You can now go from Colombo to Kandy in 20 minutes if you take the Cinnamon Air plane. The view is amazing and it’s pretty punctual; the only hold-up if at all is that a one-way ticket will cost you about Rs. 22K (a lot).
The flight begins at Waters Edge in Battaramulla. You have to get there half hour before departure, and drive quite into the Waters Edge premises, to the lounge at the back. The plane (a Cessna 208 Caravan amphibious aircraft – it can land on both water and land) is only an eight-seater, so there aren’t going to be many passengers around (there were only three of us on our flight). When the flight lands, you take a five minute walk out on a little pathway in the grass, out to the plane ready for take-off by the Waters Edge lake.
On the day we were flying, so was the President, so we had to wait for the pilot to get the OK signal before we took off (because, ya know, when the Pres flies, the sky is off limits).
Our pilot Pawel Wolski was one of the most interesting people we’ve met in a long time. He’s Polish-American and has been flying since 1988, so as you can imagine, he’s got a couple of stories that are well worth your time if you’re up for a pre or post flight chat.
Take-off from water doesn’t feel any different than otherwise, except that there’s naturally less turbulence (it looks way cooler judging by the bevvy of on-lookers taking pictures from the Waters Edge boardwalk). The plane is comfy with eight leather seats, big windows on all sides and direct access to the pilot’s station, because it’s literally two feet away, which is awesome (we recommend you plug in the soundtrack from Top Gun and really get into it).
It can feel a bit cramped if it’s your first time, and when you’re way up in the air – the view through the big windows, the small space and the slight turbulence (given you feel it more when it’s a smaller aircraft) can make you a little nauseous.
Once you get over that, the view is plain amazing. The plane is naturally closer to the ground than ordinary planes so there’s always something to see, whether it’s all the green and houses below, or mountains and rivers as you get closer to Kandy. Also there are periods when the plane is buried in clouds and all the big windows go completely white, and you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Twenty to twenty-five minutes later, bam, you’re already in Kandy (which is ordinarily about a three-hour trip by road). The plane lands in the Polgolla Reservoir, which is about a Rs. 500 tuk-tuk trip from the city center. Seeing the plane make huge ripples through the water as it lands is pretty awesome.
You’re going to have a natural audience of Kandyans there awaiting you, marveling at the novelty of a plane that takes people from city to city (the Cinnamon Air service is only an year old). The ground-staff in both Colombo and Kandy are very friendly and helpful and will tell you exactly how to get to where you want to go.
The Cinnamon Air website is pretty comprehensive. They also do flights to Koggala, Trinco, Dickwella, Nuwera Eliya, Sigiriya and Batticoloa. A one-way ticket to Kandy is about Rs. 22,000 and they usually have flights either at around 11AM or in the afternoon at around 2PM. The only document you need is your NIC or passport.
Getting to Kandy on a plane is bad-ass, there is no denying that. The views are epic and you get there in less time than the evening drive from Kollupitiya to Dehiwala (thanks to crappy construction-infested traffic). So it’s great if you make business trips and need to make it to an appointment on time, or want to avoid the traffic during Perahara. But it is pricey, so we suppose this one’s for the business folks, tourists, and maybe if you want to save up and do a crazy one-time thing.