Haputale is just one access point to Horton Plains National Park. I chose to stay here because it is far less touristy than Nuwara Eliya and I also wanted to hike up to Lipton’s Seat, which is nearby. Based on reviews and location, I chose a super cheap guesthouse with a fantastic view. I was served tea upon my arrival and then we all celebrated the owner’s birthday, with cake. I was then sent on a hike to a nearby monastery and bird sanctuary. On the way, two men on a motorcycle asked where I was going, so I said that I was just walking to the bird sanctuary, their reply was, oh you are going into the jungle? I didn’t think anything of it, so I said, yes, I think so. The monastery was closed, so I carried on into the “jungle” which was thickly wooded with no one else around. Or so I thought. I heard rustling in the hills above me and then noticed two men with a camera watching me – I didn’t know if they were the same two guys. I kind of freaked out and wasn’t sure if I should go deeper into the woods or turn back. I chose to keep moving forward and once I lost sight of them, I ran. So that pretty much took any enjoyment out of the woods portion of that hike but the walk back along the train tracks was nice. I stupidly had about $500 worth of rupees and my passport on me, so I really didn’t want to risk getting robbed, or worse. I’m sure I overreacted, but there was no need to find out.
Haputale was so much colder than anywhere else I had been so far but we sat outside anyway & our host let us drink a beer around a fire, despite the Muslim house rules of no drinking – he even had one himself because it was his birthday. Other than a Russian couple who kept to themselves, there were two other solo travelers at the homestay. It was nice to socialize with some friendlies.
The next morning, the three of us woke up at 4:45am to share a tuk tuk to Horton Plains. The hike, which costs $25 USD, takes you through beautiful grasslands, a cloud forest, and up the side of a hill which takes you to the aptly named Worlds End, a 1,200m sheer cliff. Despite the price, the amount of tourists, selfie-sticks, and even a drone, I actually really liked it there.
Our English friend, Beth, set out after the morning hike, so me and my fellow Canadian friend, Gavin, hiked up to Lipton’s seat that afternoon. This was through the Dambatenne Tea Estate, which was started by Sir Thomas J. Lipton in the late 1800’s. Lipton’s Seat is at the top of the hill and gives a 360 degree view over the massive estate. You can also get a ride up here, but it was such a beautiful walk and a great workout too. We enjoyed a cuppa at the top and then took the bus down instead.
And then the cold got to me, literally. I woke up sick. After making the 3 hour trip from Haputale to Delhouse, I checked into my room and pretty much slept for 13 hours. The only reason you go to Delhouse is to climb Adam’s Peak. Not only is Adam’s Peak the highest mountain in Sri Lanka (2,243m), it is also a famous pilgrimage site. On the top is a footprint (Sri Pada), which the Buddhists believe is that of the Buddha, the Hindus believe it is from Shiva, and the Christians and Islamics believe it is that of Adam. Needless to say, it is an important site for all four religious followers. For us tourists however, it is important to get up there for the sunrise and before the mist surrounds the hills and spoils the view. I had planned to stay one night, starting my hike around 3am and then leaving early the next afternoon. Unfortunately I was flattened by the sickness, but determined not to leave until I climbed Adam’s Peak. With a rainy next day and literally nothing else to do in Delhouse, I was forced to rest.
I had a wander through town looking for tissues and met the nicest guys who told me to sit down in their shop and have some tea. They gave me a stack of serviettes, some Ayurvedic cold stuff, and ginger tea for free. There I had a chat with an interesting German woman who just bought land here – she’s 71 and also planned to hike up the mountain that night. I woke up around 1:30am with no fever and less of a drippy nose, so I downed an energy drink and was out the door by 2:15am. The power went out in the entire town, so it was a bit sketchy but I met a nice Scottish gal to walk up with. It was much harder than I thought, 5500 steps up to the top. There were tons of devotees coming down as we were going up and lots of people sleeping on the steps. After waking the German lady who was sleeping in a bush, we made it to second to last tea stop in only an hour, so we decided to have tea as it was getting windy and we still had 3 hours until sunrise. Lauren (the Scottish gal) waited for friends that she’d left behind and I carried on. I’m glad I did because there was a 2 hour queue to reach the top. I finally got to the top just as the sun was rising. Due to the ridiculous amount of people, I couldn’t see anything, not the footprint or the sunrise, so I went back down the stairs for a couple photos, then ran all the way down. I made good time, so I ate breakfast and raced back to Hatton to get an earlier train to Kandy.