Hiking + Trekking in Sri Lanka
Don your comfiest shoes and prepare for a journey that will take you from the precipice of ancient mountains right down into the heart of wild jungle canopies. This 13-day trekking tour is a must for travellers looking to weave cultural colour with natural grace. From diving to the depths of the Indian Ocean to standing atop the sacred Sigiriya Rock, riding trains across vistas of tea plantations and seeking wildlife in cloud forests – this tour will out you in touch with Sri Lanka’s natural energy.
From the Sky to the Sea
After touching down in the tea heavy floral scented lands of Sri Lanka, a representative is waiting with a smile to whisk you away to Negombo. Sitting prettily on the wild wonder of the western coast, Negombo is a diver’s delight boasting half a dozen bountiful blue dive sites. From razor sharp reefs littered with rainbow fish to sunken wrecks of ships and fallen WWII aircrafts, you can drift through this underwater universe emblazed with bold colour.
Gin + Tonic Jeep Tours
After a lingering breakfast overlooking the salt tang of the ocean, its time to drive to Sigiriya – the sacred space that locals call the eighth wonder of the world.
This afternoon, combine the best of pleasures with a gin and tonic safari jeep tour of the Minneriya National Park. Famed for its dazzling herds of roaming elephants, there is nothing more intoxicating than watching a matriarchal family of elephants come crashing from the jungle to splash in the lake.
Ancient Fortresses + Lakeside Villages
This morning step straight into the heart of the Cultural Triangle to see the splendour of the Sigiriya Rock Temple. This sprawling archeological site dates to the 5th century, at the epicenter stands a soaring 80-meter granite rock fortress adorned with fascinating frescoes. Explore the water gardens, duck between boulders and climb up to the crumbling ruins of the palace perched on top of the world.
Leave the mythical rock temple behind and trek down to a local village. Passing a manmade reservoir, you will slip through exotic marshlands where butterflies gather, where birds hum a melody and where crocs slip into the deep-water depths. Some locals may be out washing their wares along the banks. It’s the perfect experience for soaking up the sunlight and natural colors of the countryside.
Sunrise Climbs + Tea Trade Trails
Wake early and hike the famed Pidurangala Rock to witness the first light of day slice through the bewitching landscape. The dramatic peaks rise from a plateau of green, sitting on the site of an ancient Buddhist monastery where a brick buddha in the caves can be traced back to the 5th century. Take breakfast at the summit and watch the sky lace the land in gold and fringes of pink.
After a meditative morning on the rock you can continue your journey towards Kandy – the epicenter of Sri Lanka’s ancient tea trade.
Gardens of Forgotten Kingdoms
Stock up on a big breakfast in preparation for your trek of Udawatta Kele. The historic forest reserve clinging to the hill ridges of Kandy was once known as the gardens above the royal palace during the days of the mighty Kandyan kingdom. The dense and humid forest is a sanctuary for small mammals and a glorious collection of shrubs and trees.
Here, the light is said to break through the trees evaporating the morning mists and dew drops that cling to creeping ivy, bamboo, and peaceful forest glades dashed with the bright blue wings of kingfishers hunting breakfast.
The Allure of ‘Little England’
Travel from the shimmering tea plantations of Kandy through Hill Country and to Nuwara Eliya. Sitting at a dizzying altitude of 1,868 meters, the subtropical paradise hits that perfect height to host an endless array of blooming flowers, fat vegetables, and curious eyed creatures.
This area is fondly referred to as “Little England’ thanks to its haughty hedgerows, charming gardens, and colonial era homes sitting amidst the froth of flowers. Wandering through the cooler climate, climbing craggy hills and finishing with a round of golf or sipping sweet tea in one of the nearby plantations is the perfect way to wile away the day.
The End of the World
Take a rambling drive over to the Horton Plains National Park where mornings are cloaked in a white swirl – testament to Horton’s status as a cloud forest. Yet, before the mist rolls in you can take an early morning walk to admire the tea plantations and toy like villages clinging to the chasm of the deep green valley. The emerald plateau is a wonderful walk, offering hikes the chance to traverse to the end where suddenly the floor plunges into a deep dark escarpment known as ‘Worlds End’.
This afternoon, after the cloud has halted your tracks, head back to Nuwara Eliya for an afternoon city tour learning all about the heritage of the golden bygone era that soaked the hillside town.
Purely Poetic Train Journeys
Hailed as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, the railroad from Nuwara Eliya to Ella is purely poetic. Roll down from the mountains, past sprawling tea plantations, moving mists, low hanging cloud and tumbling waterfalls. From the comfort of your seat you can watch the blur of brightly dressed local women at work – picking tea leaves in the verdant fields. Passing into Ella, this will be your home for the night.
The leisurely hillside town is the perfect stop off point – beloved for its far-reaching views through the Ella Gap, its glorious little guesthouses and its skies full to the brim of blossoming stars.
Walking the Footsteps of Adams Peak
Today its time for a light trek up one of Sri Lanka’s most majestic mountains – Adams Peak. Lofty enough to puncture the clouds, the holy mountain of Sri Pada has been capturing the imagination of pilgrims for centuries. Adams Peak is a place of mighty myth and legends.
It is said to be the spot where Adams first footstep fell after being flung from heaven. It is said to be the sacred footprint left by Buddha as be ascended to paradise. It is also said to be the place where fluttering butterflies go to lay down their head and die.
After a gentle adventure around the trails of Adams Peak you can continue to Udawalawa to visit the baby elephants in Transit Home. With over thirty-five wild and orphaned elephants, the Transit Home provides care for these gentle creatures until they are strong enough to be reintroduced to the wild. Watching these big babies trundle around, gulp milk, and tumble with their playmates will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
Discovering the Lion King Canopy
After breakfast, you will continue your journey to Galle, but not before stopping en route to trek the stunning evergreen forest of Sinharaja. The Lion King canopy forest straddles the heart of the regions wet zone, making for a shimmering display of exotic flora and fauna. Dark earthy soils give way to towering trees and the ecosystem is complex, vast and a veritable paradise. The area has been awarded UNESCO heritage status and trekking through the canopy lends a chance of sighting slinking leopards, Indian elephants, and purple faced langurs.
A Gorgeous Scene in Galle
The UNESCO jewel of Galle offers a feast of the exotic and the extraordinary. Colonial buildings stand beside ornate mosques, candy whipped mansions, and stylish cafes. There is still a sense of old trading port personality, but it comes with a dash of artistic vision and lashings of culture.
Your fascinating guide will unveil the mysteries and legends that lay behind the famous Galle Fort offering an interactive tour that invites you to tumble down the rabbit hole of colonial life. It’s not only your mind that will be stimulated with the stories of Monkey Gods and fruit winding down the Amazon, but your tastebuds will also be tantalized as you untangle from the tour and explore Galle’s glorious dining scene.
Boutiques + Beaches
Take the whole day at leisure to explore more of Galle’s glorious sights and sounds. Duck into the lovely boutiques for a touch of final souvenir shopping, take lunch at one of the charming cafes, and lose yourself in the rambling winding lanes brimming with fascinating photogenic moments. Those craving the feel of saltwater or to try their hand at surfing and whale watching can take a rickshaw to the breezy beach town of Unawatuna close by.
Farewell Sri Lanka
Today may be the day you leave the lush landscapes of Sri Lanka behind, but the memories of trundling train rides, hiking the soaring hills, and pouring tea in the soft light of the afternoon are sure to stay firmly wedged in your heart.
12 nights' accommodation, meals as indicated by travel agent, transportation in air-conditioned car, entrance fees, Guided Visits: Sigiriya Rock Fortress + Elephant Transit Home, Minneriya Jeep Safari, Pidurangala, Udawattakale, Horton Plains, Mini Adam’s Peak + Sinharaja Trekking Tours, Gin + Tonic, Breakfast in Pidurutalagala, Train Ride, Local Village Visit.
Few islands in the world offer the diversity of Sri Lanka. From the vibrant + chaotic capital of Colombo, the central plains of the Cultural Triangle, tea plantations, exotic wildlife in national parks to coastlines of palm-fringed crescent shaped beaches.
On a different latitude but just as diverse and a little more cosmopolitan, Singapore has redefined itself as one of the great culinary cities of the world to be enjoyed over several days + not just a stopover.
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