Well hello again faithful readers.. all 3 of you.
So there was a final part of the Sri Lanka trip… the mountains.
After the heat, relaxation and adventure of the lowland it was time to head north, and to the part i had been looking forward to the most… Tea Country.
We took a taxi for the 2 hour trip to a little town called Ella. While a bit of a tourist trap the place is well known for its tea plantations and factory and at 1000m the air was cool and fresh, a welcome change for the 35 degrees at the coast. We stayed in rather nice house on stilts that overlooked a most amazing view of Ella Gap, coated in tea plantations and rocky outcrops with views as far as the eye can see. The weather was a bit hit and miss but very refreshing, we walked up the local hill ‘Little Sri Pada’ to marvel at the panoramic views of the mountains and spent an afternoon lazing in a hilltop bar among the tea plantations eating cake while tea pikers worked there way through the maze of bushes around us. The next day we heading for a tour of a Black Tea factory, we arrived first thing and ended up having a private tour of the factory, having huge handfuls of tea put in our hands from each part of process, encouraged to feel smell and taste the tea. finishing up with a tasting of the different tea types that are produced.
After our tea tour our tuktuk driver noticed me nosing at his cab controls and offered to let me drive it back which i of course said yes… so he drove us to what seem to be the busiest road around and away i went, i got it into 5th gear at a good 20mph with oncoming tractors and buses trying to overtake before i bottled it and handed the controls back to our driver and then off we went to catch the train to our next destination.
The train journey from Ella to Hatton was stunning and with half the carriage open air we could just sit back and enjoy the view as the train snaked through the mountains for the next 4 hours, arriving at Hatton we jumped in another tuktuk for an hour ride to Nallathanniya at the foot of Sri Pada ‘Adams Peak’ a 2243 meter high sacred mountain which a temple atop that the Buddhists pilgrimage to on the full moon. that was our challenge for the morning, to climb Sti Pada at night to watch the sunrise from the top. we started at 2am but we had badly (or magically) timed our visit on the full moon weekend. tens of thousands of locals had descended to climb the mountain with us, the trek up was long but enjoyable and there was a caravel atmosphere as we walked up with the locals and the path lined with tea shops and jungle. After 3 hours we where 100m from the top when the crowd came to a standstill. the top was full. nobody was leaving before the sun had risen and we where tired and quickly getting cold. we had some tea and a bite to eat and considered our options. we could wait maybe 3 hours and eventually reach the top, long after the sun had risen and then return home in the baking heat.. or call it a day and head back for a few hours sleep before we had to leave. Our tiredness got the better of us and we chose the latter, wisely i think.
Our final visit was to an to an Eco lodge in the hills outside Kandy, sounding by forest we stayed a quite hut with views out to the jungle tree tops where we could watch the wild life jumping and flying among the trees, a friendly guy from our hotel took us on a walk up a jungle valley to a huge waterfall in hills with a lagoon to swim in which was a lot of fun and the next day we took a guided walk through the local villages, rice paddies, jungle and tea plantations.
Our trip was finally over but we made on last stop at the botanical gardens of Kandy. possibly the best i have ever visited, Lou was overwhelmed by the thousands of fruit bats that where roosting in the trees ( i had brought her here specially to see them but had kept them secret) we meandered through paths coming across lost of other wildlife that had made the gardens there home along a dazzling array of magnificent trees.
and that was it, time to fly home back to reality.
Until next Time