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Nature Trails in Sri Lanka

There are a few nature trails designed for discerning traveler to enjoy the scenery, the biodiversity and experience the rainforest eco-system. You may encounter many life forms, both flora and fauna, in this expedition. They are all free for you to observe, but please take extra care not to harm or disturb them.

Preparation for outdoor activities

Suitable clothing and footwear play a very important role in enjoying great outdoors. They help you to have a comfortable walk/hike with minimum physical effort/ discomfort.

Unavoidable Companions; LEECHES

Leaches are a common phenomena in the moist forest and adjacent habitats. Though their bite sometimes may develop a local rash or itchy feeling, they are not poisonous. You may avoid any unpleasant encounter with them by being properly prepared and dressed.

The leech saliva contains a number of agents that assist it in feeding. An anaesthetic limits the sensations felt by the host while a vasodilator causes the blood vessels near the leech to become dilated and thus provide the leech a better supply. Hence do not be surprised that a leech lags on to you, taken its bellyful and drops off without causing any pain or discomfort. You may later notice a trickle of blood thinning agent. This is perfectly harmless and perhaps beneficial as the leech saliva contains a peptide called hirudin, which is highly effective anticoagulant and for this reason leeches are occasionally used to prevent post-operative clotting in limb reattachment procedures. Recent studies have also indicated leech saliva to have anti-inflammatory properties too.

Precautionary measures

The Rainforest Ecolodge will provide you with a pair of leech socks when you take part in the walks and hikes. The proper wearing of leech socks along with simple precautionary measures below, will most of the times save you from a leech bite.

The first step is trying to prevent leeches get attracted to you.

  • Walk as rapidly as possible when in the forest area and have a watchful eye on your legs. Never have the skin of the feet and legs exposed unless you are very used to leeches and do not mind them at all. Standing still in one place, standing on piles of leaves and litter will make it easier for them to attach themselves to you.
  • Have your shirt/blouse tucked into your trousers/skirt. Wear a long pair of leech socks that can be pulled over the bottom edge of your trousers and tie it securely.
  • Wearing plastic or rubber boots instead of shoes with socks would be a better option.
  • Do not wear long skirts or any garment with loose hanging parts that torch the ground.
  • Wear a good long lasting leech repellent when you set out. Carry it with you and reapply if necessary.

Removal of Leeches

If a leech has climbed on to your trouser or a leg, holding a piece of soap, a dried tobacco leaf, a crystal of salt will make it fall off. Or you may spray a solution containing any of this on to the leech. However, if you have a sensitive skin this remedy should be practiced with care.

Do not forcefully pull the leech off as this can leave behind the ‘teeth’ of the leech and also infect the area of the bite. Removal should be done by dislodging the leech through making it release itself voluntary. For this, common techniques used are applying a flame, salt or soap. As the leech may regurgitate its stomach contents, sometimes this practice could cause infection.

An externally attached leech will detach and fall off on its own when it is satiated with blood and this can take up to around 20 minutes.

Treatment

After removal or detachment, the wound should be cleaned with soap and water and bandaged. If there is continued bleeding (due to anti-clogging agents) that could be reduced by applying pressure. The wound will itch as it heals, but it should not be scratched. An antihistamine or a cold pack could reduce any discomfort.

It you develop any serious allergic condition, please get medical advice immediately.

TRAIL 1:

Bird Watching and Butterfly Observation Trail

This is the easiest way to enjoy great outdoors here, rich biodiversity and lovely unspoilt scenery, along the already established roadway. The trail starts from a disturbed vegetation with pioneering species and penetrates into an undisturbed secondary tropical sub-montane rain forest. Gradually sloping terrain at the beginning of the trail will make it an easy track, which a guest of any age group could make without much exertion. 

The trail is divided into two main segments.

Segment 1

       Distance:             2 km (one way)

       Difficulty level:     easy

Segment 2

Distance:           1.5 km (one way, further down from the end point of the segment 1)

Difficulty level:       difficult

The Segment 1 is approximately 2 km in length (one way), and suitable for people of all age groups and levels of abilities. It starts from the turnoff to the Ecolodge and extend along the main road up to Samangala.

The Segment 2 is the continuation of the same trail, another 1.5 km (one way) along the steep slope. This area is very good for observing mixed species bird flocks and Macaque monkeys but will not be suitable for personnel with difficulties in walking along such terrains.

The Segment 1 of the trail will be of 2 – 3 hrs of walking whereas the complete trail will take 4 – 6 hrs of walking.

The two segments of the trail are separated at a well identified landmark along the approach road, the Samangala. This point offers a panoramic view of the south western platue of Sri Lanka.

TRAIL 2:

Nature Trail within the Arboretum

In order to offer its guests a unique experience of the rainforest within its boundaries, the Rainforest Ecolodge has developed a nature trail through the arboretum maintained within the tea plantation.

The trail starts with a stroll through the tea plantation; a moderately steep easy walk. The entrance to the arboretum is marked with an attractive natural water feature with a visitor shelter located nearby. The trail exits from the forest patch to the opposite side to that of the entry and continues through the tea plantation on a well-established road station. This arrangement allows visitors a relaxed walk after somewhat strenuous forest section, offering an ideal cool down procedure.

This trail can be used as a guided tour as well as a self-engagement activity. It is advised to wear leech socks while traversing this trail.

Segment 1

The Segment 1 of the trail is the section from the Lodge to the stream in the arboretum, through the tea plantation. This is a pathway commonly used by the plantation workers. It is of a comfortable slope that does not exert the guests much, but allow them to absorb the beauty of the landscape.

Distance:                760 m

Difficutly level:                easy

The entrance to the arboretum is located at a picturesque place with a streamlet forming a pond. This is a very suitable place for a short break. Even without entering the arboretum, the trail along the Segment 1 and relaxing by the pond could make an interesting evening activity.

Segment 2

The Segment 2 of the trail passes through the arboretum.

Distance:                600 m

Difficulty level:       moderate

Segment 3

After exciting from the arboretum, the trail takes the estate road through the tea plantation passing officers’ quarters, main bungalow etc., allowing guests to have a relaxed easy walk back to the lodge while enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.

Distance:                1.8 km

Difficulty level:       easy

The total length of the trail is 3.16 km

TRAIL 3:

Night Trail

Follow winding trails where you will discover the nocturnal activities of the species. Equip yourself with a minor’s lamp, boots and gloves provided by the hotel to take on the chilly weather at night. We recommend small group of less than 5 to make journey so that the calm surroundings and soft sounds of the rainforest are left unhindered.

Experience & Enjoy:

Walking in the forest at night

Scenery and sounds in the darkness

Turn off all the lights for a minute; enjoy and concentrate to listen to the forest sounds, miles away from your home.

Distance:                1.5 km

Difficulty level:       moderate