Views and brews: what it’s like to hike the hills of Sri Lanka’s tea country _ The Times

I have a confession to make: the last time I visited Sri Lanka I took a Ziploc bag stuffed with Yorkshire teabags. Yes, you read that correctly. Yorkshire Tea, carefully transported to the country that gave the Brits their obsessive love of a cuppa.

My time back then was spent in the Central Highlands, where a butler in a converted tea estate manager’s swish bungalow spotted the Ziploc and raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps,” he suggested, “madam would care to try a pot of Ceylon’s finest.”

Needless to say I felt suitably chastened, but I’ve learnt my lesson and now I’m here again (sans the Yorkshire, I hasten to add) to walk sections of the new long-distance Pekoe Trail through the heart of its lush tea country.

Goodness, it’s glorious to be back. With the 2019 Easter bombings, then the pandemic and nine months of mass protests against the government in 2022 (not forgetting an economy that continues to plummet), Sri Lanka has been especially battered by tumbling tourist numbers.

Bookings are gradually rising again — helped by the fact that in August the British government lifted its ban on travel. Right now, though, you won’t see many tourists. You will, however, feel utterly safe and experience a palpably warm welcome wherever you go.

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