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Sri Lanka's Tea Country

Verdant green slopes, an undulating landscape, serene lakes, cascading waterfalls and miles upon miles of tea. For many, this high altitude region is the most beautiful in Sri Lanka, and mountain biking, hiking, wild swimming and kayaking make it about much more than just the tea; there’s an air of adventure in these hills. However, the tea is as ubiquitous as you’d imagine, with lush plantations clinging to the landscape in all directions. Ascend by meandering train through the hills towards gorgeous properties full of history and faded grandeur.   

Three things to do in Tea Country

Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...

Tea Train

Considered one of Asia’s best train journeys, the Tea Train fully lives up to the hype. Without doubt a car will get you there faster, but with none of the romance and ambiance of this iconic blue train. The scenery changes from lush tea fields to deep woodland as you clackety clack through cool tunnels and past tea farmers working in the countryside. To get the most out of the experience we always opt for 2nd or 3rd class tickets. That way, rather than being sealed away from things in an air conditioned carriage, you get to travel with the locals, as open windows move fresh air through the train. You’ll get the best photo opportunities, too.

Tea train, Sri Lanka

The hills

People return from Tea Country with a certain glow, eager to tell you about a bunch of things, but the scenery always takes top billing. Majestic, epic, pretty and moving, the region is blessed by Mother Nature, tempting everyone to don their walking shoes and explore. Just going for a walk might sound fairly basic, but there’s no better way to get a feel for the peacefulness of the region. Take a gourmet picnic to a secret spot overlooking the Demodara Valley, as the tea train in the distance slowly loops round the hills. Trek up one of the peaks in Ella, or join a guided walk with a naturalist to look for rare species, before returning to one of the region’s elegant hotels, such as the stunning Ceylon Tea Trails, for a cooling swim.

Sri Lanka Train

Finally, time for tea…

After a long train journey or an energetic hike, the perfect place to relax (accompanied by lashings of good tea, of course!) is on the terrace of a former tea planter’s bungalow. Many of these properties have been given a new lease of life as charming boutique hotels, where you can sink back into a comfortable chair and enjoy high tea - often served by the butler - a cheeky G&T, or a sumptuous dinner. It's the perfect setting to exchange stories of your adventures with those who arrive as fellow travellers, then depart as friends. Exploring the surrounding estates and meeting the people who’ve contributed to your cuppa can be a worthwhile reality check, before you meander back to your period-drama-esque bolthole. You can almost imagine Poirot making his way across those clipped lawns…

Ashburnham High Tea in the hills in Sri Lanka

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