Rough Guide: “Kottowa is an excellent introduction to the rainforests of Sri Lanka”
By Nick Petty, March 2011, 
Charity "RP, Fighting Blindness"

Two local bus journeys south from Hikkaduwa to Galle and onwards, and the ever efficient, though at times “financially confused” bus conductor tells us to get off just outside the Kottowa Rainforest. 

Armed with our “trusty” Rough Guide, he’s dropped us perfectly at the entrance! Note to Rough Guide – the ticket office is about 1km back up the road. Hmm. A walk along a road under canopied trees isn’t that bad. At first we confuse the busy local court house for the ticket office, but are soon corrected. Rs644 ($5) lighter in each our pockets, and without a guide that wanted to charge us Rs3000 ($25) each, we walk back to the entrance of the rainforest with a spring in our step in the anticipation of what we were about to see.

The rainforest is paved, to a fashion. Long in need of some TLC, the path is covered in leaves making it impossible to walk along quietly and every 50m or so, you encounter a fallen tree that you either have to climb over or under. 

Still no wildlife seen. 

We continue our walk eyes darting everywhere looking for monkeys and strange species of birds. None. But wait.. all of a sudden my cousin and I realise that we have encountered something new.. just without realising it!

Leeches!!! Follow the instruction in the guide book I used my cousin’s cigarette to burn it off the leech that is firmly attached to my leg. It’s actually more like, you annoy it with the heat of the cigarette because all of a sudden it released its fangs and started wiggling like mad, up though, rather than down! Seeing the effort it took to (1) release it and then (2) dance around like an idiot hoping that the leech isn’t getting closer to my genitalia, my cousin decides on the more manly approach of ripping it off. More blood this way, but without any fangs left, it wasn’t getting to any valuables.

We walk a little further and then come out at an area that looks familiar. That’s because it’s the local court house. Our “Introduction to Kottowa Rainforest” experience was in the end a path that ran pretty much parallel with the road that we’d already walk twice. No birds, monkeys, lizards, deer.. just a couple of leeches. 

Then, very disappointedly, as we discuss what we’re going to do next, we see these little beauties in the trees above us. 

In the trees above the road. The road that we’d walked twice for free, that runs alongside the rainforest that isn’t free :-)

My Charity - RP Fighting Blindness

About RP

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is the name given to a group of inherited diseases of the retina (Structure of the Eye) that all lead to a gradual progressive reduction in vision. Difficulties with night vision and peripheral vision are the first things that are noticed. Later, reading vision (detailed vision) and colour vision are affected. The age at which symptoms start is variable and may vary with the different genetic types (Genetics and Retinitis Pigmentosa). The rate at which vision deteriorates is variable but is generally very slow with changes occurring over years rather than months. [more]

The Charity
RP Fighting Blindness was founded in 1975 by a number of people with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The group was concerned at the lack of knowledge about RP in the medical profession, the lack of a treatment or cure, and the lack of support for people with RP, and so decided to do something about it.

RP Fighting Blindness has since evolved into a respected medical research charity and a nationwide organisation providing support and information. We remain grounded in our volunteer roots as we seek to help patients live with RP and fund cutting edge research into the causes of and potential treatments for the disease.

You can learn more about our work by downloading the Trustees' Annual Report & Accounts which is published in the resources section of this website. [more]