By Dimthri Wijesinghe
In December 2018, a man slipped and plummeted to his death while attempting to take a selfie at “Uda Diyaluma”, the portion of the famous Diyaluma Falls in Koslanda.
Since the incident took place, there has been a general notion and or understanding that Uda Diyaluma has been cordoned off and is off limits. However, it turns out that this is not the case.
Uda Diyaluma remains a popular attraction with a number of visitors making the 45-minute steep hike from Koslanda village on Punagala Road via the Diyaluma Estate, one of three ways to get to the top of the waterfall.
The spot is ideal for camping as there’s enough vegetation surrounding the water flow, and you can set up camp at the riverbank if you wish. However, safety is key as it is extremely windy at the top; it’s preferable that you make the trip during the dry season.
The route through Koslanda is the most travelled, and so we chose to take the same path. We set off from Fort Station on the “Podi Menike” express at 5.55 a.m. and got off at Haputale Railway Station – the closest station available. It’s a distance of 248 km from Fort and approximately seven-and-a-half hours by train.
From Haputale, you can catch a bus headed towards Wellawaya Main Road (takes a little over an hour), which will go past the Koslanda village, which is where the entrance to the Diyaluma Estate is.
The hike to Diyaluma is quite straightforward and not too difficult if not weighed down by camping gear – people often make it under 45 minutes.
The great thing about camping at Upper Diyaluma is that, while it may not be a designated camping site, it’s popular enough to attract all types of travel enthusiasts. This has allowed locals in the area opportunities to make a living via many creative ways.
One such example is that there’s a man selling fresh juice at the very top of Diyaluma Estate before you make your way to Upper Diyaluma – and we can guarantee that every single person who makes the climb takes time to stop for a drink.
Once you get to the fall, there’s a small hut that’s been set up with a functional fire pit. This is helpful as it drizzles in that area often, and so you can use it to cook meals – the owners graciously allow this. You can also purchase rotti and tea from them if you wish.
There are many location options when setting up camp. You can set up in the many clearings with sufficient shade amongst the trees or right by the riverbank. We advise you not to set up on any of the rocks for obvious reasons – the water flow changes in the night and as it tends to get very windy, your tent can fly off, and you along with it.
The nights can get very cold if you set up right at the riverbank, and since the cold is unavoidable at that elevation, do take sufficient warm clothing with you.
The night time is absolutely beautiful at Diyaluma and the dawn even more magical; there is no better feeling than waking up to the view overlooking an entire city to the sounds of water lapping, at one of the highest points in the island.
From the top of the fall, you can take a 20-minute hike to natural pools with mini waterfalls. These are relatively safe to swim in and there are a few levels of it, which provide an even higher vantage point overlooking Diyaluma Falls.
At 220 metres high, Diyaluma is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and while the sights and sounds are unparalleled, we must stress the importance of caution; it’s windy and surrounded by slippery rocks with unprotected edges. The risks are very real and it is truly up to you as a traveller to be safe.
And so, while the news stories tell you of the risks, if you are to exercise sufficient caution, Diyaluma is an unforgettable experience you will cherish for the rest of your life. Make the hike, plunge in the natural pools, and maybe spend the night atop a waterfall.