27 February, 2010

After a one-hour drive from the hotel we reached the Sinharaja National Park early in the morning. Several rangers were waiting for us right at the entrance, who kindly warned us that not even a leaf may be taken out of the park. To be on the safe side they sent a ranger with us, who was to keep an eye on everything. As the park is rich in orchids and other rare species of plant and animal, this is done to protect the nature. When we asked whether there were also nice aquatic plants here, especially Cryptocorynes, again we heard "yes, yes, yes".

We then went along the stony path, ever upwards through the tropical rainforest, and after a few metres we found our first photo subject. Unfortunately, there were also lots of leeches along the way and Stefan was "sucked" by two of these little vampires without him noticing. They have left big black spots on his legs, which don't stop bleeding.

We discovered the first aquatic plants in a small pool: a grassy aquatic plant called Blyxa aubertii, which unfortunately is rarely found commercially. We continue up the mountain past many flowering plants and cool insects. We stop at a small stream hoping for more aquatic plants. In the clear water we discover lots of Rasbora and Garra species and even a couple of macropods. However, there is not a Cryptocoryne in sight. We find some beautiful species of moss on stones and roots. One species could be Fissidens sp., the other species are not yet known to us and require further investigation.

On the way back we discovered some snakes, including a green boomslang, which is highly venomous. After several hours of hiking through the jungle, at the exit of the National Park Stefan experienced his "botanical highlight" when we discovered Lomariopsis lineata by a waterfall. At first glance, this species of fern looks like a species of liverwort, but it belongs to the true ferns, and permanently grows in the prothallium stage. A real jaw-dropper for plant freaks.

Rock On!

Chris and Stefan