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.
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.
We relaxed in the peaceful setting – drinking tea in the garden, playing cards, chatting and watching/playing a local game similar to poole (kamer).
Dinner was pumpkin soup, followed by a range of curries: banana flowers, aubergine, chicken and pumpkin, as well as poppadums and the obligatory rice.
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.
We also bumped into kids on their way to school.
…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.