A Blend of Tea and Culture: Tours and Guides in Sri Lanka
Formerly known as ‘Ceylon’, Sri Lanka stands as the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. The tea drinking culture within this island country is strong, with Sri Lankans drinking on average three cups per day. In an attempt to compete with China’s tea production, the British introduced tea plantations to Sri Lanka in 1867 and since, the country has become the producer of some of the world’s finest teas, from single origins to mixed fruit blends.
A tailor made, private and personal tour is the treatment Sammy Tours delivers. Combining local knowledge with complete flexibility, Sammy will accommodate small groups, from individual travellers up to a group of 8. As a guide, he will recommend some of the best places to go across the island and simultaneously cater for your personal wishes by allowing you to guide the path of his air-conditioned mini-bus and decide for yourself the places to visit. Included in his tours are trips to some of the oldest tea factories in Sri Lanka, with a walk through the fields followed, of course, by that all important cup of tea.
Sri Lanka Travel Plan
Providing visitors with specialised knowledge to Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Travel Plan guides you through the best parts of the tea hills via car, train and jeep, allowing you to fully engage with the mesmerising surroundings. This three day tour provides an insight into Sri Lanka's tea making history by visiting the old tea factories and exploring the process behind Ceylon tea. This is before a walk around the stunning Horton Plains National Park which emphasises the natural beauty of Nuwara Eliya. An early start ensures you get to see the natural surroundings at their best and enjoying a picnic breakfast in the World’s End gorge is a definite highlight.
Halpewatte Tea Factory
This day tour will give you a look into how the newer factories function. Halpewatte Tea Factory specialises in producing some of the finest single origin tea produced in Sri Lanka and has been doing so for the past 35 years. The factory stands as one of the largest tea factories in the region of Uva. They responsibly promote sustainability through their tea production, in addition to their engagement with tourism in the areas of Bandarawela and Ella. With knowledgeable staff, Halpewatte gives you a glance into the bustling and varied work of growing tea for the rest of the world to enjoy.
Hundungoda Tea Estate
For those with a little less time, the Hundungoda Tea Estate gives you an opportunity to visit the estate’s tea plantation a little more quickly. During the tour you will be led by a personal experienced guide who will introduce you to the process of growing and harvesting, whilst providing in depth information about Sri Lankan tea culture. In addition to the tea tour, the estate is home to cinnamon plantations in Mirissa with luxury bungalow accommodation for those who care to stay for longer. Luxury SUVs are available to those requiring a lift to the plantation and a tour will typically last around 1 hour. A golf course is also on site, as well as a visit to the tea museum.
Boutique Sri Lanka
Offering up a selection of suggested itineraries, Boutique Sri Lanka provides bespoke tours for visitors who are encouraged to pick and choose the highlights of the trip. Their range of suggestions is comprehensive and offers an array of experiences, including plantation trails/colonial tea tours which offer an interesting look at the old ‘raj’ buildings and the history of tea production in Sri Lanka. They will also assist you with booking flights and organising a driver for your trip, enabling you to travel around once you arrive.
Beyond in Sri Lanka
The Hill Country and Tea Estates tour starts in Colombo, a cultural city with Hindu Temples, before moving towards Kandy. Here you will see the spice gardens and the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, before visiting Peradeniya where you will see its colourful orchids and perfectly kept botanical gardens. Finally the six day trip leads you to Nuwara Eliya, and the green mountains, waterfalls and plantations of the area. Believing in a philosophy that entitles each traveller to their own individual experience, Beyond in Sri Lanka make their tours flexible and arrange a surprising array of places to stay from treetops to plantation bungalows.
Sri Lanka ‘Tea Trails’ Tour
The five day ‘Tea Trails’ tour caters to your needs by combining a love of Sri Lankan culture with a love of nature. As soon as you arrive, your chauffeur and guide will be on hand to answer any questions before taking you to Kandy, yet not without a detour to the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela, home to 80 elephants. The evening traditions of Sri Lanka will unfold with a performance of cultural dance before eventually finding yourself in Nuwara Eliya, home to the highest peak in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya's cool climate provides the perfect environment for tea growing.
Bluefield Tea Gardens
A day tour within the Bluefield Tea Gardens is a slightly more personable visit than the neighbouring tea centre of Labookellie. Bluefield offer personalised tours through their farm, giving in depth guides and descriptions of all the stages behind producing tea. Located in Nuwara Eliya, the Tea Centre is a good place to purchase some of the area’s best quality teas, which make the perfect gift. The beautiful property boasts a restaurant and cafe at the front, ideal if you are in need of more than just a hot beverage. The site is particularly good if travelling with a family, as it features a children’s play area.
Green Holiday Travels
Since 2011 Green Holiday Travels have been organising professionally planned tours for the visitors of Sri Lanka. Keen to introduce tourists to the rich culture of the country without negatively impacting on its nature and heritage, they are forward thinkers in sustainable tourism for the island. The six day long Hills and Tea Plantations tour will guide you through all the hotspots of the country’s tea production, including additional visiting spots to the cinnamon gardens in Colombo, the Dutch Church of Wolfendhal and the captivating landscape of Kitulgala, which boasts a variety of wildlife.
For those serious about tea, Heritage provide flexible week long trips with their Tea Educational Tours. The tour takes you to a number of interesting places such as the Colombo Tea Auctions. These auctions take place twice weekly within the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and date back to 1883. Here you will see 700 factories trading and buying and you will also witness the largest single origin tea auction in the world. Visits to all the major tea centres such as Giragama, Balangoda, Mlesna and Dilmah are included, as well as a look at the Hantana Tea Museum. The final day is one of rest, the relaxation method of your choice whether it be seaside or poolside.
By Melissa Pearce