Horton Plains: A Chilled-Out Camping Adventure
On the 8 th of April 2017, the Ceylon Ramblers set off on yet another adventure. This was my 4 th camping trip as a part of this team and once again it was amazing. Our destination this time was Horton plains (as the title suggests). Horton Plains has three public campsites and as our expert Subramanium Sudhakaran a.k.a. Sudha informed us, it was more of a 20-minute walk there rather than a hike this time; which meant that we were going to make it to the camp earlier in the day, leaving us with more time to spend there.
As is the tradition with the Ceylon Ramblers, our 12 campers arrived in Nugegoda by 3.00am. We all squeezed into our van, with our backpacks taking up half the space. It was a 4-hour ride to Nuwara Eliya (including a snack at dawn at one of the little Kades (shops) on the side of the road).
Our first main stop was at a simple inn for breakfast which was the perfect opportunity to get refreshed and snap out of the sleepy, long journey we’d just had. After a nice cup of warm coffee (tea for some), we were greeted by a delicious meal of string hoppers, chicken curry and dhal. Second meal for the day and it was still only 9am.
After that, it was straight to Horton Plains, through the checkout and a less than 20-minute walk to the campsite. Half way down the path we could see the campsite further down the hill, right by a beautiful lake. Once we got there we set down our bags and took a good look around. It was surrounded by a beautiful view of hills, bushes and a stream running along the side, right into the lake which made for the most beautiful sight of all. Without wasting too much time we got our tents set up. We had four tents for the 12 of us. One of them which was set up facing the lake was the luckiest. The rest were comfortably set up at the back of the site. We got our lunch packets out, settled down in the shade of the tents and satisfied our hungry tummies.
A little more exploring and looking around later, we got ready to get in the water. Although, a little toe-dip the water will let you know that it was freezing cold. Just a few seconds after you step into the stream, your feet start to feel numb. The best way is to just go all in; to submerge
yourself in the water all the way – head to toe – and get right back up. We all helped each other get through the stream and get our footing just right with the rocks and our numb feet. The icy cold water had us shivering all over and you could barely understand a word being said with all the teeth-chattering going on. It was the best feeling ever; one of the many amazing moments we had on this trip.
Well-refreshed, out of the water and with some time on our hands, we decided to relax and have a little fun. We set down one of the tent covers and settled down in a circle to play poker. Needless to say, it was an interesting and hilarious round, which I’m starting to see is usually the case when it comes to these guys. Not long after that we had our crew (including myself) dancing to music playing on a little JBL speaker. Not sure how we got to this point, but it was exhilarating. If you think dancing is fun, try dancing by a lake out in the open, surrounded by hills and valleys. That is what freedom feels like.
Finally, the time came for us to go fetch dry wood to set up our campfire. It was starting to get dark and we needed to the get the fire started soon. This was now our very own ant-hill with chunks of dry wood being passed (or hurled rather) from one camper to the other, till it finally reached the campsite. After much poking and prodding, we had the campfire going.
At some point, we got out a blow-up mattress on the floor and we all piled up on it and kept warm while the experts barbecued and cooked. We had two portable gas cookers which made cooking a lot easier. We munched on some hot sausages while we waited for the main meal of hot Maggie noodles to arrive. It was delicious and filling. It wasn’t long before we had our torches out and the ghost stories had begun. We were lucky; we happened to have a brilliant story teller who managed to make this freezing cold night somehow seem even colder.
Further into the night one of the campers spotted about 3 sambar deer far up the hill. It wasn’t very clear but we all edged closer to the lake to get a better view, hoping one would come closer. We couldn’t see much more than shadow but eventually they went away. Still, it was very exciting.
As the night grew colder, a bunch of us huddled in a big bear hug with a nice hot-water- bottle between us. The warmth was very welcoming and soon the big bear hug started a little sing-a-long which turned into a lovely and unforgettable moment. This led to all 12 campers trying to squeeze into one tent. This made for some good laughs till eventually it became too cramped up and we sadly had to retreat to separate tents.
After a rather tough chilly night’s sleep, from 5am, one by one the campers started to wake up. Slowly, the sunlight also shone over the hills. We started the day off with a hot cup of coffee and one of the most delicious and satisfying breakfasts you could ever think of having on a camp; a cheese spread, ambul thiyal, cucumber and bullseye sandwich. Yup, it was a sandwich burger.
And so, it was time for us to leave the campsite. After washing and cleaning our plates and pots we got our bags packed and got back on the trail to Baker’s Falls. You cannot visit Horton Plains without visiting Baker’s Falls and you’re about to find out why.
Baker’s Falls was less than 3km away from the campsite. We left our bags at a sign we came across that said “Baker’s Falls, 1700m” to lighten our weight. The rest of the walk to Baker’s Falls is one that is incredible; all the way you pass little ponds and streams, beautiful views of the mountains and shadowy hills far away and all the people on their way to and from the Falls themselves. The path then
transforms into a cool dense forest. I think I enjoyed this part of the walk the most. It awakens that adventurous spirit in you. As you go further in, you start to hear the sound of water and you know you are almost there. Soon enough, the forest clears and towering above you is the stunning Baker’s Falls.
I’m not sure words can do Baker’s Falls justice. But I will say it was magnificent and breathtaking. We climbed down to a rock right by the waterfall and sat there, taking in the sight before us while little droplets of cold water bounced off our fingers and toes; yet another blissful moment at Horton Plains.
The Journey Back: Belihuloya
We left Baker’s Falls, Horton Plains by 12.45pm. On our way back, we stopped at Beliuhuloya for Lunch. There was an inviting stream/river running right by the restaurant. We headed down there right after lunch and got into the water which was cold but not as chilly as at Horton Plains. But here, the current was very strong. Once again, we held on tight and dragged each other through the current and wedged ourselves between the rocks. We sat there with the water hitting our backs. It was like a jacuzzi, but natural and way more fun.
With that, our escapade ended and it was time to head back home, a happier bunch, closer friends and with some of the best memories to keep us company till our next adventure.
This is CRC signing off, till next time…