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|Year and Month||November, 2011|
|Number of Days||Three Days|
|Crew||6 (between 25-40 years of age)|
|Accommodation||Bambarakanda Eco Resort|
|Activities||Hiking, bathing in freezing cold water and enjoying nature’s scenic beauty|
|Weather||ExcellentOn our way to Bambarakanda we were informed that there were torrential showers at Haldumulla, just a few KMs away. However, we lucked out and there wasn’t a drop of rain on all three days of our trip. The weather was a mixture of sunny spells and extreme mist.|
|Tips, Notes and Special remarks||
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We began our journey from Kohuwala at 8am on Friday morning. After brief stopovers at Ratnapura and Balangoda to purchase some items we reached Bambarakanda Eco Resort.
Bambarakanda Eco Resort is run by Mrs Sera Mayakaduwa and her nephew Parashara. It’s a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life in the city. While the facilities are very basic, the “back to nature” concept is very appealing. Waking up early morning to the sounds of birds and seeing the waters of Bambarakanda falls cascading down in all its glory is an unforgettable experience. The wonderful hospitality shown to us and the delicious food made us wish we could stay a few more days at Bambarakanda Eco Resort.
Having stretched our legs a bit after the long journey and having had our lunch, we set off for our first hike.
The first hike of the day was to Lanka Ella falls. While at first we were contemplating skipping this, Mrs. Mayakaduwa strongly recommended that we do this hike and it’s a decision that we did not regret. The hike at first began through a pine forest and this was the trickiest part since the ground was very slippery.
Thereafter we hiked through a grassy mountain and then reached a forest patch before emerging near the base of the waterfall.
Lanka Ella falls was quite breathtaking. A sheet of water cascading down into a pool that is shaped like Sri Lanka. The pool is said to be extremely deep and legend has it that a portion of King Walagamba’s treasure can be found at the bottom. We were warned not to even think of swimming in that pool since quite a few people had drowned there.
Our next hike was to the top of Bambarakanda falls. The last portion of the hike was once again through the pine forest with sheer drops on both sides. This part of the hike was tackled with extreme caution, one slip and the consequences could be disastrous. Most of us took off our shoes/slippers and did this part barefoot which helped. However the leaches enjoyed it too
Just before reaching the top of Bambarakanda falls we reached a rocky outcrop which allowed us a virtual 300 degree view of the surrounding. Again we were extremely cautious when venturing out on this outcrop since there were sheer precipices on three sides.
Finally we reached the top of Bambarakanda waterfall. There was another smaller waterfall cascading down into a pool at the summit. The flow from this pool then headed off into sheer space and as it began its descent formed the start of the Bambarakanda waterfall. It felt great to stand at the top of Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall and to enjoy the spectacular views all around.
Since dusk was fast approaching, we began our descent back towards the resort. On our way back we stopped over at the base of Bambarakanda falls and three brave souls decided to brave the freezing water and have a bath. It was pitch dark once they were done, but luckily we had all brought torches and didn’t have much difficulty in finding our way back to the resort.
As day two dawned, we prepared for our main hike. The intention was to walk along the road from Bambarakanda Eco Resort all the way up to the Ohiya – Pattipola highway. Depending on energy levels, we would then do the Worlds End hike as well. The driver of our hired van was given instructions to pick us up near the worlds end ticket office. The poor guy had to travel over 50 Kms by vehicle while we had a mere 13 KMs to hike (or so we thought ).
While the original plan was for the six of us to do the hike on our own, we had an unexpected companion join us. Duke – one of the dogs resident at Bambarakanda Eco Resort decided to accompany us as our guide (even though we later found that he had not done this trail before ).
A short distance after leaving the resort, the concrete road gave way to a rubble path with patches of tar here and there providing evidence that in days gone by this was a better maintained road.
A couple of KMs later we realized that this hike was going to be a lot more testing than expected. The road kept continuously ascending and the next way point in the Lakdasun trail guide never seemed to materialize . After about 1.5 hours, we reached the area known as the V-Cut – A passage through the mountain that is considered a holy place by some. A small altar was visible in the middle of the passage.
The V-cut seemed to be a passage marking two different worlds. The hike upto the V-cut was a twisting road through mountains with breathtaking scenery looking upon the Bambarakanda waterfall and the surrounding areas below. Soon after passing the V-cut, the scenery changed to an estate setting with mountains towering high above us.
A short while after passing the V-Cut, we arrived at a place where a stream flowed across the road. This stream is what feeds the Bambarakanda waterfall.
After taking a short break for breakfast, we continued with our hike towards Devil’s staircase. The road now traversed through the estate and line houses continuing its steady ascent towards Ohiya.
The more we climbed our energy levels kept dropping. However, we were in no hurry and took our time enjoying the scenery and taking as many breaks as needed. The key was that no one was in any mood to give up and resolved to complete the hike no matter whether we reached our destination at 2pm or 2am the next day.
After another couple of hours, we reached another passage through the mountain similar to the V-cut. This marked the start of the Devil’s Staircase. The Devil’s staircase was a concreted stretch of the road with very steep hairpin bends descending sharply. When viewed from a mountain opposite, this stretch of the road looks like a series of massive stairs – hence the name Devil’s staircase.
After passing Devil’s staircase, the path was fairly level with a mild descent. A short distance before the turn off towards Worlds End we met Raju, a local guide who was recommended by Mrs. Mayakaduwa. Raju then accompanied us for the rest of the journey and helped cut short the journey by guiding us via shortcuts through estate paths.
A few minutes after meeting Raju we reached a fork in the road. The descending road lead to Ohiya which was approximately 9 KMs away. The other road was a sharp ascend up to the Ohiya – Pattipola highway which was our route. Our energy levels were now so low that we had to take short breaks at almost every turn in the road. So near and yet so far was the phrase that came to mind. Less than 3 KMs to go… but boy wasn’t that tough.
Having had a short break for lunch en route we finally reached the Ohiya – Pattipola highway around 3pm that afternoon. Here we had an amazing piece of luck. We had asked the driver of our van to meet us at the World End ticket counter which was a further 1.5 KMs away, however just as we emerged out into the road our van passed by and we were able to stop it.
All of us thankfully filed into the van. Duke who accompanied us all the way also decided to take the easy option of taking the van back home rather than walking all the way back.
Five of our team then went on to do the Worlds End trek while I remained in the van resting my poor feet and keeping Duke company.
Day three was a quiet day assigned for rest and recovery. After breakfast, we headed back home stopping en-route at Eheliyagoda for a river bath and lunch arranged by one of our group.