Nuwara Eliya to Kandy in 17 days | Daily News

Nuwara Eliya to Kandy in 17 days


“If you want to walk fast, walk alone; If you want to walk far, walk together.”

Katarzyna and Piotr are Polish trailblazers, who love walking the planet and doing unique trails in their spare time; they have notched up ten incredible experiences to date, including two trails in Poland, and others in Bulgaria, Israel, lots in Iceland where they now live, the Camino Trail in Spain, and now Sri Lanka’s Tea Country Hiking Trail.

Between incredible photos of their ground breaking end-to-end seventeen-day walk across the mountains of Sri Lanka, we discuss how a Pole, living in Iceland, discovered Sri Lanka’s first heritage hiking trail, “My husband found the trail on the internet and over a few months we saw more and more exciting pieces being posted online. We thought, ‘we must explore Sri Lanka and this trail looks incredible; it seems like something very different and unique’.”

“When we jumped on the plane to Sri Lanka, we never imagined we would be the first people to do the entire trail, end to end, in one go. Of course, before we do any trail, we do a lot of research, buy maps and guide books, and read anything we can find online. Since this trail is new, we were not sure what we would find. We also reached out to Miguel Cunat, the trail designer, who was very helpful, and Juliet Coombe’s stories, published on the Trail’s Facebook page, were fascinating and made planning the trip so much more interesting. We bought purifying tablets, in case getting water was a problem, some dry food, a tent and sleeping bags, in case we had to camp. However, the opposite of what we were expecting happened, as we always found somewhere, close to the trail, everywhere we went, not necessarily on but via the helpful mountain people and three-wheeler drivers, who can ride even the most narrow of ridges to find you accommodation.”

We started our trip in the Hill Country capital, Nuwara Eliya, and ended up in Kandy, 17 days later with 300 kilometres under our belt, and a couple of side tours that made it 320 kilometres in total. After the cold of Europe, we found the first day of the hike very hot and sweaty, and were so happy for a shower at the end of the day. Altogether, we went through more than 24 plantations, each one different and special. Everywhere, there were people working, picking tea, walking from village to village, and enjoying the nature and ancient wisdom of the area, where the people still collect plants and see nature as their medicine cabinet. The people are so friendly and freely waved at us, even when we were hundreds of metres away, which makes you feel like a famous person, as you trek from one place to the next. It also makes you, somehow, always happy from all the warm smiles, and safe, as the people are so kind, asking if we needed water or to stop for a cup of tea.

“The hiking trail, created by Sri Lanka’s Tea Country Hiking Trail team, is full of National Geographic moments. Our favourite days were the unexpected ones, like the Tamil festival in Hatton, with men hanging from hooks speared through their bodies to test their faith. We particularly loved the picturesque walk from Saint Catherine down to rock pools above Ravanna Falls, James Taylor’s seat, and the breathtaking views of mountains everywhere.

However, in Hatton, seeing people’s festival outfits with elaborate peacock

feather headdresses and young and old walking barefoot on fire, was particularly fascinating, like being in a Hollywood film. We were the only tourists there to experience this sacred yearly festival that thanks the gods for everything the community has received. They even asked us at the festival to go into the temple and share a bucket of food, which was delicious cooked rice, spices and sauce, with a temple blessing. They included us as if we were part of their community, placing red, yellow and white on our foreheads, which only made the whole experience even more auspicious.

Katarzyna and Piotr with writer Juliet Coombe, discussing a trail that is a game changer

“Over the 17 days, we loved walking through the jungle the most, with the monkeys, and so many birds on the trail, in the evening, pecking away at things, like a Hitchcock film; we soon got used to living in the wilds of agro nature. We also enjoyed the waterfalls and swimming in the rock pools just before James Taylor’s Seat, known as Oya. The temples were so colourful and at first we didn’t know how to behave in a Hindu temple - as nothing on the internet guides you in these cultural rich and special sacred places - so we took off our shoes and quietly observed what the people did in these religious spots. Lots of shrines and special trees, with colourful saris tied in them, were everywhere, like ancient spiritual road markers in a time before GPS, and just when you thought you were in the middle of nowhere, up would pop another colourful shrine under a big Banyan tree - perfect for resting and to reflect on the latest section of the walk or where you are with your life. It was, however, challenging, when it rained, as you slide everywhere in the mud, and climbing at Lipton’s Seat was difficult with a few stray dogs barking at us, but these were small issues on such a beautiful ever changing hiking trail. As a couple, we have been together for twenty years, and we travel, work and do everything together. This trail just makes that fact even better, as it reminds us that it us and nature that is important, and not all the crazy things going on in the world right now. If everyone walked, they would find out how much better it is to be with the spirits of the jungle, mountains and cooling waterfalls that wash away some of the harder trail days and anything you feel you might want to let go of.”

It is, they both feel, important to know that few people spoke English on Sri Lanka’s Tea Country Hiking Trail, and they had to be inventive in how they explained things with their hands, “While it was difficult, it was fun to see the end results.” Not wanting to go around in a tuk tuk and preferring to walk in the hot tropical sun surprised and amused the hill country people, as they clearly are not used to crazy tourists who want to walk everywhere. “All along the hiking trail, we saw people working on the plantations and eating together or bringing tea leaves to weigh before sharing a cup of tea. We felt both exhilarated by the achievement and incredibly sad at the end of the trail, as life is simple in the mountains, when you wake at sunrise, walk all day and in the evening, after a long trek, cool off in a waterfall and watch the sun setting over the hills, and realise, as you hug each other, that there really is no better way to live your life than together under the stars, with people who have followed and worked along these trails for hundreds of years.

For more on these two amazing trail blazers and the many treks they have followed go to


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