For a long time, I had Nuwara Eliya and the Hill country on my wish list. So, when Mr. GM said the staff party was in Nuwara Eliya this year, I really wanted to join. Not that I am a big fan of staff party, I’d rather skip on that. But I really wanted to visit Nuwara Eliya. We have been in Sri Lanka for over a year, and never been up in the tea country – how is that possible?
Mr. GM was on a business trip for a week, and came back only a night before. So, I pick him up from the airport and we head to Negombo. It is a short drive from the airport and a perfect place to stay for one night.
After some research, I picked the Jetwing Blue. We like Jetwing hotels, the rooms are always comfortable and their food is good, but as usual we were a little disappointed with the service. The check-In took ages and the staff weren’t the most pleasant. I would not recommend this Jetwing, instead I would advise to stay at the Jetwing Lagoon, the first hotel designed by Geoffrey Bawa.
I haven’t take many pictures of the hotels, but as we were checking out, I took this shot from the lobby.
In the morning, we left the bad weather behind us, and started our journey to Kotmale.
“Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage” has been on my radar of “must-see places” in Sri Lanka, and happened to be not far from the road we were taking.
We arrived at the orphanage right in time for the baby elephant bottle-feeding activity. It was super cute. One of the baby elephant was cheeky, he was grabbing branches from a tree, rolling his trunk around to tear it off and then was running away from the elephant keepers before they take it from him. #overdoseofcuteness
We walked around a bit. I’m not sure how I feel about the place as It turns out to be very commercial: you must pay to feed elephant, to bottle feed babies, the price is different for foreigners and locals… but at the same time, we need to consider that these types of place probably run without much funding’s or support, and feeding all these elephants isn’t free.
Fun fact: an adult elephant need in average 150 liters of water and 200 kilograms of food per day
We couldn’t stay to watch the Elephant bathing in the river, it would have taken too much of time.
As we start climbing on the now sinuous road, we start spotting tea plantations here and there. After almost two hours, we arrived at the hotel and join the staff for the party
The following day, the plan was to drive back home. The suggested and quickest itinerary was to take the A7 almost all the way back to Colombo to reach the high way and drive down to Matara. It was tempting as we had a light hangover from the previous night. But of course, we did not do that, it would have been no fun. Instead we looked at the map and decided to go for the shortest road, convince we would take less time than the GPS was planning. Well, we did not, and it did take 7 hours….
Driving in the hill country on the smaller roads was beautiful. The path winds around the tea plantations and offer amazing panoramas. From time to time, the road climbs, a lot, and you leave behind the open valley to enter Pine or Eucalyptus forest, as equally amazing and beautiful as the tea plantation.
We continued meandering across the smallest road driving deeper into the vibrant fields of tea. We got lucky and came across tea pluckers in the fields.
It was one of the best drive we did, even if the last two hours felt a bit tedious.If like us, you love going for a ride, crossing the tea country as we did should go on your “must-do drive”. However, I would advise to split the trip in two equal part, and overnight around Castelreigh Reservoir, it is such a scenic place.
Here is the itinerary we did: