Sunday, 13 April 2014

Saturday 12th April

This morning was a very early start for me and I found myself dragging on my clothes at a few minutes past five*. 

By five thirty I was stood out in front of The Grand in the cool, dark pre-dawn. Ajith soon arrived and we headed out toward this morning's destination; the Horton Plains. 
The Horton Plains is a Sri Lankan National Park and has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is an area of upland plains and cloud forest that is 1700 m above sea level. 

This morning's endeavour was a 9 km circular trail that took in two spectacular view points that looked out from precipitous cliffs plus water falls and pools on the return leg of the walk. 
I'll take a moment to give a brief summary of the cloud forest as it is an important element in Sri Lanka's water cycle. During the day hot humid air rises up and as it reaches the high altitudes of The Plains it condenses to form mists and clouds. Some of this precipitates as rain but the majority condenses on the surfaces of the cloud forest trees and is returned to the land by that route. 
Bakers Falls, Horton Plains National Park
The Plains are a combination of tussocky grassland and low dense forest. At one time it was  home to more than a thousand wild elephant but Horton and his chums hunted them to local extinction during the colonial period. 

This morning we had to satisfy ourselves with a couple of Samba Deer, a Purple Face Bear Monkey and a Jungle Fowl. 
The Sri Lankan National Bird
I enjoyed the walk and strangely found it vaguely reminiscent of the wood and cliff walks walks I have taken on The Gower in Wales although there is less fear of Leopards there and the bamboo wind chime tink, tink, tink of frogs is also missing. 
Parts of it looked quite alien too - Dwarf Rhododendrons
The walk took just over a couple of hours and we were back at The Grand just before eleven o'clock. 

I have to admit that the high altitude walk took it out of me and I did very little for the next few hours apart from snooze and take a quick look at Nuwara Eliya Main Street. 

At five fifteen Ajith collected us from reception and took us for another Ayurvedic massage**. 

A magnificent dinner followed and we retired early as we have another early start tomorrow. 
* 30% had decided that this morning's activity was not for her and left me to explore the Horton Plains in the company of Ajith. 
** this was superb although being shut in a wooden steam bath did bring out the claustrophobe in me

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