This post is going to be a social service! Before we set off to see Sembuwatta Lake, I googled so much, to figure out how bad the journey would be. Because, from everyone who visits the place, I hear that the road is really bad. I needed real details! How bad? Up to where? Do we have alternative transport? How much is it going to cost? So here I am, with all the answers needed.
Sembuwatta Lake, is in Elkaduwa in Matale District. This is a man-made lake, created to collect natural spring water. The area is owned, preserved and maintained by the estate. As we hear, the lake dates back to 1960’s. Even though it has such a long history, Sembuwatta got popular as a tourist attraction only about 5 years ago. Probably the Estate opened it for viewing at that time. Within few years, this beautiful place was known by many travelers who loves mountains and lakes and of course, by photographers.
The important bit. Let me reconfirm what I know. The road is just bad! If you are driving a Jeep or a SUV, you will be safe. But for visitors like us, with a Voxy, we need alternative transport. If you follow Google Maps to find the route, you will reach a junction with a few shops. I was praying on the way, hoping that we can find a trishaw to take us up to the lake. Not really my prayers, but this little junction is well organized with trishaw drivers who taps your vehicle and tells you that you can’t drive up from that point in a vehicle like ours. They offer a tuk ride from there itself. First you feel a bit skeptical, if they are being honest. But, you should decide to trust them and leave the vehicle there and hop in a tuk. When you first hear that they charge Rs.500/= to drop, you judge again. But don’t! Before we move on with the rest of the details, I will cite the important details (Those details that you want out of this post)
Open Hours: From 8.00 am to 5.00 pm (Including weekends)
Contact Numbers: +94 66 4935 767 / +94 66 4935 768
Entrance Ticket Price: Rs 200/= Per person ( Rs.5000/= for photo shoots)
Price to rent a Trishaw from the Junction: Rs: 1000/= both ways
Road to Sembuwatta
Like I said earlier, I had suspicins when I heard about the Rs. 500/=. I was wrong! So, so wrong! The ride was about 4 Kilometers, and the road was so narrow. Being narrow is fine, but it would have been a nightmare for our vehicle, which would have scratched and got ripped by the bumps and rocks on the road! If you have any love for your vehicle, just leave it at the park. Or, if you freeze when you see a humongous bus in front of you, waiting to cross paths, do the same. YES! There are buses also working in those teeny tiny roads. (Come to think of it, we are better than Bali in that way).
It is about a half and hour hill climb, where the roads get smaller and wind gets colder! (Oh, take a cardigan with you – no one told me that! :P). What get’s better is the scenery. You are passing through a village, where ducks and hens are common animals like we have dogs. There, you see a water alley that runs along the road, which provides water to those houses. If you topple off the vehicle you are in, it would take somewhere around 5 minutes to hit a proper ground I guess. But, Keep calm, trust the tuk driver. He will take you up there safely. (When I said up there, I meant to the lake. Not heaven)
The place is so beautiful! Just as I pictured it, maybe more. There is a path around the lake, to walk around and get a full view. In every spot possible, there are small huts built, for people to sit back and relax. This location is awesome for a Picnic or a Day trip for friends. There is a tiny tea shop as well that sells tea and rotti. Don’t expect too much when I say a shop. It is a Box shop! (Translate and you will get the idea).
We strolled the entire route around the lake, starting from the pine tree lined area, to the huts, to the little water streams from natural springs that fills the pond. Then, follows the tea estate, which makes the backdrop for the lake. After that, you reach the little bungalow in the estate, which is given on rent to stay over. You see a mini pool, and a little play area for kids with swings and slides. In some of the decks made facing the lake, we saw “Reserved” signs. So we guessed that the area can be booked for gatherings. We spent about a good 1 1/2 hours there, taking pictures and just admiring the view. The tuk drivers told us to call them 1/2 hour before we need to go back, so they can make their way up to the lake to pick us.
Thought the following might be interesting to know, if you plan to visit the Lake soon. The above and below details may change with time, but at least it is valid for someone who visits in 2016.
- The bungalow can be rented on prior notice.
- Strictly NO alcohol. They have permitted earlier but due to constant riots by the drunkards, they have completely prohibited alcohol. (You don’t need alcohol! The beauty of this place is enough to get that alcoholic feeling. Don’t roll eyes now 😛 )
- It is misty up there if you pay an early visit. It would be better to reach the lake by 12 noon.
- The water is really deep. As much as the clear water looks inviting, you are better off rejecting it. The lake is about 30,40 feet deep. Anyway, the caretakers would pick you from the lake and chuck you out if you get caught.
So there you go! Please send a mail or comment if you have more queries on how to reach.
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