The 'Hill Country' or "Up Country" are terms broadly used to describe the mountainous regions of the centre of Sri Lanka. Covered with tea plantations and National Parks, this vast expanse is home to some of the most unique and historical accommodation in the country and the cool climate provides a beautiful contrast with the often scorching coastline.
The old British hill station of Nuwara Eliya is now a favourite retreat for locals looking to escape the heat of the lowlands. It is misty and rainy much of the year – but a strange and atmospheric step back into colonial history. Highlights include supper at the Hill Club, replete with membership, compulsory jackets and a sense of the proper occasion. Stay at St Andrew’s Hotel for colonial style and furnishing with simple modern comforts and excellent food. Just outside the town is the more luxurious Warwick Gardens, or the the Heritance Tea Factory.
The hills are also home to a number of historical bungalows amidst working plantations. A walk, a drive or a train journey through the incomparable scenery around Haputale, Ella and Bandarawela is a must. For the full experience stay in one of the several converted tea-planter’s bungalows. As a true taste of that bygone life, you cannot beat The Tea Trails bungalows, four beautifully restored bungalows around the Castlereagh Lake, near Hatton, that can be hired on a room by room basis. Other bungalows throughout the tea growing area can be hired in their entirety. This is a great base from which to climb 'Adam's Peak, the revered mountain which flings out a mystical shadow at dawn and has inspired all the major religions to claim it as their own. The overnight climb is an unforgettable adventure. Tea Trails is arguably the best hotel in Sri Lanka and wows guests with its fine blend of luxury, history and setting.
Slightly less grand but equally atmospheric are the bungalows at the excellent Kelburne Estate Cottages. We also love Living Heritage Koslanda and 98 Acres if you, like us, prefer smaller more intimate and characterful hotels. These hotels are all on the southern edge of the hills, the region with thebest weather, the clearest air and the most incredible views as the mountains give way to the plains below and the sea in the distance.
Families will find a great range of activities and exciting camping available at the River Garden in picturesque Belihul Oya.
In the lower hills, Kithugalla is carving out a reputation as the adventure capital of Sri Lanka. Previously best known as the location for the film, ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’, Kithugalla’s main draw is now white river rafting. The birding and walking in this area is also excellent. Stay at the eco-resort on the river, Border Lands, or the reliable and good value River Resort.
Finally the Sinharaja rainforest is one of Asia’s most important protected areas. A wonderful place for walking, casual observers will marvel at the diversity of reptile and bird life easily spotted with the help of enthusiastic guides. No nature enthusiast can possible miss this completely unique opportunity to see many unique, rare and endemic species. Stay at the startling and original Rainforest Edge.
Experience Travel Group can include the Hill Country into any tailor-made Sri Lanka holiday. Call us on on 020 7924 7133 or get a quote today – no matter what stage you're at with your holiday planning.
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