TikaWeeks #47/2017: Sri Lanka update

Posted by John on 25th November 2017

Pathi walking with guests, Hanthana House, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Pathi’s walking trails from Hanthana House

Hanthana House, the guesthouse/homestay run by Pathi and Suba in the attractive Hanthana hills just outside of Kandy, is one of our most popular places to stay. Not only does it offer comfortable accommodation surrounded by natural forest redolent with bird calls, excellent authentic and traditional Sri Lankan home cooking, and an insight into local culture, there are also a couple of good walks available right from the doorstep.

A 3-hour guided walk will take you through a local Hanthana tea-picking community with the chance of meeting its people. Continuing through the surrounding tea plantation, which was one of the first to be planted in Sri Lanka, the walk offers glorious views and many bird watching opportunities, including spotting the Sri Lankan Junglefowl, the island’s national bird.

For the more adventurous, a 5-hour guided hike into the seldom visited Hanthana Mountain Range, which was declared an environmental protection area in 2010, will be a fascinating and unique experience. The trail leads through verdant tea plantations and mixed-species forests to a mountain top viewpoint, which offers spectacular panoramas of the surrounding countryside. During the trek you will have the opportunity to see many birds and other animals such as civet cats, wild boar, deer and even a leopard – Hanthana is home to a resident population of leopards and Suba and her son, Mahesh, spotted a leopard close to Hanthana House in 2013!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

John Candy would have felt at home in Sri Lanka with a (nearly) namesake city on the island, and he would have enjoyed the travel much more than his fateful journey in the film, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”! Although the internal flight network is in its infancy and road travel is the mainstay of getting around the island, trains have become very popular in the past few years, and for good reason since the views can be spectacular. In particular, taking one of the routes through the verdant and vertiginous Hill Country is now de rigueur for many visitors. The flip side of this popularity, of course, is packed railway carriages and the difficulty in sourcing tickets during the peak and high seasons. Recently, Sri Lanka Railways limited access to train tickets to a maximum of 30 days prior to departure, and even then Observation and certain routings are mysteriously “fully booked” on enquiring… So please understand that we do try our very best to purchase train tickets in advance for you but sometimes the class of ticket or train route may be unavailable.

Out of season travel in Sri Lanka

With the monsoon and inter-monsoonal rains becoming more and more unpredictable in Sri Lanka, travelling out of season may be a more attractive proposition now than before. In conjunction with the north and east of the island opening up following the end of the civil war in 2009, the previous fallow months now may be your opportunity to visit more of Sri Lanka. May, June, September and October are considered the “off” season on the island, principally because the southwest monsoon traditionally begins and ends during these months when the highest rainfall is recorded. However, since the tsunami in 2004 and the onset of the tangible effects of global warming more recently, Sri Lanka has experienced more frequent droughts and floods throughout the country and less predictable monsoons and rains. With this unpredictability comes opportunity as travelling in the low season can offer benefits: the lowest flight and accommodation prices of the year; much quieter hotels, cultural sites and attractions; potential access to train journeys that at other times of year are unavailable; time to relax in comfort and solitude! It also will offer you other opportunities such as experiencing seasonal festivals and visiting wildlife reserves at optimum times. Please contact us to discuss travelling out of season in Sri Lanka.

From the archive: The Knuckles – John & Pathi, October 2014

The drive up to Madulkelle in the Knuckles Mountain Range north of Kandy is quite spectacular, although the road itself is not that great in places, particularly the last 4 or 5 km which requires either an adventurous, if squeezed, tuk-tuk ride or transfer by the resort’s 4x4 jeep. However, the effort pays off as the expansive mountain views from Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge are just as remarkable as seeing the Banaue Rice Terraces of Ifugao in the Philippines, which to some are the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge is surrounded by the Hatale tea estate and so far has developed 19 tented lodges scattered over a terraced hillside. Each secluded lodge is mounted on a timber deck and constructed from tarpaulin used in the manufacture of the world-renowned South African safari camping tents, which are similar to the safari tents of Kulu Safaris and Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris in Yala and Wilpattu. The lodge is spacious and well-appointed with King-size bed, en suite bathroom and Wi-Fi, but the key feature is the elevated balcony at the entrance to the lodge, where you may sit captivated by the true wonder of the spectacle around you.

The dining, bar and reception areas are housed in a faux tea planter’s bungalow, encircled by the archetypal, colonnaded veranda and furnished with reclining ‘steamer’ chairs, and a cascade of steps leads to the swimming pool, affording possibly one of the finest views anywhere on the island. A Honeymoon Suite, a couple of family lodges and a therapeutic spa are on the way but we are assured that this will be the limit of the development at Madulkelle.

Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge will appeal to visitors yearning for a respite from the hullabaloo of the city as well as those more adventurous types seeking exciting and picturesque walking trails and treks into the mountains. As far as we are concerned, this is an extraordinary discovery and a unique experience that we will be recommending highly.

Sam joins the Tikalanka team!

From Monday 27 November 2017, Samantha (Sam) Hart joins Tikalanka in the UK and she is a very welcome addition to the team. Sam is no stranger to Tikalanka or Sri Lanka having supported us at every Destinations holiday and travel show since 2006 and visited Sri Lanka last year on our family tour – Sam is Tracey’s sister so Tikalanka is a true family company, with the Beswether(ick)Harts in the UK and Pathiranas in Sri Lanka!   

Categories: Accommodation, Culture, News, Sightseeing, Sri Lanka

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