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Jan 18-22, 2011 – I liked Kandy but I loved the Hill Country. It turned out to be my favorite part of Sri Lanka, although next time I think I would stay in Ella rather than Nuwara Eliya. I stopped briefly in Ella on my way down to the coast and the scenery was even better than around Nuwara Eliya, plus it seemed that tour groups stayed in Nuwara Eliya while backpackers went to Ella.

Waterfall on the way to Nuwara Eliya

Hill Country is also tea country

On the other hand, Nuwara Eliya was a better base for hiking to World’s End. The truly energetic hike Adam’s Peak, at night so they are in position for the dawn, when the mountain’s shadow travels across the clouds below the peak. I simply wasn’t up for four hours uphill in the dark, whereas I thought I might manage the shorter, flatter hike to the World’s End viewpoint.

Botanical Gardens

I still had to get up at 5:40, arriving at the entrance to Horton Plain’s National Park at 7:30. Once again I was taken aback by the cost of admissions in Sri Lanka – $30 to get me and my car and driver inside. I was also not fully prepared for the hike itself. While nowhere was really steep, a lot of the time I was hiking along dried up stream beds, over uneven rocks, and was very glad of my boots and hiking stick.

On the way to World's End

Most everyone else on the trail moved faster than I did, but I still finished the full circuit, including two viewpoints and Baker’s Falls, by 11:00. I had started out shivering, but finished sweating in the sunshine – definitely a place for dressing in layers. I was more than ready for a rest as I trekked up the final slope, but still in better shape than my driver seemed to expect.

World's End

This was the most exercise I’d had since Lynn Canyon in Vancouver and I was relieved that my bad ankle held up. But besides a sense of accomplishment I was rewarded by remarkable views and an excellent waterfall. I am easily mesmerized by falling water, and would have made it back a good bit earlier if I hadn’t tackled the steep slope down to the falls.

Why is it called World’s End? The Park is at over 7,000 feet, and at a one place the ground drops straight down to the plains almost 3,000 feet below. If you’re lucky with the weather you can see for miles.

Baker's Falls

While the hike was the highlight of my stay in Nuwara Eliya, I also spent some quality time at the Botanical Gardens – bigger and wilder than those in Kandy – and ate a couple of good meals at the colonial era St. Andrew’s Hotel. St. Andrew’s hovers over the west end of town, surrounded by lovingly tended grounds. I stayed at the much newer Governor’s Chalets at the other end, down by the lake. Clear, sunny days gave way to freezing nights and my log cabin definitely needed a heater.

Nuwara Eliya itself, aside from a park and the lake (where a new path was under construction) had little to recommend it. I checked out the shops, since I needed a new umbrella, and wasn’t impressed.

My chalet

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