The complete Guide to Aberdeen Falls
Updated: Jun 3
Located in the heart of the hydro Power generation hinterland in the mountainous reaches of the island, Aberdeen falls is a unique and immensely picturesque waterfall that should be included in the “must visit waterfalls” list.
The falls is in close proximity to Luxapana falls, and we have a previous blog post on that and you can read it here.
Although you could visit both falls in one day, we spent individual days visiting each falls, as to get more out of each journey ; indeed both waterfalls are unique and the experience differs by a significant amount.
The time to visit
The best time to visit is just after the monsoon months have ended , rather than in the middle of the monsoon months itself. Going in the monsoon months will mean that you will probably have no access to the base of the falls , owing to the massive cascade - fueled with the massive rainwater from the heavens.
The drier months make it safer ,although the water cascade will be far less. Also the drier atmosphere will makes leach attacks less of a thing to worry about.
Always always be mindful of the weather ; Ginigath-hena is one of the wettest ares in Sri Lanka, the rainfall which is one of the highest averages in the island. such rainfall can swell the waterflow dramatically so always keep an eye on the sky.
Aberdeen falls is accessible from Ginigathhena, which is the closest town - and from here you can make your way to the falls. Take note that there are a few routes to take, and we opted for the route that takes us to the very base of the falls (and we found our hotel on this route too) - so if you're in for some goodly amount of trail stomping, this is the route to take.
The road starts from the local HNB bank is, and take the Ella uda thaniyagala road - it branches from the main road leading down, and is easily located (be sure to ask any local if you're not sure). The road is about 6kms long and although we'll paved, is narrow and full of curves. There is also a bus service that runs on this route so you can use that if you're backpacking to the falls - and if you're on a vehicle (we ditched the car and went on the bike) be on the lookout for vehicles - especially the bus while negotiating the road.
There are a few shops and you can sometimes find the bus parked at the end of the road, and thereon a small gravel track leads you to a small parking lot where you can disembark and head on down to the falls.
The trail to the falls.
From the parking lot there is a small sign directing you to the falls, and it weaves its way down alongside a few houses. The path is well cleared and is easy to negotiate - but getting back up is another story that mostly involves a goodly amount of huffing, puffing and a bucket load of sweat. And the path isn't lighted, so if you're making your way down in the dark, it's better to have some lights with you.
Almost half way down to the falls you can catch a glimpse of the cascade, and a few concrete steps leading you down. This is where the Aberdeen emotion Inn is located, an intoxicating little hideout that we stayed for the night.
The concrete steps take you all down to the base - but here's when things become a bit technical. The track is somewhat worn out and slippery - and you will find yourself weaving from one rock face to another to get to the bottom. A little footwork, and good balancing will see you down safely.
To get to the sandbar ( only accessible in the drier months, more fancy rock hopping is required, and you reed to crawl down a large boulder to get there (if you plan not to get wet) - alternatively you can wade through a small pool at the base of the falls.
The majestic Aberdeen falls.
Aberdeen falls is 99 meters high and is ranked as the 18th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Fed by the clear waters of the kehelgamuwa oya, which has its roots in the pristine kehelgamuwa mountain range - the waters ultimately tumble off into the Kelani River and makes its way past kithulgala.
Aberdeen falls itself gets its name from a far off place - Aberdeen, the capital of Scotland. It is perhaps a remnant of the islands colonial past, where many state officials and administrators were from the then British empire.
Perhaps more telling is the folklore surrounding the falls, of a tunnel leading up to Luxapana falls, and in a pretty unique geological formation of the cliff face that the water cascades down ; pointed out to us by the very courteous hotel owner, the rock face resembles a standing human effigy. The locals have in turn interpreted this formation to be of Buddhist monk ; more specifically of Lord Buddha. Seeing it for the first time, we found the resemblance uncanny.
We visited the falls on the onset of a dry spell so the waters were somewhat low : this compounded with the fact that a substantial amount of water is retained for hydro power purposes (dams) the flow can be meagre. But the wispy veils of water have a beauty onto their own right and there is also an added bonus : the sandbank just next to the falls is exposed and you can almost walk right next to the falls.
Things to do while there.
You can possibly camp out in the base of the waterfall, especially in the drier months because of the water levels being low. (not so great in the wet monsoon months though) even while we were there, a large party was on site, “camping” just for the first half of the evening. Many people visit the place, from adolescent youngsters to local family groups to even couples out on a photoshoot : so the place can get crowded, especially on a weekend.
The best time to avoid the crowd, and have the place all to yourself is undoubtedly early morning. It makes sense to either camp out, or find accommodation nearby, so you can pop into the falls at the break of dawn. If not it takes you almost 5 hours of commuting just to get to Ginigathhena, and even if you started way early in the morning you wouldn't get there until noon at best - and chances are that people will be there and if you're like us, who want some peace and quiet - better to find a place nearby.
A kayaking session under the falls!
A local lad has a kayak that he offers up for travelers who want a first hand experience of the falls. For a few hundred rupees you can ask him for a kayaking session, where he would take you around the base of the pool and if you're up for it - right under the waterfall! The chilly waters raining down on you is an experience never to be forgotten!! A d yes - you'll be drenched all over, so better have a change of clothes handy and don't take any stuff (especially electronics) that might not welcome a soaking.
Ann wanted to go kayaking so bad and after an hour or so, she found herself a new passion - kayaking. It's so great to travel in this regard : it helps you discover more and more about yourself than you'd ever thought possible.
P. S - make sure you got the life vests on correctly and accompany the kayak proprietor :ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE PLANNING TO GO UNDER THE FALLS. The base pool is deep and has some strong currents, so even if you're not a newbie, take care when embarking over the waters. Stay safe, be safe and everything will be alright.
Some afterthoughts on photography.
We love to take photographs on our travels : it has been our way of documenting our passage through the wild wild world. Aberdeen was no different - here are some things that we experienced while there.
Evenings and afternoons are crowded. For some unique angles devoid of humanity, the best time is early morning. The light also is magical, sometimes making small rainbows with the mist from the falls.
Morning Light is also the best if you plan to get some shots of you, with the waterfall behind. The morning light is perfect for such an endeavour and avoids your pictures from getting back lit.
Changing lenses can be challenging especially with the moisture and mist from the falls.
Also there is a fair amount of crawling under / over rocks and wading through pools. Take care not to bump your equipment or get it to play submarine.
A wide angle lens is perfect for the task of taking the waterfall in its entirety.
There are some intricate and mesmerizing stone formations at the base of the falls, in the cave like depression - including one that looks like the great red spot on Jupiter.
If you want to experience a waterfall that is somewhat off the beaten track, and are in search of an exciting roadtrip, visiting Aberdeen is for you.
You can either couple up visiting a few places in and around ginigathhena, like visiting Luxapana falls into a single adventure. The falls itself can be covered within a few hours - we opted to get to the base of the falls, and went on the route described, but there are also other roads that take you to the top pool. There is a stairway leading you down, and you can see the viewing stand from the base of the falls.
If you're in the mood for some rough climbing, and don't mind a sweat, you can get over to the stairs from the base and make your way up to the upper pool, where the falls begin. It's a bit of an effort but there's a small waterfall on top as well.
We opted to stay overnight, and initially had booked another hotel in nearby, when we chanced on the Aberdeen Emotion Inn, practically overlooking the falls. We stayed there overnight and that by far was one of the best decisions we've made on our escapades.
We'll be doing another blog post especially about the small boutique and rustic hotel soon. But if you're impatient you can contact one of the caretakers at the hotel and book your stay.
Nuwan - Aberdeen Imotion inn
Mobile:075 580 1645
We hope you found this blog post useful and helped you to plan out your next adventure. From our travels we've learnt that research into where you're heading is indispensable - and we hope our experience will be an asset to yours.
Till we meet again in another post - here's us saying farewell and the best of luck for your next adventure!!