Sri Lanka Adventure [10 – 18 June 2010]
Part I: Pre-Trip [Singapore, 10 Jun 2010]
Part II: The Long Shuttle [Singapore – Kuala Lumpur, 10 Jun 2010]
Part III: AK255 [KUL – CMB, 11 Jun 2010]
Part IV: A Slice of Cultural Triangle [CMB – Dambulla, 11 June 2010]
Part V: Temples [Dambulla – Kandy, 12 Jun 2010]
Part VI: Into the Hills [Kandy – Haputale, 13 Jun 2010]
Part VII: Trekking to World’s End [Horton’s Plains National Park, 14 Jun 2010]
Part VIII: Retracing the steps of Sir Thomas Lipton [Lipton’s Seat & Tea Factory, 15 Jun 2010]
Part IX: Leopard! Leopard! Leopard! [Haputale – Tissa, 16 Jun 2010]
Part X: Will this journey ever end? [Tissa – Negombo, 17 Jun 2010]
Part XI: Goodbye Serendib [CMB – KUL – Singapore, 18 Jun 2010]
Part XII: Epilogue
Haputale, almost 1500m above sea level, would be our base for the next days to explore Horton’s Plains National Park and other attractions near it.
The alarm clock went off at 4.45am and we were ready to go at 5:00am. However, the was no sign of either Ashraf or the sandwiches. The driver had arrived and all of us waited for a while before setting off. It wasn’t advisable to reach Horton’s Plains National Park too late as mist would obscure any of the views at World’s End by 10am.
While the van got stuck behind some truck shortly leaving Haputale town, the van driver received a phone call from Ashraf. He made an U-turn and Ashraf was waiting along the main road barefooted and shivering from the cold with our sandwiches. Exceptionally good service provided here (if we discounted his lateness).
Most of us slept the entire way through the 1h30m ride to the entrance of the National Park where we paid the park fees.
Figuring how the amount was derived required some arithmetic skills; 1700 LKR (15 USD) per person for admission, 60 LKR for the driver’s entrance, 907 LKR for the vehicle’s entrance, 250 LKR service fee and value-added tax of 1117 LKR. Thus each of us paid 2,180 LKR for the privilege of entering the park.
At the elevation of 2,100m, the National Park felt even colder than Haputale. We had to pad ourselves up with our fleeces and windbreakers.
Herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deers greeted us when we drove through the grassland to the start of the World’s End trail. We got all excited and had to get down and take pictures.
Sambar deers moving away
The driver assured us that there would be plenty more wildlife to be seen inside the national park. Well these deers would be the largest animals that we would seen in the whole park the whole day.
We were driven to the start of the World’s End trail. The entire trail is 9km long and most people would take three hours. The park ranger checked us in and the logbook revealed that we were the second group of visitors for the day.
The elevation of this area meant that the trees are of the
deciduous coniferous species.
We walked in the clockwise direction and the trail went through grassland and rain-forest before reaching Mini World’s End.
Mini World’s End was one of the two sheer precipices along the trail. The weather was gorgeous when we reached there.
Another group of visitors caught us with us at the Mini World’s End. While both groups were taking photos, a buzzing sound could be heard from far. Someone from the other group shouted “Get down!” and everyone got down to the ground immediately
The buzzing sound got louder as the swarm of bees/hornets flew over us.
Only after the last of them had flew past did we dare to get up. A possible story for an episode of “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” if anyone of us got attacked. We were really getting our money’s worth of adventure at Horton’s Plains.
More photographs at Mini World’s End before we continued to the real thing. It was shortly before 10:00am when we arrived at World’s End, a cliff which dropped more than 1,200m to the valley below. We hardly had any time to admire the view when the mist came within minutes of our arrival.
With no view to see anymore at World’s End, our attention turned to small creatures.
Check out its legs when it moved.
After finishing the sandwiches from the morning, we moved on through the trail in the mist. Despite the mist, this place has one of most beautiful sceneries that I have seen. One has to be present to feel its beauty.
There were several forks on the trail and no signs were around point us to the direction of Baker’s Falls. Fortunately Lewis, a fan of Man Vs Wild, confidently told us that following the path along the river would lead us to the waterfall.
The bristling sounds of water falling off rocks told us that the waterfall was nearby. We decided to take the steep path up a hill and finally found the sign which directed us to the waterfall.
When we reached Baker’s Falls, it was about three hours since we left the starting point of the trail. We had spent quite a long time taking photographs while walking along the trail. Our driver would call for a search party if we didn’t return soon enough.
We backtracked a little as we weren’t sure which route to take. Many of the signs and information boards had been damaged and were not adequately replaced. I hope that the Department of Wildlife Conservation could take action on them so that the visitors can have a better experience there.
The mist came and went and came back again as we walked on the trail which looped back to the starting point.
Five hours after leaving there, we were back at the starting point. Our driver must be wondering what took us so long. Tired from the trekking, most of us just slept on the journey back to Haputale.
I would say that trekking on the World’s End trail was easily the highlight of the trip. We got the opportunity to get close to nature and experience one of the best sceneries. There weren’t too many visitors in June; for most of the trek we felt that we had the entire park to ourselves. The authorities could do better by replacing the damaged information boards and erecting new signs for the benefit of the visitors.
It was 3:00pm by the time we returned to Haputale. Although the plan was to visit the tea plantations and factory in the afternoon, we decided to postpone the trip to next day and stay an additional night at Haputale. As a result of the extra time spent waiting, we paid the driver an extra 1000 LKR on top of the agreed 4000 LKR.
Lunch was pratas and chapattis at our favorite eating place.
We wandered around the town again after lunch and decided to try out some aracck, a local alcohol.
Ashraf the friendly guesthouse staff recommended mixing arrack with apple soda. We tried the mix while watching the World Cup game between Netherlands and Denmark (2:0). It didn’t taste bad at all.
In the meantime, we discovered Mayanti Langer, the super hot Indian presenter for ESPN Star Sport’s (ESS) coverage of World Cup. Despite ESS’s studios being in Singapore, the program was produced for Indian Sub-continent only. I am pretty sure that the number of subscribers to Singtel’s or Starhub’s World Cup package will increase if there are ESS’s pre and post-match shows.
We were off to town again before dinner to get fruits. The fruit stall owner was friendly and even treated us to samples. Dinner was Sri Lankan curry and rice. We over-ordered this time and couldn’t finish all the food. Desserts were the mangoes and soursops bought earlier in town. Japan recorded a shock 1-0 win over Cameroon which meant two wins out of two games for Asian teams (Australia isn’t Asian anymore after losing 0-4 to Germany).