Fairytale Forests - Aaron Northcott

Fairytale Forests of Sinharaja

The forests of Sinharaja Forest Reserve are breathtaking; with an abundance of wildlife, the reserve is widely considered a biodiversity hotspot, boasting a huge array of endemic and endangered species.

We had just endured another day trekking through the humid jungle and scrambling up slippery jungle pathways, pausing every so often to pull the leeches off our legs (and backs, shoulders, necks and arms) under the weight of cameras, tripods, multiple lenses and everything else we'd need to take full advantage of every photographic opportunity the forest may throw at us.

Tired and in need of a rest but with still a couple of hours of daylight left, the owner of the lodge suggested we follow him to a waterfall less than a few hundred metres down a track into the nearby jungle.

By this point I'd learned that you have to take measurements with a pinch-of-salt in Sri Lanka. A few hundred metres inevitably meant at least 2km, and any suggestions of a time-span should really be doubled for a more realistic estimate . . . but we of course wanted to seize every opportunity, and we trundled off into the jungle once more.

Waterfalls of Weddagala

Even by this point the forest was still surprising us with incredible creatures around every corner; as we made our way down a muddy path we were joined by two mongoose that scampered along for fifteen or twenty metres before disappearing into the undergrowth again.

Once we arrived at our destination a little while later, we were far from disappointed.

We pushed our way through the undergrowth and came to the waters edge; in front of us wasn't just one waterfall, but instead a cascade of waterfalls breaking the river into sections. The water ran gently through and shimmered with shoals of fish. Rock pools littered the edges of the river and birds were singing from the foliage that bordered the water.

Sticky from the humid jungle heat we couldn't resist taking a dip in the water - we'd found our own little paradise.

I should really have been taking more photographs - but on this occasion I couldn't help but just relax in the refreshing pools and let the aches and pains of the last couple of days wash away.

Before we departed, I ventured a little further up river to one of the larger waterfalls and captured this long exposure image. The darkness was already starting to creep in so I had to use a reasonably long exposure to light the scene enough, which also resulted in the beautifully silky smooth water in the photograph.

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