This year’s WWW trip was truly an action-packed adventure that pushed us way out of our comfort zones. Each day provided us with new challenges, learning opportunities and experiences. We focused on a few different AoKs, in particular natural sciences (ecology), the arts (photography) and action (hiking).
Day 1: Through the paddy, to the Belihuloya Campsite
Photo credits: Ms Kamila
This was the first action activity of our trip. To get to our first location, we walked through paddy-fields, rivers and grassland. We also had the opportunity for an extremely cold yet refreshing swim in the Belihuloya river. We noted 2 prevalent themes on the walk: land use and species diversity. Walking through the paddy also made us great prey for leeches! Overall, we learnt that conversation and friends could really make a long hike pass by. We were also told that this was an “easy” walk in comparison to what we would face in the next few days – which was a daunting yet exciting prospect!
Day 2: Lanka Ella Falls, Haputalle and first night in Horton Plains
Photo credits: Ian Lockwood
The morning walk to Lanka Ella falls was amazing. First, we sighted Sri Lanka’s tallest waterfall, and proceeded to hike through pine forest to the Lanka Ella falls. This was a really fun walk, as there was no clear-cut path, and it felt like we had been transported to a temperate forest in a northern country.
Pine forest – Credits to Leonie
Views from the pine forest
Later in the day, we drove from Haputalle to Horton plains. Haputalle was a quaint town, and was situated in a very special location. Haputalle is located on a ridge that overlooks the Southern plains. We set off to buy supplies for the next two nights in a remote bungalow, however soon realised that Haputalle is a Tamil-dominant community. Our Sinhalese language skills couldn’t help us, so it was an interesting experience involving communication with few words and more body language. From there on, we drove to Horton plains. The change in altitude was quite dramatic, hence why breathing became difficult when we hiked Totupola on the evening of our arrival. Totupola is Sri Lanka’s 3rd highest peak, so I’m proud that I pushed through and reached the top!
Sky on fire, view from Totupola – Sri Lanka’s 3rd Highest peak
Mid-climb selfie: Mohamed, myself, Khalis, Jamaal and Sanoj (from left)
The Mahaeliya Bungalow:
This bungalow became our home for our 2 night stay at the Horton Plains National Park. It was extremely basic, with no electricity and no proper shower (except for a bucket!) It was a place that really pushed us out of our comfort zones, yet showed us how privileged we are at home. With all our modern commodities, we really don’t have much to yearn for. The experience really helped us to bond as a group, especially at night when all the girls snuggled together to keep warm in the close-to-zero degree temperature!
The most spectacular sight was the night sky over the bungalow. I have never seen so many stars in my life. I was even lucky enough to see my very first shooting star – which I wished upon!
By far, this was the most challenging hike on the trip. At times, I felt like giving up due to loss of breath. The hike was long, as it took us a while to even reach the base of the rock. Here are my notes on the hike, taken from my WWW journal:
Sanoj in deep trouble – after claiming that walking through the mud was “easy”
Thursday morning, 5am – we all wake up to freezing cold temperatures and a pitch black sky. By 5:30, we sadly bid goodbye to our pyjamas and change into hiking gear, ready to get to the Horton Plains ticket counter by 6am.
The hike was far easier than Kirigalpotta, as it is a tourist destination with a much smoother, clearer walking track. The views from World’s End were absolutely incredible, with a sheer downward drop and a panoramic view of rolling hills and the Belihuloya valley.
Aamir and I – at the foot of World’s End