Kirigalpoththa (Hike).

A mouthful to pronounce and standing at a height of 2,395 metres above sea level, Kirigalpottha is the second tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. It's interesting to note that despite being dwarfed by Piduruthalagala (the tallest mountain in our little island and just as difficult to pronounce for those unfamiliar with the tongue), this is still the highest accessible peak for trekkers because Piduru is out of bounds unless you get permission beforehand.

First though, is how to get there. There's always the rickety nightmail, so you reach there nice and early and then start your hike just as early; or, you can do what we did and in a span of two days, trek along the Idalgashinna Rail Hike, spend the night at Ohiya, and then leave for Hortan Plains early the next day. You can also try booking the circuit bungalows or dormitories at Horton Plains.

The Trek

We got a tuk tuk from Ohiya to drive us up to the entrance of Horton Plains. They do an up-and-down trip for 2k, and that's pretty decent given the steep drive and the distance (about 11 km one way from Ohiya to HP). 

The walk is pretty easy, you're literally walking amongst bushes in the plains and the weather (at least in March) was arid, dry, and hot, with a stiff breeze cutting across.

Needless to say, wear sturdy shoes and long pants because you're going to be pushing your way through a lot of dry underbush. There's also a couple of foresty areas which you pass through, and a really refreshing stream, but we unfortunately don't have pictures of those. Scramble through a rocky slope or two (nothing you have to scrabble about on your hands or knees, don't worry), and you're halfway there.

There's a sort of observation point ( a ledge, actually), before you reach the summit which is intensely cool, cooler than the summit itself in all honesty. There's also a steep drop off to the other side, so do be careful if you're trying to sit at the very edge.

Then leave the weak of heart behind, because the next incline can make you a bit giddy; it's all rock, pointed upwards. And there you are – the summit!

The End

Take plenty of water. Like, a bottle each. You can refill it at the stream you'll cut across while at the Plains. It takes approximately six hours to get to the top and back down, if you don't take too many breaks, and maintain a steady pace. Head straight to the cafeteria for some rotti with tongue-burning lunu-miris sambol, admire the somewhat tame wildlife, and then depart, feeling elated and victorious at having conquered that summit.

 

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