ACTIVITIES & EXCURSION
The cool breezes and breathtaking landscape around the hotel are perfect for exploring the area by bike. And most of the tracks around the hotel are virtually free of traffic, so you can concentrate on enjoying the views.
Excellent mountain bikes are well suited to the rugged terrain and are regularly checked and maintained for your safety and comfort. Small putting green next to the Mini Tea Factory is free to hotel guests. Ask the reception if you would like to borrow the putting equipment. Pool table is in the Goatfell Bar. Monopoly, Scrabble, Carom, Chess, Darts are available from reception. Just ask if you are interested in borrowing these. There is an 18-hole golf course at Nuwara Eliya, about 30 minutes’ drive. Visitors are very welcome to play. Please ask the reception for information. Tea tasting is the process in which a trained taster determines the quality of a particular tea. Due to climatic conditions, topography, manufacturing process, and different clones of the Camellia sinensis plant (tea), the final product may have vastly differing flavors’ and appearance. These differences can be tasted by a trained taster in order to ascertain the quality prior to sale. For the ultimate holiday souvenir, how about taking home a packet of tea that you picked yourself?
At Heritance Tea Factory will deck you out in local attire – saree for the ladies, sarong for the gentlemen – and provide you with a basket in which to collect your leaves.
Then will take you out to organic tea fields and show you which leaves to pluck. You’ll find that it takes a bit of practice to make sure the leaves end up in your basket rather than on the floor!
Professional tea pluckers will accompany you – you’ll be amazed at how efficiently and quickly they manage to fill their baskets by comparison.
Then return to the Heritance Mini Tea Factory, where chief tea taster, Nadaraj, will inspect your efforts. He will reject any leaves that are unsuitable, so you must pay attention when picking, or all your efforts will be in vain!
Nadaraj will take you on a tour of the Mini Tea Factory and explain the whole process, from the initial drying (withering) of the leaves, through rolling, fermenting and sifting, to produce the different types of tea.
Finally, you can taste the different teas, from flowery pekoe to green tea and teabag dust, to appreciate for yourself the differences in colour, flavour and strength.
The next day, a packet of your very own tea will be ready for you to take home. So every time you have a cuppa you will be reminded of your wonderful stay at Heritance Tea Factory. The bell captain, Meiyappan, leads nature treks three times a day. He’ll take you through the plantations, explaining how the bushes are picked once a week and pruned every five years. You’ll also see a 95-year-old mother bush, from which around 2,500 cuttings are taken every year.
Meiyappan will entertain you with tales of the wild boar, buffalo and even occasional leopards that roam the area at night! Less alarmingly, he will point out some of the 50 varieties of birds that can be seen locally. Many, like the yellow-eared bulbul or the Sri Lanka white eye, are endemic to this area. You may also see porcupine burrows and beautiful butterflies.
If the local temple is open, you can visit to see the colourful Hindu statues and receive a pottu mark on the centre of your forehead. Even if the temple is closed, you’ll be able to observe members of the 150 village families as they mark out vegetable beds with cut-glass precision or water their beetroot and leeks. When not at school, the children bowl hoops or scratch out a cricket pitch on a rare strip of flat ground.
Finally, you’ll climb a ridge for wonderful panoramic views of the lush plantations and misty hills.
Nature treks last about 2 hours and run three times daily, at 6.30 am, 10 am and 4 pm. Please wear sturdy shoes. Surrounded by hills and tea plantations, the town of Nuwara Eliya enjoys spring-like weather throughout the year. A favourite retreat of the British during colonial times, the town is dotted with English country style houses and half-timbered bungalows, with names like Sunhill Cottage or Windsor Hotel. No surprise it’s earned the name "Little England".
The Holy Trinity Church might have stepped out of any village in England, with its Gothic architecture and eclectic collection of memorials, while the “pink post office” features a clock tower.
The Grand Hotel, Hill Club and Golf Club also hark back to a previous era, where tea by a log fire, overlooking the lawns with topiary and roses, might be followed by a spot of billiards. The golf course is open to visitors.
For a picturesque stroll, stop by the well-maintained Victoria Park or head for Gregory’s Lake, which is located just south of the town. You can also hire boats here.
Alternatively, for a bit of local colour, Bale Bazaar is where the locals head to stock up on warm clothing.
In April and May the town is crowded with Sri Lankans attending dressed in their finery for the Derby at the Turf Club; at other times of the year it’s much quieter, with apparently stray horses quietly wandering along the road. Sripada (Adam’s Peak)
Sripada (sacred footprint) or Samanalakande (butterfly mountain) has been the object of worship and pilgrimage for centuries for all major religions. The British referred to this mountain as Adam’s Peak. Watching the dawn from Sripada is a rare experience. On clear days you can see the shadow of the peak cast on the surrounding forest canopy as the sun rises. The ‘pilgrim season’ begins on the poya (full moon monthly Buddhist holiday) day in December, and runs until the start of the April monsoon.
Distance from hotel: 100 km
Travelling time: 2.5 hours
To the north of Nuwara Eliya rises Pidurutalagala (in Sinhala this translates as straw plateau rock), the highest mountain in Sri Lanka, with a peak 2,524m above sea level. For a view of the summit and a superb panorama of the surrounding hills and plantations, you can walk to the top of the picturesquely named single Tree Mountain, south of town off the Badulla road, in about 90 minutes.
The peak offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding valleys.
Distance from hotel: 14 km
Travelling time: 45 minutes
Kurundu Oya Falls
The picturesque Kurundu Oya falls are the third tallest in Sri Lanka, with a drop of 189m.
Distance from hotel: 25 km
Travelling time: 1.5 hours
St Clair’s Falls
St Clair’s is perhaps Sri Lanka’s best known waterfall. It is located about 26 km from Nuwara Eliya on the Kotmale Oya and is a treat for nature lovers. According to legend, Sita Eliya Temple is believed to mark the spot where Sita, the heroine from the Indian epic Ramayana, was held captive by her abductor, King Ravana. Some people call this the only Sita temple in the world.
The recently constructed complex, which is modeled on a modern south Indian temple, is set in idyllic countryside beside a clear stream. Next to it is another new temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey-god, who according to mythology was instrumental in rescuing Sita.
"There is a rock on the opposite bank where Sita sat and meditated. Also, this ashoka forest is a clear indication that she came here when she was brought to Lanka," says GT Prabhakaran, who is in charge of the temple.
Temple workers are keen to show visitors the spot where Sita bathed, the stone she sat on, and where she prayed. There is also a belief that at a particular point in the stream the water has no taste. "This is the spot she cursed. You cannot drink the water. Drink it further downstream," advises one temple worker. Hakgala Botanical Gardens were founded in 1860 by the eminent British botanist Dr GHK Thwaites, who was superintendent of the more famous gardens at Peradeniya, near Kandy.
In 1860-1880 Hakgala was the site for experiments with cinchona, whose bark yielded quinine, widely used at that time as a remedy for malaria. This may have been the reason for the popularity of gin and tonic in these parts – quinine being the main ingredient of tonic water.
The climate of the Hakgala area, whose mean temperature is around 16ºC, is perfect for temperate-zone plants, both ornamental and useful. These include conifers and cedars from Australia, Bermuda and Japan, and cypresses from the Himalayas, China and as far as Persia, Mexico and California. New Caledonia gave Hakgala a special variety of pine, and there are specimens of this genus from the Canary Islands as well.
An English oak, introduced around 1890, commemorates the "hearts of oak" of Britain’s vaunted sea power. There is also an excellent specimen of the camphor tree, whose habitat is usually in regions above 12,000 m elevation. In the Rose Garden, you can experience the sights and scents of these glorious blooms in their infinite variety. From here it is a short stroll to the exotic sophistication of the Orchid House. A special attraction here is the variety of mountain orchids, many of them endemic to Sri Lanka.
The fern’s delicate fronds conjure up visions of misty grottoes, lichen-covered stones and meandering streams. The secluded fernery at Hakgala lies in the shade of the Hakgala Rock, which is shaped like the jawbone of an elephant, from which it gets its name. Sri Lanka’s ferns are well represented here, as are those of Australia and New Zealand.
The languid low-country lotus and water lily also float in serene loveliness, emerging from a background of floating leaves to evoke the calm of saffron-robed monks, white-clad devotees and flickering oil lamps. This misty grassland plateau is a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It sits at an elevation of more than 2,000 m (6,500 ft) about 20 km from Nuwara Eliya. There is a strange and mysterious silence about the place, and it has some excellent walks.
From this plateau rise Sri Lanka’s second- and third-highest mountains: Thotupola Kanda (2,357 m) and Kirigalpota (2,389 m). The grassland is interspersed with patches of forest and some unusual vegetation that grows only at high altitudes. The trees are encrusted with lichens, and giant ferns and rhododendrons also flourish.
The dense forests are home to deer, jackal, the shaggy bear-monkey, sambhur (a large deer) and the occasional leopard. The plains are also popular with birdwatchers.
The most amazing feature of Horton Plains is World’s End, where the southern part of the plains drops almost vertically for 700 m. The ideal time to view this site is at dawn, when the mountains are free of mist and the sun is just rising.