The Green Mountain (Bopatthalawa / Haritha Kanda)
Haritha Kanda aka Bopatthalawa aka The Green Mountain is a rocky, grassy mountain that's surrounded by awesome views in the Bogawanthalawa area close to Hatton.
Throwback to one of the last hikes we went on before we heard about the term "social distancing". A month after the Bambaragala Pathana hike, we were back at it again and this time Bopatthalawa got our attention. All we knew going into it was that we needed to hop on two buses and then grab a tuk-tuk up to the starting point of the hike.
As usual, we hopped on a bus from CMB at 1 am on a Saturday, Hatton was our first destination. We reached Hatton by around 5.30 am, and boy was it freezing, Hatton is as cold as balls early morning and to add to that: we had a 45-minute wait for the next bus. Again, as we usually do, we sparked a blunt and passed it around to keep warm, and for our luck, there was a small shop selling hot pol roti. A few puffs and a pol roti later, we were on the next bus, this time to Bogawanthalawa. This route is really scenic, and you'll be on it for about an hour.
We were starving by the time we reached Bogawanthalawa, and we spent a good 45 minutes eating hot thosey and gravy (keep in mind, none of the food places in the town serves meat), and some hot Nestomalt. Quickly after, we had split up to do some shopping for the night ahead. Noodles, sausages, eggs, soup cubes, snacks, and this time for alcohol we decided to try some local Raa (රා). We didn't want to waste too much time in the town because another group of hikers were also walking about, and we wanted to be the first group up there so that we didn't lose out on the ideal camping spot.
There were six of us, so we spoke to two tuk drivers and negotiated a price of 500 bucks/tuk to take us up past the Bogawanna tea factory up to an estate manager's bungalow, from there we began hiking. We were surrounded by tea bushes, tea pluckers were scattered around and gave us directions to where we needed to veer off from the road. From there, the path is pretty easy to follow, it winds its way upwards through tea bushes. It was getting hot though, there wasn't a cloud in the sky so the sun was directly at us, and in no time everyone was reaching for water. Even though the path was easy to follow, it was pretty steep and taxing, so we were getting worn down quite fast in the heat. There wasn't much shade either so any stop we took was a quick one just enough to have a few gulps of water.
It took us about 30 - 45 minutes to get out of the tea bushes and passed a very small stream, and from there we could see the peak, and it looked close to the top, or so we thought. The thing about Bopatthalawa is that there aren't any trees around on your hike to the top, so with the sun beating down on a steep climb, hiking wasn't easy. We had to make several stops for water, that too under direct sunlight. It was slow going but we eventually got to the top and everyone just dropped their bags and sat on the ground and drank more water. But it was only now that we realised that we were very low on water, so two of us collected all the empty bottles together and went back down to the stream we crossed (at the very bottom of the mountain). Our bodies were properly overheated, so we soaked our t-shirts in the water and wore them, the best feeling ever! We spent some time drinking water before filling up the bottles and heading back up and getting shade inside our tent.
We spent some time inside the tents away from the heat, played some cards, smoked a few blunts and cracked open one of the bottles of Raa we had. After some time we stepped outside and finally took a good look around the place, and boy was the view amazing, you could see Adam's Peak from where we were! We sat down in a group and just stared into the distance while talking about the most random things that came to mind. It was around this time that the other group of hikers reached the top, and surprisingly they stayed inside their tent for most of the time. At around 5 pm it started getting dark, and when you're camping on a mountain, darkness sets in no time. So we spread out to collect firewood, there was a lining of trees towards one edge of the mountain and since it was the dry season, there was plenty of dry branches to take with us.
As predicted, it got dark really soon. We got our dinner ready, opened another bottle of Raa, passed a few blunts around and had some music playing. The sky was as clear as it was during the day, and was filled with stars, and it got really chilly too, so it was the perfect night. We stayed awake till past midnight, sitting around the campfire, listening to music, talking and smoking blunts.
We woke up the next day just in time for sunrise, and we were surrounded by a blanket of clouds. We spent some time taking photos, talking to our neighbours and then got breakfast ready (we had toast!). Annoyingly though, we had only half a bottle of water left and it didn't take long for us to start feeling the heat of the sun. We didn't spend much time sightseeing, we packed up and started heading back down, the stream was our destination. When we got there we refreshed ourselves, filled all our bottles of water and continued down. About 15 minutes out, we called our tuk dudes and told them to meet us at the bungalow. We stopped by a large stream to bathe, and from there it was back to Bogawanthalawa, then Hatton and then finally Colombo.
Details to note if you ever decide to visit Bopatthalawa
Not much really, just the bus routes if that's how you're travelling. Take the Colombo - Hatton bus, get off at the last stop and take the next bus (Hatton - Bogawanthalawa), again, get off at the last stop. From there coordinate a tuk to get you to the estate manager's bungalow and to pick you up when you're back. When coming back, take the same bus back to Hatton, and then to Colombo.
If you ever decide to visit, do so only if you love nature, and consider it important to leave the place cleaner than you found it. Despite all the fun the group had, they made it a point to clean up after themselves, not a single cigarette bud was thrown into the forest, no traces of paper/plastic was left behind either.