After an elaborate complimentary breakfast at the Jetwing St.Andrews, we got picked up by our go-to driver Rudan (0777528518) to give us a short tour around Nuwara Eliya before we caught our train to Colombo from Nanu Oya. We let him decide the itinerary with a 5 hour deadline. He picked the PBC (Peradeniya, Badulla, Chenkalady) A5 highway that took us to the Ramboda valley.
The Ramboda valley is gorgeous. Waterfalls, tea plantations, streams… would make an interesting trek.
The Ramboda falls is the 11th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. It consists of three section with the middle section visible from the A5 highway. This is the smallest part of the falls and unfortunately the only part we saw. You need to climb up a pathway (that was blocked by huge spider webs) to see the top while you need to get to the Ramboda basin to view the bottom part. This was shot handheld with a dragged shutter speed to achieve some water blur. (^_^)
Formerly known as ‘Thevatura Falls’ (Tea Waterfall), the Devathura Ella Falls cascades over several platforms. Only a 10m section is visible from the road right after the Ramboda tunnel. It eventually joins the Kotmale Reservoir.
Here’s another shot of the Ramboda valley taken from the Thuruliya Lodge on the A5 Highway. The Kotmale reservoir is visible in the background.
On the way back, we stopped at the Bluefields tea factory which was deserted since it was a Sunday. The wife didn’t mind it since she’s been to many tea estates in India while the emptiness gave me more space to move around. The tour is free and was pretty decent thanks to the polite and informative guide we had.
Tips are obviously welcome which is the least one can do as you sip away on some complimentary tea. There is a Tea Center where you can buy the different varieties the factory produces that had the wife in a conundrum. The next stop was the Adma Argo outlet known for its fresh strawberries and various milkshakes. Since it’s a typical tourist stop along with the fact that it was off season (for strawberries); prices were quite high. But we still bought some strawberries and a bottle of jam.
Rudan, our shy (in front of the camera) driver was fantastic to deal with. He was friendly, informative and flexible. He never shied away from a conversation which gave us a small insight into his life and the life in general of the locals. I guess we were fortunate to have good drivers throughout our trip unlike the horror stories we’s read online when planning our trip.
The train was late by over an hour which gave us plenty of time to fool around with our cameras. The wife set up an off camera flash and started taking pictures of people walking by while I on the other hand started shooting inanimate objects or Panoramas. The Nanu Oya station kept both of us entertained.
I picked the wrong seats in the private Rajadhani express carriage which deprived us of a window seat. As usual the wife did what she does best and managed to get us shifted to another seat right before we reached the town of Talawakelle.
The St. Clair’s waterfall near the town of Talawakelle is the widest waterfall in the country. The fall has two segments, known as ‘Big St. Clair’ and ‘Small St, Clair’ (pictured above) that is created by the Kotmale River, a tributary of the Mahaweli River.
I couldn’t hog the window seat forever so after a while, I swapped places with the wife which meant my photos ended somewhere near Kotagala (apart from one last picture below).
A single delay usually results in a domino effect with more time than necessary is spent at different railway stations waiting for another train to pass us in the opposite direction. This meant the train driver was pushing it quite hard (once we left the mountains) every time he got a green signal. The Rajadhani carriage is part of the older locomotives run by the Sri lankan railways that have atrociously bad suspension. That along with higher speeds resulted in an extremely scary and quite uncomfortable ride back to Colombo. We’d avoid these and stick with the newer Chinese-built blue trains instead.
The night was spent at the wonderful Colombo Courtyard hotel. The breakfast next morning was brilliant and so was the waiter who was keen on discussing his favorite Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers with me. We had Oscar pick us up for a short shopping trip through Colombo that was mostly spent in a single store. And then it was time to head to the airport and end our little trip to the gorgeous country of Sri Lanka. Someday we will go back Insha’Allah. (^_^)