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Hiking Sri Lanka's tea trail

New path through verdant Pekoe hills shows the island is not just about beaches

Hikers pass through a tea plantation in Sri Lanka. Soon to be officially launched, the Pekoe Trail spans 300 kilometers across the island's Central Highlands, passing river valleys, tea gardens, forested hills, sacred sites and rural villages. (All photos courtesy of Tangerine Tours)

COLOMBO -- In 2019, the Lonely Planet travel guide listed Sri Lanka as the world's best destination. Since then, the island's flourishing tourism industry has been hit by a deadly terrorist attack, the COVID-19 pandemic, political turmoil and the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

After a tumultuous year, however, the island is back on the tourism radar, receiving 800,000 visitor arrivals in the seven months to early August, largely thanks to its laid-back coastal towns with world-class beaches and surfing.

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