The Hill Country is a world away from the rest of Sri Lanka, with tangled green mountains rise from every quarter, their lower slopes swathed in verdant tea bushes. While the parched lowlands sweat beneath an eternal tropical summer, the uplands bask in a perpetual European spring, turning to a crisp autumnal chill at higher elevations. Spectacular waterfalls plunge over cliffs into valleys hemmed in between high mountainsides. The cloudforest above is alive with the secretive chirrupings of elusive mountain birds.
Nuwara Eliya is located at the heart of the hill country 6,182 feet above from the sea level. The town is situated at 74 km away along Kandy-Nuwara Eliya road and this was rediscovered by British in 1827. It is still very much like an old English town with styled Bungalows and buildings. The cool calm climate, gorges rolling tea plantation which makes the best “Ceylon Tea” and the breathtaking beautiful waterfalls makes Nuwara Eliya one of the most beautiful town in the world.
Horton plains – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Horton plains are a plateau with a unique and fragile eco system located 2,150 m above sea level. These tranquil grassy woodlands endlessly swept by crisp, sharp, biting winds is home to endemic highland birds, leopards and Sambhar deer. Horton Plains covers a land area of 3,160 hectares (12.2 sq. m). It contains the most extensive part of cloud forest in Sri Lanka. Considered the most prized watershed of the country it holds the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers the Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe. The plateau drops abruptly by 1,650 m at the “Worlds End” the only plausible description that fits the frightening abyss below, often covered by a mystic mist. On a clear day it offers a spectacular view that extends up to the distant Indian Ocean. Horton Plains has been declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Knuckles Mountain Range – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Its name describes its outline. The Knuckles Range consists of the Knuckles massif, the Knuckles range and the Knuckles peaks. The Knuckles massif is about 90 square miles in extent and is a detached block of the central highlands separated from the main highlands by the the Dumbara Valley. There are 35 peaks rising to more than 3,000 feet (915 m) in the Knuckles range. It has a rich variety of plant and animal life. Mammals include leopards, sambhur, mouse deer, barking deer, sloth deer, leaf monkeys, toque monkeys, wild squirrels, giant squirrels, wild boar & otter. Besides these, many species of amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, spiders, fish and birds can be found. Knuckles Mountain Range has been declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Haputale is 44 Km from Nuwara Eliya. The tiny town precariously perched on a Mountain ridge at an elevation of 1,579 m is ensconced in the southern end of the Central Highlands. It has justifiable repute for a climate that is both invigorating and restful. Its great attraction is that it offers an unimpeded view of the plains that extend to the coastal plains of the south and the east and the mountains to its north. It is hemmed in by the mountains of Horton plains, Hakgala and Namunukula among several other peaks. Turn again and you have another breathtaking view of the foothills that extend to the Southern parts of the island right down to the sea. Under the cloud less sky of a bright day you may devour the sight of a pale blue border of the ocean. The terrain of Haputale tempts you to do many things such as Walking, Hiking and Trekking in surrounding hills.
Lipton’s seat is the high light of your wanderings with its magnificent view that was once the delight of Sir Thomas Lipton. It is the highest point of the mountain range, where the famous Tea planter of Ceylon, Sir Thomas Lipton used to admire & enjoy the panoramic view from the Fiefdom he built for himself at Haputale. Do not dally too long. You will miss your Tea and Tiffin if the mist sets in.
Adam’s Peak is one of the major eco tourism destinations in the hill country of Sri Lanka. The key attraction of the Adam’s Peak wilderness Sanctuary is Adam’s Peak itself. The 2,243 m peak has a great significance for various different religions. Buddhists believe the footprint on the summit is that of Buddha, Hindus hold it to be the mark of Shiva, Muslims are convinced it is that of Adam, who wept after the loss of Eden (whereby the mountain got its name), and some Christians believe the indentations were caused when St. Thomas, Christ’s Apostle who came East, prayed at the peak. As a result, the mountain peak has been a pilgrimage centre for over 1,000 years. Whatever its religious significance, this famous landmark offers some breathtaking views of the hill country and an enchanting wilderness sanctuary. The majority of climbers begin their ascent at night in order to arrive at the top in time for a magical sunrise when the mystical shadow of the peak is perfectly cast across the clouds.
This eco tourism destination in Sri Lanka is one of those truly unique moments that will live on in your memory long after the aches and pains from the climb to the wilderness sanctuary have gone. In addition to Adam’s Peak itself, the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary offers some superb nature trails through tropical rainforests, across rivers and past lush tea plantation.
The easiest approach to Pidurutalagala the highest peak in Sri Lanka (2,524 m) in a foot path from Nuwara Eliya. The path has been in use since the 19th century. Ernest Haeckel reached the peak on 16th February 1882 and Andreas Franz Wilhelm Schimper repeated the feat on 19th September 1986. Although the mountain range extends North West up to Kandy, you have to be content with the forest reserve that is left on the slopes of Pidurutalagala up to Le Vallon tea plantation in Galaha. From the top of the rock Dotelagala you will have another fabulous view that will include the Victoria Reservoir past Kandy and Knuckles range beyond while closer to you lays Loolecondera plantation where Tea was first planted by James Taylor in 1863.
Namunukula at 2,036 m is a peak that stands in Isolation almost always taking refuge in clouds in the eastern part of the Uva basin that you say in eagle eye view earlier from atop Lipton’s seat at Haputale. The recommended approach to this seemingly reluctant and elusive mountain terrain is through Spring Valley tea plantation. You have already seen the Namunukula mountain range from the Elle gap that is 19 km away. Before you reach the foot hills of the Mountain range with its nine peaks as its name implies you have a pleasant trek of 6km through a maze of Rhododendrons and giant trees. Some extremely good primeval forest cover has been preserved on this range. As you climb the giant trees become stunted at about 3-5 m forming a dense canopy. The peak itself is covered with shrub jungle allowing a panoramic view of the eastern and southern coasts of the island. The other two trails to the Second highest peak Kirigalpoththa and the third highest Thotupola kanda begin from Horton plains.
The trek to Kirigalpoththa peak 2,388 m is undoubtedly the most attractive nature trail for both the curious armature and the disciplined naturalist. It takes about 4 hours and is not easy but absolutely possible. The trail leads to wet grass land, cloud forest and shrub jungle at its summit. A bewildering array of wild flowers will thrill you during the best months from February to April, for this tryst with true tropical nature that oozes out from natural springs of water that is the source of the Belihuloya and the Walawe River.
Thotupola kande 2,357 m the third highest peak of Sri Lanka is easily reached by a foot path from Horton plains during February to April and from July to September. This trail allows you to in to the deepest recesses of a cloud forest with the least resistance. Although it the third highest peak the elevation gain is so gradual that the height you reach is only felt by the equally gradual sharpening of the bite of the winds that buffet you. The stunning view of the surrounding savannas and patches of dense forests is by all accounts is a rapturous rendezvous with mother earth. The primitive man worshiped mountain peaks for a good reason.
Hakgalla Garden is located along Nuwara Eliya-Badulla road (along Kandy, Ramboda) This place is 5,581 feet high from the sea level. It is said that the King “Rawana” used this place as a herbal garden.
This place was started as a Botanical garden by British botanist Dr. G.H.K. Thwaites who was the director of “Peradiniya Botanical Garden“ in the year of 1859. Initially they grew “sinkona” which was used to produce “quiveenen” for malaria. There are more than 60,000 species of plants have planted here. During the summer season this one of the most scenic places of Nuwara Eliya. With the cool climate of Nuwra Eliya many different kinds of plants from different parts of the world can be seen. For example conifers and cedars from Australia, Bermuda cypresses from the Himalayas English oak are some of the highlights.
Victoria Park was established in 1897 as for the jubilee of Queen Victoria in completion of sixty years on here thorn. The park is within the city limits and it has become a must see location anyone who visit Nuwara Eliya. During the summer the park is filled with colorful roses and various flowers where you won’t be able to see them in any other city of Sri Lanka.
The wooden Bridge of Gallanda Oya
This 50 feet long 6 feet wide wooden bridge is magnificent creation of ancient craftsman’s of Sri Lanka. It is believed that this wooden bridge belongs to the “Dambadeniya” era. This ancient bridge is located in “Boogoda Raja Maha Vihara” premises at Hali-Ela in Badulla, and built across the “Gallanda Oya”. The interesting this of this wooden bridge is that it is built upon two wooden bars which are fixed in to stone holes of that location and there are 10 pillars on each side of the bridge and a roof is fixed to this pillars. No nails are used here.