Trekking in the Knuckles
On a recent inspection trip to Sri Lanka, Ewen was lucky enough to spend a morning trekking in the Knuckles Mountain Range, guided by the team from the lovely By Foot Adventures Camp. Here is a brief recollection of his experience:
The 7km round trek from the camp took us through tea plantations, rolling shrubland and thick forest and allowed some spectacular views. There are scattering of quaint local villages in the area which accommodate the tea plantation workers, but I was really struck by how untouched it felt and it is clear that the Knuckles receive far fewer tourists than some other nature areas in Sri Lanka.
We were taken by 4x4, just 10 minutes from the camp and dropped on track from where we set off through the shrubland, crossing over small streams as we made our way up into the range. The paths are well fairly defined but there are some steep parts to negotiate so strong knees and sturdy footwear are a must. On the day we were there in early November, conditions were perfect, clear and sunny and generally speaking the vest season for trekking is between November and March, but blankets of cloud can decend at a moments notice and trekkers should be aware that there can be leaches, so leach socks are a good idea as a precaution (these were provided by the camp).
As we trekked the guide pointed out some fascinating wildlife, including rare Rhinoceros Lizards.
After a couple of hours we reached a cluster of cascading waterfalls and scrambled up to the top, where we stopped for tea and snacks and to enjoy the fantastic views out over the countryside below and paddle in the cool waters. You need a head for heights, but it is possible to sit on the rock on top of the waterfall and dangle your legs over the edge. As we rested on the rock, sipping tea and eating some deliciously sweet local bananas, we looked up and saw a black eagle elegantly gliding towards us, it came incredibly close - perhaps attracted by the our shiny metal tea cups. Sadly I did not have my camera at the ready!
As we packed up, we noticed a tail poking out from a nearby bush and were amazed to see a Civet Cat resting there, a rare sighting as they are mostly nocturnal. (Guided night walks are possible from the camp).
Continuing on, we made our way back down and on trekked through tea plantations and past a local village school to the camp.
Overall, a fantastic morning - I highly recommend including a trek in the Knuckles in your tour of Sri Lanka!