Experience the Magic of Haputale

10 Things to Do (with Pictures)

Do you know the two things that can turn an average vacation into a “great” vacation in Sri Lanka?
We’re convinced it’s about finding the right location: a place where you can relax with the minimum number of tourists, and most importantly, somewhere that offers a range of activities and experiences to make it an escape to remember.
And we’ve discovered all this and more in Haputale!

Located among the clouds in Sri Lanka’s hill country, Haputale has something memorable to offer every type of traveller, whether couples, families or adrenaline junkies. This southern-most point of the hills is easy to access, and gives you an alternate option in the colder climes to tourist-heavy locations such as Nuwara Eliya or Ella.

If you’re travelling from Colombo, your options – from the fastest mode of travel to the slowest – range from taking a taxi, and hopping on a bus, to catching the train. Each option involves a scenic route of its own. And to help you decide whether Haputale warrants a trip and what you can do while there, check out our list of 10 things to see and do in Haputale.

1. Catch a Scenic Sunrise at Lipton’s Seat

Do adjust your camera settings to panorama for this view because Lipton’s Seat overlooks three lakes and the southern coast of Sri Lanka, which includes the Wedihiti kanda mountain range and the Hambanthota harbour too.
Why is it called Lipton’s Seat? It is supposedly where Sir Thomas Lipton, founder of household Tea brand Lipton, looked over his tea empire that stretched for miles.

How you can get to Lipton’s Seat and how long it will take depends on if you’re travelling from Haputale or Ella. From Haputale, it will take you just 30 minutes by tuk-tuk, down Lipton’s Seat Road, located just 7 km away from Dambatenne Estate Bungalow, as opposed to the 1.5 hours it would take if you were to leave from Ella.

This view point is best visited for its surreal morning sunrise experience and epic sunsets; however, be sure to avoid the misty period from April – October when visibility is very low.

2. Sip Ceylon’s Finest Brew at the Dambatenne Tea Factory

What makes Ceylon’s tea “the finest”? Find out at this colonial relic, built by Sir Thomas Lipton in 1890. Surrounded by its tea plantations, with tea-pickers plying their trade busily, this location offers a glimpse of where colonial roots meet the 21st century consumer with an introduction to how the world’s most consumed beverage after water, tea, is made.

Walk through their manufacturing process which ensures 100% pure Ceylon tea as you witness how tea is dried, rolled, cut and graded, in a 20-minute guided tour. You will be able to purchase some of it within the premises as well.

Located 25 minutes away from Lipton’s Seat, it is 9 km northeast of Haputale city and 26 km from Ella if travelling by road. Once again, you can opt for a tuk-tuk ride or hop on a local bus that travels towards the factory every 30 minutes from Haputale city. Meanwhile, travelling from Ella to Dambatenne Tea Factory would take you approximately 1.5 hrs by road.

3. Snap a Picture of Haputale from Prabhawa Mountain Day View Point

Getting to Prabhawa Mountain Day View Point includes a 5-minute drive from Haputale town plus a 1.5 km hike to its summit. When travelling southeast towards the Beragala-Hali Ela/A16, make sure to take a right turn near Babu Motors (on the left) to commence your hike.

Prior to enjoying this almost 360-degree view point, gear up for an adventurous hike of close to 3 hours.

Witness the wonders of exotic flora and fauna on a trail that has you surrounded by wildlife in its natural habitat. Upon reaching the summit, take in the view of Haputale and its surroundings, including the up-country hills kissing the clouds while you stand 1,750 m (5,740 ft) above sea level.

4. Scoop Up Some Strawberries at the Golden Hill Tea Centre

Located just 8 minutes from the starting point of the Prabhawa Mountain Day View Point, this rustic café offers those driving down the Beragala-Hali Ela A16 route a good break from adventure, with a taste of the region’s freshest!

Stop for a snack in this old tea factory building that has been turned into a café, and make sure to order their recommended strawberry-based dessert items, from ice cream sundaes to their famous strawberry milkshake.

5. Visit Eerily Beautiful Adisham Bungalow

Rumor has it that there may be ghosts in Adisham Bungalow, but we recommend you take a 15-minute drive from the Golden Hill Tea Centre in Haputale to investigate why Adisham Bungalow and its gardens are (literally) the talk of the town!

Its architecture comprises a Franciscan Tudor-style St. Benedict’s monastery, built by Sir Willis – an English Planter who named this colonial treasure after his childhood village.
The mystery of ghosts can be linked to a painting of its then owner Sir Willis painted by David Painter, which is sure to leave you with goosebumps. Here, Painter has captured Willis in the style of how the Mona Lisa is painted; the eyes (and body) move to whichever direction you place yourself in the room.

Take a tour of this bungalow which comprises Persian carpets that are over 200 years old and marvel at sixteen priceless paintings, whose lithographs are at the British Museum.

From Haputale town, Adisham Bungalow is only a 12-minute drive away via its fastest route, which is through Keppetipola – Boralanda – Haputale Road/ Temple Road/ B353 and Adisham Road.

To avoid disappointment, be sure to visit during its opening hours on weekends and public holidays only.

6. Spot Birds Divine at Thangamelle Sanctuary

Close to the Adisham Monastery lies the entrance to a picturesque trail off the beaten track.
Considered to be a bird sanctuary, it is a natural haven for birds such as the Indian Peafowl, Rock Dove, Hill Swallow, and many others. Explore 6 km of this highland forest and its surrounding awe-inspiring landscapes while heading towards the idyllic town of Idalgashinna, which takes 2 – 3 hours in total.

Travelling from Haputale directly involves an 18-minute drive starting from Thambapille Avenue toward Beragala-Hali Ela/A16, where you would be required to take a slight left at Panketiya junction onto Roehampton – Diyatalawa – Bandarawela Road to reach the sanctuary.

7. The Famed Idalgashinna - Haputale Railway Walk

Take in the breath-taking scenery of Haputale with a hike to the Haputale station from one of Sri Lanka’s most picturesque railway stations, Idalgashinna.

But first, catch a break and soak up the day’s adventures by choosing to camp in Idalgashinna overnight, if that’s your kind of thing. If you do, in the morning, you’ll wake up to the unravelling of a misty white blanket among pine trees. Be sure to check on the Idalgashinna train timetable prior to commencing on your hike.
Finally, enjoy a 10 km walk through Sri Lanka’s hill plantations, forests, and mystical clouds by simply following the track!

If travelling to Idalgashinna station by car from Haputale, you can choose to travel via Idalgashinna Road or through Keppetipola – Boralanda – Haputale Road/B353 and Idalgashinna road. Both routes will take you to your destination in 30 minutes, roughly.

8. Hop a Train from Haputale to Ohiya Railway Station

Whether you trek to Haputale station from Idalgashinna or go there by road, make sure to take a train to Ohiya to enjoy the cheap thrill of experiencing 14 tunnels—the most number of tunnels within two stations—in just one hour. If you’re travelling from Haputale town, this would take you only 5 minutes by road.

Once you reach Ohiya Railway Station, its weather after having experienced the wind through your hair may having you feeling quite cold. Here, be sure to warm yourself with a cup of sweet plain black tea at the station. From here, you can choose to travel to Horton Plains or dare to climb the Devil’s Staircase.

9. Ascend the Devil’s Staircase

This 14-kilometer hike is for the daredevil in you.

Alternatively, if you only wish to see the view from the top, be prepared for a 4-hour bumpy ride instead. Of course, a 4-wheel ride is required for this trail.
Do note that if you’re travelling from Haputale directly, it will take you roughly 1 hour by road to its starting point.

This location also known as “yakage padipela” in Sinhala gets its name from the challenging zigzag road that awaits travellers. This road can be accessed from Ohiya and overlooks Sri Lanka’s tallest waterfall, Babarakanda Falls, along the way. As most of the trail is unmarked, a “V” cut channel is a popular spot to notice along this trail. However, it’s recommended to hike with a guide if travelling through for the first time.

P.S.- Be sure to take a dip in the natural pool fed by a clear spring along the way too!

10. Take in the Natural Spectacle That Is Horton Plains National Park

If you travel by train from Haputale to Ohiya, it only takes 30 minutes by road to reach Horton Plains. However, if you wish to drive from Haputale directly, it will take you roughly 1 – 2 hours, depending on your route of choice and traffic.

If you believe in folk tales, this plateau is entwined in history that extends beyond colonial times, to the epoch of the Ramayana several millennia ago. Located close to Nuwara Eliya, this national park is a treasure trove for nature lovers and hikers alike.

Explore rich and diverse terrain as you make your way up Sri Lanka’s 2nd and 3rd tallest mountains, Kirigalpoththa and Thotupola – both located within the park. Enjoy the breathtaking view at its key attraction site, “World’s End”, and be sure to take note of the endemic flora, fauna, and other species ranging from amphibians to lichens at this national park.

While most travellers opt to travel from Ella to Horton Plains, we recommend staying closer in Haputale, to spend less time on the road.

To sum Haputale up for you, it offers every type of traveller a unique vacation experience, and is a great alternative to the conventionally crowded locations up country like Ella and Nuwara Eliya. Its geographic location gives you the option of choosing between sight-seeing or getting physical, giving you the chance to experience fresh produce such as strawberries and other local delicacies along your journey too. And the cool climes and stunning scenery are a given in these parts.

We hope you enjoyed this list of our 10 top reasons the less-travelled slopes of Haputale warrant a trip!

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