16 Best Places To Visit On Sri Lanka Hill Country Tours

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Venturing on Sri Lanka hill country tours is the best way to getting to the heart of Sri Lank’s hill country. A large part of the centre of the island is occupied by the towering hills, which is a result of millions of years geographical upheavals. Sri Lanka’s hill country is a mystical, historically important, religiously significant region filled with commercially important tea plants, train tracks and the left eyetooth of Buddha.

Hill Country of Sri Lanka shows the most attractive contrast to the beaches of Sri Lanka, which is the most popular tourist attraction on the island. Venturing on one of the Sri Lanka hill country tours that revolve around central highland is the best way to enjoy the over the whelming natural beauty of Sri Lankan upcountry…

Sri Lanka’s hill country train cut through the lush green vegetation inch-by-inch on a spiral-shaped railway track. It passes steep ravines, patches of forests, cascading waterfalls, perineal waterways, gloomy tunnels, vegetable plots and tea gardens on its arduous march to the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country.

Beautifully and colourfully dressed skinny women rush through the Tea bushes and stoop time to time to pick the tender leaves of the tea bush. In the same manner, she moves rapidly through the tea bushes as branches of each tea bush she passes are completely bare as she moves to the next tea bush. As the train climb higher and higher, tea pluckers gradually fade into blur silhouettes on the landscape.

Where is Sri Lanka hill country?

Sri Lanka hill country is located in the middle of the island, which is a result of millions of years of geographical upheaval. And according to geologists, the upheavals are still taking place and mountains are still growing. The central mountain range act as a wall between western and eastern flatlands, and spreads from north to south about 65 km.

The mountian occupies mainly the south-central part of the island, which is widely known as Central Highlands-this rugged terrains is the heat of Sri Lanka. This high-plateau includes most number of Sri Lanka mountains including the highest peak of Sri Lanka (Pidurutalagala is the highest at 2,524 m), which occupies the southern end of the plateau.

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Sri Lanka waterfalls

What is the weather like in Sri Lanka hill country?

This region offers more comfortable weather than the rest of the country where the temperature hovering around 15 ˚C. It can be a bit cold in the evening and after the sunset, the temperature can go down to -2 ˚C mark in the months of November and December.

Kandy, the Gateway to Sri Lanka’s hill country

Kandy, the last stronghold of Sri Lanka’s monarch lies at the elevation of 500 meters above sea level, is the gateway to Sri Lanka’s hill country. Kandy is one of the most visited cities in Sri Lanka and harbours many dozens of important tourist places to visit. (14 best places to visit in Kandy). Kandy had been able to maintain its independence even during the Portuguese and Duitch period, during which the maritime region was controlled by the foreign rulers. However, Kandy king was not able to withstand the invading army of British, which backed by a few local regional leaders. Ultimately, Kandy was ceded to the British crown in 1815, which was also the end of Sri Lankan monarchy.

Kandy remains as the spiritual centre for Sri Lankan Buddhists. Clustered around the lake of Kandy or “Kiri Muhuda” (milk sea), Kandy is framed by two striking religious monuments — a towering white Buddha, which keep its eye on the city from the hills and the gold canopied roof that crowns the lakeside Temple of the Tooth.

The highest point of Sri Lanka’s hill country

The highest point of Sri Lanka hill country is Pidurutalagala, which rises up to 8,280 feet from sea level.

From the base of this mighty upheaval rise abruptly four extensive ledges, at different elevations, and a number of lofty mountains, some of which reach the height of 5,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level. The highest, called Pidurutalagala, reaches 8,280 feet, and at the foot of it lays the Nuwara Eliya plain, just 200 feet below.

Its position is, roughly speaking, in the centre of the highlands and approximately at the highest elevation. What wonder, then, at its pure and unpolluted air and its marvellous effects on the enervated constitutions of denizens of the low country, who use it as a sanatorium for recruiting the energies they have lost!

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Ella Sri Lanka

Characteristics of Hill Country of Sri Lanka

The mountains hidden in the mist, rolling Tea estates, tumbling waterfalls and picturesquely located hilltop villages – these are some of the aspects of the enchanting hill country. Hill country of the island rises up to 2524 m from the mean sea level and Nuwara Eliya is the highest elevated city in the central mountain of Sri Lanka. One can reach the hill country by car or rail and it is just a few hours away from the commercial centre (Colombo) of the country.

The central highland of Sri Lanka shows the most attractive contrast to the beaches and other attractions of the low elevation areas of Sri Lanka. The central highland is one huge upheaval, having an area of 4,000 square miles.

The hill country is with an irregular surface of hills and peaks of varying elevation, deep ravines and grassy plains, dense forests and open valleys, gentle streams and roaring cataracts a dozen distinct climates, each with its special characteristics of animal and vegetable life, from the lofty palms and gorgeous flowering shrubs of the lower elevation to the hardwood trees and English flowers of the highest; from the steaming haunts of monkeys to the cool regions beloved of the elk.

What are the activities available in Sri Lanka hill country?

  • Rock climbing
  • Trekking
  • Hiking
  • Golfing
  • Horse riding
  • Boating
  • waterfall abseiling
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Mountain biking
  • Bird watching
  • Exploring wildlife
  • Fishing

Hill Country of Sri Lanka attracts thousands of nature lovers and it offers surreal landscapes, cool climes, and rich heritage for its visitors.  It offers many fascinating activities for nature lovers, hikers and adventure seekers in a peaceful tranquil environment.

Whether it is rock climbing, fish for trout, playing golf in one of the most beautiful golf courses, visit a sacred spot on top of a mountain or trek through the rugged wilderness, time in the beguiling hill country will reinvigorate the body and refresh the soul.

There is a choice of climate and choice of scenery to suit any constitution and to gratify every taste; the wildest rugged country and the sweetest undulating grassy plains; the wild sport for the daring, golf-links and trout fishing for quieter spirits, and a new world withal for those who need a complete change from familiar scenes.

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What are the 16 best places to visit on Sri Lanka hill country Itinerary?

  1. Tooth relic temple
  2. Elephant orphanage
  3. Peradeniya botanical garden
  4. Pidurutalagala mountain
  5. Gregory Lake
  6. Tea plantations
  7. Horton plains national park
  8. Tea factory / Tea museum
  9. Ravana rock
  10. Pilkington Point
  11. Dowa temple
  12. Adisham Bungalow
  13. Tangamale nature reserve
  14. Ella Gap
  15. Mountain of Sendakatti
  16. Little Adams peak

Visiting Nuwara Eliya on Sri Lanka hill country tour

The beautiful mountainous area extends the most elevated city of Nuwara Eliya, it extends over the greater portion of the fruitful district of Kotmale, the whole of Uda Dimbula, Uda Hewaheta, and Walapane. It embraces within its limits nearly every variety of climates experienced in the island.

While in the plains of Nuwara Eliya the thermometer frequently falls below the freezing point, and, in the coldest period of the year, upon rising in the early morning, the refreshing spectacles present itself of the white frost clothing the ground in every direction; in the valley of Maturata, and especially in Walapane, the heat at almost the same period of the year, is most oppressive.

The country so described, affords some of the most beautiful and varied scenery in the island; gentle undulating slopes of grassy plains, patches of forests, mountains and cliffs with breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls of surpassing magnificence, and here and there a glimpse of a tributary of the Mahaweli Ganga.

Hills country as a health resort

Central highland the most popular health resort is a popular holiday destination among the locals as well as foreign tourists. It attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year and boasts to be well developed to cater to the demand of tourists. Central high land can be a place for relaxation and adventure. With a large number of mountains and cliffs, patches of forests, slopes and ravines, caves, streams, rivers and waterfalls, it can be used for adventure holidays at any given time of the year.

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The birds-eye view of Kandy city from Upper lake

Visiting Kandy Sri Lanka tour to the hill country

Nestled among the lush green mountains and located around the picturesque Kandy Lake, the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, located 500 m above the sea level, harbours a large number of historical as well as natural attractions. Kandy is the hub of the hill country; this historical city is the home for the most sacred temple of the island, where the left eyetooth of Buddha resides. Kandy is the last bastion of colonial rulers of the island today it is a world heritage site owing to historical importance.

Kandy is predominantly a Buddhist occupied city and most people in the city are believing in Buddhism, a Large number of Buddhist temples are scattered in the old part of the city and Lake area. The city holds the most beautiful pageant of the country in the month of Esala or July. The historical pageant is named as Esala ceremony and which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around the world.

Visiting elephant orphanage on Sri Lanka hill country tour

The journey from Colombo to Kandy is a treat with fine views of the scenery afforded from the road or railway. One should not miss the elephant orphanage on the half alone the Colombo-Kandy highway. It is the home for the biggest herd of elephants in the world with more than 80 animals in the herd.

Visiting Peradeniya botanical garden on Sri Lanka hill country tour

The Peradeniya botanical gardens another attraction of the city is located just outside the city centre.  It contains a bewildering array of local and foreign species set in a tranquil site adjacent to the mighty Mahaweli Ganga, Sri Lanka’s longest river.

Nuwara Eliya is located at the heart of the southern hill country, highest elevated city and most favourite hill station during the British rule in Sri Lanka. The city is well known among the locals as ‘little England’ owing to its somewhat similar weather to Scottish weather, old colonial-style building, 18 hole golf course, Victoria Park, a racecourse, and excellent fishing in the lakes and rivers around the city.

Gregory Lake an important tourist attraction in hill country tour

The temperature can drop to close to freezing after the sunset and it is common to see smoke rising from the chimneys of the many Tudor-style mansions. Gregory lake and surrounding area is a great place for anchor yourself while exploring the countryside, there are many treks through the mountains, escapements, forests and plantations that can be used for a walk, hiking and mountain climbing.

Visiting Asok Vatika on a hill country tour

Mount Piduruthalagala and the forest around provides a great site for exploring the fauna and flora of montane forests. Ashok Vatika better known as Hakgala Botanical gardens are just 9 km from the city with a fascinating collection of flowers in the mountain.

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Tea plantation is an important tourist attraction and included in every hill country tour

Sri Lanka hill country tours are not completed if it does not include a visit to a Tea factory and trek in a Tea plantation, because upcountry invariably means the tea plantations. A large portion of Sri Lankan hills is covered with tea plantations.

Among the most iconic vistas of hill country are the rolling tea estates that carpet vast swathed of terrain in an emerald sea. Women who are in colourful saris look like colourful butterflies from the distance in the rolling tea plantations, walks along with the tea bushes and pluck the golden tip of the branches and tossing them into the baskets slung on their backs. Being one of the biggest industries of the island, tea plays a very important role in Sri Lanka’s economy. It employs twenty per cent of the total labour force in the country.

After introducing tea in late 19’s the industry thrived here than anywhere else in the region, today Ceylon tea considered to be the best tea of the world and the mountains with warm climate during the daytime and cold and mist in the evening provides the best climate to reap the finest quality of it. One can experience the whole process of tea production in a leading tea factory, where plucked tea is dried, crushed, fermented and fired using machinery that has remained largely unchanged since Victorian times.

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Horton plains national park

Dominated by flat grassland, which is surrounded by a cloud forest, Horton plains national park is given a well-deserved epithet of “wonderland in the mountains”. This is one of last remaining few mountain forests on the island, usually included in most Sri Lanka hill country tours.

Horton plains national park has a large extent of the forest as well as grassland and lavishly decorated by mother nature with lakes, perennial streams, waterfalls, animal, birds and many other species of Faun. The park is often visited by locals as well as foreign travellers. Most tourists who visit Nuwara Eliya not fail to visit this fascinating patch of the forest lies 2300 meters above the sea level.

It has a salubrious climate similar to Nuwara Eliya but much cooler. Horton plains national park is very rich of scenic beauty, which is closely attached to its Fauna and flora. A long trek through the forest, grassland, water streams, mountains take you to an unknown territory natural beauty, which is unique to this ecological settings.

Horton Plains is one of the most beautiful national parks in the island and one of the very few where the travellers are allowed to have a walk. This is the place to have a safari on foot. Horton Plains is truly a wonderland and have an abundance of greens and blues of lush green vegetation, valleys, mountains, blue sky.

Ella-backpacking paradise of Sri Lanka Hill country

Elle, one of the most scenic places with many sites for adventure tourism is on the radar of adventure lovers. Ella is a place for a wide range of activities such as trekking, hiking, mountain climbing and rainforest exploration, therefore, Ella is included in most Sri Lanka hill country tours.

Ravana rock

Nearby are the ancient Rawana rock temple, the Rawana Ella cave, and Rawana falls all are mentioned in the great epic of Ramayana. Ella is identified as the site where abducted Princess Sita (wife of King Rama) was hidden by the king Rawana.

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Pilkington Point

This is actually a viewpoint located in Bandarawela. It enables you to have a bird’s eye view over the low elevated southern Sri Lanka. The name” Pilkington Point” derived after the name of popular English planter, George Pilkington. After travelling several kilometres on the Bandarwela- Koslanda road is the narrow road which leads to the summit. One needs to take a trek on a marked trail and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the viewpoint.

Dowa temple

Dowa temple is believed to be originated during the last phase of the Anuradhapura kingdom. But according to some scholars it was in existence as early as 1st century BC. Apart from the antiquity, the temple is a popular religious institution in Bandarawela.

The temple accommodates a large number of Buddha statues and paintings. The image house, which believed to be a hiding place of King Walagambahu (1st century BC), is a natural cave in magnitude size and showcases some beautiful religious paintings and Buddha statues. One of the highlights of the temple is the partly completed gigantic granite Buddha statue on a monolithic rock.

Adisham Bungalow

Adisham Bungalow is a spacious palace occupied by a pioneer planter of British Origin. It is picturesquely located on a mountain, providing a breathtaking view over the mountains, escapement and tea plantation in the lower elevated area.

The scenic view from the palace must be enjoyed by every visitor of Haputale. The palace is built after English style and the material was imported to build the palace. The workers were brought from India and England to make sure it is of the top-notch quality. The surrounding area of the palace is extremely calm and peaceful. It is dominated by woods and plantations and no inhabitants within several kilometres of its reach.

Tangamale nature reserve

Tangamale nature reserve is located just in front of Adisham Bungalow. It is about 5 km from the city of Haputale. A part of this patch of the forest consists of the secondary forest with trees such as pines. The rest of the forest is made of primaeval forest originate many centuries ago. The forest spread over 131 hectares and can be a handy spot for an enjoyable trek. Several species of animals and many species butterflies can be seen here. And it is a very popular nature reserve among the bird lovers as well.

Little Adam’s peak

This best alternative for people, who find Adam’s Peak Mountain climb, is beyond their endurance. The mountain looks exactly the same as Adam’s peak and that’s the very reason for naming it as little Adam’s peak.  One can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Ella Gap from the summit of the mountain. The climb takes about 1 hour and can be easily reached from Ella. Take the road in the eastward direction from Ella and 12 km drive take you to the starting point of the climb.

Ella gap

Ella Gap is the deepest ravine in the island of Sri Lanka. Ella gap is about 100 meters in deep and more than 10 km long. Ella provides a beautiful view over the low elevated southern part of Sri Lanka on sunny days with a clear sky. A number of treks in Ella provide an opportunity for a memorable low exhausting adventure.

Mountain of Sendakatti

Mountain of Sendakatti is another place for an enjoyable trek amidst the picturesque greenish environment.  Here you won’t feel tired due to the cool healing clime. The view is at its best in the early morning before the appearance of clouds and mist. The trek is to be found near Haputale town above the Haputale gap.

Sri Lanka hill country tour

This hill country tour of Sri Lanka includes major tourist attractions mentioned above, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Horton plains and several other important tourist attractions. We have planned this Sri Lanka upcountry tour on request of many travellers, who wanted to visit Sri Lanka’s hill country holiday stations.

Most Sri Lanka hill country tours follow the same route with a small variation.

Usually, Sri Lanka tours start in Colombo as usual, but it mays starts on the beach areas on the west and southern coast on request. The first base of Sri Lanka hill country tours is Kandy. Kandy sits 500 metres above sea-level.

Sri Lanka hill country tour: Nuwara Eliya

From Kandy, the hills country trip takes the guests to Nuwara Eliya, on its winding roads, which occupies picturesque high plateau. The city is surrounded by mountain peaks and has a mild climate throughout the year. Nuwara Eliya is the most popular hill country resort on the island and considered being one of the most scenic cities on the island.

Map of Sri Lanka hill country itinerary

Map of Sri Lanka hill country itinerary
Map of Sri Lanka hill country itinerary

Sri Lanka hill country tour in a nutshell

Sri Lanka hill country tour is a 4 days trip, includes important tourist attraction in Sri Lanka’s upcountry. Below is Sri Lanka 4 days hill country tour in a nutshell.

Day 1 Colombo-Kandy: Sri Lanka hills country itinerary

You will Seerendipity tours representative (at the airport or hotel in Colombo) and drive to Kandy, which considered as the hub of Sri Lankan culture. You will pass picturesque countryside along the way, however right after starting the tour will counter many busy cities, where you heap of the vehicle and large gathering of people. However, as you increase the distances from Colombo the drive becomes faster and smoother.

After about 3 hours you make the first stop of the hill country tour at the Pinnawla elephant orphanage. After visiting Pinnawla you start the journey to a Spice garden. After the spice garden proceeds to the hotel in Kandy, check-in and leisure.

In the afternoon visit Kandyan cultural show and evening visit tooth relic temple ceremony.

Day 2 Kandy-Nuwara Eliya: Sri Lanka hills country itinerary

After leisurely breakfast proceeds to the hotel in Nuwara Eliya, En-route visit a Tea plantation and tea factory. After visiting the Tea factory trek to the Ramboda waterfall at Ramboda plateau, which is one of the most scenic waterfalls in the central highland of Sri Lanka.

You will reach Nuwara Eliya around noon, check-in the hotel and take a brief rest before visiting Horton plains national park and have a 1-hour trek through the forest.

In the evening sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya and visit Seetha temple, Victoria Park, Gregory Lake and Nuwara Eliya market.

Day 3 Nuwara Eliya-Ella : Sri Lanka hills country trip

Board the Ella bound train from Nuwara Eliya and enjoy one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. In the afternoon visit short trips to 9 arch bridge, hiking at mini Adam’s peak, Ella rock and visit Ravana waterfalls.

Day 4 Ella-Colombo: Sri Lanka hill country itinerary

After the breakfast leave for the hotel in Colombo, En-route whitewater rafting and rain forest trek in Kitukagala and reach your hotel in Colombo in the afternoon.

End of the Sri Lanka hill country tour