This working estate is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to learn about tea. Thotalagala borders Dambatenne, one of the few tea estates in the world that Sir Thomas Lipton planted himself. The term Ceylon tea was coined here, and this is where Lipton’s Tea was founded and sold its first pound of tea from the factory which still stands today. Guests have exclusive access to the factory and to Lipton’s home, and you can immerse yourself in the life of a tea planter, and walk through the endless acres of tea gardens.
For a more challenging walk, hike to Lipton’s Seat, where Sir Thomas would survey his tea plantations. On a clear day you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the Uva province and beyond, with mountains and lakes leading to the southern coast. If you prefer a gentler journey, the hotel will drive you up to the viewpoint.
Continuing the tea theme, you can also visit Nuwara Eliya, where some of the world’s finest orange pekoe tea is produced. Excursions can also be arranged to the 720ft-high Diyaluma (‘liquid light’) Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Sri Lanka, which is rich in folklore, and to St. Benedict’s Monastery, which is beautifully preserved and has English country cottage-style gardens and a shop selling renowned jams made by the monks.
Thotalagala sits between Kandy and the southern beaches and wildlife parks, making it an ideal location to explore some of Sri Lanka’s many other gems. The area is wildlife and birdlife-rich - see leopards, langurs and highland birds such as the Sri Lanka white-eye and the flycatcher.