An enclosed ecosystem - the Amazon in Sri Lanka?
The trek in Horton Plains made me realize how, as humans, we are so similar and connected at birth with nature. We persist through all storms and dry seasons, sunny days, and stand resilient. I believe being close to nature can help us to wake our five senses and stay deeply connected with our surroundings.
Story by Punima Costa
Published on January 29, 2023. Reading time: 4 minutes
Nature, the most aligned being: growing and giving us life on this Earth.
I don’t know why I have a strong connection to nature. Perhaps my love of nature is connected to Kuwait, where I was born and brought up. Moving from Kuwait to Sri Lanka made me appreciate nature even more. Seeing green, moving leaves, the sounds of the wind, the blue sky and the trees bring me joy – it is just blissful.
When I turned 20, my family and I planned a trip to the Horton Plains in Sri Lanka. At an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level, the Horton Plains spreads across 3,169 hectares of the highest plateau on the island. Situated in the Central province of Sri Lanka, the Horton Plains contain the country’s second and third highest mountain peaks. Horton Plains are an evergreen forest that consists of ecosystems such as mountains, evergreen forests, grasslands, marshy lands, and aquatic ecosystems. Due to the large number of endemic flora and fauna species, Horton Plains was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 30th July 2010. The rich biodiversity of Horton Plains is still grossly un-explored. The site gives invaluable opportunities to those engaged in educational and research activities to learn more about our ecosystem on Earth.
Now, imagine getting lost in this big forest. It is broad daylight, but the Horton Plains is one of the coldest, daring, and windy locations in the country. During the dry season, the temperature drops to around 5 degree Celsius in the daytime, whereas in the wet-season month of August it reaches almost 25 degree Celsius. The officials said that after 5 pm no one is allowed to be inside the forest because wild animals walk through, making it very dangerous to be trekking at that time. I have a strong memory of one day in August 2018, where my family and I trekked almost 12 km in the Horton Plains. We took snacks from a local shop nearby on the way. The snacks were all given in paper bags that were supposed to biodegrade in case we left them behind. Trekking through the forest was a breathtaking experience. For a moment it felt like South Africa. Going back in my memory and reliving the moment feels surreal.
We started our trek at 10:30 am and when we came back it was almost 4:45pm — just before the closing time for the night! Almost halfway into the forest, we were very tired but were determined to keep going. My mom, who has a hard time climbing steep mountains, faced the challenge at her then age of 49. That itself is inspirational to me. The trek was difficult for all of us but in the end, it was all worth it.
The trek in Horton Plains made me realize how, as humans, we are so similar and connected at birth with nature. We persist through all storms and dry seasons, sunny days, and stand resilient. As an avid backpacker and a rock climber, camping has always left me feeling my best. Just a year ago, I hugged my avocado tree and felt at ease, with a feeling that the tree was someone who just lifted a weight off my shoulder! Why? I believe being close to nature can help us to wake our five senses and stay deeply connected with our surroundings.
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