Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hunas Falls

Roeland and Jeff

Roeland, a friend of ours from Doha, was also traveling and our paths happened to cross here in Kandy. We met him for dinner and took off for yet another day of touring - I know, it's a rough life but somebody has to do it. We traveled this particular day with Roeland's driver - a very interesting and loquacious young man...with a very heavy foot.  Given the traffic here, the way people pass, the number of dogs, cars, bikes and buses...I'm glad we will be with our driver most of the time!
While our trip was set out in terms of the hotel we would be staying in, the rest of our time was completely open to do as we wanted. Roeland was on a "tour" so he knew where he would be going each day. We ended up joining his tour for the day...hence our trip to the falls. 

Hunas Falls
Hunas Falls from below
We headed off first thing in the morning for Hunas Falls, located in the middle of a tea plantation. We had thought they were closer to town but it turns out it's about an hour away. The area has been beautifully landscaped with ponds, trails, and even a golf course (bring lots of balls - the jungle is encroaching). An older hotel was perched on the hill, overlooking the falls and a pond. There are a number of hiking trails in the area so we explored a few, checking out the falls and streams. We enjoyed lunch on the terrace - and a nice view of the grounds. We were surprised on the way back down the hill to see yet another set of falls coming from the man-made lake above. Guess there's a good reason for all the rain here - to keep the falls well supplied with water. While I'm glad we didn't get a lot of rain...I can just imagine what the falls would be like during the monsoon season!

The Cannon Ball tree
I am really amazed at the number of preserves, sanctuaries, World Heritage sites and other preserved areas in Sri Lanka. Despite the long civil war and numerous problems, they have done much to preserve the environment and to set aside large areas of land. Once we made it back to town, we spent the later afternoon at the Botanical Gardens in the middle of Kandy - a sea of tranquility in the midst of chaos.

The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens are a walker's paradise. The British built the gardens and it is a popular place for tourists and school children to come visit. It is also a model for conservation in the area and is doing a lot towards preserving the native species and helping to educate people on the importance of preserving what they have. 

There are over 4000 different species of plants in the garden - primarily tropical plants that would be naturally found in the area, including lots of vines, creepers, trees, and exotic flowers. They have spice and herb gardens, natural herbs used for medicinal purposes, palm trees of all kinds as well as cannon balls.
One of the many gorgeous orchids

Each of the large leaves...are sleeping bats
The gardens had a wonderful stretch of land along the river – home for many bats! The trees along the walk were just filled with bats – sleeping the day away. With the number of bugs that found me in the area, I’m thankful they were there – I could only imagine how many more there would be without the bats. They also had a hot house filled with orchids of all types – absolutely stunning. 

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