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|Year and Month||June, 2010|
|Number of Days||Three Days.|
|Crew||8 (between 23-25 years of age)|
|Accommodation||Dumbara Wana Nivahana Bungalow, Knuckles Conservation Center – Illukkumbura|
|Transport||Colombo to Kandy – Intercity train
Kandy to Matale – Train
Matale to Illukkumbura – Hired van
Illukkumbura to Matale (return trip) – Public transport (bus)
|Activities||Hiking, Wildlife, Photography|
|Route||Colombo->Kandy->Matale->Rattota->Riverston->Illukkumbura (approx. 175 km) and return on the same route|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
Knuckles mountain range has been a paradise for me since the first time I visited there via Deanston in 2009. The breathtaking surroundings, strong cool winds and challenging hikes had been tempting me to visit there again and as a result I decided to visit Knuckles again in the following year from Illukkumbura side. The story of our unforgettable journey is as follows:
We started our journey from Colombo and all the crew members gathered at Fort Railway Station. We took the intercity train to Kandy which left Fort at 7.00 am and arrived at Kandy around 10 am.
At Kandy we found out that there is a train to Matale which we took. We arrived at Matale by 12 noon.
After buying some necessary food items at Matale we hired a van to go to Illukkumbura since public transport was not easily available to Illukkumbura. (It cost us Rs 2500 for the hire but we felt it was well worth considering the scenic mountainous route). On the way to Illukkumbura we visited Bambarakiri falls which was located about 1-2 km from Rattota. It was a short and easy path about 100m to the falls from the main road.
After staying at falls for about half an hour we again continued our journey, passing Rattota and towards Riverston, during which we could witness some magnificent views of tea estates, Knuckles mountain range and villages in the Knuckles valley etc. Until Riverston the road had an ascending slope but once we passed it the road was descending all the way
At about 4 pm we stopped near the Pitawala Pathana (the most famous pathana land)since the climate seemed quite pleasant for our first small walk to a mini world’s end there, about 1 km from the road. After buying tickets from the forest dept office there, we walked along the trail to mini world’s end, which is clearly marked with yellow color markings. There were a couple of observation points from where you can have a spectacular view. After enjoying some time there we returned back to the van at about 5.00 pm.
After about a 15 minute drive (4 km) from Pitawala Pathana we reached Illukkubura and arrived at the place where we were supposed to stay, Dumbara Wana Nivahana Bungalow located at the Knuckles Conservation center premises. In the evening we took a dip in Thelgamu Oya which is flowing next to the bunglalow to refresh ourselves after a full day of travelling.
Next day morning we were hoping to follow the Maningala trail. Even though we had planned to catch the bus from Illukkumbura and get down close to Etanwala and start the hike from there, we missed the bus and had to start climbing Maningala from Illukkumbura conservation center (the place where we stayed) side at around 7.30 in the morning. The trail became quite steep and tiring after some time, but it was indeed rewarding. During the trail we stopped near an observation point to get some refreshments and enjoy some scenery.
At about 10.30 we managed to arrive at the peak of Maningala which was extremely windy at that time. However the surrounding trees and bushes must have reduced the speed of wind. From there we could see the top of Maningala stretching a long way. After trekking some time from the peak we came to the open area of Maningala having similar characteristics to Pitawala Pathan area with a grass cover. It was pleasant site and as we came to the edge of Maningala. It was extremely windy. (Similar to Corbet’s gap if you have experienced the wind there)
Then the path was descending towards Etanwala village. The path towards Etanwala was quite clear with a majority of the path consisting of rocky staircases. It was an attractive path as we came across some areas with lots of beautiful butterflies flying around. It was around 1 p.m. when we finally approached the entrance of Maningala trail at Etanwala.
As the path was descending between some houses in the village we came to the paddy field area having a spectacular site with Maningala in the backdrop. After walking across the paddy field the path was further descending towards Thelgamu Oya. After having small refreshment near Thelgamu oya we crossed it to reach the main road leading to Etanwela in order to go back to Illukkumbura.
Our legs were already in considerable pain after a mammoth hike and adding further to our woes the walk to the main road was also an uphill climb 🙂 . As we were trekking along the road from Etanwela, we could enjoy the view of Etanwela village with yellowish paddy fields and the backdrop of Maningala rock, which was a treat to our tired legs as much as to our eyes. On the way we quenched our thirst and filled the empty bottles with cool fresh water from a village house. After some time we came to a junction from where we took the descending road which was said to be a shortcut to Illukkumbura cutting across woods rather than going through the main road.
After passing the second water stream that we came across, we were confused as to what direction we should continue. Somehow we managed to find the way towards Illukkumbura which joined Matale – Pallegama road where there was a Samurdhi bank close by. From there we had to walk for about 500 meters to reach Illukkummbura Conservation Center. (However there should have been a bit shorter route which we missed due to our confusion near the second water stream)
It was around 4 pm when we reached the bungalow which was very much late than we expected and we immediately had our lunch. To end the day’s proceedings we had a dip in Thelgamu oya which was only a few yards away from where we stayed. It was without doubt one of the most rewarding days I had experienced for quite a while.
Following day we were hoping to leave early to catch the CTB bus (there is only one bus running between Matale and Illukkumbura) which leaves at around 7 am from Illukkumbura. We were quite fortunate to catch the bus since we got a bit late to leave the bungalow and had to run an uphill marathon with our heavy bags to reach the bus halt which was about 1km away from where we stayed. It was an interesting ride which took about 3 hours for us to reach Matale.
Since we had some time left, we then visited Matale Alu Viharaya for a short time but realized there is so much to see there. After leaving Alu Viharaya we took a bus to Kandy. After having the lunch there we took the intercity train from Kandy and reached Colombo around 5.30 pm.
Thanks for reading 🙂 Hope you enjoyed the report.