I was chatting with my host in Sigiriya, asking him for his favourite places in Sri Lanka and among the familiar names I heard a name I had never heard of or read about before – Meemure. I quickly looked it up where it was on the map and it looked quite far away from Kandy or Nuwara Eliya. But I bookmarked it nevertheless, in case I succeeded in getting a vehicle of my own.
With the bookmark added, I left it at that. I generally look at these bookmarks when I’m closer and can sincerely evaluate the feasibility of visiting.
After about a week of that conversation when I found myself in Kandy (way earlier than I had originally intended), I gave visiting this village a serious thought. I decided to visit it over the weekend as I learned there’s no phone network or wifi there.
I looked up the place on the main road from where the detour to the village starts – Hunnasigiriya. And so come Friday afternoon and there I went along with a fellow traveler from my hostel. Leaving behind the noise of Kandy already felt nice, everything else was a bonus.
Unfortunately, Hunnasigirya didn’t seem to have any shared cab or local bus options like I had read online. A tuktuk driver quoted SLR 3k (back then equivalent of USD 15) for the village which is a fair price considering it’s 35 km from there via windy roads. We were walking along on our way, evaluating our options when a tuktuk driver told us he’s from there and can take us for SLR 1k. There was already someone in there along with some luggage, we stuffed our packs in the back and got in along with the already seated passenger.
The views very quickly changed from distant valleys to tea estates and waterfalls every now and then. We both couldn’t stop smiling.
About an hour later we were at our destination, Meemure – one of the remotest village in Sri Lanka. Located in the knuckles hill range, Meemure is truly spectacular. It’s like a secret haven. The tuktuk driver had already told us about the homestay he ran, we did look around a bit but eventually parked ourselves in his home.
How to reach Meemure using public transport
As a solo traveler, oftentimes reaching remote places without any public transport connectivity becomes too expensive. So, I’m always looking at public transport connectivity info even if it’s for part of the journey. Reaching Meemure looked fairly achievable on the map but there was little information online and the only two locals I met who had visited the place, had done so using private vehicle. Here’s how you can visit Meemure solely using public transport. Please note there’s only one bus for last part of the journey of about 35 km.
Kandy to Meemure by Bus
- Take a bus from Kandy to Ududumbara – throughout the day (cost: SLR 114)
- Ududumbara to Meemure (Pusse Ella) – SLR 118 there’s only one bus at 4:00 pm.
Meemure to Kandy by Bus
- Pusse Ella (Meemure) to Ududumbara – Only one bus at 5:30 am (SLR 118)
- Ududumbara to Kandy – frequent public buses
Where to Stay in Meemure
It’s a small village with houses scattered across a large area and all the stay options are home-stays. Locals who have modified their homes to accommodate for tourists. Because of the amount of rain the village usually receives, the houses can smell a bit moist.
All the options include meals and some include guide services as well.
Price Range of Home-Stays in Meemure
SLR 3000 to 5000 (USD 15-25) per person per night including three meals, tea, etc.
The option with SLR 5000, included guide services.
Guide services that’s not included in Homestay cost us SLR 3000 for a day. There were two of us so it cost us SLR 1500 per person.
Some of the options:
- Ravi Homestay –
Contact Numbers: 0717733854, 0815733854
Price – SLR 3000 per person per night. SLR 3000 for guide services for the day.
I stayed at Ravi Homestay because he seemed like a reliable person and spoke a bit of English unlike the other guide we met. But do be mindful of the fact that the shower there was open (not open roof, just open surrounded by plants) and toilet was outside as well.
- Mount View Resort –
Price – SLR 4000 per person per night including guide service.
Many home-stays and guest houses are named resorts but they are very rustic, so do have your expectations in check. Mount View Resort was beautiful with a stream next to it and a bench to sit outside but during our visit, it was raining quite a lot and we knew that that we wouldn’t be able to use that bench in the rain. Covered seating area was quite limited.
Note: These are prices for two people, the prices may vary for one person.
What to do in Meemure
Meemure is already such a nice place, I could sit by a stream all day. Walking around the village is calming with the view of the mountains’ dramatic rock face. Owing to the incessant rain, that’s what we did quite a lot, just sat on a wooden bench outside our home owner’s house and looked at the rain patter down through the thatched roof.
Go Hiking/ Hike to Dumbara Ella Waterfall
Locals have managed to find these beautiful spots through the forest and most of the home-stays offer their guide service to take you there. We chose to go to a waterfall (Dumbara Ella Waterfall) through the forest as the weather looked fine but it started raining soon afterwards. Now, rain is not the problem here, it’s the leeches that come out in millions that’s horrid.
‘Apply this on shoes’, our guide said. We followed. It was a mix of dettol liquid soap and castor oil. It was going to protect us from the leeches. I was very pleased when at the first rest stop, we found no leeches on any of us. I believed (rather naively) that the locals through that magic potion had found a way to beat leech attack. It is effective, please don’t get me wrong but the the high density of leeches still makes it quite a traumatic experience.
The hike through the forest required us to cross stream at least twice. The rain made it all a bit too adventurous. I don’t want to recount but it’s pertinent to add, we were hounded by leeches very soon and they remained for the entire length of the trek. In no time, we switched our expectations from ‘no leeches’ to, ‘leeches on the feet are fine’, because we found them in places I don’t want to remember.
I would highly recommend going there when it’s not raining. Even though, leeches are not poisonous, some bites remain itchy for days, some bleed for hours, and the icky feeling is really difficult to shake off.
I must also add, the hike is indeed beautiful and the waterfall, stunning. Because of the heavy rainfall, we got no pictures. Our guide took a few but we couldn’t take them in time and he doesn’t use WhatsApp.
Sit by a waterfall
There are quite a few waterfalls in close vicinity of the village. The locals know of many such spots and could guide you to a nearby one. Even the one under the bridge in the village is quite beautiful to hang around.
Meditate in a Buddist Monastery
We were out on a walk and following a certain staircase that ended up at this beautiful meditation centre. It was newly opened and was open for outsiders to meditate only at 7:30 pm. The steps are on the left side going up the hill, just before the bridge in the village.
Tourism in Meemure
We saw a fair number of local tourists by the waterfall in the village but most of them seemed to be day tourists. They came in their vehicle, chilled in the waterfall, and left by the evening. Many of them come with their food, so there was barely any business given to the people from the village which seemed a bit unfair.
We did meet another group of hikers during the day hike though. They were with guides (not from the village). It appeared like an organized trek from another place.
While there are multiple guest houses and camping places that are marked on maps, very few were open or even reachable (I think some have closed down).
Tips for hiking in Meemure during the monsoon season (read leeches party season)
- Leeches are going to get through whatever you wear anyway, so I would recommend wearing lose sports shorts that can be taken off easily to check for leeches on your thighs etc (very common).
- Apply a generous amount of that lotion before starting the hike
- Carry phone protection. It was raining so hard and we had only one poly bag for our phones and no umbrellas so we have no pictures from the hike.
- Taking off shoes to cross the stream gets too much, so either get in with your shoes on from the very beginning or wear something waterproof. It’s not a difficult hike, one could do it wearing crocs.
During my two separate visits to Sri Lanka ranging 1 week and 3 months, Meemure has been one of my favorite places. Not only was the hospitality top-notch, the joy of sitting there with no phone and internet, surrounded by the sound of rain, overlooking the knuckles mountain range was a delightful experience.
Unlike most other places in Sri Lanka, we weren’t hounded by anyone offering tuktuk or room. It’s a quiet places that is bound to bring joy. If you visit or have visited, please do share your experience.