Sri Lanka’s hill country is unbelievably beautiful, with lush green forest, abundant wild life, tea plantations and countless waterfalls. Exploring the hill country of Sri Lanka is a must when visiting the country, and here are some of the best places to start with…
Kandy – Gateway To The Hill-Country
Kandy is the cultural and spiritual capital of Sri Lanka, with some of the country’s most important temples like the Temple of the Tooth, a nice lake, and a bustling local market. There are lots of restaurants and bakeries in Kandy that are worth exploring, and some great hotels (many of them are perched on top of hills with incredible views), making this city a good base for excursions to the cultural triangle. The only thing we didn’t like about Kandy was how many people try to hustle you to visit their shops, all with identical routines – so be on your guard!
Ella – Walking Among Nature
Ella is a tiny little village in a large, stunning area which is easy to explore on your own. Go for a morning walk up to what is locally nicknamed as “Little Adam’s Peak” for the beautiful views, then check out the tea plantation which you walk through on the way back down, visit a waterfall or take a longer hike up to Ella Rock. Ella is all about the views and being close to nature – everywhere you go in the hill country of Sri Lanka, you’ll see jungles, hills, and tea plantations – while in Malaysia you have to seek them out, here you simply stumble upon these beautiful velvet-looking fields. When you’re back in the little village again, make sure you try the buffalo curd with treacle at the Curd Shop – a favorite snack in the hill-country region.
Nuwara Eliya – Little England
Nuwara Eliya is a strange place, there is no other way to describe it – with typical British climate and British architecture to top it off, you feel like either you or the town is out of place. The city center is a boring concrete block, but the outskirts have houses and buildings that are almost more British than Britain itself. The buildings all give the impression of a glamorous past, one which has faded – and while time has passed and the world has changed, life in and around these buildings are still stuck in the 1920’s England. Embrace it, have your tea on the porch or in the garden, and then explore the tea plantations surrounding the area. Pedro’s Tea Estate is close and cheap to get to (800 rupee/6 dollars both ways and the driver will wait for as long a you need). You can pay for a tour around the tea factory if you like, but walking among the cordial-looking hills of tea plants is definitely the highlight. The plantation has some beautiful views overlooking the lake, and you can watch the workers skillfully picking tea leaves from the bush.
Dalhousie (Adams Peak) – Pilgrimage
There is only one reason to visit the small village hidden deep into the hills and mountains of the hill-country: to climb Adam’s Peak, the most famous pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka. The 9km long climb up the steps to the top of the hill is not easy, especially not in heavy rain – which we had to climb in – or at 3am in the morning – so make sure you bring good shoes, energy, and clothes to fit the weather (it’s freezing at the top)! Many people are intrigued to climb the peak to see the amazing sunrise and views from the top, but what is really the most incredible and mindblowing part of the journey is the climb, together with thousands of pilgrims of all ages, struggling to the top. It’s a sacred site for Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus, which makes it a very special place. The area surrounding Dalhousie is very beautiful, with at least a dozen of powerful waterfalls, lush tea plantations and an old stone church on the road from Hatton which is worth checking out.