After the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy, we travelled to Nurwara Eliya by car taking roughly four hours to get there. The road winds up steep hills with a number of tea plantations. When we left Kandy, the temperature was mid-30's C. When we got to Nurwara Eliya, it was 12 degrees C.
We stopped off at the Labookellie tea estate and their factory and tea shop. I was looking forward to the tour but it was a bit disappointing. Not because the visit lasted less than 10 minutes but because it was a case of, 'and this is where the tea arrives, this is the drying room, this is the process room, this is where it's put into sacks'. It was a working factory with big sacks of finished product waiting for distribution. The photo at the top has the processes and you can see everything on the board. Here are the processes.
Of course, the real reason for seeing how tea is made is so you can buy some from the tea shop. You choose which tea, from a selection, you'd like to taste and then sit outside on a terrace overlooking a tea plantation. The scenery up there is staggering. Mountainous hills and deep valleys. The weather is much cooler and there were a few tourists. And yes, we did buy some tea.
From Labookellie, we continued on to Nurwara Eliya. I know this is repetitive, but the road is something else. Usable but in need of an upgrade. Through the hills we went until we reached our destination. You know you are in Nurwara Eliya when you pass the golf course (if coming from the other direction, there's a race course). The town is rammed with old buildings and we went to the post office to send postcards. Beautiful red brick outside.
We then visited Lake Gregory; a big expanse of water. There are numerous chalets for hire but not so many that the experience is over-touristy or ghastly. You can hire paddle boats and explore the lake for yourself. We opted for a tea break instead. Then off to our guesthouse, Villa Cassandra, which was set some way back from the main road. Comfortable room and bathroom, and modern. This is the main problem of doing one night in a different place; there is never a chance to explore the surrounding area or use it as a base. Yet we wanted to see as many places as possible in Sri Lanka so had to change our usual practice.
The real reason for going to Nuwara Eliya was to visit World's End. This was billed as a spectacular hill and valley range. Did I mention I did no research prior to the trip? I had sparse knowledge about the country other than it was a former Brit colony, there'd been a terrible recent war, they did tea, and the Chinese are making large investments in Sri Lanka. And that was more or less it.
The better half did all the research, read the hotel reviews, found the places, found the car and driver via Taobao. I had no expectations of what the actual country was like and then found it was an even better holiday because of this strategy.
The best time to visit World's End is blinking early early because mist might descend and wipe out any chance of a view. We checked out at 6.30am and were given a packed breakfast. An hour later up a twisty, windy road, we reached the entrance to Horton Plain National Park and home to World's End. The entrance fee is cash only.
The road was one of those without barriers and two-way. Hard to believe really. When we arrived at the car park, there were coaches. I have no idea how they got there. The expanse of parkland was so beautiful. Green and lush. One thing; there is a checkpoint before the trail begins and a bag search. The guards will confiscate any item that is not biodegradable or will cause harm if 'dropped' to the wildlife. Our water bottles had their labels stripped off. Anything confiscated is put into a brown paper bag for picking up upon exit.
It's a 40-minute walk along a well-trodden earthen path. We met many, many tourists coming the opposite way; they must have arrived at least two hours before us. The path is easy to do. At one point, there is a fork with a green signpost. Both routes go to the same places. We chose the left route and the dirt track is an easy walk. Bring water/food with you because there's nowhere to buy supplies in the park.
When we arrived at World's End, the trek was worth it. The mist had stayed away and the view was amazing. There are no safety barriers so it's easy to sit on the rock edge and drink in the sights. Then we carried on the path for about 20 minutes until we hit a forest, some steps down lead to a dead end, bookended by a waterfall.
Another half an hour later and we reached the green signpost again, then walked back to the checkpoint. We were going to take a train from Ella and have our driver meet us three hours later, but decided to drive it instead. The road goes through, oddly, forests of eucalyptus trees and is narrow in places.
At Ella, it rained but we took photos of the station and tracks as you do. Lunch and then onto Marissa. We made a mistake this day. The journey from World's End to our hotel at Marissa was meant to take four hours but it was closer to six; that was the longest we spent in the car. Plus, it got dark and it was quite scary due to other drivers overtaking on blind corners on a road without street lamps.