I was thrilled when I got a call from Sri, saying they are planing to go to Gange Wadiya in Eluwankulama. I was waiting for an opportunity to go there and explore the area since Nishantha from Sarisara Beach Traveler programs has been there sometime back.
Ganga Wadiya Map
It was around 11.00 AM when we reached our starting point, Gange Wadiya Village. Mr Sunimal who was the service provider for Nishantha was the service provider for us as well. He was a really friendly guy who is dedicated to give a fantastic service on our journey. He was accompanied by his fellow assistant Shantha. They have packed the boat by the time we were there and ready to launch to the Kaya Oya for camping. We packed our stuff and jumped in to the boat.
Our camp site
Sunimal showed us few remains of war in the area and explained us their life during the war period and how they have defended their village. He as been a volunteer soldier (ග්රමාරක්ෂක) in the war against terrorists. The village seems to have recovered well from the war and catching up with their day today activities. Electricity was also available to the village and it surprised me how they have managed to get electricity even to those huts built with palm leaves. I wonder what would happen if a power leak happens.
As per Sunimal, camping in Kala oya is famous among many. It seems the place is famous among those who come to have fun and drink. Sunimal was surprised when he got to know that none in our crew has came for that purpose. It seems people only go there to have fun. As per one document I read about this area done by IUCN, Vanathavilluwa DSD has a very high biodiversity. It is a perfect place for Eco-tourism.
Meanwhile, we were floating on Lunu Ela which was the bordering water body to the Gange Wadiya village. We had to cross it to get to Kala oya opening. Since it was last month of the dry season the heat was at its maximum. Water level of the Kala oya was also very low. We could see the bottom of the river as soon as we entered it. There were lot of people rowing up and down in small boats known as Theppama(තෙප්පම්). Sunimal said villagers have to travel upstream to have bath and collect fresh water for their day today activities.
Relaxing on the sand
Since the water level was very law Sunimals' assistant Priyantha had to get on to the deck of the boat and give Sunimal guidance on how to move along the river avoiding obstacles. In some occasions, he had to get down and drag the boat. I was amazed by the riding skills of Sunimal. How he had avoid certain obstacles were really amazing. Even with those skills, we could only move about two kilometers along the river. Since we couldn't move any further, we decided to stop by the river bank and get our lunch.
Lunch was full of sea food. Unfortunately, I had an allergy to sea food so I had to satisfy with yellow rice, beans and a Malluma. Even for myself the food was above the level of expectation. After lunch we relaxed a bit and continued going upstream, this time all of us were on foot giving assistance to Sunimal when needed. On this walk we discovered the first Ma-dam tree by the river side. We plucked all the berries we could reach and they were delicious. From there on we were looking for Ma-dam all the way and lucky to find few more trees.
Finally we select our camping spot along the bank of Kala oya. There were two more groups from the village who were camping about 100 meters on either side of our camp site. But there were no interruption from either groups to us.
We had a dip in the river while Sunimal and Priyantha were preparing camp site. They were preparing the camp site on the river bed. After the dip we went to explore the area a bit. Priyantha warned us to not to go further in to the forest because of the elephants. Soon we realized what he was talking about. There were elephant dung everywhere. I was looking for a Cameleon who can only be seen at this part of the country, but had to return to camp without success.
Glad to have a hammock
That night we enjoyed a barbecue and a song session from my friends before go to sleep. In the night some of my friend have heard braking branches and suddenly one yelled saying elephants. Sunimal took necessary steps to avoid them coming toward camp site. Following morning we saw there were quite a lot of elephant foot prints in the sand just about 10-20 feats from our camp fire. Seems like we have camp in an elephant pass.
After breakfast, we decided to go in to the forest in search of elephants. The forest was full of Ma-dam, so we give very little thought to elephants and started to pluck ma-dam. In a little while we heard a branch braking sound and everyone were running for their life. It was really difficult to see even few meters ahead due to the tick forest in the area and we had chosen to go along elephant paths. So we thought the branches were broken by an elephant. It wasn't a very good idea to walk in that thick forest where elephants seems to roam often. We could see elephant dung everywhere as of the other side. We got to the plain as we planed but couldn't see any elephant. Plain wasn't a plain at all, it was full of well grown Neeramulliya (නීරමුල්ලිය) plants. They were all dried out but still well over our waist height.
Enjoying some Ma-dam
We returned to the camp with tummy full of Ma-dam, and had a dip before leaving campsite. The water level had gone up in the river due to the tide which made it easier to steer the boat. We walk along the river for a while before getting in to the boat and finally got to Gange Wadiya village.
Then it was time to go and see the famous elephant tree (අලි ගහ) in Gange Wadiya which is a Baobab tree. In order to get there we had to go to Kalpitiya Lagoon and enter separate water way known as Kumburawa (කඹුරාව). The tree is inside Wilpattu National Park. It took as about half an hour to get there. There are two Baobab trees in the location. One of them is a large one. According to Nishantha (Beach Traveller), it is 49 feats at its bottom. The other one seems to be a young tree, probably a seed grown from the older one. There was a clear mud mark of an elephant rubbed its body on the tree and elephant dung was also there to witness it is their habitat.
Guys by the smaller Baobab tree
Leaving the great tree
We said good bye to the tree and return to Gange wadiya village and got in to our vehicles to get back home with beautiful memories and plans to go there again in near future.
Our service providers details are as follows,
Mr. Sunimal Samantha
Gange Wadiya, Eluwankulama, Old Mannar Road, Puttalam.
Mob: 0725240673 / 0712241251
He also arrange Dolphin & Coral watching trips.