Sinharaja National Park

25 February, 2010

This morning we had to get out of our warm beds at the crack of dawn to set off for Sinharaja National Park. The National Park is the last patch of "real" rainforest on the island. It has become well-known for the large number of beautiful birds and butterflies and orchids. The journey there took over eight hours, as we stopped at two or three beautiful waterfalls and temples. Strictly speaking it is actually only 150 kilometres from Horton Plains to the jungle park, however, with the road conditions and the traffic it cannot be done in less than five hours of actual travel time.

At the first waterfall we stopped at, Chris scrambled about three metres up the waterfall, but at the top he realised that the rocks were so slippery that even his brand-name trainers were no good and he fell straight into the muddy, dirty pool. Luckily there were no serious injuries, just smelly clothes and a new species of moss. After the little involuntary bath in the mud pool we drove to the next roadside mountain stream, which this time was much nicer and we discovered some crabs in the clear water. There were lots of lovely dragonflies and other insects flying around the pool. The stones were covered in moss so we spent almost two hours taking photographs, filming and collecting. Stefan managed collect a total of four beautiful, highly promising mosses, including a liverwort with very large leaves and possibly a species of Taxiphyllum. Enough to make the Plantahunter's heart sing.

The next stop was a small stream on the mountainside, which we explored for shrimps. We explained to the locals, who gathered round us and watched our activities with curiosity, that we were looking for small shrimps. Needless to say it caused amusement, as Chris was standing in the water with shoes and socks on looking under every leaf in the stream. One of the men standing there said we would find them in the neighbouring stream, just a few metres away. So we jumped into his three-wheeler (a little covered motorbike with a wide bench seat) and headed towards the shrimp stream, which was not just a few metres away, but almost two kilometres. When we arrived the friendly Tamil man showed us his "shrimps", which unfortunately looked more like fish. You have to realise that the islanders almost always say "yes, yes" and smile kindly, even though they understand little or nothing. Although slightly disappointed, we showed gratitude and paid the good man for his helpfulness.

The idyllically situated hotel, which we had booked in advance, was unrecognisable as such from the outside. Built around the big rocks by a top Asian architect, it is something special. Only during a romantic dinner did we wonder why, with the exception of a Czech couple, we were alone in this incredibly beautiful and original hotel. We learned the reason the next morning when paying at reception.

Life is beautiful

Chris and Stefan