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 nine-arched viaduct.