Baththalangunduwa camping - Most asked questions
Baththalangunduwa is a very familiar destination nowadays , and offers a unique off the beaten track experience to an adventure seeking traveler. With it’s arduous sea crossing and complete separation from the mainland, BG island is perhaps one of the most unique places within the travel circuit of Sri Lanka. The travel atmosphere – a far cry from the secluded and solo-esque travel exploits among the mountains , nevertheless is rewarding and offers a whole new experience . Planning your next adventure to Baththalangunduwa? Our FAQ will help you to plan out your basics on your island adventure.
Where is baththlangunduwa?
Baththalangunduwa is a small island off the coast of Kaplitiya, nestled in the Dutch bay about 38 kilometers (or 20 nautical miles) off Kalpitiya. The island itself is a small sliver of land, composed almost entirely of washed up sand (with a coral base in some parts). The island is one of a few inhabited islands within the Dutch bay - The Kalpitiya peninsula is a unique destination by itself with a cluster of 14 islands of varied sizes. Five of these islands are inhabited while the rest are frequented only by the seasonal fishing community; with Baththalgunduwa home to a thriving fishing community.
The whole island is oblong and stretches almost 16 kilometers from north to south with the width of the island never exceeding 1km in any way.
Is it safe for solo travel?
Making a trip here is best done with a group, not simply to cut down on the costs – but more for relative safety. The General area of Baththalangunduwa falls within the area of heavy smuggling routes (being in close proximity to India) so you can expect a relatively high security presence there. Also being quite remote (Almost 3 to4 hours from the mainland) it does do good to have a few helping hands with you. But you can do a solo outing – but hey, in this particular case “safety in numbers” does count. It can sometimes feel like you’re in a Coachella, but escape the main camping grounds – and the whole of the island is yours to explore.
Where do you depart from?
The departure point for baththalangunduwa island is from the fishing harbor of Kalpitiya. While it is possible to access the island from other areas as well, only the boat operators berthed at Kalpitiya are allowed to make the journey. There is only one ferry that does the regular run between the Island and the mainland that you can use to get to the island itself. The stout and weather-beaten Baththalangunduwa ferry is the best option (and possibly the only option) if you plan to make the voyage to the island – it’s a good idea to call the operator just to make sure that the ferry is up and running (Owner Sujith – 0773-286939)
But if you’re going to the island in a group, there are private tour operators whom have their own vessels – we went there with the Dolphin Wadiya boat tours , whom offer both a dedicated camping ground and transport from and to the island , without adhering to a set time (like the ferry does.)
You can park your vehicle at the harbor itself, with a ticket coasting less than 100 rupees . The ferry will coast you around 350 rupees per person , but a private boat will cost way higher – hence travelling with goodly numbered crew.
Departing from The Harbor at Kalpitiya can be a tedious affair, as the coastguard officers will check your bags and take down your details. the lifejackets will be issued and checked by the officers and then you’d be cleared to set sail.
What times do the ferry depart and how long does it take to reach Baththalagunduwa?
The ferry departs on the dot at 8.30 am in the morning ( the dot becomes a comma in most instances though) It’s a good idea to call beforehand and try to reserve a place if you can , or be there at the harbor as early as possible to make sure you can make it to the boat . It takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach Baththalagunduwa, especially depending on the weather. If there are headwinds or choppy seas, the time can get more stretched and prolonged. If you have acute seasickness or motion sickness, it would be a good idea to get some anti-seasickness meds before you depart.
The boat does the return leg from BG to the mainland arouund 1.30 pm every day - except Sundays.
There is no proper jetty to disembark at the island , so be prepared to do some wading and gymnastics when getting off the boat - and oh! dont forget there are a massive number of prickly hermit crab shells around the soft surfline - so tread carefully !
Is it crowded on weekends?
BG ( Baththalangunduwa) is a emerging hotspot on the travel hub centering Kalpitya.The recet years has seen a marked expansion of the numbers of the travelers whom visit the island. While some days , particularly on the weekends and the extended weekends there is a massive influx of humanity upon the island – the only determining factor seems the capacity of the vessels transporting visitors to the island. Moreover , with more and more people opting to come with a relatively large group with their own boat – things can get a bit crowded . The main camping areas can become almost like a tent farm and you can feel almost drowning inside a Coachella event -especially come night time.
But the main camping group seems to be where the people mostly hang out , so once you depart it and make some headway around the beaches , you are practically alone , and will have the entire place all to yourself!
Are there any shops on the island?
Yes, there are a few shops on the island with allow you to buy some basic amenities, if you’re lucky you can come across some cool beverages (cola). Besides water and other basics, do bring all your supplies from the mainland itself, depending on such shops for supplies is folly -with the mainland being so far away, such shops can have or not have what you are looking for in the first place. Although tourism has touched the island, the shops primarily cater to the locals and things we take for granted can be nonexistent there.
Is there any water on the island?
There is no water per se on the island, but digging a few feet down will enable you to get access to drinkable water with a lover degree of salinity. The local inhabitants of the island dig into the soft sand, push in a plastic barrel to keep the side walls from collapsing inside the dug hole – and then proceed to scoop up the welling water.
This will be your primary source of bathing water too – after a dip in the sea it’ll be good to wash down all the salt from such a small “well”. There are a few wells on the island itself, but years of neglect have left them almost unusable. You can dig a well yourself, or use one the locals have reinforced with a barrel. Such wells are easy to find – you only need to ask a local to point you in the right way.
Where do you pitch camp?
The main camping area is just behind the fishing village and it faces the west. This is a relatively small area with a goodly amount of Indian mangrove trees (Avicennia officinalis). The trees offer shade in an otherwise inhospitable climate of harsh light and soaring temperatures. The sand is relatively coarse, and doesn’t get all over your stuff ( 20% of the time that is) . There is no direct path to the small dugout wells but you can find your way easily in and out of the camping grounds without much effort.
There is no dedicated sanitation facilities on the island – and that is one of the main issues you can come across while camping there. The best thing to do is ask permission from the local police outpost to use their spartan facilities.
Any important things to remember about beach camping?
Beach camping is a whole different affair from your regular camping trips to say, the mountains. For one (and this is the main issue) sand gets almost everywhere. Make sure that you have yourself an extra piece of cloth you can use as a rug – to place this infront of your tent. If not, you’ll end up with bucket loads of sand everywhere.
Also, the weather being unpredictable – be prepared for rain and heavy winds. make sure you have your tent firmly secured with your tent pegs and have a rain cover handy. Also be sure to dig a small trench around your tent to redirect the runoff water.
But chances are you’ll have sunny skies and cloudless nights. The heat can be really debilitating though. Be sure to pack a good sunscreen have an ample amount of water with you. Water is paramount, and sometimes the water in the island becomes scarce – so be sure to ask from either the boat operator or someone whom had ben there beforehand.
And Always think about waterproofing! especially all your electronics. With the constant heat , humidity and ocean spray you are bound to get condensation on your devices. Make sure you have either zip-lock bags and some fore of moisture absorption measure ( a few packets of silica will do the trick) at hand .
Can you walk all along the beach?
Yes – you can almost walk the entire length of the island ; if you love exploring and don’t mind the heat. With the island being almost 16 km’s in length, its always a good idea to go exploring along the beaches – it will take some considerable amount of time, so start out early.
The heat and sunlight can become really unforgiving in the noon. The best times to explore is from early morning to about 10 am and from 3pm on to evening. The scorching sun can be really hard so be sure to ack some good sunscreen and get some good shades for your eyes. And don’t forget to have some decent head protection and carry a water bottle for hydration. The beaches on the eastern part of the island are far less pristine than on its western side – particularly owing to the fishing activities taking place there.
There are numerous small coves and mangrove swaps on the eastern side with a myriad of seabirds flocking to feed in the shallows. If you’re a birder – this is heaven undoubtedly. And talking of birds, once you depart the main camping grounds and the number of crows you will see, will dramatically decrease. But be sure to be on the lookout for semi wild dogs whom roam the island – they can get spooked and be a little hostile.