A fabulous hiking a Adventure in Sri Lanka – For the young and energetic 09 nights/10 days
Night arrival at Colombo International Airport. Welcome and transfer to Ranweli Holiday Village, Waikkal for the overnight stay. It’s a 45 minute drive. The resort is an eco resort built in alluring chalets sandwiched between the sea and an estuarine.garden and a presentation of its products.
Early morning do a 01 hour boat ride along the estuarine. The journey is a fascinating one as you get to paddle under a virtual mangrove arbor that is lush and highly pictorial. Numerous aquatic birds would peer at you through white water lilies and colourful kingfishes would dart across the fish rich waters at every now and then. Giant water monitors would wade alongside the boat and you would be lucky if you get to spot an estuarine crocodile basking in the morning sun!
Leave for Sigiriya after breakfast on a 3.5 hour drive. Once you leave the bustle of the coast you will be driving into the vastness of farming country where coconut and paddy feature prominently and upon passing the historical city of Kurunegala the vegetation changes rapidly from lush crops to a more dry and deciduous forest cover which is the unique landscape in Sri Lanka that is much sought after by the visiting tourists.
Upon arrival at the Sigiriya area check into your eco resort; either Back of beyond resort or the Dehigaha Ela resort. In the early evening leave for Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the vicinity.
The spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya belongs to the 5th century. It’s yet another world heritage site. Different theories of its creation are published by eminent archaeologists. Some say that once a Kingdom of a King was later used by monks as a monastery complex.
Whichever the theory maybe, the 640 foot gigantic rock striking into the clouds from the arid flat plains by itself presents an inscrutable mystery to most. As you approach the great fortress, firstly you’ll get to brave the deep moat built right around the rock that had been infested with man-eating crocodiles during the King’s time. The pleasure gardens of the King comes next in where during the rainy season, water fountains still emits a substantial spray most astonishingly. After you pass the classic rock garden and
walk through stunning boulders that may have held many impressive structures together as guard points in ancient times, you’ll proceed towards the all important cavity in the rock located halfway up where the world famous frescoes of the beautiful maidens are found, drawn and painted on the very rock-wall in natural colors so miraculously. This indeed is a masterpiece that is priceless.
At certain times of the year you could watch nesting peregrine falcons in some of the other cavities on the rock-wall.
Afterwards, proceed to the colossal Lions paw made of bricks, climbing further along the incredible mirror wall on which the yesteryear admirers of the paintings wrote poetic verses delineating what they saw in quaint, early Sinhalese characters, readable perhaps only to archaeologists.
A further adventurous climb from the Lion’s paw will take you to the flat summit of the rock to enjoy one of the most beautiful views in the Island, that of the ever-green tree canopy of the Island’s dry zone that is seen dotted with ancient man-made lakes. The immediate area surrounding the rock is a declared sanctuary in where wild elephants and other game still roam. On the peak you will also come across the King’s court, remains of his living quarters and his pool complex, presently opening out to the heavens in the absence of any shelter! The mystique fortress that is sadly dead now leaves its wonderful legacy for you to visualize its heyday with so much ease.
Overnight at your eco resort.
Climb the Pidurangala rock where there is a living hermitage to enjoy one of the most scenic views in which the Sigiriya rock rising from the green wilderness at a rather unusual tangent feature very prominently. The monastery complex dates back to the 1st century and you will get to meet some meditating monks at their breakfast.
At noon leave for Ritigala sanctuary on a 45 minute drive. After a 2 KM hike through some great dry zone forests you will reach the foothill of the mountain.
This is a mountain range, in fact seven peaks, shrouded by thick virgin forests where you’ll find mysterious ruins of a civilization that flourished in the island from 2BC to 8AD hidden amidst the evergreen foliage. Archeologists believe that it may have been a vast
monastery complex. An alluring stone path, the only one of its kind found in the Island, will take you from the foothill to the area where the inexplicable ruins are located on much higher ground. The unearthed monuments so far are spread over an area of over hundred acres of forests. All structures of Ritigala that withstood all these centuries are made of granite rock though without much carving in comparison to most in the region. The forest is untouched and is home for elephant, leopard and sloth bear though it is difficult to see them during the day time. But very rare forest birds are found in abundance. The probing hike under the great forest canopy with myriad of eerie sounds of the jungle to fill your ears will thrill you to the limit.
Afterwards proceed to Habarana area towards dusk. Few miles away from Habarana you will board 4W drive jeeps to visit some elephant infested forests. A rugged network of tracks will drive you through the elephant country allowing you many opportunities to study and photograph the giants in their natural wild habitat. The area is famous for birds as well and you could be rest assured to watch some rare eagles of the jungles of Sri Lanka.
Overnight at your eco-lodge.
Early morning leave for Knuckles range of mountains via Matale. You will ascend to an elevation of 3,500 feet on the drier Eastern slopes of the main mountain massif of Sri Lanka before you check into the fascinatingly located St John’s bungalow built overlooking the vast valley of Elahara. It is an old planter’s bungalow with basic facilities. After a quick brunch, proceed on with a six hour track in which you will reach one of the highest points in the region which is a gigantic rock. The foot path is found stretched across vast dry zone forests, at times infested with wild elephants. Upon reaching the summit of the rock, an enchanting view of the amazing valley below will treat you for a toast! Your descent will be through some very remote traditional villages of the area, well and truly isolated from the rest of the country.
Overnight at St John’s bungalow.
Day 05; After breakfast leave for Kandy. En route visit a spice garden at Matale.
The Island had been famous for its spices since the medieval times and is considered as one of the main reasons for the Europeans to conquer the Island and for the Arabs to trade
upon from the 14th century onwards. The most interesting feature would be the opportunity you’ll get to identify the real plants of spices you are so familiar with in your day to day life. A qualified guide will do a conducted tour of the garden and a presentation of its products.
Afterwards check into Swisse Residence Resort; a lovely formal accommodation after a while. It is built on a hillock with great views of the Lake City.
In the late afternoon leave for Udawatta kele forest reserve on a 2 hour hike. This too is a forest hermitage where monks meditate and the silent forest with only the rustle of the foliage to disturb you is home for many rare forest birds. The giant noble trees of the reserve are over two hundred years old and the canopy hardly perforates sunlight on to the ground.
Late evening free to roam around the city of Kandy.
During your stay you could explore the ever so quaint Kandy; the last Kingdom, visiting the temple of the sacred tooth relic; the most important place of worship for Buddhists world-over at which place you’ll get to participate in a colorful ceremony to the tune of the Eastern tom toms. It will be full of culture and timeless ritual.
You’ll also visit the upper lake area to catch a bird’s view of this fascinating lake city and the great temple cluster that is declared as a world heritage site now. A visit to the botanical gardens will thrill you for it is the only one of its kind in this part of the world. Being the pleasure gardens of the Queen once and found hugging a shaded river, you could stroll in the shade of great trees for hours passing manicured lawns and lovely flowering shrubs in an absolute tranquil setting. A visit to the famous orchid house is a must for orchid lovers. Evening, one could walk around the Kandy Lake and along its paved paths with the great Temple in the back-drop enjoying the cool breeze flowing freely from the distant hills. Kandy being the last Kingdom offer valuable souvenirs in handicraft and gems.
Overnight at Swisse Residence Resort.
Early morning free for a stroll in the botanical garden and then at 11 AM leave by train to Nuwara Eliya. The drive is one of the most scenic in the island and the road winds as you ascend to an elevation of 6,500 feet above sea level. During the 3 hour drive you will be passing some great tea plantations, mist shrouded mountain peaks, gushing waterfalls cascading into limpid rock pools, lush rain forests in which runs pellucid brooks and a vast man made reservoir found in a deep valley that producers hydro electricity for the Islanders.
Upon arrival check into Seven Heaven Bungalow, built on a ridge in a tea plantation. In the evening free to wander around the city and her numerous parks enjoying the English splendor!
The safari covers most of the 47 fresh and brackish water lakes from medium to large in size where wild and bird life thrive on their well wooded banks.
A network of jeep tracks takes you on the pristine sandy plains that hugs these enchanting lakes, home for elusive leopard, sloth bear, langur and torque monkey, jackal, different types of cats and mongoose, all four types of deer from sambhur(elk) to mouse deer, monitors and crocodiles. The elephant population is thin compared to other parks but the ones you come across are massive rogue elephants that live a single life most of their life.
In addition large numbers of resident and migratory birds live in this ridiculously strange eco-system and extremely rare birds have been recorded by bird watchers in their intriguing expeditions of the inaccessible forest glades. One border of the park is the rugged North Western coast where the first inhabitants of the Island who arrived from North India said to have landed some two thousand five hundred years ago. The distance involved is too much for a normal half day safari to cover these remote sites. The untouched vegetation of the Wilpattu forest too is unlike any other region where the largest and the oldest trees in the Island are found which is a clear sign that this area may have been left in the wilds for a considerable time.
Dinner and overnight at Palm Garden Village Resort.
Day 07; Very early morning leave for Horton Plains National Park with packed breakfast.
Horton Plains National Park
Early morning leave for Horton Plains National Park with packed breakfast on an optional trip. The journey involves a further tedious climb before you reach the park entrance and may have to be done by jeep or van depending on the state of the rugged road. Upon reaching, commence the eight KM hike on a treacherous foot path across the vast plain that is set in a unique setting at 7000 feet above sea level which is an absolute wonder of nature. The plain is home for large herds of sambhur(elk) and in the early morning you can watch the herds feeding on the shoots of rich grass and reeds; one of the main characteristics of the plain. Forests around the plain are described as tropical temperate and are grown to withstand the vehement night storms and cold monsoon winds that sweep the high plains every now and then. Half way during the hike you will come across the famous drop that is called the “world’s end”; a gorge that is over three thousand feet deep. On clear days one could watch the life in miniature form at the foothill of the gorge which belongs to an entirely different district, accessible only after a near six hour drive! Later on you’ll descend down a steep precipice where now stands a great deck, so that you don’t break your bones challenging the perilous slope, to watch the breathtaking Bakers Falls cascading over a massive rock before plunging in to a deep limpid pool presenting an awe-inspiring view. In addition to its unique flora, the National Park is home for very rare mountain birds including the endemic “arenga”; the whistling thrush and the majestic mountain hawk eagle. The one-horned lizard, the bear monkey and some toads not to mention many insects, butterflies and dragon flies are endemic too. The park also has a sizeable leopard population but sightings are very rare due to their elusive nature during the day time.
After the hike enjoy a relaxed drive through some of Sri Lanka’s finest tea plantations to the foot hill of the Adam’s peak. Upon arrival check into a guest house to relax. Past 1200 midnight commence the 7 KM Adam’s peak climb.
After the exploratory five hour climb on a well lit path that is so live during the season from December to May with way-side boutiques for refreshments and ample opportunities to rest, you’ll reach the holy peak just before the crack of the dawn. Then
it is the time for that much sought magical wonder of the rising sun and you could watch the awe-inspiring spectrum of the sun, now a football of burning orange, bouncing on the distant shores of the East coast before it brightens to enlighten the entire mountain range of the Peak Wilderness National Park. You will get to watch the traveling clouds sweeping across the evergreen canopy of the mist shrouded rain forests intersected by twisting rivers flowing through, intermittently dotted with great reservoirs. You will also get to pay homage to the shrine where the foot print of the Lord Buddha is said to have been placed in 5 BC. This is an extremely sacred site for Buddhists world over and had been so from the King’s time.
Descend and have late breakfast and head towards the Kithulgala rain forests. Incidentally, this is the scenic spot where the famous yesteryear block-buster movie “Bridge on the river Kwai” was made. Whilst the main road to Colombo hugs the right bank of the twisting river all along, the left bank is the very edge of the tropical rain forests, home for exotic endemic birds and treasured flora. At Kitulgala you will check into Rafter’s Retreat eco lodge built on the bank of the river in absolute wilderness and after a rest engage in a session of white water rafting. You will get to negotiate many breathtaking rapids of course under guidance before you decide it’s enough.
Overnight at Rafter’s retreat.
Early morning cross the river by raft to visit some very remote traditional villages bordering great rain forests ideal for hiking and bird watching. The vegetation would be totally different to what you had already seen in the dry zone and you will find 24 species out of 29 endemic species of birds to Sri Lanka in these untouched parts.
After a wash and refreshments proceed to Colombo on a 3 hour drive. Upon arrival check into the brand new Regency Wing of 1868 built Galle Face Hotel. Evening free to do a walk on the classic Galle Face Green built overlooking the Colombo waterfront or a city tour.
Evening explore the city of Colombo visiting the lovely Galle Face Green; the great British Built lawn overlooking the waterfront of the Indian Ocean, Classic old parliament and the present sky-line of the city integrating into one another so incredibly.
It is a city where great colonial era buildings are still left intact and are immaculately maintained to stand side by side with the modern in the most elegant manner. This outlook in fact is not seen so prominently in any other city in Asia. It no doubt speaks volumes of the glorious past attached to the city of Colombo from the 15th century onwards when the ownership of the city changed hands from the King to the Portuguese and then to the Dutch and to the English later, until the Island became a sovereign state once again in 1948. All Europeans left their own footprints in the city and more importantly their values among its people that made the Islanders a great Nation and their capital so pleasingly special. You will get to visit the 17th century Dutch Wolfendhal church, The Museum, the Town Hall and The Victoria Park built by the British, a lovely temple of Buddha in a lake setting and a colorful Hindu shrine. The latest attraction is the tastefully salvaged 400 year old Dutch Hospital in Colombo Fort which is now renovated to its former glory ever so wonderfully. You will find lively pubs, ritzy restaurants offering choice cuisines, coffee and tea houses, up-market spas and even ample shopping, all within the unparallel charm of the vast hospital complex. The area with classic court yards, maze of alluring terraces with seating resembles European thoroughfares of the colonial times.
Farewell seafood Dinner at Wadiya Beach Restaurant with the complements of D.Holidays(pvt) Ltd
Day 10; After breakfast leave for Airport for the departure.