Upcountry

The Hill Country is exceptionally beautiful, with crystal clear waterfalls and tea plantations dotted throughout. The temperature in this region stays cool all year round, in an atmosphere of early morning Spring. Everything is green and lush and the landscape is elevated with layers of grass knolls and jagged waterfalls with dense mountain forest clinging to the upper slopes.

The days drift by in the hill country in Sri Lanka with not much to do but drink tea (in abundance) and absorb the serenity and breathtaking walks and views. There are several little towns that are certainly worth a visit, such as Nuwara Eliya. There are also some majestic feats of nature to explore, namely Worlds End and Adams Peak Main portion of the Hill country consists of a series of huge platforms – Kandy, Hatton, Uva and Balangodo & Koslandda to the south. Five main mount peaks are the Pirudutalagala (highest 8292’), Kirigalpotta, Totapola, Samanala and Namunukula but there are several gaps through which the main hill masses could be traversed through Balana and Girigesthhena from the West. Southern platform forms a very striking watered feature resembling an unbroken wall of the hill ranges in the south. Dense forests and vast stretches of green the plantations precaously clinging to the hill slopes along with cascading water falls add exceptional beauty to the area. The temperature is mild unlike in the low country and a welcoming contrast to the heat in Colombo and other coastal areas some of the exciting towns in the hills are Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Bandarawela, Badulla etc.

Hortan Plains

National Park, an hour away from Nuwara Eliya. These Plains, formed by millions of the year of erosion, lie right on top of Sri Lanka’s mountains. Here large herds of elk, silhouetted against clouds of the lowlands, move among scarlet rhododendrons. World’s End gives you unparalled views of the flatlands to the south, as you teeter on the edge of an 800 meter high precipice.


Buffeted by the wind, the highlands of the Horton Plains NP include some of the island’s most spectacular landscapes, with stretches of grassland and forest, giant ferns, trees clawing the clouds, and peat-rimmed lakes. This strange, wild, almost melancholy landscape was discovered by the tea planter Thomas Farr, who named it after Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, governor of the island from 1831 to 1837.


Overlooked by the Kirigalpota Mountain, the second highest range on the island (2395 m), Horton Plains NP forms the western edge of the Haputale range, poised high above the Ruhunu lowlands. Buffeted by the wind end too high (1800 -02160 m) for farming, these vast highlands prairies (patna) do not permit any kind of serious crop cultivation and have escaped the intensive exploitation of the centre of the islands.


This is also one of the top destinations for bird lovers who visit the area to look for several of Sri Lanka’s endemics; these include the Yellow Eared Bulbul, the Ceylon Hill White Eye, Ceylon Whistling Thrush and the Ceylon Blue, Magpie. The diversity of vegetation is also impressive from grasses to ferns, shrubs and large flowering trees. The montane forest is very distinctive with all the trees reaching a similar height to protect themselves against excessive precipitation, the western slopes support the most extensive area of cloud forest in the country.


Annual rainfall is high with the area being affected by both monsoons as well as the inter-monsoonal periods, it is driest between January and March. The temperatures are considerably cooler than low lying areas. The tea growing area is Nuwara Eliya is a convenient base for visiting the park, and Kandy or Yala can be reached within a half day’s scenic drive from here. 

            

 

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya otherwise known as “Little England” is a quaint town located in Sri Lanka’s beautifully lush hill country. During the British Colonial Period, Nuwara Eliya was a favourite holiday retreat for the crème de la crème of British society on the island. They turned this town, with its ideal cool temperature and rich foliage, into a beautiful little town strongly reminiscent of England, from the architecture of the houses to the flowers that still peep out of every corner. To this day, Sri Lanka’s “Little England” remains almost completely untouched and you feel like you’ve skipped continents as you enter its city limits.

Nuwara Eliya’s tradition has remained unchanged as it is still known to be a retreat for the island’s elite. During its ‘season’ in April, the little town comes alive as Sri Lanka’s high society flocks there for the horse and motor races, grand dances and exclusive golf tournaments.


Visiting one of the many tea factories perched high on the hills surrounding Nuwra Eliya is definitely a must. It is here that the best of Sri Lanka’s teas – the fragrant and delicately flavoured “high grown” – flourish.


Nuwara Eliya’s Galway Bird sanctuary is a 27 acre park where you can catch a glimpse of a great variety of rare and tropical birds, an unbeatable spot for nature-lovers. The Hakgala Botanical Gardens, Victoria Gardens and Horton Plains are also great places to visit if you want to take in Nuwara Eliya’s unique landscape and carefully maintained flower gardens. “World’s End” is another popular site in Nuwara Eliya. It is a terrifying precipice that drops vertically for about 1000 feet (328 meters) and falls away almost as steeply for another 4000 feet (1312 meters). 

            

 

Adam's Peak

The most famous physical feature of Ceylon is Adam’s Peak, which is situated in the Ratnapura district. It is on the edge of the central massif but its surrounding group of mountain called the Wilderness of the Peak, is so extensive in comparison to the bulk of the other mountain groups that it appears to form a nucleus of its own, separate from the others. It is about 7500 ft high and, though it is the second highest peak in the land, its position in relation to the topography is so dominant that it stands out above all others.

From December to April, pilgrims converge to climb the 2224 m (7295 ft) Adam’s Peak. At the top is a huge ‘footprint’, claimed by Muslims to belong to Adam, who stood there in expiation if his sin in the Garden of Eden.

Never mind that Buddhists believe it to be the mark of Buddha or that Hindus hold the print to have been made by Lord Shiva (or that Christians claim it is the footprint of St. Thomas) the fact remains that it is has been a place of pilgrimage for over thousand years.

The view from the peak at dawn is enough to shock the most cynical agnostic into a state of reverie. It takes about four hours to climb to the top from the town of Dalhousie.

Reaching the base of Adam’s Peak is simple and if you’re making a night ascent, you’ve got all day to arrive. Buses run to Dalhousie fro Kandy, Nuwara eliya, and Colombo in the pilgrimage season. Otherwise you need to get first to Hatton or Maskeliya. If you’re really running late, taxis will take you to Hatton or Dalhousie. You’ll need to cover 220 km (136 mi) to get there from Colombo. Plan your trip to Adam’s peak around the monsoon season. While Colombo and surroundings are comfortable year round, heavy rains can be expected from May to August and October to January.

This is why there is a ‘season’ for the Adam’s Peak pilgrimage, i.e. from full moon of December until full moon of May. It you try to climb in July-August, you are likely to get soaking wet before reaching the top, where it is cold day and night. Once you get wet, it will be a long night waiting for the sun to come up.

Sure, there are pilgrims who climb year round, and you might even be lucky enough to climb and stay dry and warm. But the chances of that are rather slim in July. Yes, the climb is well lit year round, so it is safe also. Accommodations are found at the base of the peak but not upon the peak of course, which is cramped especially when there are many pilgrims. 

            

 

Rathnapura

Ratnapura located at 103 km from Colombo is the famous gem-mining town of Sri Lanka. In fact the name Ratnapura literally, the City of Gems. Sri Lanka has the greatest concentration of gems on earth and is ranked among the top five gem-bearing nations. One can fine all types of gems in Ratnapura- from familiar to exotic. These include: white, yellow, pink, orange, purple and blue star sapphires, ruby and star ruby, cat’s eye, topaz, amethyst, moonstone, aquamarine, garnet, zircon, spinel, alexandrite, citrine, etc., and the exotic ones such as patite, sinhalite, ekanite, enstatite, andalusite, kornerupine, etc., sought by the connoisseur.

Other tourist attractions in Rathnapura

Maha Saman Devalaya 

A dewale is a shrine dedicated to either a god og the Hindu pantheon or a local deity, which is usually situated within a Buddhist Vihara or temple. This unique devale, only a short distance from Rathnapura, is dedicated to Saman the tutelary deity of Adam’s Peak. 

Annual fair/perahara 

There is an annual fair and perahara in the month of July-August which is among the largest to be held in the country. Its main feature is the Maha Baha a giant effigy who like the Roman Janus has two faces-one pink-cheeked and smiling the other dour and black-visaged.

Sinharaja 

The highland forest of Sinharaja, located near Ratnapura is a nature lover’s delight. It is the last remaining original tract of rainforest on the island.

Ratnapura is also one of the base camps to the pilgrimage trek to Adam’s Peak.

            

 

Habarana

Habarana is the heart of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka Habarana is the centre point from which guests could explore the glorious past and the historical myths of Sri Lanka. Cultural tourists as well as wildlife enthusiasts are bound to find this location a haven to escape to. Habarana is closely located to the Minneriya and kaudulla National Parks which are the transit points to hundreds of Asian elephants and other wildlife during the dry season. The sacred city of Anuradhapura, cave temples in Dambulla and Sigiriya the rock fortress are just few of the sites worthy of the attention of a history buff. The rest tourists could escape to the silence and stillness that Habarana, Sri Lanka has to offer, it is a place where tranquility is personified.

             

 

Colombo

For shoppers, the duty free shop at the Colombo International Airport is a paradise, while the major shopping complexes, such as Liberty Plaza, Majestic City and Crescat City, offer a wide range of consumer items. When it comes to clothing and accessories, major department stores in Colombo offer many International designer labels, which are locally manufactured, at bargain prices.

Furthermore, most hotels features shopping arcades exotic Sri Lanka Gems certified by the national Gem Authority, as well as gold jewellery, could be purchased. In addition, the many jewellery shops and gem dealers in the island offer exquisite jewellery in modern or traditional designs. Outlets specializing in ethnic artefacts, handloom garments and gift items are abundant throughout the island. For the best bargains in town however, one only has to step onto the streets, where pavement hawkers offer a wide range of items and artefacts at low prices.

There are boundless options for dinning out in Colombo and the key resort, ranging from fine dining at theme restaurants in the hotels and a variety of international cuisine in specialty restaurants, to food courts in shopping complexes and theme parks. For a quick bite, international fast-food franchises, such as McDoonal’s, KFC, Domino’s pizza and pizza Hut, have branches around the Colombo metropolis and Kandy. In addition, specialty dessert and coffee franchises such as II Gelato, Movenpick, Delifrance, Quicky’s and Barista Coffee are also available.

Colombo comes alive at night though to the wee hours with its many pool parlours, karaoke bars, casinos, pubs and clubs. Other than the cinema, Colombo boats an active theatre scene, with performances of symphony orchestras, musical as well as experimental theatre. Likewise, rock events and jazz afternoons are also popular during the weekends.

         

 

Pinnawala

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is situated northwest of the town of Kegalla, halfway between the present capital Colombo and the ancient royal residence Kandy in the hills of central Sri Lanka. It was established in 197 by the Sri Lanka wildlife department in a 25 acre coconut property near the Maha Oya River. The orphanage was originally founded in order to afford care and protection to the many orphaned elephant found in the jungle. As of 2003, there were 65 elephant.

In 1978 the orphanage was taken over by the National Zoological Gardens from the Department of Wildlife and a captive breeding program was launched in 1982. Since then over twenty elephants have been born. The aim of the orphanage is to simulate the natural world. However, there are some exceptions the elephants are taken to the river twice daily for a bath and all the babies under three years of age are still bottle fed by the mahouts and volunteers. Each animal is also given around 76 kg of green matter a day and around 2 kg from a food bag containing rice bran and maize. They get access to water twice a day, from the river, twice they are much fond of.

The orphanage is very popular and visited daily by many Sri Lanka and foreign tourists. The main attraction is clearly to observe the bathing elephants from the tall river bank as it allows visitors to observe the herd interacting socially, bathing and playing. This 24 acre elephant orphanage is also a breeding place for elephants. Twenty elephants have been born since 1984, and the orphanage has the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. While most of the elephants are healthy, one is blind and one, named Sami, has lost her front leg due to a landmine.

             

 

Udawalawa

UDAWALAWA NATIONAL PARK is located approximately 230 km south-east of Colombo city and is a major eco tourism destination in Sri Lanka. The 30821 hectares dry zone game park has an annual rainfall of 1524 mm and an average temperature of 29.4 C. It is most famous for the many Elephants that live there (about 400 in total).

During a visit, it is not unusual to see whole herds of adults and young elephants feeding or bathing and playing in the water! In addition to this main attraction, the park is home to many Water Buffalo, Water Monitor, Lizards, Sambar Deer, Monkeys and the occasional Leopard, as well as being an exciting location for Bird enthusiasts.

A 4WD open-top safari is the only way to see all the wonders that this protected reserve has to offer and our experienced and knowledgeable nature guides will make this an unforgettable experience.

            

 

Yala

Yala West (Ruhuna) National Park is well recognized as one of the best parks in the world to observe and photograph leopards. The park covers an area of over 100000 hectares and is divided into five blocks. Block one is the most visited area since it contains the highest density of leopards. However other areas of Yala such as Yala East had been closed to visitors for some years and it will take time to research leopard numbers in these areas. Yala West consists of scrub jungle, brackish lagoons and stunning rock monoliths scattered throughout the park, its eastern edge is bounded by the South coast.

It is possible to take full day jeep safaris or to spilt your day into morning and afternoon drives. Your best chance to see a leopard is generally early in the morning and then again at dusk. You can stay until just after dark inside the park, thus maximizing your chances of a leopard encounter. The male leopards in Yala are very confident and are often seen walking the tracks during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep, which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. There are similarities between Yala and the best National Parks in India for photographing tigers, in both cases the big cats have become habitualised to the jeeps thus enabling us to enjoy a privileged view of these magnificent animals.

There is so a substantial elephant population along with spotted deer, sambar, wild buffalo, sloth bear jackal, mongoose, pangolins and crocodiles. The bird life comprises over 120 species, and ranges from lesser flamingos to paradise Flycatchers, Crested Hawk Eagle, and Black Bitterns. Outside of the park are several other fascinating birding locations including the ancient hermitage of Sithipahuwa, Debarawewa wetland and Palatupana saltpans. The coastline forms a major nesting round for marine turtles.

            

 

Yapahuwa

An ancient fortress and capital built in the year 1301. Yapahuwa is a rock rising to a height of 90 meters. Many traces of ancient battle defenses can still be seen, while as ornamental stairway, remains its biggest showpiece. “Yapahuwa” the 13th Century capital in Sri Lanka was made King Buvanekabahu I, Here the chief object is the rock, which rises about 300 ft above the surrounding land. The land at the base to the south is fortified with two moats and ramparts. In this enclosure there are remains of a number of Buildings.

The Tooth Relic too was brought from Dambadeniya kept in the special built for the purpose. Yapahuwa is situated at Kurunegala- the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. Kurunegala the Capital of North Western Province is a treasure house of archaeologh, having been the seat of four medieval kingdoms of Sri Lanka between the mid 12th and 14th century. Sri Lankan Kings built handsome citadels at Panduwasnuwara, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa and Kurunegala.

Impressive remains of these citadels-fortresses, Places Buddhist temples, shrines, monasteries and hermitages, walls and moats as well as monuments of much earlier (even pre-Christian) and later European colonial periods, providing existing sightseeing to visitors. The North Western Province has number of medieval temples and edifices raised on pillars or small boulders. All of them contain classical masterpieces of Sinhala art & craft wall paintings, wood work, sculpture and images of Lord Buddha.

            

 

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