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Sri Lanka, a resplendent island nation, boasts a wealth of natural wonders. Among these, the Central Highlands In Sri Lanka stands out as one of the most significant ones. It comprises three natural beauties – Horton Plains National Park, Peak Wilderness Protected Area and Knuckles Conservation Forest. Beyond the natural beauty and lush greenery, the Central Highlands also contribute to the area’s ecological significance. It is known for its conservation efforts and has varying nature trails loved by the trekkers. If you are a nature and adventure enthusiast planning your next trip to Sri Lanka, exploring the Central Highlands is an absolute must.

Where Is The Central Highlands Located?

 Location of Central Highland Sri Lanka

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The Central Highlands, as the name suggests, are located in the south-central part of Sri Lanka, especially around the “Central Massif,” which accounts for the country’s massive mountainous region. Some of the districts that fall under the highlands include Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, and Matale districts.

Must Read: Most Beautiful Places In Sri Lanka

Essential Facts About Central Highlands In Sri Lanka

Basic details to know about Central Highlands Sri Lanka

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Familiarise yourself with some of the essential details about Central Highland, which will help you to plan your itinerary.
Location: The Central Highlands stretch across several districts in the central part of Sri Lanka. Three key locations comprise the Central Highlands:
Horton Plains National Park: Ohiya, Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya
Peak Wilderness Protected Area: RF9Q+4MX, B339, Nallathanniya, Sri Lanka
Knuckles Conservation Forest: FQ2Q+358, Medadumbara poddalgoda heeloya Rod, Gomara, Sri Lanka
Central Highlands Sri Lanka Timings
Horton Plains National Park: Typically, open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Peak Wilderness Protected Area: Accessible at all times.
Knuckles Conservation Forest: Open from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Things To Do At Central Highlands In Sri Lanka

Depending on which part of the Central Highlands in Sri Lanka you are exploring, there are varying Central Highlands Sri Lanka activities to indulge in.

1. Trekking and Hiking Expeditions

Trekking and Hiking at Central Highlands

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Each part of the Central Highlands in Sri Lanka offers unique hiking and trekking experiences. Horton Plains National Park is one of the most popular trekking destinations in the Central Highlands. While there, the first hiking trail will take you to the World’s End, a circular route that takes 3-4 hours to trek. However, the plateau has an 880 m steep fall, making it so dangerous to even look at. Another popular trekking trail is one to Adam’s Peak. The ascent typically begins at night to reach the summit by sunrise, offering a spectacular view and a spiritual experience.

Suggested Read: Little Adams Peak In Sri Lanka

2. Wildlife Watching

 Wildlife watching at Central Highlands

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Both Horton Plains National Park and Knuckles Conservation Forest offer opportunities for wildlife watching. At Horton National Park, you can spot purple-faced langurs, Sri Lankan sambar deer, and leopards, while Knuckles Conservation Forest is home to several endemic species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians. It is one of the few natural reserves in Sri Lanka that houses the Knuckles pygmy lizard and the Sri Lanka blue magpie.

3. Tea Plantation Tours

Tea plantation tours at Central Highlands

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Another unique experience and a must-have one includes the tea plantation tours. Central Highlands are the heart of the country’s tea-growing region including popular districts and cities like Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Some popular tea estates to explore in Nuwara Eliya include Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Centre and Pedro Tea Estate. During these tours, you get to walk through the tea estates, understand the tea production process and also have a tasting session at the end. If you are in Ella, visit Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory to experience the intricate tea-making process.

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4. Waterfall Visits

Waterfalls at Central Highlands

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If wildlife and trekking aren’t your go-to, there are several impressive waterfalls in Central Highlands, including Baker’s Falls, Ramboda Falls and Diyaluma Falls. The Baker’s Falls in Hortons National Park is one of the most famous waterfalls in Sri Lanka. It falls from a height of 20 m and was named after British explorer Samuel Baker. Diyaluma Falls has a charm of its own, being the second-largest waterfall in the country. It is also renowned for its natural infinity pool, where you can take a refreshing dip with a view of the lush green landscape.

5. Pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak in Central Highlands

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Although mentioned briefly, the popularity and significance of Adam’s Peak deserve an entirely separate shoutout and mention as well. Adam’s Peak, more commonly known as Sri Pada is a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. People of individual religious beliefs believe that the footprints are of their respective deities. Beyond the pilgrimage and hike to the top, what will take your breath away is the stunning views that you get to witness of the surrounding landscape and majestic mountains.

Suggested Read:  National Parks In Sri Lanka 

6. Camping

Camping at Central Highlands

Image Credit: Trougnouf (Benoit Brummer) for Wikipedia

If you have always dreamt of camping under the night sky, you can do so at Central Highlands in Sri Lanka. Camping sites are available at Horton Plains National Park and Knuckles Conservation Forest too. However, due to limited camping facilities, you do need to book your spot ahead of time. Permits from the local forest department are required too. Camping in either of these locations not only brings a sense of excitement and adventure but also enables you to explore the park’s diverse wildlife and build a connection with the natural environment around you.

7. Bird Watching

 Bird watching at Central Highlands

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Beyond the rich wildlife population, Sri Lanka also boasts a wide range of bird species. Both Horton Plains National Park and Knuckles Conservation Forest are home to several bird species. Highlights include the Sri Lanka white-eye, dull-blue flycatcher, and the Sri Lanka bush warbler. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times for birdwatching in the national park. Some popular species to look out for in the conservation forest include the Sri Lanka blue magpie, yellow-fronted barbet, and Layard’s parakeet. Since the birds are usually nestled on top of the trees, hiding, you might need to bring your binoculars for the experience.

Suggested Read:  Mannar Island 

How To Reach Central Highlands In Sri Lanka?

 Reaching Central Highlands Sri Lanka

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Since the Central Highlands comprises three different places in Sri Lanka, there is no standard way to reach the destination. Usually, travellers prefer the journey by road. You can start your journey from one of the nearby cities like Colombo or Kandy, and depending on your pace, you should be able to reach it within 4-6 hours.
Depending on which part of the Central Highland you are visiting, there are train routes from Colombo to Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Ella. The journey from Colombo to Kandy takes about 2.5 hours, while the trip to Nuwara Eliya or Ella can take 6-7 hours.

Further Read: Water Sports In Sri Lanka

Ideal for nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and adventurers, the Central Highlands In Sri Lanka offers an experience attuned to each traveller’s interest, big or small. From the majestic peaks and verdant tea plantations to the tranquil waterfalls and rich wildlife, the Central Highlands provide a unique and unforgettable experience. On your next trip to Sri Lanka, spending a few days exploring the Central Highlands is thus an absolute must.

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Cover Image credit: By Bernard Gagnon for Wikipedia.

Frequently Asked Questions About Central Highlands In Sri Lanka

What is the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka?

The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is a mountainous region that includes areas such as Horton Plains National Park, Peak Wilderness Protected Area, and Knuckles Conservation Forest. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What is the best time to visit the Central Highlands?

The Central Highlands Sri Lanka's best time to visit is between December and April, which is the dry season.

What are the Central Highlands Sri Lanka timings?

There are no universal timings. It depends on which part of the highlands you are visiting.

What wildlife can be seen in the Central Highlands?

The region is home to several endemic species, including the Sri Lankan sambar deer, purple-faced langur, and a variety of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Is it possible to camp in the Central Highlands?

Yes, camping is allowed in different locations of the Central Highlands in Sri Lanka.

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