Ohiya is a small village in Sri Lanka's Central Highlands. Known for its exceptional beauty and cool climate, Ohiya is an excellent destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. This travel guide aims to provide all the information you need to make the most of your trip.
Ohiya is a village situated in the Badulla District of Uva Province. It is one of the highest-elevated rural communities in Sri Lanka, sitting at an elevation of approximately 1,774 meters above sea level. With its cool climate and natural surroundings, Ohiya serves as a gateway to Horton Plains National Park and several other nature reserves.
Significance of Ohiya
Ohiya is primarily known for its proximity to Horton Plains National Park. Its strategic location makes it a key starting point for treks and nature walks. The area is also significant for its Tea Plantations, which produce some of the country's finest tea. Environmentalists and biologists find the region important due to its rich biodiversity.
Attractions and Things to Do
Attractions and Things to Do
Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains is one of the main attractions that makes Ohiya a must-visit location. Spanning over 3,169 hectares, the park features a variety of ecosystems, from mountain forests to grasslands. The well-marked walking paths offer two main viewpoints: Mini World’s End and World’s End. These cliffs provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Bird-watchers will appreciate the chance to spot endemic species like the Sri Lanka White-eye and Sri Lanka Wood Pigeon.
Ohiya Gap is another excellent viewpoint offering a unique perspective of the area. Located along the Ohiya-Kalupahana Road, the viewpoint is relatively easy to reach by car or on foot. From this point, you can see as far as the Udawalawe reservoir and the southern coast on a clear day. It's a great spot for photography or just soaking in the natural beauty.
Trekking and Nature Walks
Ohiya serves as a starting point for multiple trekking trails leading through its scenic countryside. Popular routes include the Devil’s Staircase, a trek that takes you through misty mountains and tea plantations. Another trek leads to Bambarakanda Falls, the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka. These trails vary in difficulty, so there's something for everyone, from novice hikers to experienced trekkers.
Accessible through Horton Plains, Bakers Falls is a beautiful waterfall named after Sir Samuel Baker, a British explorer. It's a great spot for a break during your Horton Plains trek. The cascade provides a soothing backdrop for a quick rest or a picnic.
The train journey to Ohiya takes you through an ever-changing landscape of forests, mountains, and tea plantations. Ohiya is a regular stop on the Badulla-bound train, making it convenient for travelers to reach this destination. The journey provides a unique viewpoint of the Central Highlands that you won't get from road travel. As you approach Ohiya, the train winds through a series of tunnels and mountain passes, offering breathtaking views at every turn.
Tea Plantation Visits
The high elevation and climate make Ohiya ideal for tea cultivation. You can tour local tea factories and plantations to understand the process of tea production. Most of these tours include a tasting session where you can sample different varieties of freshly brewed tea.
The area's natural beauty offers plenty of opportunities for photography. From early morning mists covering the mountains to the golden hues of sunset, the lighting and landscapes are ideal for capturing stunning images.
The tea plantations provide a magnificent backdrop. The viewpoints like Ohiya Gap and World’s End are perfect for landscape photography, giving you broad vistas that capture the beauty of the Central Highlands. Animal and bird enthusiasts will find numerous subjects to focus on, from endemic bird species to the occasional sighting of mammals like deer.
The culture in Ohiya reflects the general Sri Lankan rural lifestyle. Most locals are involved in farming and tea plantation work. Buddhism is the dominant religion, and you will find a few small temples around.
Ohiya doesn't offer extensive shopping options. However, you can purchase fresh tea leaves from local plantations. Souvenirs related to tea culture and small handicrafts are also available in some shops.
Ohiya has a range of guest houses that offer basic amenities. These are budget-friendly options.
For those looking for a bit more comfort, private bungalows are available. These often come with their gardens and more amenities.
Some areas around Ohiya allow camping, a great option for adventure seekers.
Food and Dining Options
The village has a limited but satisfying range of food options. Local eateries often serve rice and curry, roti, and fresh vegetables. You can also find tea and snacks like short eats at small cafes.
Given the area’s significance in tea production, don't miss out on tasting freshly brewed local tea.
Location and How to Get There
Ohiya is situated about 224 km away from Colombo. The most convenient way to reach the village is by train, which offers stunning views of the highlands. Buses and taxis are also available but might be less comfortable. The journey will take around 5-6 hours.
Best Time to Visit
The months from April to September offer the best weather. During this period, the area is less crowded, and outdoor activities are more enjoyable.
Tips and Advice
- Preparation for Hiking: Equip yourself with sturdy walking boots and appropriate clothing for trekking.
- Weather Consideration: Check the weather forecast before planning outdoor activities.
- Local Guidelines: Follow all park rules and guidelines in nature reserves.
- Advance Bookings: Secure your accommodations, tours, and train tickets well in advance, especially during peak seasons.
- Transport Options: Investigate various transportation options to and from Ohiya, as some may be more convenient or scenic than others.
- Cash and Payments: Carry sufficient cash, as not all places accept credit cards, and ATMs might be scarce.
- Tea Plantation Visits: If visiting tea plantations, adhere to visitor guidelines and check in advance for tour availability.
- Bambarakanda Falls: Located about 42 kilometers from Ohiya, this majestic waterfall is the tallest in the country. A visit here offers the chance to witness a stunning cascade surrounded by scenic beauty.
- Ella: Ella is a small town situated around 39 kilometers from Ohiya, well-known for its tea plantations and scenic hills. Popular attractions include the Nine Arch Bridge and Ella Rock.
- Nuwara Eliya: Approximately 48 kilometers from Ohiya, Nuwara Eliya is a resort town with a cool climate, often referred to as 'Little England.' It's known for its colonial architecture and the picturesque Gregory Lake.
- Haputale: Just 38 kilometers from Ohiya, Haputale is another mountain town offering sweeping views of the Southern plains. The Lipton’s Seat viewpoint and the Dambatenne tea factory are major attractions.
- Belihuloya: About 52 kilometers from Ohiya, Belihuloya is a village that serves as a base for river and forest expeditions. The area is known for its rich biodiversity and is popular for eco-tourism activities.
Ohiya is more than just a gateway to Horton Plains National Park. Its scenic viewpoints, rich biodiversity, and cultural significance make it a worthwhile destination. From hiking trails to tea plantations, the area offers an amazing experience for every type of traveler. So be sure to stop by this charming town if you are traveling in the Sri Lankan Central Highlands.