Trek the enchanting terrain of the Teardrop Isle
Venture off the tourist trail and uncover the raw beauty of Sri Lankan paradise on this heart-pumping, soul-warming, active adventure that takes you behind the scenes of this irresistible island. Trek deep into steamy jungles amid birdlife and butterflies, traverse the undulating peaks and folds of misty mountain ranges, climb winding staircases to the grounds of an ancient fortress, meander through tea plantations dotted with quaint villages and cool down on a hike through the picturesque highlands – then reward your efforts with an epic sunrise on the summit of Adam’s peak, panoramic vistas from the crown of Sigiriya and a lazy day on the palm-fringed beach of Unawatuna. So, lace up your boots and pack your sense of adventure as you prepare to traverse the enchanting terrain of the Teardrop Isle.
- Traverse the unique peaks and folds of the Knuckles Mountain Range, uncovering the paths to remote villages and camping by secluded waterfalls.
- Soak up the stunning vistas from atop Sri Lanka’s rock-star monument, Sigiriya, after climbing the 1200 steps to the summit of the ancient rock fortress.
- Connect with a side of the Teardrop Isle that traverses off the tourist trail and trek the diverse landscapes that make up this island slice of paradise.
- Venture to the summit of Adam’s Peak under moonlight and be rewarded with a mind-blowing sunrise that will imprinted in your memory for years to come.
- Relax and unwind with a full day of freedom in the palm-fringed paradise of Unawatuna – reward those aching legs with a day on the beach, a dip in the ocean or an indulgent massage – the choice is yours!
Day 1: Negombo
Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. If you arrive early, get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and perhaps feasting on fresh seafood. This evening, perhaps head out for a meal with your fellow travellers for your first taste of Sri Lankan cuisine.
Day 2: Sigiriya
After breakfast, leave the beaches of Negombo behind and travel inland by private vehicle to Sri Lanka’s rock-star monument – Sigiriya. Formed from the magma of an extinct volcano, the dramatic rock fortress’s near-vertical walls soar 200 metres above the lush central plains and surrounding jungle and are crowned by the ruins of an ancient civilisation at the plateau. The highlight of Sigiriya does not come easy, and it’s here that the first test of your trekking legs comes into play. Prepare yourself for the 2.5-hour round trip as you climb 1200 steps across a series of winding, steep staircases that grasp the vertical facade of the fortress, until you reach the incredible ancient remains that rest on the plateau. It’s here that you experience the highlight of Sigiriya – pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and reap the well-earned reward of jaw-dropping views over the vast jungle canopy and distant misty mountain peaks that stretch far out into the Sri Lankan sunset. (B)
Day 3: Knuckles Mountain Range
Rise and shine for an early morning drive by private vehicle to Illukkumbura Forest Conservation Centre where the real trekking begins! The 234-square-kilometre UNESCO World Heritage Site, Knuckles Mountain Range gets its name from the landscape’s unique folds and peaks that resemble the knuckles of a clenched fist. Your hike begins with a picturesque trail up to Manigala. As you walk, soak up the beauty of the Riverston mountains and river valley on your right and the mountain forest patches of the Knuckles Conservation Forest on your left – a clear day on the trail rewards you with a stunning view of Doovili Ella Waterfall, as it cascades 40 metres down through the lush jungle. Continue to trek to your campsite, located on the banks of Thelgamu Oya river and freshen up with a dip in the cooling waters. This evening, why not join the group for an optional evening walk to Pitawala Pathana plains to witness the magnificent vistas from the ‘mini world’s end’. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Knuckles Mountain Range
After breakfast, cross the river and venture further away from civilisation, to the recently abandoned Walpolamulla village. Continue to trek deep into the dense flora and fauna until you reach a beautiful waterfall, which marks the location for tonight’s camp. Isolated in the heart of the thick jungle, the closest village is a 6 to 7 hour walk away! (B, L, D)
Day 5: Knuckles Mountain Range
Today is your longest day of walking (18 kilometres), so fuel up with a simple breakfast before embarking on the trek down to Narangamuwa village, located in the far north corner of the Knuckles Conservation Forest. Once you’ve reached the village campsite, perhaps join the locals for a friendly game of cricket – the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. (B, L, D)
Day 6: Kandy
This morning, begin trekking towards to the south side of the jungle – occasionally catching a glimpse of the colossal Lakegala rock in the distance. After approximately 6 kilometres, enter Meemure village, which is recorded as one of most remote villages in Sri Lanka. Walk further up through the few local townships until eventually arriving at Corbert’s Gap for lunch with a view! Afterwards, say goodbye to the nature of Knuckles and hello to the bustling big city as you hop in your private vehicle transfer and drive to Kandy. (B, L)
Day 7: Kandy
Kandy is a pleasant city surrounded by lush green countryside, home to a picturesque lake, old shops, a bustling market and some great restaurants. Your day is free, so perhaps head out and indulge in some of Kandy’s natural and historical attractions. Or simply lounge poolside in order to rest and recuperate ready for the hiking days ahead. This evening, why not observe locals worshipping in Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), one of Sri Lanka’s most sacred shrines that houses a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha, or perhaps contrast the holy hush of the temple with the booming, energetic drums that accompany the elaborately costumed performers of a Kandyan dance show. If you’re feeling peckish, you can follow the sound of rhythmic chopping to watch a chef transform a ball of dough into a huge sheet of wafer-thin roti, skilfully slice, griddle, mix with vegetables and spices and create Kotthu Roti – you’ve earned it! (B)
Day 8: Hatton
This morning, enjoy a scenic train ride to Hatton Station before taking a private vehicle to Dalhousie, a village within the beautifully landscaped Nuwara Eliya District, and the perfect base for avid hikers looking to climb Adam’s Peak. Rest up this evening before beginning your hike at 12 am, yes – midnight! There won’t be much of a view when you’re walking in the low-lit glow of moonlight, but witnessing the sunrise burst through the morning sky from the peak of the mountain is worth every step in the dark. (B, D)
Day 9: Haputale
After witnessing the epic sunrise, enjoy a packed breakfast on the peak before soaking up the incredible views over Sri Lanka’s southern valley as you descend the south side of the mountain, eventually reaching the city of Ratnapura. From here, jump into your private vehicle and perhaps catch up on some sleep as you drive to Haputale, a picturesque town surrounded by hills and covered with cloud forests. (B, L)
Day 10: Bandarawela
Immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s highlands as you embark on a picturesque hike from Haputale to Bandarawela – through the verdant surrounds of the region’s tea plantations and past the small Tamil villages that dot the undulating countryside. During the trek, there will be plenty of opportunity to witness the local tea pickers at work – and of course, the chance to reward your hiking efforts with a refreshing cup of Sri Lankan brew straight from the source! Arrive in Bandarawela and soak up the rural charm of the town and the beautiful surrounding landscapes. (B, L)
Day 11: Unawatuna
Early this morning, transfer by private vehicle to Ballaketuwa where you’ll begin the hike towards Randeniya. For the first few kilometres, walk through the iconic tea plantations that define Sri Lankan countryside, while taking in continuous beautiful views of Ella Gap and the southern plains. After two hours, the dynamic shifts as you enter the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Meander through the mix of gardens and small jungle patches before following the river and rice paddy fields for the last leg of the trek. After lunch, head to the beachside town of Unawatuna in your private vehicle and enjoy a relaxing evening at your leisure in palm-fringed paradise. (B, L)
Day 12: Unawatuna
Sleep in! And enjoy a free day of rest and relaxation in the beautiful beach town of Unawatuna. (B)
Day 13: Colombo
After breakfast, drive by private vehicle to Galle before catching the train to the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. On arrival, join your leader on a visit to a local bazaar, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Colombo on a Saturday, visit Good Market – a local market full of stalls showcasing social enterprises and responsible businesses. This evening, you might like to head out with the group for a final dinner to celebrate your journey together. (B)
Day 14: Colombo
Your Sri Lankan adventure comes to an end this morning and you’re free to depart at any time after breakfast. (B)
- Meals: 13 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 4 dinners
- Transport: Private vehicle, Train
- Accommodation: Camping (basic facilities) (3 nights), Hotel (10 nights)
Images courtesy of IntrepidGroup