Some may not know but Sri Lanka is a very fine destination for hiking trails. The hill country is surrounded by fascinating peaks with adventurous trails that lead to breathtaking sights. If you look close, you may even find a waterfall or two as you head towards the summits at high altitude. As familiar as it may sound, the Great Western is less known, even to fellow islanders. On the positive side, the trail remains completely undisturbed with the power to absorb all negativity as you give yourself to the beautiful greenish surrounding. Then again, the hill country of Sri Lanka often has that effect on people.
The Journey To The Great Western
With no knowledge of the peak, we left Fort by train on a cloudy Saturday morning. We reached the Great Western by noon. The railway station was undoubtedly the tidiest and the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. After an early lunch, we got into our hiking gear to leave on a short railway hike. In less than half an hour, we were at the starting point of the trail. The first bit was tough but once we passed the isolated Hindu kovil, we expected it to get easier. However, the rain forced us back and we took shelter in the kovil.
It continued to drizzle but we were ready and pumped up to ascend after the short rest. We almost lost our grip a few times as the soil was a little loose due to the heavy downfall. We were also forced to cut through areas where thick bushes completely covered the trail.
Nevertheless, we crawled our way to the top thanks to a few branches that stopped us from tumbling our way back to the kovil. The breathtaking sight at viewpoint shocked us all. We ended up gazing at the horizon for almost an hour before setting camp. The fire kept us warm through the night but we were forced to cover from head to toe as it started to rain at dawn.
We were all up early and fortunate to witness the sunrise. The dark clouds were blown away by the cold morning breeze. The view was simply breathtaking. Words cannot explain how beautiful it was when the rays of sunlight kissed peak by peak in the horizon. The entire landscape was lit within a couple of minutes.
The Morning After Dark
We craved to spend more time taking snaps but our breakfast was ready at the camp site. Two hours before noon, we started our journey back to civilization. The boys worked together to ensure everything was left as it was when we made it to the top. We left no evidence of our stay.
Our way back was tougher than we expected. The overnight drizzle didn’t help either. Slipping was part of the parcel and we were obliged to have each other’s back as we walked down the slope. I slipped a couple of times myself. But it was all part of the fun. The crew returned safe but a couple of bruises were inevitable.
We had our lunch at the railway station before taking the train back to Fort. Took us a little more than 6 hours to reach Colombo.
Its been a couple of months since the journey. But the thought of Great Western lures delight even today. She is an absolute beauty. For all you hikers out there, this is a must visit!
Writer’s Note – If you intend to conquer the misty hills of Great Western, PLEASE make sure you leave the surrounding undisturbed. Refrain from making a lot of noise on your way to the top as it may disturb and even scare birds out of trees. Leave nothing behind!