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|Year and Month||December, 2011 (28th-30th)|
|Number of Days||Three Day|
|Crew||1 (first-ever lone journey)|
|Accommodation||Keena Lodge, Nuwara Eliya (052-2222175)|
|Transport||Public Transport / Hitch-hiking / Borrowed Mountain bike / on foot|
|Activities||Photography, Cycling, Hiking, Sight-seeing|
|Route||Colombo -> Kandy -> Nuwara Eliya Return Nuwara Eliya -> Hatton (via Thalawakele) -> Colombo|
|Tips, Notes and Special remark||
|Comments||Discuss this trip report, provide feedback or make suggestions at Lakdasun Forum on the thread|
I’m crazy about N’Eliya and it’s a habit of mine to go there every year (from 2000). However, I couldn’t arrange anything coz all my friends were tied up with something or the other.
By 26 December, I was feeling miserable and my legs were itching for some exercise. So I made up my mind to go on my own. I was initially planning to leave early morning, just walk around the town, park and Gregory Lake and come back in the evening.
But very little did I know that it’d end up being a 3-day trip once I reached there.
So on 28 December, I left home around 1.30 am and after a bit of difficulty managed to reach Pettah around 3.30 am. There were no buses to N’eliya at that time so I chose to go the Kandy instead as I wanted to save as much time as I could. (I was still planning to come back the same day even though I had my night clothes and an extra T-shirt with me)
I checked the private bus stand, there was nothing and went to more trusted CTB stand. There was a bus and it was somewhat full, when I checked the conductor said “we’re going now”. However we left around 4.00 am and reached Kandy by 7.00 am. (this was the time Sri Lanka experienced very cold weather throughout the country)
The ride was the fastest to Kandy and it was so cold inside the bus, I had a hard time keeping myself warm (thankfully I had brought my denim jacket, not so effective but did the job)
When I got off at Kandy, I was shivering like someone with high fever. I went to a shop and had 3 cups of steaming coffee and very hot rolls.
Then I boarded the only available bus to N’eliya (A/C but it was cooler outside than the inside) and reached N’eliya by 10.00 am. The moment I reached, my spirits were so high they would’ve touched the clouds.
I wanted to spend the night and was happy that I happened to pack my night clothes and a t-shirt. So I went along the race course checking the hotels and surprisingly they were almost empty.
I managed to get room at Keena lodge, in front of Race Course entrance on Badulla Rd. for 1650/- per day. Leaving my belonging there, I left for Lovers’ Leap falls on Kandapola Rd.
Took a bus in front of the N’eliya gardens and the conductor was kind enough to give me the directions.
It’s about 5-6 km away from the city centre. I went along the hill till I meet the sign Pedro State. From there, had to walk about another 1-1.5 km to the fall.
Along the way, for the first time I came across Tea Flowers which were surprisingly beautiful. There was also a tree under which had a Hindu’s worshipping place.
Then I got the first glimpse of the fall and I didn’t expect it to be that big and beautiful.
Just before the waterfall, there was another mini-kovil with typical black stone.
When I reached the base of the fall, I was stunned coz she was simply wonderful. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
There was one other person who I later go to know Wasanthan. He’s working at the estate which the stream that makes the fall flaw. He was very friendly (however I was a bit cautious at first) and even took a few pics of me with the fall behind.
There was a fence using cables near the fall and when asked Wasanthan said the management is not happy about the tourists coming and destroying the environment, further some attempt to bathe too. So if something happens to a tourist, the owners have to go to the police for inquiries. They have even stuck a notice on a tree asking not to enter the base of the fall saying it’s a high security zone.
So if you visit the Lovers’ Leap (not only that), please don’t litter the surrounding and attempt any heroics coz it’s deadly dangerous. This might, at the end, result restricting getting near to the fall which would be very sad.
Around 12.30 pm, Wasanthan and I left the fall and he took me through a short cut which is through the tea estate. Along the path I saw some beautiful flowers and cherry-like plants.
I could see the fall from near the road which leads to the main road.
He and I then took a tuk tuk to Town and then to my hotel. I was exhausted by very thrilled having seen one of the most beautiful falls.
Had lunch at the hotel and had a quick nap till around 3.30 pm.
I then headed towards Gregory Lake and along the way came across Ponies and horses nibbling at grass.
They’ve converted the Gregory Lake and surrounding area into an amazingly striking park with walking area, cycling area and benches for relaxation.
In the evening sun, the water was shimmering beautifully and the view was simply magnificent and you could see some beautiful flowers too.
It also borders the somewhat luxury cottage, Governor’s Chalet.
At the end of the park, they rent foot-bikes for 100/- an hour. So I got one and cycled all over the park till around 5.30 pm.
The dusk was settling in when I left the park and opposite the main entrance there was a hotel and advertising Hot Pol Roti with Lunu Miris (my favorite).
They serve excellent coffee (one of the very best I’ve ever had) and had 2 cups of coffee with scalding Roti.
I then went to the supermarket and bought my breakfast (1 green apple, 1 pear and a cashew nut chocolate) for the next morning coz I was planning to go the Haggala early in the morning and then leave for Colombo.
It was freezing cold but I’m more used to cold than hot. Got up around 5.30 am despite the urge to sleep forever under the blankets and had a steaming hot bath and the apple and pear.
Got ready and took a Welimada bus in front of the hotel to Haggala and reached by 7.30 am. I was the first into the park and it was very quiet and so beautiful in the morning sunlight. I came to the big notice with the Haggala garden map displayed.
You could also see some beautiful streams making tiny waterfalls flawing down.
Passing summer huts and flower beds along the path, I reached the rose garden which is my favorite. Despite December being not the season for flowers, there were so many different kinds of roses.
Passing the rose garden I reached the centre where they sell potted plants and flowers (most of these won’t grow well or at all in areas like Colombo).
I could see the Haggala Mountain from there nicely. Also there’s a sign giving some valuable information to the visitors about the Haggala gardens.
Later on I had coffee and home made potato chips from the shop inside the park and visited the Glass House with more beautiful flowers. They had different kinds of Orchid and other plants under controlled weather conditions.
They have made a beautiful design using flowerbeds in the middle of the park along the path towards ferns.
The ferns garden was as always beautiful and quiet.
I left the park around 10.30 and hitched a ride in a vegetable lorry to the hotel back.
I was planning on checking out and staying some time at the Nuwara Eliya Park and leave for Colombo when on of my friends from Welimada called me. He invited me to lunch there as it’s just about 1.5 hrs away.
He was planning to come back to Colombo on the following day 30 December. I decided to stay on till 30 December and go back with him (inside I was very happy to have more time to spend at my beloved N’Eliya).
I went to his place around 1.00 pm and had lunch and came back by 3.30 pm. Just had a change and walked back to Gregory Lake for another coffee and a bicycle ride.
The evening was brilliant and I had chips from a boutique near the lake (they make them then and there using fresh potatoes and very tasty)
I came back to hotel around 6.30 am and checked with the owner if I’d have enough time to visit Kande Ela Forest and Reservoir in Ambewela and be back by 11.00 am.
He asked me to take the 6.30 am bus which goes to Meepilimana and walk the rest (1-2 km) to the Park.
So after my usual hot shower and fruity breakfast, I left the hotel around 6.20 am and caught the Meepilimana bus and reached there by 7.45 am.
I then had another cup of coffee from a nearby shop and the owner said it was one of the coolest seasons he’s ever experienced in N’Eliya.
I walked along the deserted road till the Kande Ela Reservoir. It was again such a beautiful sight.
I saw the bunt and the sluice gates too.
It’s about 200m from there to the entrance and I got there by 8.30 am and to my disappointment it was not open yet.
I then walked a bit further towards Ambewela and came back around 9.00 am and thank goodness, it was open and as usual I was the first (funnily enough the only one till I left) to enter. Don’t forget to pick up the map of the park given free of charge at the ticket counter. The Price is about 20/-.
Just after the entrance they’ve built a kind of information centre with all the info about trees, animals, reptiles, etc which can be seen in the up country, especially Horton Plains and Nuwara Eliya.
It also has skeletons of animals such as Stag.
Passing that I entered the forest which has all kinds of big trees and undergrowth. They’ve created the path through the forest so all you have to do is follow it till you go a full circle and get back to the entrance.
About 100m into the forest, I, for my horror, saw someone in the distance and got a nasty shock. However, I with all the courage I could muster went a bit closer to find it’s just a replica of a human sawing a tree.
After that there were so many of those kind of replicas how people work inside the jungle cutting and sawing trees.
There were mock ups of traps set by poachers to animals.
It’s actually a good place for school children to learn about bio-diversity of different parts of Sri Lanka.
I then reached a replica of a village house and it was done nicely.
The interior had all you could find in a rural house (කටු මැටි ගෙපල)
Along the way I met one of the greatest architects (the Spider) in the jungle and fortunate enough to take a pic of his creation.
Then I came across a bridge and fern garden.
After that there also was a place with some plants inside.
Finally I reached the rock garden which displays different kinds of rocks in various colors and shapes.
I finished my tour by 10.00 am and shared my cashew nut chocolate with the person at the ticket counter.
Getting back to N’Eliya was tricky since there a very few buses at different times. So I walked back towards the reservoir and found a makeshift shop with huge fried fish and roti.
Gosh, it was hearty meal and after a steaming cup of coffee, I borrowed the owner’s mountain bike and went for a ride along the reservoir.
Around halfway through there was a Isuzu lorry and I managed to stop it and negotiate a ride back to N’’eliya city entrance from Nanuoya side.
After about an hour’s time I was back at the hotel and my friend was just leaving Welimada by then.
I checked out and went towards Gregory Lake and had a final cup of coffee from my favorite shop there.
My friend and I went for a boat ride in the lake and reached the N’Eliya Garden around 12.30 pm.
The garden was also very nice with loads of flowers and I took pics of most of them.
Then we sat on the lawn and had our lunch which my friend had brought from home.
We went to the bus stand about 2.30 pm and there was a Colombo-bound bus leaving at 2.50 pm and Hatton bus at 2.45 pm.
We chose the Hatton one coz I was itching to get glimpse of St. Claire and Devon falls. (Unfortunately couldn’t take any pics coz it was an AC bus and didn’t stop long enough for a clear shot)
We got to Hatton around 4.30 pm and took a Colombo bus and reached home around 10.30 pm.
That was my first-ever (hopefully only) trip all alone. But it does have its advantages, let me tell you.