Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Week three: hiking in the Hill Country.

This post is a little bit late because in the last hotel we were staying in the monkeys had eaten the wifi box! Now, I know that sounds like the old "dog ate my homework excuse" but its true! Haha. There were monkeys everywhere in the hill country, frequently swinging through the garden of the hotel, mostly on the look out for food! And to think a couple of weeks ago I was jealous because mike saw a monkey from the bus window and I missed it!

Anyway, we have had another really busy week. After we left Ella we took an observation carriage on the train to Nuwara Eliya. The train was really slow, about 15km an hour, but wound through the mountains of the hill country so it is the best way to see the scenery. We saw miles and miles of tea plantations stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction. They often grow on very steep hills and picking the leaves must be an exhausting job.

Nuwara Eliya is also known as little England because it was where the British colonist settled and it did still have a hint of England about it. The climate here was cooler because it was about 2000m above sea level, therefore the vegetables and fruit they grow is similar to England. They also still have remnants of British input, for example the design of the houses and the park behind our hotel, one of the few parks in Sri Lanka.

From Nuwara Eliya we organised a trip to Horton plains national park. Because its at 2500m above sea level We had to leave at 5am so that we could see the views before the clouds came in. We arrived before sunrise and it was eerily misty and there was even frost on the ground, luckily we were prepared with our fleeces and hats!

We walked a 9km route that led us to two view points. The first was little world's end. A view point looking out over a 300m cliff. The second was world's end, which was 3 times higher at 900m high. It was still a little cloudy but the views were amazing, and apparently on a clear day you can see all the way to the coast. The views were amazing, but the walk through the national park was just as beautiful, with Moor land that reminded us of dartmoor, but with monkeys!

Don't worry...He's not really sitting on the edge! Just a clever camera angle!

After visiting Nuwara Eliya we moved on to Dolhouse, a little town that would serve as our base for climbing Adam's peak. We stayed in a sweet little guest house by a river, in a little log cabin on stilts with a balcony that looked over the garden (although mike thought it looked more like a shed!! Haha). At the top of the mountain is the sacred footprint; Christians believe that Adam's peak is the place where Adam first set foot on earth, Buddhists believe that the footprint was left by Buddha, and Hindus believe it was Shiva. Therefore the climb has become a pilgrimage for various religions. We got up at 2am to begin our climb. Because it is pilgrimage season the path is lit the whole way and there are tea shops lining the route. There are between 5200 and 6000 steps to the top. The final 2000 or so are a very steep continuous climb and when a man near the top told me there were 300 to go they seemed like the longest 300 of the whole climb!! We managed the climb in about 2 hours, which is quite quick, and after ringing the bell at the top to signify completing the pilgrimage, we treated ourselves to a well earned biscuit while we kept warm and waited for the sunrise.

The sunrise was incredible, and very bizarre to watch the sun come up from above the clouds! It was only when it was light and we started to make our way down that we could appreciate the views and just how high up we were. It was an amazing experience and definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far (even if I could barely move for 3 days after!).

We had a busy week in the hill country, with lots of travelling and lots of walking. But we had a few more stops before we could rest on the beach again, I will write about them next week. Love to all at home. Amy and mike xxx

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