Horton Plains National Park is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 metres (6,900–7,500 ft) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Nuwara-eliya.
The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. In Sinhala the plains are known as Mahaweli Plains. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The plains' vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. Forest dieback is one of the major threats to the park and some studies suggest that it is caused by a natural phenomenon. The sheer precipice of World's End and Baker's fall are among the tourist attractions of the park.
Hikkaduwa is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka located in the Southern Province, about 17 km north-west of Galle.
Arranged around the heavily trafficked main Galle to Colombo road which runs mostly parallel to the shore, Hikkaduwa's beach and night life make it a popular tourist destination. A well-known international destination for board-surfing, the town was featured in an episode of Anthony Bourdain's television show No Reservations. And Hikkaduwa is a main City that gains Tourism income to the SriLanka. Many tourists visits Hikkaduwa as there are so many things they can enjoy there.
Hikkaduwa was affected by the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake along with nearby villages Telwatta, Paraliya (Queen of the Sea rail disaster), Dodanduwa, Kahawa and Rathgama. In the wake of the tsunami, many of the families who had lost everything were given sewing machines as part of the relief operations. As a result, the town has a multitude of tailors who will custom make shirts, pants, and shorts.
Many who comes Hikkaduwa the majority represent beach lovers, or sea lovers harts attracted by hikkaduwa beach girl. Beside them other preder to surfe in hikkaduwa beach on the breaking waves and some feel the north pure wind and taste the beach sunlight.
Snorkeling and diving in the clear waters are the major past-time along this stretch and is the most environmentally friendly way to see the colorful fish that dart around.
The coral sanctuary found on the coast of Hikkaduwa is a large shallow body of water enclosed by a reef, decorated with layers of multi colored corals, witch is home to countless number of colorful fish. Off the beach there is a collection of tine islets surrounded by beautiful coral formations. Many species of fish and large turtles are found here.There are more than four different shipwrecks for diving enthusiasts to explore along with dive shops offering PADI courses and equipment.
The resort area has now engulfed two or three villages south of it, and is now a 4km strip of hotels, shops, bars, restaurants and guesthouses. The beaches are nice and wide and swimming is safe here, though the currents are stronger south of Hikkaduwa proper. The impressive coral reef runs just offshore and is still populated by exotic fish and sea turtles. Glass bottomed boats are available for visitors wanting to admire the wonders of the deep while keeping their feet dry!
After a shot distance southwards from the center of the reef, it diminishes given rise to a wider sandy bottomed beach with good waves ideal for board surfing and body surfing. You can always rent the necessary equipment needed for snorkeling and surfing. Hikkaduwa is an established tourist destination and the surfing there is quite well known. You won't see the Indonesian style overcrowding here though. The reef is coral so a first aid kit and booties are handy. Localism is usually not a problem though we have seen some tourists get some hassle. Respect them and they leave you alone pretty much.
There are many shops selling Masks, Gems, Jewellery, Batik, Antiques and etc. along with several Buddhist temples, all which add spice to life at Hikkaduwa.
Hummanaya is the only known blowhole in Sri Lanka and it may be the second largest blowhole in the world.
It is located after Matara and Dikwella town in the Southern Province and at small fishing village called Kudawella 1.1 kilometres (0.7 mi) to the right. Dikwella is a coastal town 180 kilometres (111.8 mi) far away from Colombo and 22 kilometres (13.7 mi) from Matara.
There is a rock with a long but narrow fracture in the middle; At once rough sea waves gush through the crack and pass out through the hole at the bottom of the rock and blow out high in to the sky displaying a marvel water fountain. Surrounding area is always filled with whoosh caused by seawater rushing through the natural hole and it can be heard somewhat far away from the site. Occasionally the blowhole shoots water several feet above the rock. If sea is rough with strong winds and waves gush fast, the height of the water blow-up goes up 25 metres (82.0 ft) to 30 metres (98.4 ft) but when sea is calm and quiet the situation will be reversed as shown in the photograph. This site has now been developed as a tourist attraction. A visitors' information center on marine life and a viewing flat-form have already been built up.
KNUCKLES MOUNTAIN RANGE
The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, north-east of the city of Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resemble the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy District. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning mist-laden mountain range (Cooray, 1984). The entire area is characterized by its striking landscapes often robed in thick layers of cloud but in addition to its aesthetic value the range is of great scientific interest. It is a climatic microcosm of the rest of Sri Lanka. The conditions of all the climatic zones in the country are exhibited in the massif. At higher elevations there is a series of isolated cloud forests, harbouring a variety of flora and fauna, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Although the range constitutes approximately 0.03% of the island’s total area it is home to a significantly higher proportion of the country’s biodiversity.
Due to differentiation of climate the Knuckles has become a swatch of Sri Lankan biological population. In this case every one especially Sri Lankans has the responsibility to protect this precious heritage of the nature. In accordance with the records, there are about 1033 flowering plants of 141 families discovered within the acreage of 62 square miles. Among them 255 species are trees and others are small herbs and bushes. 160 species of whole flora considered as endemic species and more than 330 species are locally imperiled. More than 25 orchid species are recorded in the Knuckles.
Just like Flora, the Knuckles plays an important character on Sri Lankan Fauna. In accordance with the records 247 vertebrate species have been discovered and 26% of them considered as endemic species including 14 bird species and 9 fish species. 5 of the endemic species are confined to Knuckles Range. Among the large mammals Leopard, Sambur, Elephant, giant squirrel, spotted deer, barking deer, wild boar and mouse deer are well known.
SINHARAJA RAIN FOREST
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. It is of international significance and has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The hilly virgin rainforest, part of the Sri Lanka lowland rain forests ecoregion, was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility, and was designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve's name translates as Kingdom of the Lion.
The reserve is only 21 km (13 mi) from east to west, and a maximum of 7 km (4.3 mi) from north to south, but it is a treasure trove of endemic species, including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala. There are about 3 elephants and the 15 or so leopards are rarely seen. The commonest larger mammal is the endemic Purple-facedLangur.
An interesting phenomenon is that birds tend to move in mixed feeding flocks, invariably led by the fearless Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and the noisy Orange-billed Babbler. Of Sri Lanka's 26 endemic birds, the 20 rainforest species all occur here, including the elusive Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.
Reptiles include the endemic Green pit viper and Hump-nosed vipers, and there are a large variety of amphibians, especially tree frogs. Invertebrates include the endemic Common Birdwing butterfly and the inevitable leeches.
The fascinating activity of Caving is relatively new to Sri Lanka, but with an impressive range of caves located throughout the country it's an unusual experience not to be missed! Known to the experts as ‘speleology', caving involves the exploration, surveying, mapping and photographing of caves situated around Sri Lanka.
The Waulpane Cave (aka 'Cave of Bats') is renowned for its many beautiful stalactites and stalagmites (approx. 500 million years old) as well as the hundreds of thousands of bats that live there! It is an isolated cavern set against the eastern slopes of the Rakwana mountain range, located about a 1 ½ hr drive from Pallebedda. Once entering the cave, you descend approx. 300 metres underground to discover this prehistoric world of ancient fossils in the cavern walls, a stream that runs through the cave and a beautiful waterfall located in the centre. As well as the many bats, watch out for the water monitors, various amphibians and fascinating luminous fish!
The Wavulpane cave site actually consists of one main cave structure and another dozen various caves, each with its own beauty and charm. Tourists, especially kids, would be struck with the ethereal appearance of these caves and plunge in to a frenzy of exploration and adventure. Situated at over 900 feet above the sea level, the Wavulpane cavern harbours a magnificent internal waterfall. At around 150 feet or 45 metres in height, this waterfall is simply known as the “Wavulpane Ella” and botanists have identified over 100 endemic species of flora in and around the waterfall.
Moving all to the dimensions of the Wavulpane cave, it has been confirmed that it is approximately 150 metres in length and it can be accessed via two disparate doorways. The colonies of bats are found inside the caves and some wildlife enthusiasts place the count of bats at a million! The famous limestone pit is continuously growing and a substantial number of fossils of animals have been discovered here. Wavulpane Cave is the globe’s second largest limestone cave and it lies within close proximity to the Udawalawe National Park. In addition to the bats, a large array of reptiles and mammals can be spotted at Wavulpane.
As mentioned above, the plants in the vicinity are widely diverse and the entire biodiversity reflects the exciting tropical wildlife. Even though it was closed for tourists, it is at present completely accessible and this is one special destination that any tourist should not miss while in Sri Lanka. The Wavulpane cave can be easily reached via the Baluthota Road or the road towards Embilipitiya, which is several kilometres from the Pallebadda tri-junction. The street referred to as the “Wavulpane Development Mawatha” leads to the Wavulpane cave site.
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