Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fishing Hut …..secluded in the foothills of Samanala.

It  is  located  in  the  most  bizarre  place;  no  sea  front nor a  lake  front,  but alongside a rivulet with no fish for the hook. Moray Estate is a remote  tea plantation in the fringes of Sri Lanka’s peak wilderness; ‘Samanala Adaviya’, colloquial to the native or the ‘Adams Peak’ protected area.

Moray Estate - Rajamalay Division
Samanala Kanda surrounded by the Peak Wilderness
Mist setting in the forest canopy in the fringes of the Peak Wilderness
Mist setting in at Moray Estate

Its origin as narrated by the caretaker ‘Sin-John’ was when the Sterling Companies [referred so when the plantations were registered under British Companies ] managed the estate; Rainbow Trout was introduced in the waterways for sport fishing. This section of the Baththullu Oya too was introduced with trout just as in rivulets of Horton Plains. The location being remote from habitation a make shift abode was built for the comfort of the anglers which was equipped with open spits for grilling the trout. Today with the ‘Colonial Sahibs’ gone Maskeliya Plantation Company manages the location for Nature Tourism. Most plantation companies today have diversified to Nature Tourism and Industrial Tourism opening the Tea Factories to the public. The hut that gave comfort to the angler is now expanded to three large huts with basic facilities  depicting ‘wild-west’ type dwellings, accommodating 5 – 8 persons; a heaven to the urban nature lover who could afford a booking.

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Baththulu Oya a tributary of Kelani Ganga.
For me, an ‘outgoing’ man in retirement age blending  with a set of ‘going-out’ type young  architects and engineers, was like fathering a large brood.

Saturday October 6th 2012, we  set off from Colombo In a Mitsubishi J44 jeep nine in all stopping over for breakfast at Kitulgala, carrying our lunch in packets to be had on the way. Everyone  being of the adventurous type ignored the heed to take better roads, preferred the jeep-able off roads via Laxapana Falls and the Seven Virgins  Mountain  Range. 

                                      Deepthi & the Jeep

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Being  over  adventurous  in a  rough  terrain negotiating  bends that needed the  revers gear and caring the rear wheel from going over the edge we run out of time and decide to go in for a very  late lunch with only a stop over at Maskeliya for provisions.

Late in the evening negotiating a treacherous route in thick fog and drizzle we arrive at the location;  tired, weary  and hungry. Lunch  taken at a time more suitable for supper and a dip in the ice-cold water in the rivulet; everyone was back in high spirit.
Ice cold water to keep the spirits high
Soon it was to be nightfall, and John lit up the kerosene lanterns. The dim yellow light in the smoggy glass chimney protecting the flame and the tingly feeling of kerosene vapour in your nostrils, took my memory back  35 years; there was no electricity then in our homes and  your nostrils collected the black  soot from burning paraffin and kerosene.

Dinner was  prepared part in the kitchen and part in an open spit keeping to the tradition of grilling fish….. but this time grilling chicken. We had dinner in an outhouse that had provision to hold a bonfire in the centre giving us the much needed warmth. With the bonfire receding we settle for the night hoping for brighter and clear skies in the morning.

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Tea in the border of Peak Wilderness
I am up with the first light and is out for the only reason why I am here; to get a glimpse of the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush …… endangered endemic bird that is said to frequent this location. I am alone for almost two hours in the forest patch adjoining the facility. I am back in the hut with the rest of the members  disappointed for what I have not seen and for what I have seen.

I did not see the Whistling Thrush this day and I am told  the wet months of  December / January are the best. But I was thoroughly disappointed  of what I saw in the forest other than the birds. It was horrid to see the amount of trash strewn in the immediate surroundings of the facility.

Polythene and trash strewn in the forest
Burning Plastic
Empty bottles accumulating

It is true that one cannot restrict the habits of clients and run business in tourism. But  one  could  always  encourage  clients  into  best  practices,  and  it is mandatory that the facility managers shoulder  ‘responsible tourism.’ It is seen that much of the clientele visiting this location carries the spirits and  chasers with them, but leave the empty cans bottles and the plastic torpedoes when they leave for home. 

Advise clients to take back the waste
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Plastic torpedo  bottles
The  messages displayed to the clients to keep the place clean needs to be amended to read as he should take back his trash with him.  I am sure they would oblige, being nature lovers.

The management needs to put back the forest to its natural condition by removing  the trash now  strewn  within the forest in a proper and  acceptable  manner.

Back in the trip ………….the weather cleared and we decide to trek upstream  to a waterfall. The journey was tricky and slippery; one needed to cling on to the  vegetation  on  the  banks.  The  travel  was  difficult  but  was  rewarded with ample bird-life and the mountain flora. The breath-taking waterfall was a consolation.

Back  for  lunch  after  dip in the river; we are home in five hours, having  had a memorable weekend spent in a remotest location in Sri Lanka with a group of  like minded young go-getters.

Mountain ground flora

A waterfall to console

Creativity of young architects


Photo credit;

Uditha Wijesena

Chinthaka Wijewardane

Dhananjaya Bandara

Deepthi Dissanayake


  1. Fishing Hut is a set of three camping lodges with basic facilities. You need to book them from Arpico Nawinna.