We are now back at the Borderlands camp after quite the mission! We left you hanging as we headed to the Belihul Oya, bad news on that front. A stunning drive brought us to drier and drier lands. It hasn't rained in the region for three months and the monsoon is late, roughly a cumec was threading its way through the boulders of the river bed, no go. We drive around for a while hunting for fabled waterfalls. Bureaucracy and the govermental fear that still exists in a country so recently relieved of war keeps us away from a dam site from which we would walk into a fall, so we sack it off and go camping.
The next day we drive straight back the way we came in order to catch the water we know exists in the Sitawaka drainage, its time to go high, "oda oda." Its the start of four great days. Driving up and up we spy white through the jungle and tramp down through leech infested undergrowth to scout a decent grade five drop. These photos tell the story of a drop much cleaner than it looked.
Niamh hits the boof.
The view from above.
"As I pop into the eddy at the bottom a stunning Kingfisher lands on a branch in front of me, monkeys play in the trees above and vibrant wild flowers line the bank, not a bad place to be."
We carry on downstream through a short section of roughly 3 km of grade 3/4 and pop out at Udimaliboda, a village built around a tea factory and mainly populated by its Tamil labourers, we are mobbed by youngsters who seem very happy to see us. Its a very cool end to what we assume is a first descent, if anyone has been here before, let us know!
The end of a good day.
Then we got mobbed!
Mahesh our driver has organised us some straight off the river curry and chappatis and has found us a place to stay, we are welcomed with open arms into the home of a local bus driver and his wife. Great food is eaten and we are entertained with traditional songs and an impromptu conga line begins in the sitting room, hilarious!
Thia valley is full of good and welcoming people.
The next day we rise early and head upstream to check out more fables of waterfalls, seven drops each of 20 feet! We drive up and up through tea plantations and lush green scenery. We spy huge waterfalls up on the hillside. These are the seven waterfalls and they are awesome to look at, definitely not to paddle. We keep driving and finally pop out at the dam building site of yet another mini hydro scheme, the final pool of the mountain sized cataract. Thankfully at this site they let us past the barrier and we scout a big slide that forms half of the last fall. It goes! A staunch clamber up and boat haul rewards us with another first descent of a 35 metre slide, again the photos tell the story.
Niamh's first ever slide, go figure!
Oh yeah, it's a Dave grab.
Some topless dreadlocked dude gives advice on eco tourism to goverment officials, note the note taking!