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Tea Trails in Sri Lanka | Episode 1

Sri Lanka is a haven for adventurous travels filled with picturesque landscapes, tea plantations, pristine beaches, lush mountains and exceptional national parks. Sri Lanka is also celebrated for its remarkable tea trails. The history, cultivation and culture of tea in Sri Lanka have a fascinating tale to tell, and a visit to the tea trails is a journey into the heart of this enchanting world.

Ever since the British planter James Taylor introduced tea in 1824, Sri Lanka has been a pioneer among the tea production in the world with the name ‘Ceylon Tea’. As of 2023, Sri Lanka is the fourth largest tea producer in the world with a tea production of 340 million kilograms per annum. Hill country, including the cities of Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Badulla is a destination for travellers and hikers to wander through tea estates, exploring the art of tea production in tea factories, indulging in various varieties of locally produced teas and many more.


History of Tea Trails


The story of tea trails began over two hundred years ago, when the British introduced tea to Sri Lanka as a commercial crop when Sri Lanka was still a British colony. Since then, as the tea industry grew, British planters were keen on developing and expanding the network of trails within their own estates and between various settlements across the hill country creating a vast network of trails and paths. This maze of trails replicate the woven fabric of its stories: those of tea planters, tea pluckers, gardeners and landed gentry who were associated with the tea estates.


There astounding network of tea trails take us through pilgrimage sites, past great lakes and spectacular waterfalls, stunning mountain peaks and deep into bird and wildlife-rich rain forests. Wandering along there tea trails, we can get a first- hand experience of the insights of the lifestyle of people working in the tea estates and tea factories.

Among the tea trails in Sri Lanka, the Pekoe Trail has taken trekking in Sri Lanka to new heights.

Pekoe Trail

The Pekoe Trail is the first ever long-distance walking trail in Sri Lanka spanning 300 kilometers across its Central Highlands, passing river valleys, tea estates, forested hills, sacred sites and rural villages. The primary aim of introducing this trail is to develop, maintain and curate a trail that is going to promote the diverse cultural and natural heritage of the culture associated with Sri Lankan Tea industry and encourage its preservation ultimately benefiting local communities.


Named after a well-known Sri Lankan tea variety, Pekoe, this wonderful trail is the brainchild of the avid explorer, Miguel Cuñat, who has been exploring the hill country for decades. This project is designed by Serendipity Trails and funded by the EU and USAID.


Pekoe Trail is known as one of the most scenic and unique hikes that we can do in Sri Lanka. This memorable trail winds its way through 25 charming towns, over 80 picturesque villages and over 7 valleys, across lush green tea plantations and over some of Sri Lanka’s most dramatic and challenging mountain terrain.


This tea trail is suitable for both experienced trekkers, hikers and for those who simply want to walk for a few days in Tea Country as part of their travels. The Pekoe Trail is divided into 22 stages, each varying between 10 km to 18 km on the level of difficulty based on the elevation gain. Trail starts from Kandy, the spiritual heart of Sri Lanka. The trail runs through some well-trodden areas such as Kandy, Hatton, Haputhale, Ella and Nuwara Eliya. It also exposes a side of those areas that would remain hidden otherwise. There are numerous directions in which the trail can be done, with a multitude of entry and exit points.


The trail path varies from short patches of tarred roads in town areas, to less defined and barely visible footpaths, tea pluckers use as shortcuts through tea estates.

Pekoe Trail in a nutshell

Main cities covered in the trail

Kandy, Hatton, Haputhale, Ella, Nuwara Eliya

Total distance

298.67 km

Number of stages

22

Average distance per stage

13.5 km

Trail head

Ceylon Tea Museum, Hantana Estate

Trail end

Pedro Tea Estate factory, Nuwara Eliya

Shortest stage

Stage 16 – Ella to Demodara (8.75 km)

Longest stage

Stage 19 – Etampitiya to Loonuwatte (18.6 km)

Stages of the Pekoe Trail

Stages

From

To

Distance (Km)

Elevation Gain (m)

Average Time to complete

1

Hanthana

Galaha

12.8

492

3 h 52 min

2

Galaha

Loolkandura

14.69

771

4 h 41 min

3

Loolkandura

Thawalantenna

17.23

673

5 h 50 min

4

Thawalantenna

Kumbaloluwa

9.5

445

3 h 28 min

5

Kumbaloluwa

Watagoda

11.85

686

3 h 47 min

6

Watagoda

Kotagala

14.86

414

4 h 15 min

7

Kotagala

Norwood

15.5

442

4 h 37 min

8

Norwood

Bogawantalawa

15.85

655

4 h 40 min

9

Bogawantalawa

Dayagama

16.46

672

5 h 3 min

10

Dayagama

Horton Plains

14.88

889

Closed

11

Horton Plains

Udaweriya

13.12

326

4 h 2 min

12

Udaweriya

Haputale

14.76

484

4 h 54 min

13

Haputale

St. Catherine’s Seat

13.48

735

4 h 11 min

14

St. Catherine’s Seat

Makulella

9.38

130

3 h 12 min

15

Makulella

Ella

10.12

261

2 h 56 min

16

Ella

Demodara

8.75

299

2 h 50 min

17

Demodara

Hali-Ela

12.99

531

4 h 20 min

18

Hali-Ela

Etampitiya

13.96

718

4 h 9 min

19

Etampitiya

Loonuwatte

18.6

669

5 h 50 min

20

Loonuwatte

Uda Pussellawa

12.37

636

4 h 2 min

21

Uda Pussellawa

Kandapola

16.71

1,052

5 h 30 min

22

Kandapola

Nuwara Eliya

10.81

300

3 h 2 min


As of now, three stages passing through Kandy and Hatton (Stages 1, 2 and 6 ) are open to the public. The remaining stages will be open to the public by December 2023.

Article by:
Ransadi de Alwis
22 Batch
Faculty of Engineering

482 0
Created : Dec 9, 2023 11:16am
Last updated : Jul 18, 2024 02:35pm