Close to Kandy, a series of recumbent folds, like the knuckles
of a clenched fist, make up the Knuckles mountain range. Although
often shrouded in cloud, the range is one of the loveliest natural
attractions in Sri Lanka, and well worth a day hiking through the
changing terrain of grasslands and rugged mountain peaks,
punctuated with streams and waterfalls.
Shaped by the British colonial era and the introduction of tea
production to the island, the southern Hill Country is very
different to the north, and best explored by hopping on and off
what is generally considered one of the most beautiful train
journeys in Asia - from Kandy to Badulla. The first stop on this
tea tour by train is Hatton, one of the key towns in the Hill
Country and the epicentre of the tea growing region. Make sure to
visit one of the local tea factories to sample some of the region's
world class teas and learn about the tea leaf picking and
processing. If you're up for a strenuous hike, you can also climb
to the top of Adam's Peak and marvel at the views of the valley
below. If you'd prefer to remain in Hatton, you'll have lovely
views as the clouds dissipate to reveal the photogenic and
pyramidal Adam's Peak.
Next stop along the line is Nuwara Eliya, a town that retains a
timewarp colonial-era charm surrounded by lush green slopes in the
heart of the tea-growing region. Otherwise known as 'Little
England', Nuwara Eliya was a hill station where colonial Brits
could enjoy cooler temperatures and many of their mansions have
been turned into characterful hotels. Local attractions such as
Aberdeen Falls and Victoria Park are well worth a visit.
Then, take the train on to the small tea-growing town of Ella,
another small laid-back town surrounded by mountains and known for
its hiking along trails through tea plantations to temples,
waterfalls and viewpoints.
For a fitting finale on a train tour through the Hill Country,
the train line from Ella to Badulla passes over a pretty