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Month: November 2020

New Species of Snakes Discovered in Knuckles, Sri Lanka!

New Species of Snakes Discovered in Knuckles, Sri Lanka!

Here, with an intriguing bit of news!

The incredible discovery of two new species of snakes was recently made by Mendis Wickremasinghe, in the Knuckles Mountain range, Sri Lanka. These two particular snake species (Aspidurai desilvai and Rhinophis gunasekarai), can only be found in Sri Lanka, and so they are said to be critically endangered.

Mendis Wickramasinghe is one of Sri Lanka’s leading herpetologist, who have been responsible for the discovery of a considerable number of species of reptiles and amphibians, including species that were believed to be extinct for more than a century. He gives us an interesting explanation about the nature and behaviour of these two new species, while also taking a moment to stress the importance of working tirelessly to re-discover more incredible wildlife and understanding the best ways to protect and preserve them. Check-out the video below, to learn more on this brilliant discovery!


Youtube Link –

Hiking the Rugged Route of Kirigalpoththa

Hiking the Rugged Route of Kirigalpoththa

IMG-20190302-WA0007Kirigalpoththa is the 2nd highest mountain of Sri Lanka after Pidurutalagala. With a peak elevation of 2,388 meters above sea level, Kirigalpoththa is the highest point in the Horton Plains National Park and also the highest peak accessible to the public.

First of all, how to get there. There’s always the train or the bus. We recommend you reach Nuwara Eliya early, the day before and then start your hike early morning. Or, you can do what locals do, which is stretch the hike to two days, by starting a trek along the Idalgashinna Rail Hike, spend the night at Ohiya and then leave for Horton Plains early the next day.

The walk is easy, you are literally walking amid bushes in the plains, and the weather (at least in March) is arid and Kirigalpoththa (3)hot, with a stiff breeze cutting across. It is advisable to wear sturdy shoes and long pants because you are going to be pushing your way through much dry underbrush. There is also a couple of forest-like areas which you will pass through as well as a cool and refreshing stream. There will be moments where you must scramble through a rocky slope or two (nothing so severe that you will be on your hands or knees), and voila! You are halfway there.

You will then come across an observation point ( a ledge, actually) before you reach the super cool summit (maybe even cooler than the summit itself honestly). Here, there’s a steep drop-off to the other side, so you must be very careful if you’re trying to sit at the very edge. The last bit of this journey might not be for the faint at heart, because the inclination can be quite trippy; it’s all rock, pointed upwards. But with that, you have reached the summit!

  • Difficulty level   –              Moderate
  • Season                 –              Leave out the monsoons from November to January and May to June, unless you love a slippery muddy-trek.
  • Need a trekker –              Absolutely, unless you have done it before.

Kirigalpoththa (2) Kirigalpoththa (4) Kirigalpoththa (1)

Ceylon Wild Safaris

Ceylon Wild Safaris

24 - The Team Located at the border of the Katagamuwa side of the famous Yala National Park, this luxury camp encompasses the concept of “Glamping” perfectly. The drive to the camp itself is an adventure, as you are escorted by jeep, through thick bushes, as the camp is located in the Kochchipaththana sanctuary and hence teeming with wildlife.12 - Morning Set Up The owners of the camps are all seasoned safari guides and experts in bush-craft and tracking giving visitors a world-class wildlife experience. The camp itself is beautifully designed, blending nature with minimalist style. The tents are very large and spacious, with large king-size beds, lounge sofas, air conditioning and so much more. The tent opens out to a large verandah with each having their own private plunge pool, a perfect way to relax and rewind after a long game drive. The cuisine in the camp is made in-house with an expert chef and serves some mouthwatering cuisine right in the heart of the wilderness. 17 - Bonfire Set UpThe safaris are the highlight of your stay in Ceylon Wild and guided by seasoned wildlife professionals you see nature in a whole new light. From wonders of the termite to the various medicinal uses of plants and trees, reading the tracks on the ground all which brings one a whole new perspective to a wildlife safari, only possible thanks to the seasoned rangers/guides of the camp. In the evening, at dusk, once you exit from the park gates the safari is not yet over, as the journey to the camp can reveal some surprises like a leopard on the track or a sloth bear or even an elephant. Once back at camp, sitting by a bonfire and listening to the calls of the wild and discussing with fellow guests and your hosts about the tales of the wild almost takes one back in time to the hunters and explorers of this wild land hundreds of years ago.CWS25

You can also enjoy a morning bush walk with your guide/ranger, which gets you much closer to the wild experience rather than being on a safari jeep. Your guide will teach how to read the jungle signs such as the mud on the bark of the tree signifying an elephant has rubbed its back or the many types of footprints on the walking trails which reveal a whole new perspective into the world of nature. A truly authentic wildlife experience, Ceylon Wild Safaris combines stylish luxury with immersive wilderness into a truly unforgettable experience.



Face to Face with the Devil

Face to Face with the Devil

An Encounter with the Forest Eagle Owl – By Rajiv Welikala

Driving down a dark misty road on a chilly July morning in Wilpattu National Park I came across a sighting which will haunt me forever. A dark shadow passed over us and we saw a large bird fly along the tunnelled forest canopy. The approaching jeep must have disturbed it as it dropped something large on the road while in flight. We drove up and found a large partially eaten snake, too damaged for identification. Suspecting this was the work of a Serpent Eagle which is very common in the park, we drove on till we reached an opening on the other end. The bright light came through the dense forest canopy as we slowly entered Iriyakkulam Villu.  C52A4990My trusted jeep driver Senevi always ensures to enter a villu with much caution so as not to startle any animals that might have come out into the open. The crawling jeep suddenly came to a sudden stop as Senevi pointed ahead. I looked everywhere in the open glades, expecting a leopard to be crouching in the villu. We had a very barren weekend with very few sightings of animals and we were desperate to see anything. My scouring did not reveal a spotted feline, but rather a massive owl perched on a tree ahead. It took me a few seconds to fathom what I was seeing; as such a sight was never expected. When it hit me, it came like a thunderbolt. This was the infamous Devil Bird! I have dreamt of seeing this elusive bird for many years, and here it was sitting right in front of me. The correct name of the bird is the Spot Bellied Eagle Owl or Forest Eagle Owl (Bubo nipalensis). Its black hollow eyes gave a stare which would give the shivers to even the hardest of men. This bird was subject to many folk stories and is known as the “Ulama” in Sinhalese. It is said that the bird is the bringer of death and its blood-curdling cry is said to sound like a woman being strangled. Still, in awe and utter disbelief, I started clicking away with my camera. The bird was clearly annoyed with our presence; it flew out into the open where it landed on the dried grass on the banks of the villu. It was too far away for my camera and I waited patiently for him to fly to a better location. When it took off it flew with the grace and majesty that befits such a mighty bird with its large wings outstretched and talons which are bigger than any other bird I have seen, it landed heavily on a very fragile branch of a tree. The tree was occupied by a troupe of Grey Langurs who are at times prey for this large predatory bird. Wilpattu (1 of 1)-24The monkeys were hooting and jumping from branch to branch in fright which distracted the startled owl. The flimsy branch gave way and the bird fell to the white sands below. Clearly ruffled and in utter annoyance the owl stood there in all its glory on the white sands of the villu whilst brilliant golden sunlight created a magnificent photo opportunity which just presented itself. After regaining its bearings the bird flew deep into the forest, and we continued on our way and left the bird to its meal. I left Wilpattu that day with a feeling of immense luck and disbelief in being fortunate enough to come face to face with the magnificent Devil Bird.

Angampora -An ancient martial art facing a revival

Angampora -An ancient martial art facing a revival

IMG_0984Sri Lanka is an ancient land which dates back even beyond the arrival of the first Sinhalese King Vijaya 3,500 years ago. The fighting arts of the island date well beyond this period and literally translates “fighting with the body”. The origin story of this ancient art has many versions and has never been documented but passed down from generation to generation, from master to pupil. However, some ancient chronicles do shed some light into this ancient practice.

The ancient Indian saga of the Ramayana gives an insight which leads us to believe that Angampora dates back beyond 5,000 years ago to the time of the mythical king of Lanka, Ravana.

Legend states that Ravana himself was a masterful practitioner of the deadly art and used it in the battle against Prince Rama. Another legend states that the art was perfected by the Yaksha or Yakkha tribe and used as self-defence to protect the island from foreign invaders.

Whatever the origins maybe the art is a holistic fighting form which incorporates, Hand to Hand Combat (Angam), Weapons (Ilangam) and Mysticism (Maya), all of these three elements combine to be referred to as Angam Satan Kala (Fighting art of Angam).

Besides the fighting forms, practitioners of this art also learn the arts of healing and natural medicine techniques, meditation techniques as well as astrology, making this more than a mere fighting art, but rather a way of life.

The art was widely used in the golden age of the Kings and helped to protect the island from foreign invaders. Famously Sri Lanka’s most loved ruler King Duttugemunu, had 10 great warriors by his side known as the “Dasa Maha Yodhaya’s” or 10 giants, they were believed to be masters of Angampora, and are akin to the knights of the round table in Arthurian legend.

Practice thrived during Sri Lanka’s medieval period when Bhuvanekabahu VI of Kotte’s successful campaign to conquer the Jaffna Kingdom included fighters who excelled in this art. Descendants of a heroine named Menike or Disapathiniya who lived around this time is credited with the art form’s survival in the ensuing centuries: dressed in male attire, she is said to have defeated the killer of her father in a fight inside a deep pit known as ura linda (pig’s pit), during a historic fight.

The practice of this art helped to combat the colonial powers to Sri Lanka, with many successful battles and skirmishes won against the Portuguese, Dutch and later British forces. One of the most famous battles was at Mulleriyawa, which is modern-day Colombo suburbs, wherein the mid-16th Century many Angam practitioners were able to defeat the Portuguese.

During the time of British colonial occupation, the practice was banned by a special announcement in 1817, and this art was relegated to mystery and legend. Any caught practising the art were shot on the knees so they can never do so again. Despite the cruel practices of the colonials, the art did not die but rather was practised in secret. With this ban, the fighting art was hidden in many forms of traditional dance. These dances hid many techniques such as footwork, striking forms within the dance itself.

With the onset of Independence from British Colonial Rule, these practitioners were once again able to hone and develop this ancient art form once again. But despite being free from Britain, the art was yet known only more by legend and still practised in small pockets of communities who kept this art alive, passing it on from generation to generation. Many Sri Lankans themselves do not truly know or have witnessed this art, which is taught to only a select few, and this too is practised with many traditions and only the truly worthy are allowed to learn this art form.

Currently, there are few schools which practice this art form in the island, steeped in tradition, the art is kept alive by these dedicated families of practitioners who helped to preserve these invaluable traditions which our island can truly be proud of.

Classic Sri Lanka, has the privilege of working with two of these ancient schools, one located in the outskirts of Colombo and the other in the remote region of the North Central Province, whereby we are proud to showcase the art and its rich history and traditions to our clientele.