NJ joining the seasoned travellers day 4
Deniyaya – Sinharaja Forest – Uda Walawe National Park
A great nights sleep in my own room – no fan or air con but temp was perfect. A luxurious lie in was spoiled somewhat by my alarm going off an hour early – I had obviously put the clock on an hour by mistake – after deciding that it actually only was 6.20 by checking my iPad and my phone, I got back to sleep for half an hour.
Had breakfast at the bakery, before squeezing into our tuk tuk for a very bumpy ride to the entrance to the forest. Our driver kept stopping and pulling leaves and branches from the roadside bushes and passing them back for us to eat/smell. We (well mostly Katherine and Jayne) tried cinnamon, pepper (fantastic face from Katherine after biting into one of the berries) and ginger as well as looking at rice, tea leaves and wild pineapple.
Eventually arrived at the pick up point in the middle of nowhere, but soon our guide arrived on his motorbike and immediately told us to tuck our trousers inside our socks to avoid the leeches. Despite this being the instructions to anyone entering the forest most of the people we passed today were in sandals, shorts or even hot pants. This seemed to be an enforced diversion for them rather than a planned excursion and they clearly hadn’t read the guide book. We were asked almost immediately if we wanted to see more animals or more waterfalls and the unanimous answer was animals which seemed to please him and off we trotted into the forest.
The Sinharaja (lion king) forest is named after the lions that once roamed the areas and is UNESCO protected as it is the last remaining primary rainforest in the country. Now the only big cat is the leopard which is rarely seen (our guide hasn’t even seen it) of which they think there might be only one left. We quickly started to spot wildlife – Jayne has an expert eye – and it quickly became a competition between her and the guide to see who could spot the next animal. Although he was a bit put out that between us we knew quite a lot about rainforests, birds and animals, we soon eased him by being so enthusiastic about each new sighting. Woodpeckers, giant black squirrels (and they are huge – jayne’s favourite – unsurprisingly as she got very excited seeing normal grey squirrels in my back garden when she came to visit) millipedes, lizards, monkeys, the Sri Lankan magpie (very rare, but is nesting so he knew where to look) a blue bird (jayne will kill me for that!) snakes and huge spiders were all ticked off the list. Our guide got quite attached to Jayne’s camera and would spend ages trying to get the fist pump shot – often getting in really close (dangerously so with the snake) but was so pleased with himself we couldn’t deny him his fun.
We arrived at the waterfall and too many slippery rocks and the prospect of walking back with wet clothes was a step too far for me, so Katherine and jayne set off, clambering over the rocks daintily and were soon gone from view. I enjoyed sitting watching as different groups arrived and left, before the rain started. It was only a light drizzle and was quite refreshing in the heat, so it wasn’t a problem. The waterfall looked amazing (from their photos) and was Katherine’s highlight of the day. It didn’t feel long before they were re-emerging from the forest path and making their way back across the rocks towards me. We started to make our way back and quickly stopped to eat our prepared lunch (rice and curry) which I found so hot I gave most of it to the dogs that had been following us since we started, but Katherine and jayne thoroughly enjoyed theirs – no waterfall, and no curry, I’m a bigger wuss than I thought! The rain stopped after a short time which our guide was pleased about as he was shocked we didn’t have rain coats with us. We finished the walk after spotting a very rare white monkey and our tuk tuk wasn’t where we left him. Our guide said he was waiting down the road and he got on his bike and left us to walk the last little bit by ourselves. As he came passed he told Jayne to get on the back (a first for her) but stopped only 50 yards later as there was our tuk tuk.
Another bumpy ride back, this time almost knocking an old lady over, before getting in the car and setting of west to our next stop. A slow but less stressful journey for both driver and passengers as the roads were single track and full of potholes for most of the route and much less traffic to overtake or be over/undertaken by but the views out the window were stunning as we came down from the mountains.
We checked in to our hotel and discussed options for tomorrow while being distracted by our very talkative neighbours and waiting for dinner to be served. Dinner was amazing with a selection of different veggie dishes (aubergine, green beans, daal, spinach) and not too spicy! Dessert was fresh papaya and banana – lovely.
I think we have all had too much fresh air as we were all pooped and in bed by 10.
Tuesday 16th February 2016