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|Year and Month||August, 2014 (July 31, August 1, 2,3,4)|
|Number of Days||Day 3,4,5 of Five Day Trip (View Day 1,2 Report)|
|Crew||5 (26 – 42 years of age) namely; Bhanu, Senaka, Darshana, Aravinda, Me|
|Transport||Own transport and Endless walk|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
This is a continuation of – හරෝ හරා !!! – Part 1
We spent the first night at Kumana wild life quarters, and next day early morning we stared this remarkable journey. By the evening we reached to Madamethota and stayed there for the 2nd night.
Here the story starts from Madamethota on 3rd day morning.
Following day we all got up early in the morning and had a cool dip in Kumbukkan oya and then packed our stuff to go. We started the journey as early as possible so that it would definitely help to avoid the burning heat. For the day three, our target was Navaladi hot water wells. Very first group crossed the river at Madamethota and thereafter no one was allowed crossing from there due to high water levels. Hence we had to go further up towards ‘Heraliyagas Ara’ camp site and from there we crossed the river. By 6.15am we crossed the Kumbukkan oya and entered to Block II.
Block II is the most difficult part of the walk. Other than the shade of Kumbuk trees at the bank of Kumbukkan oya the entire stretch is through thorny bushes and endless lagoons. The deep sandy stretches make the journey more difficult.
After about 30 minutes of walk we stopped for breakfast. We had dates and nutrition bars as the breakfast and it was really energizing. Initially we walked through scrubs and then entered to a vast open area. By 9.00am we reached ‘Ihala Gajabawa’ and it was fully dried. Couple of month back I came to this place by jeeps while going to Kumbukkan oya from Manik ganga and had to stop the journey from here due to high water level in the lagoon. It clearly showed the harshness of drought. There we could see few elephants at a distance and we were a bit nervous and tried to avoid them as much as possible.
By 10.00am sun rose and heat was so high that we could even feel the rising heat from the ground. Again we entered to a scrubby forest. But it was not enough to overcome the heat. Every 2-3km there was a water point run by SL Army. With the burning sun it was really difficult for us to survive. Jeewani was the only saver. With several stops we came to the Uda Poththna Lagoon. It’s a vast open area where there is no single tree for more than a kilo meter. With the burning sun we were all helpless. The only help was “Harohh Haraaahhhh”. It gave the energy for all of us. Occasionally we could see few foxes, deer and wild boars. But they never cared about us.
With enjoying all these things by 1.00pm we were able to reach Navaladi 3 hot water wells. When we reached there, there were few other groups who had come before us. SL army had opened 3 shops to buy necessary items and food. I was in shock after looking at the items in those shops. Actually anything and everything was there. Vegetables, Toothpaste & brushes, soft drinks, Koththu, Hoppers, etc
We settled down there and setup the tent on the ground near to wells. With the tiredness nobody wanted to cook and we had roti from Army shop for the lunch. Then we all went to sleep for several hours. By the time we got up there were a lot of groups who had come there for the second night. Then we had a bath from those wells. But the quality of water was not that good – especially to drink. With the bath and long sleep tiredness was sorted out but there were signs of water blisters after two days of continues walk.
SL Army was very friendly with pilgrims and was very supportive. After dinner we had a long chat with solders and they shared their wild life experience with us. The previous day when they were coming to Navaladi, one of their unicorn buffels were stuck in mud on Pahala Poththana lagoon. With the support of other vehicles they have tried to pull it out but were not successful. Finally they abandoned the vehicle there for that night and kept 2 solders to protect that. Unfortunately during the night there were several elephants that came there and attacked the buffel. Finally those 2 soldiers had to run for their lives.
That night the sky was fully clear with a lot of stars. That night was one of the most beautiful nights we ever had. Simply it was like “Sleeping under the stars”. It was the end of another memorable day.
We got up by 5.00am and had a wash from one of the wells. By that time the boutique was opened and we had tea and roti for breakfast. By 5.30am we were ready to go. With water blisters we decided to wear slippers. Target was Warahana bridge and this is the longest stretch for all 4 days.
After 10, 15 minutes of walk we came to the Pahala poththana lagoon. And we could see the unicorn buffel which was stuck in mud. Pahala poththana lagoon is a vast area and it was a truly endless walk. There was a very little water on the lagoon. Since we had breakfast before starting the journey we could steadily walk and get the advantage of walking before sun rise.
Aravinda(one of our members) was a little slow as he wanted to do some photography while walking. So he asked us to move forward as per the plan and he joined the crowds who came behind.
After sometime of walking we could witness sad scenery. It was a dead body of an elephant on a small villu. With the drought පොත්තන ආර had become a small water stream and it was not difficult to cross.
Then we entered to a small patch of forest and it was a great relief for us. We rested there and started walking again. Next difficult section was the යාල වෙල. The area was fully dried and occasionally we could see මලිත්තන් trees and no other trees were there. There were several lagoons in between and I can’t remember all the names.
In some lagoons there were gangs of wild buffalos and we have been advised not to get close to them as they are the most dangerous among other animals. They are the most probable to attach if you are alone. Since we walked as a group we never had that fear but they continuously were looking at us. According to the experienced trackers, if you walk as a group they cannot target one. (We never know the validity of that). However they never came towards us. While we were passing the යාල වෙල we could clearly see the eastern sea to the left.
We all were hoping that we could reach Mankik gannga soon. And we knew that we had to cross කටුපිල ආර before that. But still we never met කටුපිල ආර. With the previous experience in block II, I remembered පරණ තොටුපොල is 15, 20 minutes walking distance from කටුපිල ආර. Finally we met that and Army has made a temporary crossing over that. Not because that it was deep, but due to the possibility of crocodiles attacks. We had a considerable time to rest at කටුපිල ආර water point. Then we could see the giant kumbuk trees and it was the sign of Manik ganga.
Time was around 12.30 and we walked further 1-2 km on the bank of manik ganga passing පරණ තොටුපොල and there was a boutique and first aid point conducted by the Army. We thought of having a cool dip in Manik Ganga and have lunch there. By that time we all were very tired with the endless walk under the burning sun and heated sandy tracks. Then we all rested on Manik ganga for about 2 hours under the shelter of giant kumbuk trees. That gave us a great relief for all pains.
Then we had Roti for lunch. Since our target was Warahana we started our journey again by 3.00pm. This was the easiest section of this track. It’s because the path was parallel to Manik ganga and was well shaded with giant trees. But it is the most dangerous section as well because there could be high possibility of meeting bears & leopards. Army always advised to walk as a bunch and you definitely feel the dark and mysterious feeling when walk on that stretch. The other group (Nimal Ayya’s) also had experienced that. They have observed a bunch of dears slowly waking around Manik ganga and they stopped to video record that. While they were recording a dear might have seen them and ran away. Suddenly they saw a leopard running behind them. Actually he was targeting for a pray and had missed that. He showed that video to us.
However by 5.00pm we could reach Warahana and set up the tent on the bank of Manik ganga. By that time my legs severely painful and I was literally not walking but just dragging my legs. Even though there were lots of groups started with us 3 days before most of them were slow and only 7, 8 groups reached to Warahana on day 4.
Nimal Ayya and his group was next to us, we all got together and cooked dinner. They were very friendly and supportive. After having dinner they shared folk stories with us like the previous night. Then we went to the sleep.
During the night was a little rainy. Early morning we got up and prepared a joint breakfast like we did for dinner. Then had a cool dip on Manik ganga. After taking a few photos we started the journey for the final destination. It was the last day and we all felt a little sad. By that time we all were adopted to the jungle life and it was really sad to see the end of this remarkable journey. First we crossed the Manik ganga through Warahana bridge and entered to the Yala block I & III. And walked parallel towards the upper stream of Manik ganga.
We walk along the jeep track in Yala block 1 & III and we met several safari jeeps which are coming from Katagamuwa side. Some of them were shocked by seeing us walking in the jungle with huge back packs in the early morning. We couldn’t see any animal in this day other than peacocks and birds. After about 2 hours of a walk we could reach Katagamuwa exit. That’s the end of Yala NP. Up to Katagamuwa in every 2-3 km there was a water point with SL Army soldiers. At Katagamuwa there was another check point run by SL Army and they keep the count of people who passed Katagamuwa. Even though there were thousands of people entered on very first day I was the 43rd person who passed Katagamuwa. Other groups were not in a hurry like us. As the Maha perahera was starting on 7th and they had 3 more days to come. At Katagamuwa we had an hour of rest, had tea and biscuits with cheese. Those who are going to Sithulpawwa usually stop at Katagamuwa. Even that time several busses were there, and they had thousands of questions for us. “ඇයි මහත්තයල මේක කරන්නෙ?, පූජාවක්ද, දවස් කීයක් තිස්සේ එනවද? බය හිතුනෙ නැද්ද?, etc…
Feeling very sad to say goodbye to yala, we continued our walk on gravel road through Katagamuwa sanctuary on Katharagama – Sithulpawwa road. Our next landmark is කොච්චිපොතාන දේවාලය. When we approached the කොච්චිපොතාන we could see the signs of civilization. කොච්චිපොතාන is another halting place for pilgrims. We stayed there for half an hour and had osu pan. They had ඔසු පැන් දන්සැල for all 365 days. After 3 days of walk now we have come to a civilized area. Then we entered to a tarred road and walked towards Katharagama. We were in the first set of people who passed the area for this පාද යාත්රා season. Hence villages, children had come to the road to visit us. And all of them greeted us by saying “Harohh Haraah”. They offered us water as well. Those who were too shy were hiding inside the houses and watched us. But we saw them. 😀
We felt that we can see the light of end of the tunnel. After about one hour of walk we were able to reach the Katharagama Sacred city by 12.30pm. Katharagama was getting ready for the annual festival and perahera. We all were very happy and proud of us about successfully completing this remarkable journey and about our fitness. That is the end of an Endless journey. By that time 87km was recorded in our GPS reader.
Our initial plan was go to the place where we parked our jeep and have a bath and come for the evening poojawa to complete the journey. But everybody agreed to visit the devalaya and do the basic rituals for now and participate the evening poojawa by late evening. Then we washed our faces from Manik ganga and went to the Devalaya.
Then we had lunch at Katharagama town and came back to the place where we parked our jeep. The house owners warmly welcomed us. We had a bath there and we were offered an excellent tea party. Finally we finished all the stuff and came back to the devalaya for evening poojawa.
We offered a pooja and worshiped the Kiri Vehera and offered our gratitude to all the spirits and headed towards Colombo to complete the journey.
That the end of an ENDLESS JPOURNEY…… It was a life time experience for all of us. I hope when we think back about our lives in another 10-15 years the importance of this journey will be much more.
Thanks for reading this report. If you are planning to do the same and need any support feel free to contact me.