A Walk in Nature
Writing about the scenic nature walks through the tea valleys brings me nostalgic happiness. When I first visited Ceylon Tea Trails, I was awestruck and delighted by the misty, cool landscape. As a Colombo girl, this environment was nothing but new and refreshing!
As I stayed at the Castlereagh Bungalow, I chose to go along the C2 Trail, which can be done in the mornings or evenings. The recommended time in the morning was 0630 hrs, and I was guided by the bungalow naturalist.
The mornings tend to be quite cool and misty. I highly recommend a light waterproof jacket and maybe a scarf to wrap around the neck for added comfort along the way. A bottle of water and a pair of binoculars would be a good idea to have as well.
The C2 Trail leads through a rich biodiverse area. It is home to a wide range of wildlife. My guide and I encountered numerous birds and butterflies from the moment we began our walk. An estimated number of 15 endemic bird species including rare-threatened species can be sighted in this region. A total number of 101 bird species were recorded from the landscape of all five of the bungalows including the walking trails. A further 17 migratory bird species were also recorded amongst the different habitat types found within the premises.
While walking through the tea plantation, we came across the MJF crèche, a day care for the children of tea pickers and factory employees. As the people of Hatton primarily earn their living by picking tea and working in tea factories, it was nice to see that the kids were well cared for during the hours of work.
We walked up to the hills to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Castlereagh Lake and the tea fields. While we were admiring the beauty of nature, we were fortunate enough to see three barking deer enjoying their morning hours as well. A broad spectrum of biodiversity exists in hill country as the plantations are interspersed with forest patches that are home to a variety of endemic amphibians and leopards.
Other such wildlife can count on seeing are the Brown Mongoose, Black Hare, Common Wild Boar, and the Fishing Cat. The leopards of the highlands are however quite challenging to sight, as their behavioural patterns are different to those seen in Yala. However, I was told that the naturalist has seen them in the area on many occasions!
Leeches can be the ones you don’t want to come across, but they’re difficult to avoid in Hatton. According to the naturalist, the first person to lead the team will most likely escape the leech attack, although the rest of the team will not. That is because leeches locate you using their sense of smell, movement, and vibration sensors. But don’t worry, the naturalists at Ceylon Tea Trails are well prepared for leeches with a spray and leech socks. Leech sightings also depend on the time of year, with the most occurring between October and April, and during the wet season.
It’s easy to get caught up on walking the trail but I do recommend taking a few breaks, for both water and a moments to appreciate nature – the air is pure and clean. Apart from being a form of exercise, scenic walks boosts immune function, eases joint pain, strengthens the heart, improves your mood and creative thinking.
We passed a Hindu Kovil on the way as well but there is always plenty more to see. I was short for time on this particular day and had to cut my trek a little early, although I had already been on foot for over an hour. A typical walk along the trails takes approximately two to three hours.
The silence along the way is only interrupted by the occasional tale and in-depth narrative of the flora and fauna by the naturalist so the experience is never truly boring. If you would love to learn more, there are plenty of books and guides available at each bungalow for your perusal.
There’s something quite special and spectacular about walks amidst nature in the mornings; strolling through the rolling tea hills and exploring the mountainscape. It was definitely a great way to begin my day.
Written by Lakshika Perera, Assistant Manager – Journeys