from Bagan for that purpose, we were there for the views and the monkeys.
I’m always a bit wary of wild animals, especially quick, somewhat savage yet intelligent ones as these primates were. Free to get as close to me as they chose, these monkeys made me feel quite unnerved.
As soon as we arrived, shrill screams emitted from their furry bodies, a manic, feral look in their eyes as they tore apart their stolen snacks with sharp, hazardous teeth. I could tell they were watching us.
Do they smell fear I asked Jmayel, if so I was in for some unwanted hassle.
A couple of Popa’s many monkeys
We began the walk up the 777 steps to the top, the monkeys everywhere, this was their territory and when it turned out we had to take our shoes off to walk to the top, I could just tell the monkeys were amused.
A quick glance onto the dirty tiled floor revealed patches of yellowy looking liquid puddles and droppings covering the steps. Are we really going to wade through animal excrement just to look at a view? Well we were here now….when in Rome and all that.
We gave our shoes to the man sitting at the bottom of the stairs for him to put in one of his unlockable wooden boxes, I couldn’t tell for sure but I think he smirked at me as I gave over my protective feet coverings. He was wearing shoes of course…and socks.
Better for them to be in one of his boxes though rather than left on the floor – too many flip flops and shoes had met their death at this place, the monkeys looking for any opportunity to grab at things not belonging to them and shred them apart, hats, shoes, bags, they weren’t choosy when it came to fueling their addiction.
The walk to the top, though fairly steep and strenuous on the calves, was undercover. The monkeys running around on top of the corrugated iron roof made an awful din, the shreaking and crashing around above my head did achieve one thing, I got to the top a lot faster than I thought!
The undercover walkway
Monkeys on the roof
Once at the peak of Mt Popa you are indeed rewarded with an incredible view. There isn’t much room at the top, so it’s probably a good thing that not many tourists make the trip out here. We saw just 2 other groups of tourists in the couple of hours we were there.
The view from the top of Mt Popa
There were a few locals undertaking the ongoing task of attempting to keep the steps clean, for which they will ask for a donation as you walk past.
The thing is, with all the steps and the heat, not to mention the stress of an imminent monkey attack at any moment, it makes you want to drink and the only toilets available in probably a 5 mile radius were the stinkiest, messiest ones known to man.
I avoided them like the plague on the way up – however on the way back down, I had to succumb. I approached with caution and held my breath. I would have shut my eyes too if I didn’t need them so much. I’ve been in some bad toilets on my travels, but I have to say, these are up there at the top of the list of bad loos!
Once back down Badru stopped for a break at a coconut stall to refresh his palate with the juice he loves so much as we witnessed an unruly monkey ripping apart the seat of some unsuspecting person’s motorbike.
Badru enjoying his coconut
All in all Mount Popa was an interesting day out, there are other walks you can take around the Mt Popa mountain park, taking in waterfalls and various viewpoints and an exclusive forested resort overlooks the volcano itself.
Resort in Mt Popa
There are a few guesthouses in Popa village for those wanting to stay in the area longer, for me though a couple of hours was enough. On the way back to Bagan we stopped in Popa village to buy fruit from the well stocked local street market.
Entrance to Mount Popa was free.
Mount Popa Panorama
View Day Trip from Nyaung U Mount Popa Myanmar in a larger map
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