Hatton is, in one word, green. Almost every available hillside is bright with tea bushes trimmed so neatly that, from a distance, the hills look as if they’re covered with a thick-pile rug. Providing cool relief from the heat of the plains, the mornings are usually veiled in a mist that slowly dissipates to reveal the curious pyramidal bulk of Adam’s Peak to the southwest.
Hatton is best reached by rail. Trains chug slowly from Colombo via Kandy, on a route built for late 19th-century tea pioneers. The journey itself makes the trip worthwhile.
As the route leaves Kandy, it begins to climb into the hills, past a patchwork of smallholdings and banana plantations. Rural life soon gives way to steep gorges, clumps of forest and waterfalls, spanned by arched bridges that wouldn’t look out of place in the Scottish Highlands.
Climbing Adam’s Peak
Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) is also known as the “butterfly mountain”. Adam's Peak isn’t Sri Lanka’s highest, but with its distinctive prism shape, it’s the most dramatic. At its pinnacle is a boulder with a foot-shaped depression. This footprint is revered as the appearance of Buddha, Shiva or Adam, by Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims respectively. Whatever you believe, the mountain has been a pilgrimage site for more than a thousand years.
Due to the site’s importance, it’s not a wilderness climb to the peak. Instead, you ascend a staircase of around 5,000 steps that has been built into the mountainside, with benches and refreshment stalls along the way. At the top (2,250 m, 7,326 ft), a temple surrounds the boulder, and worshippers leave fruit, flowers and religious figurines.
A visit to a tea estate and factory
Visiting a tea estate and factory that has been growing and manufacturing tea for over a century in Sri Lanka is a must. Still using many of the original machines installed by the British, the factories offer a glimpse into the workings of this fascinating industry and its huge impact on the rest of the world. A visit to an estate is a tailored and exclusive guided experience that will leave you with a thorough understanding of how tea production works.