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|Year and Month||December, 2012 (1st to 3rd)|
|Number of Days||Three Day Trip|
|Crew||3 (between 28-30 years of age)|
|Accommodation||Morningside Research Bungalow (045-5614101) (can accommodate up to 10 people)|
|Transport||Public Transport / Hired Three-wheelers / By foot|
|Activities||Wildlife, Photography, Hiking|
|Weather||Excellent (it should be noted that it had been raining heavily there till 30 November, but for our luck, it was nice and rain-free throughout our stay)|
|Route||Colombo -> Ratnapura -> Rakwana -> Suriyakanda -> Morning Side Research Bungalow and return on Suriyakanda -> Kolonna -> Embilipitiya -> Colombo|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
It was in July while we were at Birds’ Paradise, Kudawa touring Sinharaja, Nimal the owner of the place told us about this wonderful place. He really is a nature lover and after realizing our enthusiasm about the nature, he encouraged us to visit this place and then and there we decided to visit in December.
Ever since I’ve been reading everything I could get hold about Morning side and especially, Mithila and Iro’s reports were really informative.
We booked the place for 1-3 December and I called my friends Lasantha and Dimuthu (who did the Sinharaja with me) along. Unfortunately at the very last minute Dimuthu couldn’t make it and Podi one of my best friends came to my rescue agreeing to do the trip.
On 01 December, around 4.00 am, we reached Nugegoda and got a Ratnapura bus and reached there by 6.45 am. There was Indika Hotel, right next to the bus stand where we had a hearty breakfast.
Deniyaya bus left Ratnapura at 7.30 am and we were enjoying the breath taking view of Rakwana Mountains along the way. By 9.40 am, we reached Rakwana and waited till 10.00 am before setting off again towards Suriyakanda.
We got off at Kadamuduna where Sinharaja Hermitage is located about 2km away from the main road. It was about 11 am. There are two shops on either side of the road and they were very helpful to give us directions and information.
They are planning to build a 100ft-high Buddha Statue and you can contribute to this at the hermitage.
We managed to get a tuk tuk up to the top and visited the hermitage which is very calm and quiet. It’s said that there are about 40 little monks there learning along with others who come for meditation.
On the return journey we stopped by these two beautiful waterfalls.
They were really nice and the surrounding was magnificent. The driver said that there are 3 Elephants in that area and they roam around from Hermitage to Deniyaya through the Sinharaja Forest.
We then proceeded to Suriyakanda town and the tuk tuk cost us only 350/-.
We went to a small shop and had hoppers and wadai for lunch with really tasty ginger plain tea. Then went to the co-operative shop to buy our rations.
Please remember that the Suriyakanda is a very small town with a few shops and to my surprise doesn’t have a liquor store which I think is really good (maybe the only town).
The two ladies at the co-operative shop was really helpful and got the stuff ready for us.
From there anther tuk tuk took us to the Morning side first and official entrance which is about 1km from the Town. This path can only be tackled by 4-wheel drive with a substantial ground clearance.
However, there’s another path to the bungalow which is about 5km from the main road around 5km from the town through Morning side estate.
That second path is more suitable if you carry stuff as it’s lot closer and easier. I’d recommend the longer path for the return journey where you could enjoy the scenery.
The path took us by surprise coz the stuff we were carrying were very heavy and it was slow going.
We decided to improvise. Podi and Lasantha found this stick and we loaded it on to this like former fishermen do and carried it between us.
About 1km away, a visitor joined us for the entire journey. She was very friendly and followed us.
Lasantha named her Jimmy even though it’s a she. So this Jimmy joined us for the rest of the 6 or so kilometers to the bungalow.
It was also slow going and after about 1.5km we met this village person who was carrying a heavy load of firewood on his head. He was kind enough to stop by and give us directions. However I was banking on Iroshan’s directions and they proved to be accurate to the last meter.
I then got the idea of carrying the stuff on our heads like he did and we started like that. It was fast going and we managed to speed up a bit.
We stopped here and there to rest and hardly ever were disturbed by the leeches. Jimmy was licking her paws every time we stopped and I guess that’s how dogs manage to keep the leeches away using their saliva.
On the way, we came to a two-story construction and Podi suddenly thought it was the bungalow.
When I asked Thialakasiri (one of the keepers of the bungalow, other was Mangala), he said it’s an illegal construction.
So our politics and prestige at their best again destroying our nature and pacifying their so called donors.
Then I saw the T-junction mentioned by Iroshan in his report and felt relieved.
We obediently took the right and abut 50m from there I got the first glimpse of the bungalow. Gosh, what a relief…
We were knocked out by the sheer weight we were carrying all the way and glad to be able to rest. Thilakasiri and Mangala greeted us very warmly and we settled in for the night.
We started very early, got up at 6.00 am and I immediately went outside to see the sunlight seeping through trees. Golden sun rays were illuminating the whole area and the mist was everywhere, I must be in heaven, I felt.
After breakfast, we decided to take the second path where there’s a beautiful waterfall about 1km from the previously mentioned T-junction.
We went along the path passing beautiful scenery all along till we heard the water falling. There’s a tiny foot path to the foot of the waterfall and we reached it very easily.
The fall was really beautiful and didn’t have a name so I called it Morning Side fall.
After about half hour we went further up the path till we reached the Morning side tea estate and they have built a marvelous bungalow with a brilliant view there.
You can still see the remains of the old bungalow and we went further down till we saw the famous Black Monkeys
We then turned into a stream where you can have a dip but the water was too shallow and Podi decided not to take his chances there.
We returned to the bungalow and Thilakasiri informed that there’s a bathing place behind the bungalow about 100 yards down.
It was much better than the one before but the water was too cold for our liking. We waded through about 10m along under the tree canopy.
We came back to the bungalow around 2.30 pm and had a hearty lunch and spent the rest of the day relaxing.
Towards evening we came across a land crab and it was really amusing to see it at a place like that.
We then had retired for the night coz the following day was our departure.
We again were up and about early and fed our eyes with the breath taking scenery of the place.
After breakfast, we bid our farewell to Thilakasiri and Mangala and the mother nature and started our hike towards the Suriyakanda-Deniyaya main road via Morning side estate.
We reached the main road around 9.30 and waited for a bus. To our surprise the only bus which arrived about 9.50 am broke down as soon as we got in.
Then we walked about 500m up and got a three-wheeler up to Suriyakanda town. It cost us 250/- and had egg hoppers at the shop where we had our lunch on the first day.
Unfortunately, we had missed the 10.15am bus towards Embilipitiya in which we planned to visit Maduwanwela Walawwa.
However, I managed to talk a three-wheeler into taking us there for 600/-, it’s about 14km away from Suriyakanda town.
We reached Maduwanwela about 11.00 and had a good look around
It really was a magnificent place and I felt proud of our countrymen’s craftsmanship and hard work.
It used to have 121 rooms and 21 courtyards. However, it now only has 42 rooms and 7 courtyards and being renovated under the guidance of Archaeological Department.