With expansive national parks, peaceful reservoirs, and rushing rivers, Sri Lanka is a paradise for outdoor adventurers. This 7-day tour, well-suited to families and active travelers of all ages, leads you around the country's natural wonders. Go whitewater rafting on the Kelani River, trek through the Knuckles Mountain Range, look for elusive leopards in Horton Plains National Park, and paddle a canoe through the quiet waters of Samanalawewa — it's all on the agenda.

Highlights

  • Go on a trekking adventure in the Knuckles Mountain Range
  • Enjoy whitewater rafting on the Kelani River 
  • Spot native wildlife in Horton Plains National Park
  • Canoe on the peaceful Samanalawewa Reservoir

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Explore "Little Rome" in Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Hike Through Spectacular Scenery in Knuckles Knuckles
Day 3 Go Trekking & Visit Temples in Kandy Kandy
Day 4 Visit a Traditional Village & Raft on the Kelani River  Nuwara Eliya
Day 5 Discover Horton Plains National Park Belihuloya
Day 6 Explore the Capital City of Colombo Colombo
Day 7 Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Explore "Little Rome" in Negombo

Negombo Beach
A traditional sailboat on Negombo Beach

Welcome to Sri Lanka! You'll start in Negombo, known as “Little Rome” for its strong Catholic influence. The town transitioned through Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial rule, and remnants of those cultures remain today. The city's intriguing past will reveal itself as you meander past colonial architecture and quiet canals to reach a lagoon abundant with marine life. Local fishermen have been harvesting lobsters, crabs, and prawns here for centuries. Take a stroll on the beach, then stop by a lively fish market before you take a break for dinner. 

Day 2: Hike Through Spectacular Scenery in Knuckles

 A picturesque waterfall in the Knuckles Mountain Range

Explore the Knuckles Mountain Range, without a doubt one of the most scenic parts of the Sri Lankan highlands and a true paradise for those who love hiking and mountain biking. The scenic trails will lead you across the mountains, across crystal clear rivers, and through dense forests to flowing waterfalls, lush tea plantations, and traditional little villages. Surrounded by colorful home gardens and terraced paddy fields, you'll feel a world away from fast-paced city life. The Knuckles area also represents a great variety of different forest types and climate zones, which makes it a perfect destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts of all kinds.

Day 3: Go Trekking & Visit Temples in Kandy

Hiking in Sri Lanka's highlands

Take a hike this morning, heading along a trail towards the famed Manigala Rock in Riverstone. You'll break for lunch before continuing with cultural sightseeing in the afternoon. Then it's onward to Kandy, strategically situated between three mountain ranges, and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The impressive temple complex, dating back to the 16th century, is made up of numerous buildings decorated with paintings and carvings depicting Buddha. As the name suggests, it's home to an important relic, the tooth of the Buddha, which is carefully guarded by security night and day. 

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Day 4: Visit a Traditional Village & Raft on the Kelani River 

Visiting a traditional drum-making village in the suburbs of Kandy

In the morning, visit a traditional village in the suburbs of Kandy to learn about how drums are made. Then it's time for another outdoor adventure. The climate in Kitulgala is humid throughout the year, which makes it an ideal destination for whitewater rafting. Today you'll enjoy a thrilling adventure on the whitewater sections of the Kelani River, a fun excursion for both beginners and experts. Prior to the two-hour river run, you will be given instructions, learn paddling techniques, and receive education on river rescue procedures. You'll spend the night in Nuwara Eliya.

Day 5: Discover Horton Plains National Park

Horton Plains National Park
Beautiful scenery in Horton Plains National Park

Today you'll go trekking in the famous Horton Plains National Park, a reserve characterized by a beautiful landscape of rolling hills, forests, and grassland. It's home to various mammal species, including elk, deer, giant squirrel, wild boar, wild hare, porcupine, and leopard. The park also has unique vegetation and offers a perfect ground to observe many rare and endemic highland birds. One particularly impressive physical feature in Horton Plains is the escarpment that falls dramatically to the lowlands. Aptly known as the "World’s End," the precipice offers a fabulous view of the tea estates below. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to the distant southern coastline. In the evening, you'll have the chance to go canoeing in Samanalawewa Reservoir.

Day 6:  Explore the Capital City of Colombo

Street Food
A street food stall in Colombo

A melting pot of cultures and commerce, the capital of Colombo is a lively city with a fascinating history. Arab sailors once frequented these ports to trade with the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists that occupied the city. Today, Colombo has something from everyone. Go on a drive through the city's commercial center, where grand colonial-era buildings stand alongside modern hotels and office structures. Explore the vibrant markets and bazaars in Pettah, then dine on Sri Lankan specialties at a local restaurant on your last night of the trip.

Day 7: Depart 

Colombo cityscape

After breakfast, you'll be off to the airport to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

More Great Sri Lanka Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these otherSri Lanka itineraries, with active adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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