Taking in Ohiya

  • At the Ohiya Jungle Resort 

This past week we visited Ohiya, situated at the extreme southern border of the Horton Plains. It was quite possibly the worst time of the year to visit Horton Plains if you are not a fan of intense rain and the freezing cold, but there’s a lot more to the charms of Ohiya when you do eventually get past all the mist and the constant drizzle. 

Picturesque Ohiya railway station

A town that is less talked of than its neighbouring National Park, Ohiya is your landing spot if you wish to make a stop or spend the night after or before you set off to explore the plains. If you’ve seen anyone travelling to visit World’s End or to sightsee at Horton Plains, then you have most likely come across those mandatory Ohiya railway station photo ops.

Ohiya is a recently discovered hot spot with a relatively young emergent tourist industry, unfortunately interrupted by the pandemic. According to the locals, about five years prior, tourists and travellers never really considered making Ohiya one of their major stops owing to the fact that it was viewed primarily as a hub.

It is identified as the birth location of the Mahaweli River and is also a popular spot for those travellers and hikers on bikes who wish to cross the Devil’s Staircase, and also being ideal to visit Kalupahana, Bambarakanda Falls, and also Baker’s Falls. 

Ohiya Jungle Resort

Because the weather really wasn’t co-operating with us, we decided not to make our way to World’s End and to simply enjoy what Ohiya had to offer. We stayed the night at the Ohiya Jungle Resort which is conveniently situated about only 500 meters from the Ohiya railway station and just as conveniently close to the entrance of the Horton Plains National Park. 

We spoke to Saman Nihal Ranjith who is the owner of the property and manages it with his wife and extended family. His family are also the management behind the famous Patiya Hotel which is pretty much everyone’s first stop in Ohiya as it is the first restaurant you come across when you step out of the station.

View point at Ohiya Jungle Resort

Ohiya Jungle Resort is a cozy homestay-style property and Saman shared that they are in fact the first hotel with attached bathrooms in Ohiya. They are incredibly well rated on Saman shared that if you are to stay at the Jungle Resort they will provide a wholesome service, which is the Ohiya way:”You will be treated like family because that is the way we treat people here. If you go off to the Plains in the morning and get late to return we will look out for you. So, even if you are a stranger you will never be left alone,” he said.

They provide transport services to and fro the station and even to visit the many destinations surrounding the town. All meals are available and if you wish to make any requests the service is entirely customisable. Most importantly, there is hot water and they ensure that everything is sanitised and safe for their guests.

Because of how remote the location is, there is absolutely no mobile signal in this area. So, it is 100% digital detox – one we were not entirely expecting but was a welcome change. If you wish to make phone calls the resort will offer their landline, other than that you are left to your own devices and it’s pretty much the ideal location to unplug and to be present without any digital distractions.

We had an incredible night, unlike one we’ve experienced in quite some time, as the resort sets up an incredibly inviting bonfire and some fried food to enjoy the night sky in their outdoor summer hut, which doubles as a lovely gazebo of sorts for the nighttime.

The famous Patiya Hotel which is the first top for most travellers getting off the train at the Ohiya railway station

As we enjoyed our time at Ohiya Jungle Resort, really taking the time to be present in our surroundings, the wonderful people at the resort also urged that if people are to visit their humble town they wish to remind and educate people to not pollute their untouched environment. “This place is the sponge of our island, it nourishes every part of this country and so it is our duty to take care of it,” they said.

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Telephone: Ohiya Jungle Resort
        Patiya Hotel