This 10-day itinerary showcases the best of Sri Lanka's mountain treks, including hikes through tea plantations, lush rainforest and protected parkland. On this journey, you can expect superlative views of the Southern and Central Highlands while encountering local pilgrims, native birds and wildlife, and millennia-old ruins. At the end of your journey, enjoy a recuperative night at a beach resort in Negombo before heading back to Colombo.
|Trek along the pilgrimage route to Adam's Peak for sunrise views Hike through the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya Visit to Kandy, ancient capital of the Kandy Kingdom Explore the biologically-diverse forests of Knuckles Range||
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Begin your 10-day Sri Lanka trekking adventure in Colombo, where you'll be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel. You'll have the chance to freshen up before heading out on a sightseeing tour of the Sri Lankan capital, visiting must-see sights such as Gangarama Temple, the National Museum and the sleek Seema Malaka Temple. In Colombo, we recommend staying in one of the city's luxurious colonial-style hotels, such as Park Street or the Tintagel, located in the city center.
Today, drive three hours to Kitulgala, a small scenic town located in lush rainforest on the bank of the Kelani River. From here, you'll embark upon a forest trek of around 10 miles, crossing the Kelani River and ascending the Seven Maidens Mountains. Along the way, you'll pass through small villages and tea plantations. Alternatively, you can walk the nature trail through Makandawa rainforest, where you can spot endemic Sri Lankan wildlife and a wide array of colorful birds. In the evening, check into your colonial bungalow at the luxurious Ceylon Tea Trails property, set in the fertile landscape of Sri Lankan tea country.
Today you'll set out on a trek of Sri Pada, Adam's Peak. It's a distance of 7.5 miles to get to the top of the mountain, at 7,400 feet above sea level – a trip of roughly four hours. The trip is usually done at night – starting just after midnight – so you reach the peak in time for daybreak. As a popular pilgrimage route, you will most likely meet others on their way to the temple at the top. Return to Ceylon Tea Trails in the afternoon and relax in your spacious bungalow.
After enjoying a hearty butler-served breakfast in your room, you'll travel to Haputale in the southern highlands. Haputale is a quiet town of mist-covered mountain peaks and tea plantations. Today, you'll walk up to Lipton Seat in the Dambetenna Estate, named after tea pioneer Sir Thomas Lipton. His favorite vantage point, Lipton Seat, is at around 6,200 feet elevation, and the view extends for miles over verdant valleys and tea-covered hills. Walk down through Naya Bedde Estate, then drive to Nuwara Eliya. Here, you'll check into the Tudor-style Grand Hotel.
Today you'll leave the hotel early for a picnic breakfast in Horton Plains, around 20 miles from Nuwara Eliya. This national parkland is located on a plateau at an elevation of around 7,000 feet. One of its main attractions is World's End, a sheer drop of around 2,800 feet. You have time to explore Horton Plains today, keeping an eye out for native birdlife, unique flora and resident animals such as bear monkeys and Sambar deer. Once back in Nuwara Eliya, you'll embark upon a trek to Single Tree Hill and the high-altitude village of Shantipura. You'll enjoy the vistas from Uda Radella viewpoint before returning to your hotel.
Enjoy a scenic train ride from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy, where you will begin with an expedition to Udawatta Kele Sanctuary. This expansive reserve once served as a pleasure forest for Kandy royalty and is now home to a rich array of bird species, tropical plants and mammals. It also houses Buddhist dwellings and rock shelters for hermit monks. After exploring Udawatta, visit the nearby Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of Kandy's most important and popular sites, said to possess a tooth of Siddhartha Buddha.
Drive to Central Sri Lanka today for a trek from Knuckles Range to Deanston Park. This trip will take you via Corbet's Gap, showcasing the distinct eco-systems of the country in a single location, with endemic species of birds and animals across several strata. The five peaks here resemble a closed fist, hence the name Knuckles Range. After today's trek, you'll be driven to Heritance Kandalama Hotel, literally covered in greenery and offering far-reaching views over national parkland and Kandalama reservoir.
In the morning, you'll drive to Lion Rock, Sigiriya Rock Fortress. This historic site once housed a palace on its peak and still retains ancient frescoes and water gardens. A staircase guarded by the Lion Gate climbs the 650-foot rise to the top, where you can explore its 5th-century ruins and enjoy 360-degree views of the surrounding wilderness. In the afternoon, you'll trek for a few hours through the forests around the Heritance Kandalama, before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Drive to the coastal town of Negombo today and enjoy a boat trip into the wetlands of Muthurajawela. This area is rich with wildlife, including a wide range of water bird species, water monitors, crocodiles and pythons. In Negombo, you can spend the evening trying out restaurants and bars or just relax at your beachside resort – we recommend the Jetwing Beach Hotel, a modern property with a pool, luxurious spa and direct beach access.
Say goodbye to Sri Lanka today as you check out of your hotel and are transferred to Colombo, where you will check in for your departing flight to your next destination.
The dramatic and sultry Tintagel property is located in central Colombo, close to Colombo Town Hall, National Art Gallery and Sinhalese Sports Club. The hotel was previously home to three of Sri Lanka’s political leaders, making it an important structure of national heritage. This unique and intimate hotel boasts ten high-ceilinged suites with timber floors, lavishly decorated with a unique blend of color, texture and atmosphere. The spacious bathrooms feature rain showers, bathtubs and large vanities. All rooms include complimentary WiFi, LCD TV screens with DVD/CD players, a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and Egyptian cotton bedding. Selected suites come with a private courtyard or a balcony. There are a range of dining facilities including an alfresco restaurant, a chic indoor restaurant offering international cuisine, a private dining room and a bar with black leather lounges and bronze tables. Other facilities and services of the hotel include a spa with optional in-room service, swimming pool, gym, steam room, library and courtyard.
Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon, is one of the world's historic centers of tea production, replete with rolling green hills and genteel plantation homes. Ceylon Tea Trails, run by the Dilmah Tea Company, has restored four classic colonial bungalows built for British tea estate managers in the days of the Raj. These historic houses offer guests the unique experience of life on a working tea estate in the highlands (elevation here is over 4,000 feet). The bungalows range in size from four to six rooms and two have their own pools. Summerville and Castlereagh are situated opposite each other on the shores of the Castlereagh Lake, Norwood is at the other end of the valley about 15 minutes away by car and Tientsin is about 30 minutes away in the next valley. Maintained trails with beautiful views run between all the bungalows, and through the surrounding hillsides and plantations. Each house comes with its own manager, chef, butler and houseboys; in-house massage appointments can be arranged. Meals and afternoon tea are prepared by your private chef using gourmet ingredients and produce grown right on the property, and can be served indoors or on the lawn.
Designed by famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the unique Heritance Kandalama hotel is set into a cliff face among dense tropical forests, flanked by the Dambulla rock temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel’s buildings were planned to blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment and are covered with hanging vines and flowering plants. Each of the 152 rooms faces either Kandalama Lake or the forest – even the bathrooms were planned to showcase the view – and is decorated in an elegantly simple contemporary style. The Kandalama is the first Green Globe 21-certified hotel in Asia, and the first hotel in the world to be awarded the prestigious LEED Green Building certification. There are three restaurants to choose from, including the Kanchana Café, which has won multiple awards. Among The Kandalama’s amenities are a pool, business center and fitness center, while the world-renowned Six Senses Spa has a location here that offers Asian, Swedish, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massage.
In a haven of tranquility, hugging Sri Lanka’s immaculate western coast’s golden shoreline, lies Jetwing Beach, the winner of 2013 Certificate of Excellence and member to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. This lavish beach resort is one of Negombo’s finest hotels, offering a relaxing holiday in sophisticated comfort. Designed by one of Sri Lanka’s top architects, Geoffrey Bawa, this exquisite resort enables you to wind in hours of recreational beach fun, revitalize in invigorating spa wellness treatments, indulge in mouthwatering Sri Lankan dishes and rich international cuisine in one of several dining venues, and take advantage of the gorgeous swimming pool. Your day will always end on a high note, as you watch the stunning sun drop off the edge of the horizon, illuminating the sky into warm shades of pink, yellow, orange and red.