With a height of 263 metres, Bambarakanda Falls is the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka
One bright December morning, we drove from Haputale to Bambarakanda Falls. At Kalupahana we came off the main road and took the narrow, winding track up the mountain towards the falls. We passed hamlets with tiny houses and shops selling fruit and through terraced rice fields. Suddenly the majestic falls, across a narrow valley, came in to view. We parked by the side of the track and walked to the green painted office where a bored-looking young man wearing a skull cap sold us tickets to go to the base of the falls across the valley – Rs. 150 per person (~75 pence). A well maintained foot path lead down in to the valley, crossed a gurgling brook and climbed towards the falls through a pine forest.
As we reached the base of the falls, the noise from the crashing water was deafening. The spray formed ground level rainbows and drenched us as we stood on the viewing platform. Leeches tried to crawl up my trouser leg. I brushed them away but a woman who was wearing open sandals had a bloated leech attached to her toe. She saw it and screamed.
As we walked down through the pine forest, a small group of soldiers was labouring uphill with camping chairs, tables and boxes of food and drink for their officer’s family who were going to have a picnic at the falls. The officer, in full uniform and sporting a smart handle bar moustache said “good morning” to us and hurried up the path. A thin young man chewing betel was sweeping the path near the bridge. “The council has given me temporary employment” he said. “I get Rs. 10,000 a month (£50) for keeping the path and two toilets clean.” He spat out a neat stream of red betel juice. “After two years, I am still a temporary employee” he grumbled. “Could you put in a word for me?”