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|Year and Month||August, 2010|
|Number of Days||Four days|
7 (between 25-31 years of age)
|Accommodation||Forest Dept. dormitory at Pitadeniya and Morningside|
|Transport||Toyota Land Cruiser BJ-43|
|Activities||Enjoy nature, hiking, photography, off-road driving|
|Weather||Mostly overcast, rained here and there.|
|Route||Colombo -> Ratnapura -> Pelmadulla -> Madampe -> Rakwana -> Sooriyakanda -> Deniyaya -> Pallegama -> Mederipitiya -> Off-road track to Pitadeniya Conservation Center (PCC)PCC -> Lankagama -> Neluwa -> Morawaka -> Deniyaya -> MorningsideMorningside -> Sooriyakanda -> Rakwana -> Madampe -> Pelmadulla -> Ratnapura -> Colombo|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Author||Harien de Mel|
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
A four day trip covering waterfalls of southern parts of Sinharaja forest that involved some off-road driving. Later on, relaxing in Morningside.
Just to get away from our hectic work pattern, me and a few of my colleagues try to utilize every opportunity that comes by, by going out of the city. Every time, we try to select a place that fulfills our passion of being close to nature, which not only gives us plenty of fresh breath but also goes easy on the wallet. So it was Sinharaja this time.
Even though reaching Deniyaya through Galle would have been much nicer for the body, it wouldn’t be so for the mind. So we decided to travel off the beaten path and it was fully worth it.
Sceneries were quite a few on the A17; but continuous rain ruined a lot of photo opportunities.
Having left Colombo early morning, we managed to reach Deniyaya before noon, where we shopped for cooking ingredients for two days and had lunch. Next stop is PCC.
Since the moment I went through this trip report, I was so keen on trying out the 10km jeep track described there. However, almost at the Pallegama bridge, we were told that the jeep track is currently being upgraded to a concrete road. Good for the village, but I was hart broken as I missed the opportunity to have some fun with a serious off-road.
So we decided to take the alternative path – i.e. through Mediripitiya. However, as we reached the town, few meters before the bridge, I just through of asking for an alternative route – of cause I was so desperate, but lucky this time. The road to your left leads to the original jeep track that we were going to take. Needless to say, I was over the moon .
Unfortunately, I couldn’t measure the exact distance, but my gut feeling is that we traveled about 4km before reaching the original track.
This alternative path is worse than the original track as most of it had no rocks at all but just soft soil. After some rain it was really sticky and slippery.
Once, one side of the rear axle got stuck deeply in mud and we had to lift the vehicle to get it out as we couldn’t winch. Then we decided to reduce air pressure considerably, increasing tire footprints.
After falling on to the original track, we met quite a few tractors during the journey and they were really corporative and encouraging too saying ‘road ahead is not as difficult as passed’…
As we had time on our side, we spent time taking to quite a few people we met on the road and they were very nice to us and pleased seeing visitors. One chap told us that it’s been four years since any vehicle other than a tractor has driven on that road.
As you move along, you’ll find a by road towards right hand side which his more than 90 degrees – that leads to PCC. If you follow the path without taking the turn, you’ll reach Neluwa through Lankagama (18km from this point).
We reached PCC in the evening; first task was to plan out meals for rest of our stay. Having a badly needed dip in a water stream near by, rest of the day was spent relaxed.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a tracker for exploring the jungle next day. One of the cooks offered to show us the way around. Understandably, his knowledge on flora and fauna wasn’t as good as we would have liked to be.
Not having seen any endemic birds, I wasn’t thrilled end of the day, but we managed to visit all three waterfalls nearby. We were lucky not to catch up with any rain.
By the way, a raft isn’t required anymore for crossing “Gin Ganga” as the bridge construction has been completed.
We had reserved Forest Dept. bungalow at Morningside for the final night. Officer at the PCC told us that we should reach there before 5pm as there were a few elephants hanging around in that area during the past few days. However, we got a fairly late start to the day to begin with.
Rather than going back, we continued on the jeep track towards Neluwa. The roughness of the track ended even before reaching a kilometer. After that, the road could be traveled by a non-off-road capable vehicle. You’ll find a small ‘kade’ here, from which, we bought some rations the day before.
We stopped at Lankagama for exploring more waterfalls – this time, not much of trekking as all of them are located pretty close to each other.
From Neluwa, we reached Deniyaya through Morawaka, where we bought enough ingredients for the next few meals. It was early evening and we just had some snacks because we wanted to get moving quickly.
After few hundred meters passing the 111th km post, we took a left turn to the road that goes to Morningside bungalow. Initial part of this road goes through a tea plantation and then through the jungle – 7km altogether. You would need a vehicle with very high clearance for this. Going along this road, you’ll find it branches off at several places. No sign boards at all, except for the one that’s there on A17.
We skipped the first couple of by-roads as we were under the impression that this road goes directly to our destination. However, then we came to kind of a ‘Y’ junction. We had no clue where to go. It was almost impossible to decide which direction we should take as it was pitch black. Guys were running around with torches to figure out whether we could find some kind of tire marks but failed. There were two small buildings just around the corner, but nobody seamed to be there. The only person we met on this road so far was just after turning in.
Anyhow, I just decided to take the left path, which lead us to a fairly well built building and we were really happy. But there was nobody either. We figured that this is not the correct path and turned back.
Even through we tried to get the phone number of the bungalow both from Colombo office and PCC, they said they don’t have. Somebody came up with the idea that we should go back to Suriyakanda and ask for proper directions. Having heard about the elephants, guys were a bit shaky too. The road was so narrow, there’s no way to give way even if you come across an elephant. Now we hear people scolding each other for not getting up early enough (just for the fun of it).
We contacted a friend of ours who’s been there before and the reply was that the path we have to take is obvious. Thank you very much, goodnight!
We drove back and took the other path, reluctantly, but had no other option. After some distance, we were in the same dilemma. After few minutes of observation and wondering, a lady appeared out of nowhere and gave us directions for the rest of the journey. Wow – she was like an angel.
When you are about to complete 7km from A17 turnoff, you’d get to an area where the road has very little obstacles. Look for a by-road towards your right hand side. And this is the road that ends up at the bungalow! 😉
Caretaker here is a very nice guy, and his food is even better! Can’t say the same about the cook at PCC tho.
As we expected, the next morning was full of fog. Nobody wanted to do anything but relax and enjoy the climate. This is just an ideal place to get away from busy life and spend a day or two. Unfortunately, we had to head back home after lunch.