December 30, 2012

Hike to Horton Plains from Belihul-oya (Ihalagalagama)

It's too late, hiking-mania has already carved in our minds and this hike was like one of our dreams come true, so without any goofing off here's our next hike, to Horton Plains from Belihuloya, Ihalagalagama.
With a crew of 4, we arrived at Fort bus station to catch the Badhulla bus (no. 99). It was around 1.00 am and the bus left at 1.45 am from Fort, after a journey of 4 hours we got off right in front of Belihuloya Rest and you can see the road to Ihalagalagama running uphill. It was exactly 5.58 am and our hike began. Plan was to go across Non Perial Estate-Nagarak division, Horton Plains through World's End observation point to Ohiya and catch the night mail train back to Colombo.

This hike is considered to be one of the toughest in Sri Lanka, so we had be more cautious than our previous ones and also this trail is prohibited after 2006 and a special permit must be obtained from the department of wildlife to do this hike and also this is supposed to be the longest hike, 23 km we've done without a returning trip with an elevation gain of  about 1.5 km. So we did all the homework :) made all the preparations, the food, the equipment and other necessary stuff and even bought two 1:10000 maps from the survey department.

After walking about 3 km along the Ihalagalagama Road, found the trail head, the scenery was already indescribable. The trail head started from a pine forest, actually there was no such visible trail and we lost our way couple of times. Then we found somebody from village who was kind enough to give us directions. It was a straight climb from the start, about 60 degree angle and the land covered with a thick layer of pine bud scales but as we climb up just couldn't believe our own eyes and our brains were stuck trying to figure out the difference between reality and imagination because the surroundings were very much like a painting.

Ok that's it, well the moment I started writing this post I was not sure if it was even possible to see an ending, that much things in my mind to say, so instead, it says 'A picture is worth a thousand words' so here it is 'my few thousand words' :)

The pine forest

Next was the most difficult part of the hike  about 1 km with an angle of more than 60 degree



Entering Non-Perial Estate Nagarak division...

There's also a jeep track leading to Belihuloya town-5 km

Far away is the Samanala-wewa  Reservoir seen from Non-Perial Estate Nagarak division..

Entering Hortan Plains......

It was very much difficult to find a trail and the thick undergrowth gave us a hard time, lucky we had maps....

We were travelling along the boundary of Horton Plains Strict Reserve, found another few boundary posts..

Actually we found so many higher World's End viewing places before arriving at the Worlds' End observation point, the path we came was right at the edge of World's End Drop, one step to the right was about 1 km down-da-pallan roller coaster ride, basically it was a descent to observation point.

Here's the Great World's End with Crystal Clarity, we were so damn lucky...

Next - officially entering Horton Plains (since we traveled along the boundary), Direction- Baker's Falls

Our first sight of Sambar....

Beginning of Belihuloya...?

Ah..this lonely tree.. just like myself :)

It was almost 6.30 pm when we arrived at the Horton Plains visitors' center, again we had to walk to the main entrance to find a vehicle to get to Ohiya, It was around 8 o'clock,  We got the experience of walking 6 km in a strict reserve when it is dark as hell amid the freezing cold. Luckily we had flash lights in our phones. There were 3 guys at the main entrance, they were so kind to us, even treated us with hot tea. Actually this is where our hike on foot,  more than 23 km ended. From there a three wheeler took us to Ohiya, finally managed to catch the night mail train arrived at 9.30 pm and headed back to Colombo.

Thank you for reading.....
The Crew- Buddhila, me, Supun and Shashi

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