Note : This post is in a series of posts covering our entire Sri Lankan backpacking experience. Please refer to individual posts covering the places visited.
Earlier Posts :
For City Tips jump to the bottom
HAPUTALE – Lipton’s Seat and Horton’s Plains
Our next stop in the sleepy town of Haputale, located in the Hill Country. This was our choice over Nuwaru Eliya mainly for the solitude and for the fact that it is far less commercialized than Nuwara Eliya.
Stayed at a family run guest house, Awinco which offers some great views of the countryside.
We arrived by train from Kandy. The journey is through dense forests and rolling hills and remains one of the best train journeys we have taken.
The main draw of this town is the peace and quiet and the laid back hill-country living. The town is, as yet, not very commercialized and is relatively less “touristy”.
Visited Lipton’s Seat and Dambatenne Tea Estate on the first day of our stay and Horton’s Plains on the second day.
We left Haputale in the afternoon after returning from Horton’s plains. We booked the same vehicle till Wellawaya and then boarded the bus to Tangalle for our beach-experience of Sri Lanka. Follow subsequent post for our stay at Tangalle
TIPS FOR HAPUTALE:
- Haputale is in the hill country and the weather is typical of mountain regions. The days start bright and sunny but by early noon it starts to get foggy and rainy and remains so for the rest of the day. Of course this is broadly speaking and depends on the month of visit.
- As mentioned earlier, Haputale is a quiet town and not as equipped for tourists. The minute you land at the train station, especially if arriving from the bustling towns of Colombo or Kandy, you will realize how quiet and remote this place actually is!
- The train journey from Kandy to Haputale is one of the most beautiful train journeys and is highly recommended.
- Although bike hires are possible, it is recommended to use tuk-tuks, due to the mountainous roads and unpredictable weather.
- Getting Away : If heading South and to the coast (as we did, heading to Tangalle) , it is recommended to hire a private van to Wellawaya (if leaving in the afternoon) and then board a local bus from this town, which is a major junction for buses departing in all directions.We actually hired a van for the full day, visited Horton Plains in the morning, returned back to Haputale to refresh and collect our stuff and then left for Welawaya in the same van, reaching around 4.15pm, which we felt was a bit too late as we ended up in Tangalle at 8.00pm.
- HINT : Plan to arrive Wellawaya in the afternoon as the last bus departs 18.00 and is packed with local travelers heading back home. Also there are lot of touts moving around offering a Tuk-Tuk ride to the coast promising to take you there in half the time that the bus takes. The charges are SLR 3000/- whereas the bus ride is not quite that bad, if you manage to get on, takes you the same amount of time and costs a fraction of the amount. The journey from Wellawaya to Nitalpotiya(the jump off point for Tangalle) is about 2.5 hours.
- For visiting Lipton’s seat, start early in the day (around 5.30am) so as to catch the sunrise at the peak. The clouds start rolling in by 9.00 am and makes any viewing of the countryside impossible. Besides you have the added advantage of having the entire place to your self.
- It is best to take a tuk-tuk up to Lipton’s Seat and then take a leisurely walk down the expansive tea-estates. It takes about four hours if you take it easy and enjoy the quietude and unadulterated beauty of the hills.
- Do not miss the “high” tea and sugary pancakes served at the only tea stall located near Sir Lipton’s Seat. The simple but better-than-expected breakfast was one of the highlights of the visit.
- At the base of the hike you must visit the informative and interesting tea factory of Dambatenne. You have guided tours which explains the inner workings of a tea factory and at the end you can buy some tea at nominal prices.
- On the return from Lipton’s seat, if you have opted to walk down upto Dambatenne, you can then board the bus back to Haputale town. Buses leave every half hour from the tea estate. If you leave at 5.30 am, you can plan to be back in Haputale by 1.00 pm
- Once again, it is best to reach the park to catch the sunrise, which means you must leave Haputale by 4.30am.
- It is recommended to hire a car for this trip. The drive is a good 2 hours through winding mountain roads and wooded forests. Tuk-tuk’s will take much longer, are not equally comfortable, and the savings over hiring a four wheel drive does not justify a bumpy and noisy ride.
- The park entry fees are steep for foreigners. SLR 2000 with an additional SLR 1300 as tax!
- The private vehicles drop you off at the visitor center. The well marked hiking track is about 9 kms. It takes about 3 hours to complete the circuit. Carry drinking water as there are no drink stations during the entire hike.
- The park can be entered from two ends. For visitors coming from Haputale, the park entry is at – Ohiya and the Nuwaru Eliya entry is at – Pattipola