Oh, Haputale!! I was not planning on going there at first but am so glad I ended up in this magical little town in the middle of Sri Lanka, as it’s quite possibly one of the most beautiful spots on earth.
After walking up (and down) the approximately 5000 stairs in the middle of the night to watch the beautiful sunrise from Adam’s Peak – the most sacred site for Sri Lankan Buddhists – with my new found friends, we decided against some much needed rest and continued our journey straigt away on the very same morning. (And I am more than thankful we did, as the train ride from Hatton to Haputale might just be my favourite Sri Lankan souvenir.)
Luckily, Haputale is the perfect place to get some rest after an exhausting hike followed by a three hour train ride spent with about 10 people in a 2m² corridor. Why? Because except for some early morning hiking excursions, there is absolutely nothing to do there! And sometimes, that’s just the perfect way to spend a day.
The weather can get quite gloomy in the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea county, and I was more than happy to cuddle up in my sweater and to enjoy my book over a nice cup of tea. (Ok I actually made friends with a bunch of Australian ladies in the best age and we spent the whole after noon chatting and giggling and I also went to get a massage.) In the evening, my friends and I all went for the best dinner at a local Roti shop (Oh how I miss them!!!), where we indulged on some of the most flavourful food in the whole of Sri Lanka for about a Euro each.
After a few beers on the terrace of our guesthouse, we all headed to bed at a reasonable time, as we were planning on getting an early morning wake up call once again! If somebody had told me before that I would get up in the middle of the night almost every day on my much deserved vacation, I would not have believed a single word of it!
But as Sri Lanka is so close to the equator, the sun sets quite early every night. And with a pretty much non existent nightlife, you just want to make sure to get the most out of your days. But once more, I was not disappointed to leave my cosy nest while it was still dark outside. Our tuktuk driver – a local surfer boy we met at the liquor store the night before – came to pick us up in order to drive us all the way up Haputale’s major tourist attraction.
Must-Do in Haputale: Lipton’s Seat
I suppose you all have enjoyed a cup of Lipton’s tea (the one in the unmistakable yellow packaging) at some point in your life – but I bet you didn’t know that the global brand has its origins in Sri Lanka. Thomas Lipton started building his impressive tea company on this fertile island, and he chose no other place than the top of a hill in the surroundings of Haputale to build a platform from which he could enjoy the satisfying view ower his growing empire.
And he chose wisely, as it sure is a hell of a view. Watching the sun go up over this bright landscape left me in awe and I really have a hard time describing how stunning the view really was. Apparently you can even see the sea on very clear days. Just make sure to drive up there really early (like 5ish), as it might get misty in the morning and you won’t see a thing!
Once the sun is out, you can get a cup of tea or two (of course!) and some fresh Roti (did I mention how much I miss those???) to finally wake up for real and to get ready for some exercise. Because while riding up the tuktuk all the way up is nice and stuff, you should definitely take the time for a walk back down! Our legs were still so so heavy from Adam’s Peak, it was worth the pain once more:
Those early hours of the day are when the teapickers of the surrounding villages get on their way to work and their warm way of greeting us made me love Sri Lanka (and tea) even more. The tea pickers – a job that requires delicate fingertips and is reserved exclusively for women – earn next to nothing for spending the whole day out on the fields and usually live in small huts with I don’t know how many people squeezing into one room. And yet, we were greeted with nothing but friendly smiles by the women we passed by.
Plus the view along the whole track is breathtaking and the walk down took us quite a while because we just couldn’t stop gazing and taking pictures. You can even walk in the fields – not just on the street!! And at the risk of repeating myself: This walk was just so, so awesome!!
Learn all about tea in Haputale’s Lipton Tea Factory
Midway between Haputale and Lipton’s Seat you can visit the original Lipton Tea Factory – which today is still up and running. The art of producing tea has not changed much since the “modern” machines were first invented in the 19th century.
I already learnt quite a bit on how to produce tea in Kandy’s Cylon Tea Museum, so not much we heard on the guided tour throught the factory was new for me. However, it was still very interesting to see the actual machines at work and if you are in Haputale, you just can’t miss out on this place – no matter if you care for tea or not. Only down-point: We were pretty disappointed that we were not offered a cuppa at the end of the tour. I mean come on, you get tea everywhere in Sri Lanka safe the place that is actually at the origin of the local tea culture!?
Haputale is a clear favourite of mine and if you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, I strongly suggest to make a stop there. Marta and I even enjoyed it so much, that I decided to stay one extra night in order to go for this little hike again the next day. This whole experience was pure bliss and I loved every second of it.