Your travel guide for Sri Lanka

Bambarakanda Falls is a notable destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers visiting Sri Lanka. As the tallest waterfall in the country, it offers an awe-inspiring view. In this travel guide, we'll take a look at this magnificent waterfall and all it has to offer. 

Details of Bambarakanda Falls

The height of Bambarakanda Falls stands at an impressive 263 meters, making it the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Originating from the Kuda Oya River, which is a tributary of the Walawe River, the waterfall offers an incredible spectacle as it plunges down a vertical cliff face to the pool below. The water's descent is powerful and unobstructed, providing a mesmerizing display of nature's raw energy.

In terms of visual aesthetics, the waterfall is a straight vertical drop, unlike cascading or tiered waterfalls. This adds to the awe factor as you see water plunging straight down from the cliff. During the rainy season, usually between May and September, the waterfall's flow intensifies. This results in a thundering cascade that generates mists and sprays, adding to its dramatic effect. During the dry season, the water flow may lessen but still retains its visual grandeur.

The cliff from which the waterfall descends is mostly rock, adorned with patches of greenery that appear more like strokes on a painting due to the height. The pool at the bottom is sizable but is often subject to strong currents, especially during the rainy season. The immediate area surrounding the pool offers rocky surfaces and small clearings, giving visitors multiple viewpoints to admire the waterfall. A walking path leads to these vantage points, making it convenient for visitors to move around and find their perfect spot for observation or photography. The sound of the waterfall, which can be heard from a distance as you approach, gives a prelude to the visual spectacle that awaits.

Importance in Sri Lankan Geography

Bambarakanda Falls holds a significant place in Sri Lankan geography. It is not just a tourist attraction but also a geographical landmark. The waterfall is part of the Uva province and contributes to the Walawe River, an important waterway in Sri Lanka. Its location is within close proximity to various other geographical features, including mountains and natural reserves.

Flora and Fauna Around the Falls

The area surrounding Bambarakanda Falls is a treasure trove of biodiversity, providing a habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species. The plant life is notably diverse, featuring an array of indigenous trees and shrubs. In addition to pine and eucalyptus trees, visitors can observe different types of ferns, mosses, and flowering plants like orchids. These plants not only add to the scenic beauty but also play a crucial role in sustaining the local ecosystems.

The avian life in the region is particularly vibrant. Birdwatchers will find the area a rewarding experience with the presence of species like the Yellow-eared Bulbul, Sri Lanka White-eye, and the Sri Lanka Spurfowl, which are endemic to the country. Raptors such as eagles and hawks can also be spotted soaring in the skies above, searching for prey.

Small mammals such as squirrels and monkeys inhabit the forested areas near the waterfall. These creatures are often seen frolicking in the trees or curiously watching visitors from a safe distance. You will appreciate the variety of butterflies and dragonflies that flutter around the water source, adding color and movement to the landscape.

Things to Do

The natural landscape surrounding Bambarakanda Falls provides an ideal ground for various activities, catering to different interests and skill levels. Here's a look at some of these activities:

  1. Trekking: The area offers multiple trekking routes that vary in terms of length and difficulty. Some trails take you through forests, while others offer more of an open terrain. Whichever path you choose, you'll be treated to stunning views and the chance to immerse yourself in nature. One popular route is the trail from the nearby village of Kalupahana, which takes about an hour to complete.
  2. Photography: Whether you're a professional photographer or a hobbyist, Bambarakanda Falls offers excellent photo opportunities. The waterfall itself, the surrounding vegetation, and the diverse wildlife all present captivating subjects. The changing light conditions throughout the day can offer different perspectives of the same scene, providing a broad creative scope.
  3. Swimming: The pool at the base of Bambarakanda Falls offers a refreshing spot for swimming. The water is generally calm and inviting, making it a popular choice for visitors looking to cool off. It is typically safe for swimming, but as with any natural water body, it's always a good idea to exercise basic caution.
  4. Camping: If you want to extend your adventure, overnight camping is an option. Being in the area during dawn or dusk adds a whole new dimension to the experience, but proper planning is essential. Make sure you have the right gear and always follow the guidelines and advice of local authorities or your guides.
  5. Birdwatching: As mentioned in the Flora and Fauna section, the area is rich in bird life, including species that are endemic to Sri Lanka. Early mornings are generally the best time for birdwatching, so consider starting your day early if this activity interests you.
  6. Nature Walks: For those looking for a less strenuous activity, a simple nature walk can be immensely rewarding. The paths leading to and around the waterfall are often lined with various types of plants, and you're likely to spot several animal species, making these walks both relaxing and educational.

Each of these activities provides a different way to engage with the natural beauty surrounding Bambarakanda Falls, enhancing your overall experience of this magnificent location. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or someone who simply enjoys the serenity of nature, there's likely an adventure activity here that's perfect for you.

Accommodation Options

Accommodation options near Bambarakanda Falls are relatively limited. There are guesthouses and small hotels that provide basic amenities. These accommodations often include meals, as dining options in the area can be scarce. For visitors seeking a more natural experience, camping is also a good option, with natural surroundings providing a scenic backdrop.

If you're planning a day trip to the falls, staying in nearby cities is a good option. These cities offer a wider range of accommodation choices and are within a few hours' drive from the waterfall. Haputale and Ella are the most popular cities where visitors often choose to stay when visiting Bambarakanda Falls. Both cities offer a variety of lodging options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels.

Food and Dining

Food options are also relatively limited in the area. The accommodations usually offer meals, but for those looking for more variety, it is advisable to pack your own food. Local eateries offer traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, and some may serve simple Western dishes.

Location and How to Get There

Bambarakanda Falls is located in the Badulla District of the Uva Province. The closest town is Haldummulla.

  1. By Car: The falls are accessible by road, and it takes about 5 hours to reach from Colombo.
  2. By Public Transport: Buses and trains are available to Haldummulla. From there, local transport can be easily arranged to reach the falls.

If you're staying in Ella or Haputale, the drive to Bambarakanda Falls is shorter. Bambarakanda Falls is located about 43km from Ella and takes around 1.5 hours, while from Haputale, it is 21km away and takes roughly 45 minutes to get there.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Bambarakanda Falls is between March and May. The weather is usually mild, and the water flow is at its peak. However, travelers should be prepared for sudden weather changes.

Tips and Advice

  • Wear sturdy footwear: The trails can be uneven and slippery. Good grip and ankle support are important for a comfortable trek.
  • Hire a local guide: They are knowledgeable about the current conditions of the trails and the waterfall and can provide valuable insights for a safer and more enjoyable visit.
  • Check weather forecasts: The area can experience sudden weather changes, so it's wise to check the forecast beforehand to better plan your activities.
  • Travel light: If you're planning to trek or engage in other physical activities, it's best to carry only essentials to avoid being weighed down.
  • Early morning visits: The falls are less crowded in the mornings, and it's also an ideal time for photography and birdwatching.
  • Follow guidelines: Pay attention to signs or advisories, and always respect the local customs to ensure a harmonious visit.

Nearby Attractions

  1. Walawe River: This river is a popular spot for water activities such as rafting and kayaking. It offers both scenic beauty and the thrill of navigating its currents.
  2. Horton Plains National Park: This park is a treasure trove of biodiversity and features a variety of trekking trails. From the famous World's End viewpoint to Baker's Falls, the park offers numerous attractions for nature lovers.
  3. Belihul Oya: This charming small town is known for its natural beauty and offers various outdoor activities. From hiking to birdwatching, Belihul Oya provides a peaceful setting for a range of pursuits.
  4. Haputale: This town offers breathtaking views of the Southern plains and is famous for its tea plantations. It's also a convenient base for trips to Lipton’s Seat and other local attractions.
  5. Badulla: Known for the historic Muthiyangana Temple and the picturesque Dunhinda Falls, Badulla offers a blend of cultural and natural attractions. It's an excellent destination for those interested in Sri Lankan history and scenic beauty.
  6. Ella Town: Famous for its relaxed atmosphere, Ella offers attractions like the Nine Arch Bridge and Little Adam's Peak. It's a hotspot for tourists looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation.

Bambarakanda Falls is more than just a destination; it's an experience that combines natural beauty, adventure, and the richness of Sri Lankan geography and ecology. Whether you're a hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone looking to escape the daily grind, this remarkable waterfall is one that you should definitely add to your bucket list.

Featured photo by Thilak Piyadigama
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