Trekking through Cloud Forests and Tea Plantations

10 Days, 9 Nights

Trek through Sri Lanka’s cloud forests, tea plantations, past rushing streams and cascading waterfalls on an overland journey by foot. Travel by rail to the quaint village of Haputale deep in Sri Lanka’s cool high-lands, trek to Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall, and meet the locals of Meemure, a tiny village that time forgot. Paddle down the Kelani River nestled in the folds of the Knuckles Mountain Range.

Trip Highlights

  • Summit the sacred pilgrimage site of Adam’s Peak on a sunrise trek that will reward you with breathtaking views
  • Take one of the world’s most atmospheric train journeys through the cloud forests and tea plantations of Sri Lanka’s highlands
  • Trek through the Horton Plains to the End of the World, to the top of a 4,000 meter plateau with expansive views
Price
$1775 USD per person
Trip Activities
Trekking, rafting
Trip Length
10 Days, 9 Nights
Physical Level
Enthusiast
Start/End
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Accommodation
Hotel (7 nights)
Adventure Lodge (1 night)
Camping (1 night)
Age
Minimum 16 years of age
Meals not included
Lunch, Breakfast Day 1
Lunch, Dinner Day 10
Flights Included
None

Day-by-day Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1
Arrive in Colombo
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 1
Description

When you arrive in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, we’ll meet you at the airport, drive you to your hotel and help you with check-in. How you spend your first night in Sri Lanka is up to you. Feel free to take an evening stroll through town or get your first taste of Sri Lankan food. But we do recommend getting a full night’s sleep, because the next few days will be quite active.

Transfer Time: 1 hour Included Meals: Dinner Accommodation: Zmax Fairway Hotel

Meals
  • Dinner
Accommodation
Day 2
Colombo, Adams Peak
Activities
  • Trekking: 2.5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 5
Description

After breakfast, we’ll go on a tour that introduces us to the rapidly changing face of Colombo. This capital city is seeing fast development, especially after the end of the three-decade-long Sri Lankan Civil War that rocked much of the north. Almost overnight, skyscrapers have taken the place of old buildings, but some neighborhoods still retain its old-world charm.

We’ll visit a hundred-year-old clock tower and several British-built colonial structures. We’ll also stop by Pettah Bazaar to feel its frenetic energy and maybe do a little window-shopping. We’ll continue to a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple, residential areas where you find some stately homes, the Colombo museum, the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (which was a gift from the People's Republic of China, the new Parliament and the Dutch Museum.

After we’ve wandered down the most interesting city streets, we’ll settle in for our 5-hour drive to Adam’s Peak, a sacred mountain and pilgrimage site in Central Sri Lanka. After checking in to our hotel located in the mountain’s surrounding forest reserve, it’s best to get some sleep to prepare for our nighttime climb of Adam’s Peak (2,243 m).

We’ll rise at around 3 a.m. for our sunrise assault on Adam’s Peak (this hike is only possible from December to April). Thousands of pilgrims trek Adam’s Peak every year to visit the sacred rock known as Sri Pada, or ‘sacred footprint’. This rock formation that measures roughly 2 meters long is revered by many world religions: Buddhists believe the formation to be the footprint of the Buddha, Hindus believe it is the footprint of Shiva, and Muslims and Christians believe it is the footprint of Adam or Saint Thomas.

It will take roughly 2.5 hours to summit the mountain. As you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views as the sun rises. The surrounding forest is home to numerous species of birds and butterflies—a nature lover’s dream.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 3
Adams Peak, Haputale
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 2.5
Description

After returning from your sunrise summit, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel or head back to bed without any pressure to meet any obligations for the rest of the morning.

In the afternoon, we’ll board a train bound for the cloud forests of Haputale for one of the greatest train journeys in the world. We’ll wind past dramatic landscapes of Sri Lanka’s southern highlands, where vast tea plantations cover the hilly slopes and gushing waterfalls cascade down cliff faces. The train leaves the station at 14:30 and arrives in Haputale at 17:00.

Tonight after dinner, get a good night’s rest to prepare for an adventurous hike tomorrow.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 4
Haputale, Ohiya
Activities
  • Trekking: 6 hours
Transfers
None
Description

We’ll rise early for breakfast before embarking on one of the longest hikes of this Sri Lanka trekking tour.

We’ll walk through the Thangamalai Forest Reserve through Eucalyptus forests and past rushing streams, enjoying the fresh, cool air of the highlands. We’ll have lunch on the road and continue hiking through the vast tea estates of Idalgashinna. The scenery of the hill country is mesmerizing, with its jagged horizons, rural roads, rare wildlife and remote tea-farming villages. We think there’s no better place to view the southern area of the country. We’ll continue to hike until we reach Ohiya, which will take about six hours.

At Ohiya, check in to the hotel and relax, commending yourself on a 15-kilometer trek well done. Be sure to rest well tonight, perhaps taking a hot shower to soothe your tired legs, as we’ll have another beautiful but long walk ahead of us the next day.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5
Ohiya, Nuwara Eliya
Activities
  • Trekking: 5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 2
Description

After breakfast, we strike out in the crisp morning air for a hike through hilly tea plantations and rural villages to the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. On the way, we’ll stop for lunch and a swim at a small but scenic waterfall tucked into the folds of the forested hills.

We’ll continue to Bambarakanda Falls, located in a majestic basin bordered by towering cliff faces and dark green forests of pine and tropical trees. Here, we’ll come face to face with the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, which free-falls 263 meters down a sheer cliff between Mt Welihena and Mt Bambaragala.

From Bambarakanda, we’ll give our legs a rest and transfer the rest of the way to Nuwara Eliya by car.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 6
Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains, Knuckles Conservation Forest
Activities
  • Trekking: 2.5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 5
Description

We’ll rise early again today for a relaxed, three-house hike to Horton Plains National Park. The wild expanse of Horton Plains, characterized by a mixture of grasslands and forests including the last montane forest in the country, is the only national park in Sri Lanka where visitors are allowed to roam around freely inside. Here, we’ll visit the multi-tiered cascades of Bakers Falls and summit the sheer, 4,000-meter-high cliff and vantage point known as World’s End. Horton Plains National Park is distinct in its utter solitude. You may not meet more than half a dozen people in a whole day.

Situated 7,000 feet above sea level, the walk to ‘World's End’ and "Little World's End" offers some of the most breathtaking views in Sri Lanka. Birders should also be on the lookout for chances to spot the five endemic bird species that can be seen only at this altitude. These species include the Sri Lanka bush warbler, dull-blue flycatcher, yellow-eared bulbul, the elusive Sri Lanka whistling thrush and the Sri Lanka woodpigeon. Animal lovers can also watch for some interesting resident mammals, such as the sambar deer, slender loris, bear monkey and, if you’re very lucky, a leopard.

After our day in the quietude of Horton Plains, we’ll drive the rest of the way to Knuckles Conservation Range.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 7
Knuckles Conservation Forest
Activities
  • Trekking: 4.5 hours
Transfers
None
Description

Fuel up on breakfast today for our 12-kilometer, round-trip trek to the unique hamlet of Meemure. Until recently, most of rural villages in the Knuckles Mountain Range remained hidden in the forest and untouched by outside influences due to their utter remoteness. Village life went on as it always had, despite Sri Lanka’s rapid development. Isolated both geographically and culturally, villages like Meemure—where the local population only numbers 400—retained their cultural heritage for several centuries.

Meemure is located in the shadow of Lakagala Mountain, which locals believe is the place where the ten-headed King Ravana of Hindu legend flew his mythological aircraft, the Dhadu Monara. Surrounded by the mountains and forests of Knuckles, Meemure offers a true glimpse at traditional Sri Lankan rural life, where the pace remains unhurried and lives are lived in harmony with nature and cultural traditions.

For lunch, sit down to a picnic on the banks of the Dindi Oya stream that runs near Meemure. If you’d like, take a dip in the natural rock pools before trekking back to the hotel.

In the evening, why not take it easy and lounge in the fresh air, watching the sunset or enjoying an early evening drink? For dinner, enjoy some spicy Sri Lankan dishes at the hotel.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 8
Knuckles Conservation Forest
Activities
  • Trekking: 4.5 hours
Transfers
None
Description

This morning after breakfast, begin your hike through the cloud forest to Kumbukgolla Village. Once there, we’ll meet the village elders and learn of the ancient legends that are so sacred to this area. You’ll be invited to try a cup of tea sweetened with Sri Lankan kithul jaggery, which is made from a blossoming palm plant.

After thanking our hosts, we’ll continue our hike to the beautiful curtains of cool water at Sera Ella Falls. Take a seat and relax in the cave behind the cascading water of Sera Ella, letting the cool mist spray your face. If you’d like, take an enviograting dip in the crystal-clear but chilly water of the Thelgamu Oya River. We’ll trek back to our hotel whenever you’re ready.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 9
Knuckles Conservation Forest, Kitulgala
Activities
  • Rafting: 1.5 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 3.5
Description

We’ll rise early and have breakfast at the hotel to fuel up for our drive out of Knuckles Conservation Forest and into one of the most scenic locations in Sri Lanka. Kitulgala is one of the wettest regions of the country and is a popular hub for adventures and activities in nature, such as white water rafting.

We’ll go on our own rafting excursion on the Kelani River, which offers stretches of boulder-strewn rapids as well as calm sections to float past the landscapes of thick jungle, tea farms and rubber plantations. In the evening, we’ll visit the home of a local family that lives in Kitulgala. Inviting us into their kitchen, they’ll teach us how to cook traditional Sri Lankan dishes, and we’ll all sit down to dinner together.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Ceylon Adventure Camp
Day 10
Departure
Activities
None
Transfers
  • Van: 3
Description

Today after breakfast, we’ll drive you to the Columbo Airport and wish you a safe return journey.

Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
None