The nation's central region, which spans mountains, waterfalls, tea plantations and colonial-era bungalows, offers a wide range of adventures.
Sri Lanka’s genteel central highlands are well known for tea, but also lesser-known for its wildlife, nature and even golf around its rolling hills. Set your sight to the area's major city, Nuwara Eliya, and its mountainous terrain and you’ll find a green and serene spot to explore with a side of adventurous thrills. Where to stay? The Georgian-style Jetwing St. Andrew’s, which provides a tranquil platform from which to indulge in the region’s sprawling nature, rich wildlife and traditional culture.
1. Enjoy relaxing city walks
Nuwara Eliya may be classed as a city, but use the term loosely: dubbed ‘Little England’, this is a go-slow place with remnants of the British colonial period popping up in all corners. Head to its centrepiece, the sprawling Gregory Lake, and plod around its fringes; gaze at the immaculate gardens at Victoria Park; and wander around the city centre, breezing in and out of shops and picking up fresh juices.
2. Head out into nature
Kick off the excursions with a trip to the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, whose pristine beds are filled with fragrant botanicals, or hire a 4WD and whizz over Moon Plains — a reconditioned rubbish ground whose slopes are now home to elk, buffalo and leopards. Looking for a challenge? Try climbing the iconic Adam’s Peak or head to Devon Falls, where misty views of the highlands break through the clouds.
3. Discover some of Sri Lanka’s most elusive wildlife
Book an after-dusk walk with Jetwing St. Andrew’s naturalist and prepare to be left in awe by the cast of creatures darting around the gardens as darkness falls. Walk along winding paths and shine torches down holes in the earth to catch sight of frogs, otters and lizards. It’s possible to spot the flash of birds, bright butterflies and wild orchids while pottering around Nuwara Eliya, too.
4. Take part in an authentic tea experience
Tea is a complex business in Sri Lanka, one of the world’s largest exporters of the beverage, and Nuwara Eliya is nestled amidst the country’s verdant tea plantations. Sign up to a tour of a local tea factory to witness how freshly plucked leaves make it into teacups and take a walk through the tea estate, stopping to drink a freshly-prepared cup of the warm beverage in the shade.
5. Play an 18-hole golf course
While golf might not come to mind when thinking of Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya Golf Club sprung up in 1899 as a cool-clime course for the British servicemen and tea makers in the region. Tee off here and you’ll take in views of forested hills and mist-covered mountains. Let’s not forget the kudos: this is one of Asia’s oldest – and most spectacular — golf courses.
Looking to the future at Jetwing St. Andrew’s
The hotel is committed to a range of eco-friendly programmes across different areas: hot water comes from a biomass boiler operated using harvested cinnamon wood; wastewater is sustainably treated and sprinkled over the gardens; and sweepings and tree clippings are used as compost. Fresh veg and herbs are grown in the hotel’s 1.2-acre farm, where beekeepers tend hives for fresh honey. Elsewhere, Jetwing St. Andrew's runs nature treks and lectures for local kids under the Foster Schools Programme.