Nature lovers will love Sri Lanka. The island boasts countless marvels of natural beauty and areas of great significance in terms of biodiversity and species conservation.
Driving is a great way to experience Sri Lanka. If you compare car hire companies online before leaving home you can find some great deals. Thereby saving money to spend on enjoying the vacation, perhaps on a gourmet rice and curry or a couple of nights at a peaceful tea plantation bungalow.
Having your own vehicle allows you to reach some of those idyllic locations beyond the boundaries of public transport, as I did during visit to Sri Lanka.
Surprisingly considering its proximity to sprawling Kandy, the Knuckles Range of Sri Lanka’s many mountainous regions, remains one of the least explored. Some tour operator’s offer guided trips and treks around the Knuckles; an independent journey in your own vehicle is equally rewarding.
From Kandy, head north towards Katugastota and, and not taking the main A9 road towards Matale, turn towards Wattegama. This charming route will lead you through a some quaint villages, including Madawala, a perfect place for a short break en route.
As you approach Wattegama, you’ll begin to see signs for the village of Elkaduwa. A lunch-stop is recommended here, there are good restaurants offering set menus and a range of à la carte dishes. Many of the vegetables are grown locally with reasonable prices for quality, locally sourced produce which can be enjoyed in the spectacular environment.
Arriving at Elkaduwa, the sublime surrounding area will encourage even the most laid back traveller to explore. The landscape is divided between thick forestry and photogenic tea plantations. There are sweeping views from the road; valleys dominated by vegetation, occasional humble homes and aging tea factories nestled among the trees.
Several of the area’s tea estates have been restored and transformed into luxury accommodation, including the tranquil Ashburnham Tea Estate, which boasts its own private swimming pool,waterfall and occasionally even an elephant. From here you can embark on many serene walks in the surrounding hills and the staff will happily guide you. There are only six rooms on-site and so you’re likely to spend your time here in peace and seclusion. The kitchen serves up Western and Sri Lankan options, all locally sourced from either Elkaduwa itself or Kandy.
There are plenty of options for treks and excursions within the area, from a short walk to the nearby waterfall to more strenuous and ambitious hikes to Riverston Gap. The Knuckles range consists of five main peaks rising to a height of about 6000 feet for the adventurous to try.
Sri Lanka has a wealth of ecological habitats, with a variety of flora and fauna. This region is ideal for experiencing it, with rare, endangered plants, endemic bird species and migratory birds from India and Pakistan. Although more publicised areas such as Sinharaja World Heritage are the major sites for biodiversity Elkaduwa also offers a great deal.
New species are still being discovered, including vertebrates such as mammals, lizards and frogs. That’ll be exciting enough for any would be naturalist; the possibility of stumbling across a species completely unknown to science!
After a full day of exploring locally, an indulgent massage or herbal bath is available in most accommodations.
In terms of eco-tourism, Sri Lanka has plenty of potential. ‘Green’ lodges and hotels, like those in Elkaduwa, are springing up across the island, from the peaks of the Hill Country to the tropical south. This region serves as a good starting point; from here, it is easy to follow the ‘green trail‘ right across the country.
The author John, has enjoyed travelling since he was a boy when his parents first took him to visit family overseas. Since leaving home, John has tracked down family all over the world and regularly jets off to faraway lands to see distant relatives.
This is a guest post, however the information provided is correct and informative for those wishing to visit Sri Lanka.