Orcaella is a genus of dolphin found in Myanmar's Irrawaddy River. And from this month, a new species of Orcaella will be seen in Myanmar's waterways with the launch, by Orient Express Hotels, of a luxury river cruiser of the same name.
Craftsmen in Yangon have transformed a traditional Irrawaddy flotilla ship - the rivercraft that Rudyard Kipling wrote about in his poem Mandalay - into a luxury cruiser, with 25 elegant cabins designed by French architect Francois Greck.
Decorated in soothing natural tones, the spacious cabins, including two suites, feature traditional Burmese rattan furniture, woven bedspreads and artworks by Burmese painters.
On its maiden voyage from Mandalay, Orcaella explores the Chindwin River, the major tributary of the Irrawaddy, and travels to the foothills of the Himalayas. The ship's draft and length allows it access to remote locations and communities that few vessels reach. Highlights of the itinerary include mid-12th-century temple Thanboddhay Pagoda (covered in tiny Buddhas, pictured above right), and Bodhi Tataung, the site of 1000 Buddhas.
Orient Express' luxury cruiser The Road to Mandalay has been plying the Irrawaddy between Bagan and Mandalay for 17 years, giving guests access to the country's extraordinary culture and history, with five-star comforts.
From $5880 a person for 11 nights, including all meals, excursions, transfers and domestic flights. Itineraries vary in length and depend on the season. See orcaella.net.