Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reviving a pleasant reverie ... Ella Adventure Park, Off Bandarawella, Sri Lanka !

This is a review I did of Ella for 'TripAdvisor', soon after my memorable week-long stay there.

Across the Ella-Wellaweya road, the park stretches over another 38 acres.

Here there are also eco lodges, jungle cabins and camp sites in the valley below, a 20-minute trek through jungle. Just after checking in, a late lunch was quickly put together for us - even though it was then close to tea-time.
Soon after we were taken in a 4x4 to the closest drop-off point, from where we trekked into the forest, with our knowledgeable guide Bandulla. The resort we saw after the brisk trek was straight out of my dream ! The last approach to the resort was after you cross a hanging rope bridge.
With no electricity and almost nothing mechanical, it was back to the basics (literally) !
I enjoyed the experience to the core. And, I sure would go back again. Hope it stays unchanged.
The rooms were all spacious and comfortably rustic. And there was a forest stream gurgling just behind where we stayed. It was beyond serene and beautiful. We never had any insect problems, though I'm not scared of the insects. I am also not scared of the dark, so it was not an issue.
Only kerosene lanterns were provided after sunset for lighting.
Food was typically local. Though not luxurious, it was not bad either.
The best part was the staff were very hospitable and many times, they went out of their way to make sure we were satisfied.
Honestly, I can't think of anything that I didn't quite like about that place.
  • Stayed July 2006, travelled as a couple.
Location :
Ella lies in one of the most scenic parts of the hill country, on the road south from Nuwara Eliya, and relatively close to the lesser-known hill station of Bandarawela.

This eco-friendly park nestles on the banks of Kirindi River, six miles to the south of Ella village, and is at peace with a breathtaking terrain of tropical rain forest, majestic peaks and rushing waterfalls.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Muscat Festival 2012

'Muscat Festival' is perhaps the biggest celebration of its kind in Oman. It's also a huge GCC draw.

This year it is especially more important and significant as Muscat has been declared as the 'Arab Tourism Capital for 2012', besides being voted the “2nd Best City to Visit the World in 2012″ by Lonely Planet, after London !

For your academic interest here is the list of the "Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2012" :

1. London

2. Muscat, Oman

3. Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

4. Cadiz, Spain

5. Stockholm

6. Guimaraes, Portugal

7. Santiago, Chile

8. Hong Kong

9. Orlando, Florida, USA

10. Darwin, Australia

Obviously there's a lot of interest in showcasing the best of Muscat to the immediate GCC and to the world at large.

Interestingly, in all the hustle and bustle at the Muscat festival, I hardly noticed any white skins.

Perhaps Muscat Festival and even Muscat is too tame and docile for their liking !

Al Hoota Cave, Off Bahla, Past Nizwa, Sultanate of Oman

One of my longstanding wishes of seeing the ‘Al Hoota Cave’ was finally accomplished yesterday !

Visitors have to make prior booking before going there as the authorities maintain the footfalls (up to a maximum of 750 persons per day), to protect and safeguard the place.

Every holiday I try to book, they will say it’s closed already. This being a long weekend (Prophet’s birthday, being the reason), I booked in advance and got a slot.

We went by road to Nizwa (about 250 kms from here), and from there to Bahla (about 40 kms from Nizwa) and another 15 kms to the cave’s base. Inside the cave photography is strictly prohibited.

The cave is located at the foot of Jebel Shams (the sun mountain), the highest mountain in Oman which is north of Al Hamra.It is mentioned that the Al Hoota Cave is one of the largest cave systems in the world with an underground cavern complete with stalactites, stalagmites, columns and has an unique underground lake system and such.

There were 3 Omani guides who were standing at well-spaced distances who were at hand to explain to the visitors about the cave and all its natural formations.The walk inside took us about an hour. We had to climb up and down over 300 steps. The entire cavern is about 5 kms long, but only part of it is open for the public.

It was amazing to go into the cave and look at all those natural beauties. It was dark of course, but there were some lights to show the way. It was also cool inside. Actually it was quite large in the inside.

Here are some useful links, in case you want to know more about the ‘Al Hoota Cave’ :