Main attractions in hill country of Sri Lanka
The Hill Country of Sri Lanka offers peaceful landscapes of tea plantations and montain forests. Since the time of the British occupation the Hill Country was a place to escape the heat and the bustling traffic of Colombo. The climate is colder than in the rest of Sri Lanka, and the atmosphere strongly contrasts with the tropical beaches of the coast.
Kandy is the last royal capital, occupied by the British’s at the beginning of the 19th century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. The main attraction in the city is the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a holy Buddhist temple which houses the Relic of the tooth of Buddha. Spectacular troupes of Kandyan dancers is a must-see, especially in summer during the Buddhist Esala Perahera festival. The energetic choreography and colorful costumes is a visual feast. Stroll around the lake, have high tea at a hotel or visit the National Museum.
Feed, bathe and interact with elephants at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage started in 1975 to house abandoned and wounded elephants. The Botanical Garden of Peradeniya, covering over 150 acres along the Mahaweli River offers a large array of flora. Walk along the royal palm trees path, see cannonball trees, the orchid collection and multicolored flowerbeds. A walk in this garden cannot be missed!
If you’re in need for a wilder experience, the protected zone of the Knuckles Mountain Range will offer you wonderful hiking and bird watching possibilities.
This will be the highlight of your tour if you like hiking. This is the most important pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka, since this place has a strong meaning to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus as well as Muslims in Sri Lanka. The experience is magical because you make the climb up with pilgrims during the night, in order to watch the dawn on top of the mountain.
Go to Adam’s Peak during the pilgrimage season, from December to May. Make sure to arrive there in good physical condition, and bring warm clothes!
Nuwara Eliya, the highest town in Sri Lanka, is known as the country’s vegetable garden. The colonial buildings and the tea estates create a special British ambience in the cloudy Hill Country. Victoria Park, a well maintained city park, will offer you a really nice walk before you go visiting the numerous tea estates around the city. Golf players will also enjoy the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club.
In Haputale, you will enjoy a stunning view of the valleys. After visiting a tea factory, hike to Lipton’s seat, where Sir Lipton used to contemplate his land. You will actually be rewarded by a stunning view!
The train ride from Haputale to Ella is also a true visual experience.
Ella another relaxing city in the Hill Country has beautiful mountain views and tea plantations. The famous trails lead to “Little Adam’s Peak”, and the Rawana Ella Falls.
A one day excursion to Badulla will bring you to the Dunhinda Falls and the temples of Muthiyagana Vihara and Kataragama Devale sacred to the locals.
HORTON PLAINS AND WORLD’S END
Horton Plains National Park will give you the opportunity to discover natural Sri Lanka on your own, thanks to the walking trails. You can spot a large variety of bird species and enjoy a wild and diverse landscape. The highlight is the “World’s End”, a steep cliff falling over 800 meters. In order to enjoy a spectacular view, you should arrive at the entrance of the park at 6 am so that you get to World’s End before it gets misty.
The Bambarakanda falls, just a few kilometers away, can be reached through a trail from Horton Plains (3 to 4 hours at least) or by road with your driver.
Kitulgala is famous for adventure sports like rafting and trekking. The rafting trips are ideal for beginners and intermediates. “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, a film by David Lean released in 1957, includes scenes shot in Kitulgala. The most legendary of these scenes is the explosion of the bridge over the “River Kwai”, which was the Kelani River in Kitulgala.