There are few places on Earth that rival the untamed wilderness and primal seclusion of Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago.
Captain Thomas Bruning knows this all too well.
Since leaving his job as an engineer, the Austrian native has been sailing the globe for over 20 years.
Logging some 500,000 nautical miles, he considers water and wind to be the space where “magic takes place.”
“The Mergui made me realize that although the world is changing so rapidly, there are still places that remain untouched, virgin, unspoiled,” he tells CNN.
“Sailing around the Mergui feels like you’ve found something that was lost. I’d call it one of the last paradises on Earth.”
Since Mergui still lacks any kind of tourism infrastructure — even basic means of transport — the group of 800 islands remains widely accessible only to boats, in particular chartered yachts.
Thus it remains prohibitively difficult to reach by the general public.
You won’t find these islands on Google Maps
Just a few years ago, few yachts were taking advantage of Mergui as a charter destination.
However, as Myanmar government’s permit policy opens up, more vessels have since been setting sail, offering private chartered itineraries, mostly from Indonesia and Thailand.
Nikko Karki, director of Indo Yachts, a charter company in Indonesia organizing trips on several vessels to Mergui, says the trips appeal to those who are looking to “essentially travel back in time” to encounter a lost civilization.
“The type of traveler who enjoys Mergui is someone who values being the first one in a region, the adventure of exploration and the idea that every day you have the chance to discover something totally new,” he says.
“The islands you Google won’t show up. No one has written anything about them. The photos you take will be original. If you dive, you’ll be exploring a new underwater world. It’s unlikely you’ll see another boat the entire time you’re there.”