A roadtrip on Route 99 - in search of waterfalls and cascades
Updated: Aug 5, 2018
Taking the long route over has never been so rewarding. Welcome to a road that sees not many a traveler or road trip enthusiast making their trails – A road that winds it’s way through mid-land tea country , dotted with lush plantations of teak, tea, rubber , cinnamon , rambutan much more.
The road to Wewalwaththa takes you into a magical journey into a lesser explored corner , somewhat secluded from the mainstream roads .
Making our way from Rathnapura , we turned into the wewalwatha road , that is surprisingly well paved – but narrow and winding . The road takes you past little dambadiva, a well known stop for the devout pilgrim and makes it’s way all the way to Balangoda- with wewalwaththa in the middle. The entire stretch is around 43 Km’s in length and takes around 2 hours to traverse in a leisurely fashion.
The best time to visit is perhaps in the rainy season – but with the danger of landslides , it can be a tad risky. The reason behind this is the weather ; the increased waterfall makes for seasonal waterfalls and cascades that seemingly spring up from everywhere along the route. That being said there is not actually a good or bad time as the Amazonian kind of climate often brings sudden downpours or an intermittent drizzle heading your way.
The climate is cool and inviting, and the drizzling makes it very nostalgically homely. The driving is uncannily pleasant with fields of eucalyptus trees and neatly paved and curbed roads , undulating through quaint villages and tea plantations , rubber fields and spice cultivation that make the bulk of the commerce in the area.
Being in the buffer zone of sorts, the area is blessed with what can be said as “dramatic weather” ; one moment you might have a cascading shower – the next it might be sunshine peeking through a gap in the turbulent skies above.
The first waterfall we encountered was the Katu kithul ella – or as can be simply translated : "the palm grove falls ”.
This waterfall is directly next to the road and therein lies the beauty of the whole journey – the waterways seemingly spring up and gush down seemingly everywhere you go. There is in fact a smaller water fall you pass a few meters before you come to katu kithul ella – and this is true all along the journey.the palm groves” This waterfall is directly next to the road and therein lies the beauty of the whole journey – the waterways seemingly spring up and gush down seemingly everywhere you go. There is in fact a smaller water fall you pass a few meters before you come to katu kithul ella – and this is true all along the journey.
The waterfall is located in the Amunuthanna area and has a cascading flow that flows into a few tiers before making it’s way down a bridge . Height wise it is about 15 meters and has a few separate cascades that make it up. The waterfall is stunningly beautiful – it seems so apart from the surrounding landscape, with an assortment of ferns and palm fronds lining the entirety of the falls.
Be on the lookout for leaches though! The critters are small and are numerous! You don’t want a whole swathe of then climbing up you while you enjoy this spectacle.
few turns along the way from katu kithul ella we came to see the majestic Dehena Falls . The beauty , with it’s cascading flow is a whopping 75 meters high- and the water flow , especially when it rains – seemingly covers the entirety of the road that is right next to it!
Stopping here is and absolute must! There is a small bund that cates water just below the falls and it is chock full of fish!
( wouldn’t want to bathe or wade in there though) As the falls is right next to the road you can park your car on just after passing the bridge in front of the falls – the road is quite narrow and the drivers are rather your ‘ rally – car-driver-for-a-day’ types, so better play it safe.
It’s possible to make your way right upto the falls but, be mindful of the slippery rocks and the army of leeches! The water flow can seemingly change very suddenly too – the water flow noticeably changed and increased while we were there – so be on very very mindful and aware of it.
After we departed Dehena falls we made our way to wewalwaththa – a small town that lies smack in the middle of Balangoda and Rathnapura. A few intermittent shops and small tea houses were there – and you can get yourself a very satisfying cuppa plain tea ( if that’s your cuppa tea – so to speak)
Here we took the road upto Alupola Falls – the road that makes it’s way past the Hopewell hospital . The Hospital is a call to the colonial past of srilanka , built in 1906 to treat the local plantation workers and has since been taken over as a government run hospital.
The road leading up is very very narrow and somewhat worse for wear , but is easily motorable. We drove in our car ( which has a higher ground clearance than most - but could be a handful for lower slung cars.)
We stopped at the bridge that gives a clear view of the falls and decided to hop off there , rather than making it further up . If you venture further up you will find a well made and quiescent flight of steps that make it to the base of the falls.
There is a small shop nearby and we made our way past that into the wewal dola , that makes it’s way down the Bathurugala mountain making up the falls. The water is pristine and the views are superior here – and you get to see the waterfall in all it’s glory.
The river itself is a gem , with lots of loach (fish) that hurry on and nibble you as soon as you take a dip . If you are lucky – you’ll see some giant freshwater crayfish there are huge! And an assortment of freshwater crabs that skittle about in the clear spring waters. a gem , with lots of loach (fish) that hurry on and nibble you as soon as you take a dip . If you are lucky – you’ll see some giant freshwater crayfish there are huge! And an assortment of freshwater crabs that skittle about in the clear spring waters.
Exploring the waterfall here is truly exceptional – there are a multitude of indigenous flora and fauna thought the area. Many birds, dragonflies and butterflies add a sense of peaceful harmony to the surroundings.
With rain setting in ( and that is quite often ) we bid farewell to the falls and made our way back to Balangoda . The road here from Wewalwaththa to Banlangoda is not of the same quality of the road we traversed on our way there ; and along the way we say a couple more waterfalls but unfortunately the rain made it impossible to take a closer look at them .
So if you want a roadtrip that takes you into a wonderland of waterfalls – this is the trip you should take!
And before you go here’s a few tips in conclusion
· You will find lots of leeches! So better get some repellent or have a pice of soap or lime/lemen at the hand to take them off. They can be tiny so always make sure to check yourself once you make your way into the road and off the trail.
· There is always a danger of landslides so be on the lookout while driving. Don’t stop along steep embankments if it’s possible.
· Always be mindful of your footing while visiting the falls as it is SLIPPERY and the water levels can change even without rain – the catchment area upstream could get rainfall and swell up the cascade without warning.
· Don’t litter and always enjoy the wilderness