Devon Falls is one of Sri Lanka's most admired waterfalls. This natural attraction is a must-see for tourists who are keen on experiencing Sri Lanka's natural beauty. Located in the Central Highlands, Devon Falls attracts visitors with its scenic charm and the opportunities it offers for photography and relaxation. In this travel guide, we'll take a look at this spectacular waterfall and all it has to offer.
Devon Falls was named in honor of Devon, an English coffee planter who established a coffee plantation in the region during the 19th century. Coffee was a major export crop for Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, during the British colonial period. Unfortunately, the coffee industry faced a setback when a leaf disease called "coffee rust" began to spread rapidly, devastating coffee plantations.
As a result, many plantation owners switched to cultivating tea. The region around Devon Falls subsequently became part of Sri Lanka's flourishing tea industry, which has grown to become one of the country's most significant exports. Today, the hills surrounding the waterfall are covered in terraced tea plantations and many tea factories in the vicinity offer tours to visitors. These changes in agricultural practices over the years have also had an impact on the local economy, with many residents finding employment in tea estates.
In addition to its agricultural history, the area surrounding Devon Falls has cultural significance. The region is home to diverse communities, including Sinhalese, Tamils, and indigenous groups, each contributing to the rich tapestry of local culture and traditions. The falls have not only become a popular travel destination but also a symbol of the natural beauty and historical richness of Sri Lanka.
Details about Devon Falls
Features of Devon Falls
Devon Falls has an impressive height of 97 meters and is characterized by its three distinct cascading tiers. The first tier is the widest, creating a broad curtain of water that narrows as it descends. The second and third tiers are more focused streams, adding texture and movement to the overall view of the falls. This structure makes Devon Falls unique and photogenic, offering a different visual experience from each viewing point.
The water for Devon Falls comes from the Kotmale River, a significant tributary of the Mahaweli River, the longest river in Sri Lanka. The Kotmale River originates from the Central Highlands and flows through tea estates and small villages before reaching the falls. The quality of water is generally clean, but swimming is discouraged due to the strong currents and the potential for sudden water level changes.
The cliff from which the waterfall descends is composed of hard, metamorphic rock, which adds to the dramatic effect of the water cascading down. During sunny days, it's possible to see a rainbow forming in the mist created by the falling water, adding another layer of beauty to the scene.
Flora and Fauna around Devon Falls
For those interested in flora, the area around Devon Falls is rich in biodiversity. You'll find a variety of native plants, including ferns and flowering shrubs, growing along the walking trails and near the viewing platforms. These plants contribute to the overall serene atmosphere of the area and offer a vibrant contrast to the falls.
Devon Falls also attracts a range of fauna. Besides being a haven for various bird species, it's not uncommon to spot small mammals and insects like butterflies, further enhancing the natural richness of the site.
Things to Do at Devon Falls
Photography enthusiasts find Devon Falls a great spot for landscape shots. The waterfall serves as an idyllic backdrop, and the surrounding greenery enhances the natural setting. Different viewing platforms offer varied perspectives for your photos. Early morning or late afternoon light is often ideal for capturing the falls in all its glory. You can also experiment with long-exposure shots to create a silky effect on the falling water.
If you're looking to connect with nature, the walking trails near the falls are perfect for a mild trek. These trails are well-marked and suitable for people of all ages. The walk can take up to two hours, depending on your pace and how often you stop to admire the scenery or wildlife. The paths are usually surrounded by native plants and offer periodic glimpses of the falls, making the walk a rewarding experience.
A few designated areas near the falls offer the perfect setting for a picnic. These spots are equipped with basic amenities like benches and waste bins. Given the soothing sound of the water and the scenic view, this spot is a popular choice for families and groups seeking quality time together. However, visitors are encouraged to clean up after themselves to maintain the area's natural beauty.
The forest surrounding Devon Falls is a haven for birdwatchers. Numerous bird species, both migratory and resident, frequent the area. Keep an eye out for colorful parrots, kingfishers, and perhaps even eagles. It's advisable to bring a good pair of binoculars and a bird identification book if you're keen on spotting and identifying various species. Early morning is often the best time for this activity, as birds are usually more active then.
Location and How to Get There
Devon Falls is situated in the Nuwara Eliya District of Sri Lanka. It's around 6 kilometers west of the town of Talawakele on the A7 highway. Public buses and trains run from Colombo to Talawakele. Once you arrive in Talawakele, you can hire a tuk-tuk or taxi for the 15-minute drive to the falls. For those driving, there's a designated viewpoint along the highway where you can safely park and enjoy the view.
From Nuwara Eliya
If you're coming from Nuwara Eliya, the distance to Devon Falls is approximately 30 kilometers, and the journey usually takes about 1 hour by car, depending on traffic and road conditions. You can hire a private taxi or use a rented vehicle for the trip. Buses run from Nuwara Eliya to Talawakele, but they are less frequent than from Colombo.
Best Time to Visit
The recommended time to visit Devon Falls is from December to March. These months are part of the peak tourist season in the Nuwara Eliya District, offering relatively stable and cooler weather. While rain can occur at any time of the year in this region, these months generally provide a more comfortable climate for outdoor activities and sightseeing. The water flow in the waterfall remains fairly consistent during this period, making it ideal for photography and observation.
Tips and Advice
- Safety Precautions: Exercise caution near the cliff edges and slippery rocks. The area can be particularly hazardous during rainy weather.
- Footwear: Wear sturdy and waterproof hiking boots or shoes with good grip, as you may encounter muddy or uneven terrain.
- Hydration and Snacks: Carry sufficient water and light snacks, especially if you plan to go on nature walks or bird-watching expeditions.
- Local Guides: Consider hiring a local guide for an in-depth exploration of the area. Guides can provide valuable information and enhance the overall experience.
- Photography Gear: If you're interested in photography, don't forget to bring along your camera, extra batteries, and any special lenses or tripods you may need.
- Waste Management: There are waste bins in designated areas. Please dispose of trash responsibly to preserve the natural beauty of the area.
- Time Management: Plan to spend at least 3-4 hours if you wish to fully experience all that Devon Falls has to offer, including nearby attractions.
- Weather: Make sure to check the weather forecast before you visit the waterfall. Clear skies offer the best visibility and photography opportunities, while rain can make paths slippery.
- Conservation: Follow all posted guidelines and rules to ensure both your safety and the preservation of this natural treasure.
- St. Clair's Falls: A few kilometers from Devon Falls, this waterfall is known as the "Little Niagara of Sri Lanka." It is ideal for photography and nature walks.
- Kotmale Reservoir: Located about a 1.5-hour drive from Devon Falls, this reservoir offers boating and fishing. It also plays a significant role in local irrigation and hydroelectric projects.
- Aberdeen Falls: Situated around a 1.5-hour drive from Devon Falls, this waterfall is a less crowded alternative for those seeking a quieter nature experience.
- Nanu Oya: About 40 minutes from Devon Falls, this town serves as a gateway to Nuwara Eliya and is a significant railway junction. The train journey offers scenic views of the highlands.
- Hatton: Located less than 25 minutes from Devon Falls, this town is known for its tea plantations and serves as a starting point for treks to Adam's Peak.
Devon Falls is more than just a natural attraction; it is a symbol of Sri Lanka's rich landscape and history. A visit here offers not only a feast for the eyes but also activities that can make your journey memorable. Its location also makes it convenient to visit other nearby attractions, making it a perfect day trip or even a longer stay in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka.