Tuesday 10 May 2016

Hiking in Haputale, Sri Lanka

From Bandarawele we caught an early morning train to Idalgashinna for the start of our 2-day (26.5km) walk through Sri Lanka’s hill country.

We were armed with head torches, toilet paper, mozzie spray, dry shampoo etc and we were a little nervous after learning that the first 8km would be uphill through leeches and crumbling rocks!

Due to the heavy recent (and ongoing) rain we were literally wading upstream at the beginning. It wasn’t the nicest walk – it was cold, misty and muddy.

But finally we reached a break in the climb (and the rain!) and the sunshine arrived with scenery opening out into picturesque countryside, hill plantations and small Tamil villages.

There were lots of curious and friendly children on the way…especially when they saw we had sweets. Our guide had advised us to buy sweets beforehand to give out, but I also felt a little uncomfortable handing out the sugary treats.

The villages had rocks and logs on their rooftops to keep the makeshift roofs on.

And also lots of tea pickers hard at work.

On the first day we walked 13km in about 6.5 hours to a small guesthouse (Misty Mountain Lodge) in time for lunch.

It was a stunning location – set just above a valley.  After tucking into fruit curries (mango and banana) we had free time.

We relaxed in the peaceful setting – drinking tea in the garden, playing cards, chatting and watching/playing a local game similar to poole (kamer).

Once the sun went down it was much colder due to the altitude so we were pleased to warm up with some dinner.

Dinner was pumpkin soup, followed by a range of curries: banana flowers, aubergine, chicken and pumpkin, as well as poppadums and the obligatory rice.

After dinner, our guide told us about marriage in Sri Lanka. There is a mixture of love and arranged marriages. When it is arranged it is done by a match-maker who looks at the caste level, horoscope and other factors to find the right familiar and then the auspicious date and time to marry. Before the wedding, the couple get the chance to say yes / no. The wedding present from his parents are traditionally white sheets signed by them so that afterwards they can check her virginity!

Our guide also told us about the origin of the monks’ saffron robe colour. It turned out that monks used to take the white sheets that dead bodies were wrapped in and left in the jungle (because they have no monk and don’t like to ask for donations). However, they were developing skin diseases from the rotting flesh. So they learnt to soak the robes in saffron to remove the bacteria, giving the robes their colour. They are varying robe colours, for example the dark brown robes are used by the monks that meditate in the jungle whilst dark red ones symbolise those who are about to take their high ordination.

Overnight we stayed in dormitory style rooms but it was much colder due to the altitude.

The following day we rose early in our beautiful surroundings.

After a tasty breakfast of small roti (like pancakes) with jam, pineapple and banana, we headed out once more to explore the area on our hike back down.

Our hike was another 13.5km through more tea plantations.

We also bumped into kids on their way to school.

And popped into a children’s centre where the tea pickers’ kids go for the day if they’re not yet at school.

Past waterfalls…

…and vegetable patches.

After the first 4km uphill most of the walk was downhill – fortunately it was dry, otherwise it would have been super slippery on the uneven stones and gravel! Especially with my co-ordination skills!

We reached our lunch stop in good time and were treated to yet more curry! This time there was also a spicy salmon dish though amongst the dhal and vegetables.

Then we clambered into a bus to take us to our Haputale hilltop guesthouse for the night. Haputale is cool as it is around 1431m above sea level and the land is full of steep hills covered in green, mostly tea plantations, and misty cloud forests.

The rooms had great views over the hillside and vegetable patches, but was also next to a mosque so we heard the call-to-pray.

The Tamil town itself has very little to offer – just a few little shops and a dusty track.  We relaxed during the afternoon as the rain poured down outside.

That night we treated ourselves to a non-Sri Lankan meal of tomato soup, boiled veggies, chips and an omelette.  Before an early night in our 'princess' beds.

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1 comment :

  1. Hi i am Deen the owner of the Misty mountain lodge i am glad you enjoy the trekking and the food of the lodge


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