Wangedigala Camping – Top questions answered
Camping on wangedigala has become synonymous with trekking and camping in Sri Lanka. For first timers it can be a good initiation to camping and trekking in general. Here we have compiled some basic questions everyone seems to ask before heading up to camp – this will be helpful in planning your adventure to Wangedigala.
Where is wangedigala?
Wangedigala sits right on the border between Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces, in the periphery of Kalupahana . Reaching there is very straightforward with the most common route being the Colombo – Badulla (route 99) highway. It takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach the initial starting off point , especially if you start early off from Colombo .The trail starts right next from the main road , with practically no traversing need to be done to get more closer – mind you there are infact TWO routes to the top , with the most accessed being right next to the waterfall , and the other in the village that is in the lee of Bambarakanda falls , that is situated quite close by.
How easy is the hike?
Wangedigala is traversed by almost every single person whose physical capabilities vary widely from one to another. Except for the very last stretch the trail isn’t that much challenging or steep. Steady footwork will get you to the top without any major pains – but the trail is continuously uphill, with the gradient letting up only a little on the entire climb.
The climb int in any way technical but it can be pretty monotonous, and with some parts of the trail winding through pine forests, the footing can be a tad bit on the slippery side when you walk over the pine needles. More than anything it is a test of endurance rather than on outright strength; and the most asked question on the hike will undoubtedly be – ARE WE THERE YET?
How long does it take to get to the top?
It takes on the average about 3 hours to make it to the uppermost section of the mountain, where the majority of the camping grounds are located. The trail is about 5 km’s to the top (reaching the top of Wangedikanda ) . Mostly it depends on your ability to keep the pace uphill, and how much your pack weighs ; the heavier the load , the slower the progress can be. Luckily the trail is almost completely done under the shade of the pine forests covering the mountain, and the scorching sun is off your worry list.
Is it crowded on weekends?
YES. The place is full to the brim on a weekend, and almost at the brim when it’s a long weekend. A plethora of hikers and campers flock o this camping ground – it has become a mainstay of the local hiking / camping scene from about a few years back. We also went on a long weekend, but were fortunately enough to find a pristine and utterly uncrowded camping spot on the upper most reaches of the peak .
Having a bunch of people is good in a way. There ARE leopards about, and having a few fellow campers in arm’s reach can to loads to boost the safety – but in the flipside, the majority aren’t hardcore campers and revels around large bonfires will be almost a guarantee. If you (like us) are more reclusive in nature, then the upper camping grounds are a fair bet. And always remember, it’s first come first served; so be sure to climb up there as early as you can to reserve your camping ground.
The trail to Wangedigala , despite the massive local crowds , is very much unspoiled. Please be sure to keep it that way and make sure that you bring down all your refuse and leave your campsite as clean as you possibly can upon leaving.
Is there water on top?
Yes and No. the availability of water is very much dependant on the prevailing climate of the time you are visiting; if it has rained there prior , even a few days before, you’re in luck. There are a few water springs around the camping grounds , with the most prolific one located just to the end of the main camping grounds at Wangedigala – there you will find a signpost next to where the trails winds uphill, and there is a trail to the left – follow this and you will come to the spring .
The water is cold and sweet, and pretty much good for drinking. But Always be mindful to the possibility of the spring(s) being dried up, if so, you would have to come almost to the bottom of the trail to get water. Be smart, take water with you -at least for the eventuality of not having any on top.
Where does the trail start?
Actually, there are Two routes to the top. One starts from right next to the main road and the other starts from the village right at the foot of Bambarakanda falls. The Bambarakanda falls route is somewhat steeper and you will need to make your way across a suspension bridge, but currently the bridge is in state of disrepair – if you have vertigo, or don’t fancy falling down a broken plank on the bridge floor, avoid this route.
The other route is the one that is used nowadays quite exclusively. It starts near the base of the two bridges crossing at Kalupahana and is easy to identify – with a small sign making the start of the route. This trail is actually the dirt road that leads you to the village of Dutha, so be sure to make your way up the pine trees after you reach the buddha statue.
Is it easy to follow the trail?
Yes. With so many people using the trail, you can easily identify the trail and make your way up. Regardless of visual markers, Google maps have an extensive amount of accurate location markers that will aide you in making the way up.
The only issue we found was that the trail becomes somewhat difficult to identify in some parts of the pine forests, but that is easy overcome by thinking on your feet and keeping yourself oriented towards the high ground.
Where do you park your vehicle?
It can be dangerous to let your vehicle parked overnight – on the side of the road with heavy traffic; especially with buses that seem to whiz past in alarming speed.
The safest bet is to go and ask for assistance from the shop at the start of the twin bridges at Kaluahana (the Weli- Oya bridge) . If there are parking slots available, the proprietress would be more than happy to help. Also, you can have your lunch here too, after doing an overnight camping adventure.
Does it rain up on top?
Depends on the weather forecast at the time you will be visiting there. Using a dedicated weather app such as Accuwether.com is essential to make preparations for your treks. But chances are, in the months of January – March and June- August where there is fair weather all round, rain would be minimal. But if it starts pouring it really gets down pouring. Especially if it gets dark , you will have noting to sheid yourself except your tent – we learnt it once we were camping there.
The rain started around 7pm and lasted almost 4 hours. It was pelting Hard – really hard. We had the foresight to cut a small trench around the tent so the water would be channeled away from the bottom of our tent and soaking everything (Including us) outright. This worked a while but the rain was so heavy that the campsite just got swamped with small rivulets making their way downslope.
Thankfully our kit managed to save the day – and we recommend it as a must have to anyone
· Rain cover for the tent
· Tarp or heavy gauge polythene sheet to lay on the ground (set up the tent over this)
· Raincoat to keep yourselves dry if you need to go outside
· Insulated thermal mat/ yoga mat to keep the damp out – it also makes a pretty comfortable bed.
· Silica gel packets – to keep the moisture at bay (from our electronics)
· Good tent pegs and cords – to keep the tent rigid and taut.
How many campsites on to?
There are over 10 individual campsites on top spread over two areas – around Wangedigala and the other further up the slope in and around Wandedikanda . Thw wangedigala capsites are spread over a sort of plateau and are in close proximity to one another – while the Wangedikanda camping sites are individually spaced apart and are somewhat secluded. All the camping sides are marked on GoggleMaps pretty accurately.
Where to get firewood?
It’s a good idea to get some firewood before you reach your campsite – with the majority of the available wood being consumed by almost everyone whom camp up top. The best place to do some foraging is just before reaching Wangedigala – there are ample twigs and dry branches in fallen down in the pine forest. It’s a good idea to grab yourself some pine needles – they are excellent as a Firestarter.
Do we need campfire?
If you are camping out in the top most areas of the mountain – a campfire is a good thing to have; especially with the local wildlife. There are leopards, wild boars, porcupines and other nocturnal animals whom roam this area (being connected to the Hortain plains national park reserve) The animals give the grounds a wide breath, but it’s always a good idea to keep yourselves as safe as can be. Plus, it’s warms your soul and your soles in equal measure.
Essential pieces of kit/ Things to pack?
Here are some basic listing of things you should try to bring – they will make your camping endeavor all the more fulfilling.
· Small shovel/ trenching tool
· Dry paper – to use as accelerant (and so other miniscule uses)
· A small bottle of accelerant – to start up the firewood if wet or damp
· Some plastic sheets – to cover up the tent/shoes/ firewood in it rains in
· Headlamp or portable light that will work all throughout the night.
· Extra socks and underwear
· A change of clothes
· Lightweight blanket- to keep you warm
· A portable stove – a lifesaver and more of an essential piece of kit, allows you to be more independent. Rain or no rain , anytime and almost anywhere – it allows you to brew a cuppa or make your meals with little hassle.
What more is there to explore beyond?
Wangedigala is a good jumping off site to explore the peaks of the wagedikanda mountain range; Namely Wangedikanda peak, Balthoduwa peak and the Gommoliya peak.
Wangedikanda peak is pretty straightforward, depending where you camp (we camped just in the lee of the peak ) is easily accessible . But for Balathoduwa and Gommoliya you need to enter the forest and closely follow the trail to the top. The trail, which sees far less people traversing it can be a little difficult to find and trek. But if you want a full circle adventure – traversing the two peaks can be an amazing experience.