Road trip from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy

Pristine and tea plantation

I’ve been meaning to write about Nuwara Eliya, that charming town located in a mountainous area in Sri Lanka right after we came back from our trip last July (wow, that really sounds like a long time ago) but somehow postponed and postponed it until now. Well, better late than never!

The town of Nuwara Eliya is home to the famous Ceylon tea and the rolling mountains are carpeted of velvety green tea plantations. Since the town is about 1,800 meters above sea level, it’s cool up there and hard to imagine that it is only 180 kilometers away from the hot and humid Colombo.

mackwoods tea factory

The town is also popular for being called “Little England” with beautifully cultured gardens and cottage style buildings like this tea cafe at the Mackwoods Tea Factory along the way to Kandy.

In order to see the breathtaking views in Nuwara Eliya, we had to go on a 7 hour train ride from the capital city of Colombo to Nanu Oya station.

It’s hard to think of going back to Colombo by train again so we hired a private van via Jetwing Travels who was so helpful in arranging everything for us. There was a specific Jetwing Travels advisor with whom I was in touch by email. The communication exchanges, willingness to create the perfect trip (at a price to suit my budget) and attention to detail were excellent. The trip back to the capital ran smoothly and the driver/guide was excellent.

We left our charming Tudor style hotel Jetwing St. Andrews very early at 7 am as we needed to be at our next destination, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage before 2 pm to catch the bathing of the herd at a nearby river – that is one scene we really didn’t like to miss!

We asked the driver is we could make a quick stop at places he think is interesting. Our first stop is the tea factory called Mackwoods. The vast tea plantation is owned privately and called “estates”. This is the Mackwoods Estate. There is a huge sign in the mountains, obviously mimicking the famous Hollywood sign.

fam at mackwoods

We were treated with sights and smell of nature at its best. There was a waterfall down the hill and the husband and Benjamin went down to see it.

maki at mackwoods

waterfalls 1

Pristine and I, together with our guide went inside the cottage for tea sampling.

tea at mackwoods

The tea was a very timely as we are feeling cold early that morning. I made a blunder by forgetting my jacket as we got down from the van and thought I’d just suck it up rather than waste time going back to the parking.

I bought boxes of fresh Ceylon Tea to take home. It’s actually a great souvenir/gift since it’s very light and it was very cheap at the tea factory.

As we traveled further down steep mountain passes snake down to Kandy, I felt a wave of motion sickness. We didn’t know it would be like this and we’re certainly weren’t ready. And we thought traveling by train was worse! I had to ask the driver to stop as I felt I needed some fresh air, immediately!

monkey edge 1

The driver stopped at one bend of the road where other cars have stopped as well. They were all looking to the cliff and we knew why. A group of mountain monkeys were hanging out at the edge of the rock in the cliff.

A closer look at the monkey.

monkey edge 3

Benjamin was fascinated seeing these animals in the wild, in person otherwise, he only saw them in National Geographic episode!

We continued our journey and as the van zigzagged through the mountains, I just kept on breathing deeply and closed my eyes. Benjamin on the other hand was becoming restless. He is very resilient with the challenges we had for this travel, including international flights and 2 seaplane trips but I could feel something’s not right.

benjamin at mackwoods

All of a sudden, the little boy threw up. It was so sudden that my first instinct was to catch the vomit with my hands – I am sure any parent could relate?! I did not want to ruin the rented van’s carpet! Poor little boy!! I cleaned up the mess while battling with severe motion sickness myself.

And the driver said, ONE MORE HOUR of the zigzag roads, Madame…

I had to ask for another ‘fresh air’ break.

We saw the Bathalegala in the horizon. The rock stands as a colossus dwarfing the surrounding landscape. The Colonialists called it ‘The Bible Rock’, as it resembles an open book.

bible rock

The scenes along the way from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy when going by car was as spectacular as the scenes from the train from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya by train.

pristine taking photo of waterwall

The winding road descending from the hill country passed through tea plantations, beside the waterfalls that cascade down the hills, and into misty valleys. It was a very memorable experience despite the motion sickness!

You can checkout my Instagram posts about our trip to Sri Lanka with the hashtag #GraceInSriLanka.

Next up: Visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

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