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|Year and Month||November, 2013 (13th)|
|Number of Days||One Day Trip|
|Activities||Nelu sighting – one and only objective|
|Route||Colombo to Ohiya by trainOhiya to Thotapola & Worlds’ End by tuk-tukOhiya to Colombo by train|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||Now train tickets can be reserved 45 days prior to the journey.|
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
I have been closely following the topic “Nelu” since it first started appearing in the forum late October and with every report and every photograph the desire to see Nelu was becoming too irresistible. Moreover, the fact that the next sighting of Nelu will be in 2025 made this trip a “must do now”. Do not know where we would be in 2025 – grave yard/ hospital bed etc…etc??
So, plans were made; tickets in the night mail were booked and we left Colombo at around 8pm in the night mail on 13th Nov. We chose a weekday as it was CHOGM holidays for schools. Though it was a Wednesday the second-class sleeper had full occupancy and we managed to get some sleep on an off.
Scheduled time for Ohiya was 4 am but it was almost 5:30 when we got off. It was freezing cold but the waiting room at the station kept us warm. Though Ohiya is a small station, it is one of the well-maintained stations in the upcountry line.
We had sandwiches for breakfast (bread and a spread brought from home) followed by pol-rotti from the nearby boutique. Our friend from Ohiya, Saman, came to meet us with Kasun, our chauffer for the day, around 7.30. We left the station in Kasun’s three-wheeler and proceeded along the winding, narrow road towards Horton Plains Park Entrance enjoying the cool, misty surroundings.
We passed the turn-off to Horton Plains and proceeded towards Thotapola Kanda. We wanted to climb Thotapola first to get the best of Nelu and then do the Worlds End trail time/weather permitting.
What we experienced at Thotapola was mesmerizing and no photograph will ever have the power to bring it out. But they will only show a fraction of what we witnessed….
We spent over three hours in Thotapola Kanda enjoying the breathtaking view and we noted that the Nelu plants which were fairly tall (10-15ft) down the hill had grown into bushes just above 3ft with elevation gain. Finally it was past 11 when we got down and Kasun was waiting for us. We had some snacks and proceeded to Horton Plains and saw a number of samba deer sun-bathing on the plains. There was no Nelu to be seen along the road close to Visitor Centre.
It was past 11.30 when we started the trail and when inquired we were told that Nelu has bloomed close to mini-worlds and Bakers’ Falls. We chose the Bakers Falls trail as the other trail with its eroded path does not offer much opportunity to enjoy the scenery – you have to watch your step rather than looking around.
We did not see a single Nelu plant until we reached the jungle patch leading to Bakers Falls. But that forest patch was covered with Nelu. Moreover there was a sign board giving information about Nelu surrounded by Nelu blossoms. First I thought it has been put up recently but later heard it has been there all this time ignored by us.
After seeing “Nelu” near Bakers we decided come back without doing the full trail as some were tired, but now regret that decision as it was a very clear day and we could have had a clear view of worlds’s end had we proceeded that way. It was almost 3pm when we were back at the Visitor Center and the canteen there had only “yeast rotti” with lunumiris to offer. We were not really hungry as we have been having many snacks along the trial. We left there around 3.30 after a hot cup of tea.
Climbing downhill towards Ohiya, we noticed a change in the weather and mist was setting in covering large areas and we felt the chilling wind blowing across making us freeze in the open three-wheeler.
We reached Saman’s place at Ohiya around 4.30 and after a warm cup of coffee refreshed ourselves and rested for a while as we had a long day. We had a hearty dinner prepared by his wife, supported by the two little girls. Kasun’s tuk-tuk came around 8.30 pm, to take us back to the station and we bid good-bye to Saman and his family thanking them for their warm hospitality.
Actually Saman was the bungalow-keeper at MILCO circuit bungalow, Ambewela we met when we stayed there in August and when I called him just to inquire about Nelu and to arrange a three-wheeler from Pattipola he insisted that we come to Ohiya and he will arrange everything for us as it is his hometown. So thanks to Saman we had a most enjoyable trip and a great tuk-tuk chauffer, Kasun, who enjoyed the day as much as we did.
The train left Ohiya around 9.30 and we slept through the return journey as we were very tired. We reached Colombo by 6am and rushed home as we had to get back to work, it being a Friday. The kids rested all day but were at our office desks by 9am with droopy eyes but refreshed souls.
Thanks for reading!