If the tea industry and processes involved in creating tea interests you, this is a must-do experience. You will drive through the mountains for just over an hour to get to the Hatale Tea Factory, and there you will see how loose-leaf tea is converted to the tea that we drink on a daily basis and is exported from Sri Lanka all over the world. The different processes of withering, rolling and fermenting will all be explained to you by one of the factory workers, and a tasting of the different kinds of tea offered.
This scenic walk takes you towards the main Werapitiya road to a hanging bridge which crosses a point where two rivers meet and is still used by local residents regularly. Meander through Werapitiya itself and as the lane winds down through this typical Sri Lankan village, past terraced paddy fields, mud houses and spice gardens abundant with birds and butterflies. The scenery changes frequently throughout the walk offering the opportunity to see traditional rice and palm harvesting and the naturally created pools in the river are a great place for an authentic
Sri Lankan river bath.
Sri Lanka is a tiny country with a lot a biodiversity. Likewise, the bird life of Sri Lanka is also very rich for its size with more than 500 species recorded throughout the country of which 34 are considered endemic – only found in
Sri Lanka. Around Santani we are lucky to have noted 15 of the 34 endemic species. Join our naturalist with some binoculars and a field guide at 6am (mornings are the best time for birding) and spend a couple of hours observing resident birds on this trail before breakfast. You are very likely to see a jungle fowl scuttling under a tea tree, a hornbill jostling with its mate or a serpent eagle soaring an updraft.
Built over 250 years ago, the Bambaragala Cave Temple is located about an hour away by vehicle and is decorated with brightly painted Buddhist artwork. Some of the drawings and artwork in the temple is even said to pre-date the Kandyan era. Guests of all agilities can visit the temple itself, however the climb to the top of Bambaragala rock, which affords breathtaking panoramic views of Victoria Reservoir and beyond, is only recommended for experienced hikers. Although only an hours’ hike to the top, the final stretch requires balance and confidence.
Kandy is located about an hour away from Santani and is Sri Lanka’s last kingdom and cultural capital. A major site for Buddhist pilgrims, white-clad Sri Lankans gather with frangipani and lotus blossoms to offer at the Temple of the Tooth inside the Royal Palace complex. Explore the temple and Kandy market, or wander through Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. If needed, you may also request for a guide at the Temple of the Tooth to get a better understanding of the history and the background. We recommend visiting the temple and gardens on separate days.
Bordering the beautiful Kukul Oya region are two waterfalls opening up into small ponds. This scenic spot is accessible directly from Santani in the drier season via a short walk across the Hulu River and flat trail on the other side (6km). Lush greenery and jungle flora borders the trail, making for a picturesque journey. However, during the rainy season, a 45 minute drive and 30 minute walk in each direction is necessary to reach the falls as crossing the river at the bottom of our valley becomes too difficult.
This experience showcases a village of craftspeople honing and practicing their skills, making copper and wooden handicrafts, as well as batik fabrics and much more. Witness local artisanal industries and the passing of these crafts from one generation to the next. The village tour ends with a simple cup of Ceylon tea at the house of the village coppersmith before continuing to nearby Galmaduwa Temple. This impressive looking building is a fusion of two cultures. Originally built in 1750 as a Hindu Kovil by the last King of Sri Lanka,
it was venerated as a Buddhist Temple due to local protests.
This circular walk is one of our longest, but begins and ends with a 20-30 minute tuk tuk ride. Despite being incredibly picturesque and famous amongst local residents, Rangala natural pool is unfortunately not for swimming. In addition to the region’s natural beauty, this walk is a great opportunity to understand more about the life of the tea plucking community as you pass by their homes. Dependent on departure time, there is also an incredible sunset viewing spot from above tea fields en route!
Corbett’s Gap is one of the highest mountain passes in Sri Lanka named after British Army colonel, naturalist and adventurer, Jim Corbett. The hike is mostly along an abandoned jeep track that cuts through the Knuckles Conservation Forest an UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. These montane cloud forests, where the land rises to 2,500 metres above sea level, are home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the westernpurple-faced langur, the Horton Plains slender loris and the Sri Lankan leopard.
This excursion will take you along the famous A-26, one of Sri Lanka’s most scenic drives. You will drive bordering the Victoria Wildlife Reserve, and pass the rugged terrain of the Knuckles Range as well. Each turn opens up to yet another stunning landscape, and the route also features the ‘Daha-ata Vanguwa’,which is an 18-turn engineering marvel designed to bring you to flat terrain in a 10km drive. The view from the top of the turns is absolutely breathtaking. Mahiyanganaya is also the first location Lord Buddha visited, and the stupa is Sri Lanka’s oldest temple, as per the Mahavamsa and is over 2500 years old. The stupa houses a sacred hair-relic of Lord Buddha as well as Lord Buddha’s sacred left Collar-bone relic.
The mountain range you see from your balcony, we call it Dumbara (mist-laden), the British named it Knuckles as it resembles the knuckles of clenched fist from some vantages. This mountain range offers some of the most spectacular hikes in the island. The Knuckles Hike starts in a tea estate, but the trail soon enters the high-altitude montane cloud forests that are truly unique and stunning. The trail is very diverse crossing different types of forest, grasslands, streams, and waterfalls frequently popping out to amazing mountain vistas. Depending on the hike you choose, your destination is one of the higher peaks of the range where the views are simply mind boggling. Departure is around 6am for a scenic 1hour drive to the start of the trail. Then you enjoy your well-earned picnic lunch at the summit before the descent. Dependent on route, a 6pm arrival at Santani can be expected.
After an early breakfast, drive 1 hour to Sri Lanka’s most scenic course at Victoria Golf Club located in nearby Digana on a former coconut and coffee plantation. This award-winning masterpiece was designed by Donald Steel, in accordance with the undulating landscape and is lovingly maintained to an international standard. Bordering picturesque Victoria Reservoir, players have spectacular views across its 73 Par, 6933 yard championship, 18 hole course. Play a round of golf and be back at Santani in time for a late lunch!