Sri Lanka: Tea Country and Uda Walawe
With over four percent of the country’s land area covered in tea plantations, and over one million Sri Lankan’s employed in the tea industry, the island’s Tea Country is carpeted in lush green with views of mountain ranges and ravines. Uda Walawe, south of Tea Country, is a national park of grasslands and tree scrub, which is famous for the herds of elephants that inhabit the area.
Upon arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be met by a Sri Lankan Airlines representative, and accompanied through passport control, customs, baggage collection, and money exchange, to the arrival lounge. Here, you will be introduced to your private guide and travel companion, who will address any last-minute questions you may have regarding your itinerary.
A four-hour drive from the airport, your accommodation sits at 4,000 feet above sea level within the Golden Valley of Tea in central Sri Lanka, and offers four classic colonial bungalows built between 1890 and 1940 for British tea estate managers. Each bungalow features an eclectic style of its own, and while some are surrounded by lush gardens with lake views, others offer swimming pools, sun decks, and mountain backdrops.
Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by your butler and the Bungalow Manager who will discuss with you your options for the following day. Enjoy the evening on the property watching the sun set over the mountains, and savoring a large dinner of seasonal dishes that may include oyster mushroom soup, Moroccan mint tea-crusted lamb, or zucchini and pumpkin frittata, all comprised of ingredients picked from the surrounding gardens.
Wake up this morning for Bed Tea, served by your butler, followed by a traditional English breakfast of eggs, sausage, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and freshly-squeezed juices.
An abundance of outdoor activities are available to you today. Begin your day with an introduction to the tea-making process with a resident tea planter who will share insights into the growth and manufacture of tea, a process that has gone unchanged for over a century. You’ll follow the sloping tea trails to watch planters pick the tea, and then head back to the factory, where the conversion to tea occurs.
Enjoy traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry for lunch.
This afternoon, choose from a number of hiking and biking trails throughout the area. Varying in distance, the trails wind through lush tea gardens, various estates, and small villages, passing an array of exotic flora. Return to your bungalow in time for a hearty meal this evening.
Following tea and breakfast this morning, you have numerous activities from which to choose.
For the brave and agile, Adam’s Peak, at 7,359 feet, is a mountain sacred to three religious groups—Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus. With Colombo clearly visible from the top, the mountain has been a place of worship for centuries, and there are various climbing routes to the top, the shortest being four miles on foot.
You may wish to take an excursion to Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka’s highest plateau, and home to a wide variety of flora and a range of mammal and bird species. The park is lush and pristine, surrounded by rolling hills, forest, and mossy grasslands.
The small Sri Lankan town of Kitugala is becoming one of the most visited ecodestinations in Sri Lanka, and offers exciting whitewater rafting on the Kelani River.
If you choose to remain onsite, there are various water sports available on the lake, with tennis courts and croquet lawns located on the property as well. If you wish to relax, therapists offer a selection of in-room spa treatments.
After breakfast this morning, you’ll head south to Uda Walawe, one of the island’s most important wildlife sanctuaries. On the boundary between Sri Lanka’s wet and dry zones, the park is largely comprised of marshes, forest, and grasslands traversed by streams. An estimated 500 Sri Lankan elephants live in the park, and are largely attracted to the area because of the Uda Walawe reservoir. The park is also home to Sri Lankan leopards, several species of deer, wild boar, buffalo, jackals, and a marvelous array of birds.
You will spend two nights at your fully-equipped camp, which was carefully selected for its beauty and privacy. A camp crew, complete with chef and stewards, will have traveled ahead of you to set up camp, and single or twin-sharing tents are available. You will have access to a specially adapted 4WD vehicle for unlimited game drives accompanied by an experienced tracker and naturalist.
The camp is perfect for unwinding after the day’s activities. Return to your camp for a swim, and watch the wildlife ambling along the water’s edge at sunset.
After a hot shower, enjoy sundowners around a crackling campfire, followed by a delicious meal cooked on an open fire and served under the stars in a spacious dining tent.
After an early game drive this morning, return to camp for a fresh breakfast and time to relax before heading out again this afternoon. Photograph Mugger Crocodiles, sea eagles, elephants, and boars as you trek through the park’s abandoned teak plantation, scrub jungle, and grasslands.
End the day with a hearty meal served around the campfire.
After breakfast this morning, you will be transferred to the airport in time to meet your departure flight, or to continue on to your next Willing Foot destination.
This is just the beginning.
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