This is an area of astonishing contrasts and spectacular scenery. It offers a relaxed journey through lush country on foot, or care to view ever more plunging waterfalls, broad valleys and hillside tea plantations. For the more energetic, accept the rewarding challenges of hill walking- follow in the pilgrims footsteps to Adam’s Peak- mountain biking, golf or tennis or for the more watchful fisherman, ornithologist or race goer, this region will delight.
Nuwara Eliya- “Little England”
The highest town in Sri Lanka is Nuwara Eliya, South East of Kandy. Known for its British Heritage of Hereford Castle, strawberries and golf course, all of which thrive in its eternal spring-like climate.
It is nevertheless Sri Lankan with all the colour and bustle expected of a busy market town. Nuwara Eliya really really comes alive during Buddhist New Year the rich and famous take to the races and hotel’s are awash with parties. Anilana Craigbank and Tea Trails, both colonial Bungalows amidst plantation estates will take you back to halcyon days. The inherent friendliness of the local people will encourage you to explore and enjoy the local area including Victoria Park and the market where you can buy quality branded fleeces and outdoor walking gear at extremely low prices- prepare for your trip to Adam’s Peak.
A visit to a tea plantation should not be missed to appreciate a vital part of Sri Lankan economy since 1850. Many estates eg. Pedro Estate welcome visitors to view the general day to day picking and production of the finest tea tips, making a modest charge.
Hakgala gardens, nestling below Hakgala Peak, offer one of the most beautiful views in Sri Lanka. Established in 1860 to supply anti-malarial quinine they are now a haven of peace leading to a wild life reserve with an abundant population of bird life.
Many prefer to visit Nuwara Eliya enroute to the Eastern Hills and UVA province, or on a day trip from Kandy. It is a long and windy drive up to the peak.
Adam’s Peak is one of Sri Lanka’s highest and sacred mountains and a tough trek. An early start of 2am is required to enjoy the breathtaking sunrise –“Shadow of the peak”. The pain really starts on the descent as the knees and feet will take quite a hammering. December to April offers the best light for the climb. Don’t plan any energetic trips for the next two days. Agar Tea Estate is a luxurious working tea plantation bungalow at the foot of the mountain where you can prepare your mind, indulge yourself in afternoon tea in the estate grounds after the challenge.
In stark contrast, just South of here, lies the bleak plateau of Horton plains, some 6500ft above sea level. Interesting walks abound, the most famous of which leads to the awesome World’s End where the land drops steeply for nearly a mile and the Indian Ocean can be seen glittering in the far distance. For those who wish to travel faster mountain bikes are readily available for hire. In the valley sits Dickoya reservoir and many tea plantation bungalows.
Waterfalls are seen and heard everywhere in this hill country. You may wish to take a break and cool off with a swim in the clear waters below or watch the heart-stopping dives by the daring young locals from above.
Then head South East to the UVA Province where Eco villagres and safaris await and absorb life within traditional Veddha communities.