In 1860 James Taylor transformed the hill country as well as the lifestyle of people through the tea industry. Had it not been for the commencement of commercial tea production, Sri Lanka wouldn’t have gained world fame for Ceylon Tea. Black tea was introduced to Sri Lanka by James Taylor, and it was popularised in Europe by Sir Thomas J. Lipton. The location in Dambethenna estate Sir Thomas Lipton often spent his leisure time at is now known as Lipton’s Seat. As much as the Uva, Sabaragamwa, Southern, Eastern and the Central province could be captured in one frame, one could also witness a breathtaking sunrise at the Lipton’s Seat at the crack of dawn.
The beauty of our island enhanced by tea plantations, folks, their lifestyles and the comeliness of the tea pluckers is a sight to behold on the way down from the Lipton’s Seat. The pleasantness of their smiles, the beautiful mountain range along with the cool breeze from the tea trees is sure to refresh your soul. However, their lives aren’t as effortless as it seems. They spend their mornings in the bone-chilling cold plucking tea leaves and work on till evening.
Tea is often known as black gold at the Colombo Tea Auction owing to the massive amounts of money earned through it. Ceylon Tea is recognised as a treasure to the world. Considering the tremendous efforts, time and energy invested in tea plantation it is justifiable to call it Black Gold indeed.
10km from Haputale down the Dambethenna road is the Dambethenna tea factory. 200m down Lipton’s Seat road from there, is the Mawussakele road in Dambethenna estate. Take a turn passing the estates and proceed 9km down the Monarakanda estate. Wasantha is our obliging tour guide taking us through the bliss of the journey and the mist to our celestial destination. It is Wasantha’s duty to bring in guests here from Haputale. All guests embarking this celestial destination can safely park their vehicles in Haputale and take a stroll accompanied all the way by Wasantha. At the end of the route is yet another village – Monarakanda, where people earn their livelihoods amidst tea and vegetable plantations. Even at around 10 o’clock the atmosphere is quite moist. There’s a 2km walk from here in the mist through the forest to get there.
The 2km walk from Monarakanda is absolutely blissful. Streams, caves where elephants rest, miles-deep-precipices along the footpath that led us to the Cliff Lodge made the journey rather memorable. According to the wisemen at the Cliff Lodge the journey to it is exceedingly dangerous after 4pm and any expedition through it should be commenced strictly before 3pm.
Anika and Naveen are a couple who previously lived in London. The more people’s thoughts change, the more their discoveries change. The Cliff Lodge – Camping Sri Lanka, by Anika and Naveen, previously introduced by me as the Celestial Destination is a one-of-a-kind holiday retreat.
Unconventional discoveries and its maintenance is a beautiful experience. Cliff Lodge is such an encounter. The December wind added an extra special element to the atmosphere. Anika’s signature German pancake and cinnamon tea refreshed us of our fatigue. On one side the gigantic mountains and on another the scenery that extends beyond the valley beneath and on another the sight of quite a few waterfalls flowing together reaffirms the uniqueness of the Cliff Lodge. The moment that thick fog encompassed the entire surrounding I realised that this truly is a Celestial Destination.
Our ‘Almost Wild’ Campsite has been specifically left untamed and untouched to give you the chance to get Back to Nature.
It’s a Serene Scene. Embrace Mother Nature in this rugged and natural setting nestled among the Haputale Mountain Range not far away from the famous Lipton Seat.
The real joy of this campsite is the Escapism: Hiding Away on the Cliff and in the Forest.
While it might be tempting to while away entire days indulging in the views, reading or playing cards, that would be a great pity – because there is so much more to explore here.
The extraordinary Biodiversity is best experienced on foot – in the company of a guide. Trekking in the forest is a thoroughly immersive experience – allowing you to experience its Tapestry of Sights, Sounds, Smells and even Textures up close, with the nearby animals less likely to be disturbed by your presence.