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Belihuloya

Belihuloya is a small yet captivating village in Sri Lanka. This destination has drawn the attention of travelers for its scenic beauty and adventure opportunities. Situated at the border of the wet and dry zones, it offers a unique natural environment. This travel guide aims to provide you with detailed information about what to expect and how to make the most of your trip to Belihuloya.

Overview of Belihuloya

Located in the Ratnapura District of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya serves as a hub for eco-tourism. It sits at an elevation of 616 meters above sea level. The region is a mix of forests, hills, and rivers, making it suitable for various outdoor activities. Not only does it offer an array of things to do, but it also provides a break from crowded tourist hotspots. Its proximity to both the hill country and lowlands makes it an ideal base for exploring other attractions in Sri Lanka.

Attractions and Things to Do

Belihuloya offers a range of activities that cater to various interests, whether you're a nature lover, an adventurer, or someone interested in local culture.

Pahanthudawa Waterfall

Pahanthudawa Waterfall is a hidden gem located close to Belihuloya. Pahanthudawa features a natural pool at its base, making it a popular spot for swimming. The pool is surrounded by rocks, offering a secluded environment to relax and enjoy the natural beauty. To reach the waterfall, you'll need to undertake a short hike through a rubber plantation, adding a sense of adventure to the experience. Because of its less crowded nature, Pahanthudawa provides an ideal setting for those looking for tranquility and a more intimate connection with nature.

Nature Trails

Trekking and hiking are popular ways to explore Belihuloya's natural beauty.

One of the significant hiking attractions in Belihuloya is Wangedigala Mountain. This trail is about 4-5 hours long and presents steep inclines and rocky terrains. It is an ideal destination for experienced hikers seeking a physically demanding journey. The trail offers several viewpoints, including distant sights of Sri Lanka's tallest waterfall, Bambarakanda Fall. Hikers should bring enough water and might consider hiring a guide due to some misleading points on the trail. Two starting points are available for this hike: one near Double Bridge and another close to Bambarakanda Falls at Kalupahana Junction.

Another area for hiking in Belihuloya includes trails at Nonpareil Estate and Baker's Bend. An alternative trail from Belihuloya through Nonpareil leads all the way to World's End in Horton Plains. This trail spans approximately 9 km and offers a variety of terrains, ranging from paddy fields to cloud forests. Hikers can expect elevation gains and should prepare for a journey lasting 6-8 hours. It's advisable to plan this hike between January and March to avoid monsoon conditions.

Nonpareil Estate and Baker's Bend

Nonpareil Estate is one of the prominent tea plantations in the area. A visit here allows you to witness tea cultivation and production processes. You can tour the tea factory to see how the leaves are processed and even participate in a tea-tasting session. The estate also has trails that provide an opportunity to experience the peacefulness of a working tea plantation.

Baker's Bend is a viewpoint located in the Nonpareil Estate that offers remarkable views of the surrounding area, including the Samanalawewa reservoir, mountain ranges, and sprawling valleys. The location is ideal for photography, and the panoramic views at sunset are particularly breathtaking.

In addition to these attractions, Nonpareil Estate is known for its waterfall, which is particularly impressive during the rainy season. These falls add a unique charm to the estate, making it a well-rounded destination for both relaxation and adventure. 

Nonpareil Estate is a private property, so you will need permission beforehand to visit the estate and the viewpoint.

Water Activities

The Belihuloya River is not just a scenic beauty; it's also a playground for water sports enthusiasts. Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities here. Local operators offer half-day or full-day guided trips, and they usually provide all the necessary equipment and safety briefings. The river has sections suitable for all levels of expertise, from calm waters for beginners to rapid currents for more experienced adventurers.

Bird Watching

Bird enthusiasts find Belihuloya an excellent location for bird watching. The area around the Belihuloya River is particularly rich in bird species. From common water birds like the White-breasted Waterhen to rare species like the Ceylon Grey Hornbill, the variety is quite remarkable. Early morning is the best time for bird watching, so consider starting your day early to catch the best sights.

Cultural Sites

Belihuloya is home to several ancient temples that provide a glimpse into the area's spiritual and cultural history. The "Saman Dewalaya" is one such temple dedicated to God Saman, a deity believed to be the guardian of the region. The temple features intricate woodwork and paintings that tell stories from religion and folklore.

Adventure Sports

If you're an adrenaline junkie, Belihuloya has something for you too. Rock climbing is an activity that's gaining popularity, with local operators offering guided climbs for various skill levels. Mountain biking is another option. The rugged terrains and hillside trails provide an exciting challenge. Local shops rent out bikes and also offer guided tours that range from easy to difficult.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation options in Belihuloya range from budget-friendly guesthouses to mid-range hotels and luxury resorts. Many of these offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and rivers. Amenities vary but often include Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms, and on-site dining options. For those who prefer to be closer to nature, camping sites are also available, providing a more rustic experience.

Cuisine

Belihuloya offers a variety of dining options that include traditional Sri Lankan dishes like rice and curry as well as international dishes. Local restaurants are a good place to try spicy foods and freshwater fish. Street food stalls also provide quick and affordable local bites.

Location and How to Get There

Belihuloya is located about 160 kilometers away from Colombo. If you're coming from Colombo, you can take the Colombo-Badulla Road, also known as the A4 highway, which will take you directly to Belihuloya. The journey by car can take around 4 to 5 hours, depending on traffic. Public transport is also available, with bus services regularly running from Colombo and other major cities to Belihuloya. 

Another option is to take a train to a nearby station like Haputale or Bandarawela and then take a bus or taxi to Belihuloya, which could be more scenic but also longer. It is advisable to check the schedules and plan your journey accordingly.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Belihuloya is from December to April. This period offers pleasant weather suitable for outdoor activities.

Tips and Advice

  • Footwear: If you plan on hiking, make sure to bring sturdy hiking boots. For general sightseeing, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
  • Mosquito Repellent: The area has a tropical climate, so it's wise to use mosquito repellent, especially during the evening.
  • Local Guides: For hiking and visiting less-known attractions, hiring a local guide can be invaluable. They offer local insights and can navigate challenging terrains.
  • Public Transport: If you're using public transport, be aware of the schedules, as buses may not run as frequently in the evening.
  • Safety Measures: Always inform someone about your hiking plans and estimated time of return. This is particularly important for solo travelers.
  • Cash and Cards: While most hotels accept credit cards, smaller establishments, and street vendors usually only accept cash. Keep small bills handy.
  • Weather: Check the weather forecast before planning any outdoor activities. Rain can suddenly appear, especially during the monsoon season.

Nearby Attractions

  1. Bambarakanda Falls: Located about 18 kilometers from Belihuloya, this waterfall is the tallest in Sri Lanka. The area provides excellent opportunities for photography and hiking.
  2. Horton Plains National Park: Situated around 58 kilometers from Belihuloya, Horton Plains offers a unique ecosystem with a variety of wildlife. The park is famous for "World's End," a cliff that provides stunning vistas.
  3. Ohiya: Approximately 52 kilometers away, Ohiya is known for its scenic beauty and tea plantations. It's a gateway for hikes, including trails that lead to Horton Plains.
  4. Haputale: Around 29 kilometers from Belihuloya, Haputale is a town located in the mountains, known for its breathtaking views and tea estates. The Adisham Bungalow, a colonial retreat, is a must-visit here.
  5. Nuwara Eliya: One of Sri Lanka's most popular travel destinations, Nuwara Eliya is a city in the hill country known as "Little England" due to its temperate climate and colonial-era buildings. It's famous for its tea plantations and scenic views.

Belihuloya is a great travel destination that offers a balanced mix of nature, adventure, and culture. Whether you're a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, this charming village has something for everyone. With its scenic landscapes and range of activities, Belihuloya promises an unforgettable travel experience.



This post first appeared on Wonders Of Ceylon, please read the originial post: here

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