One of the best ways to explore Sri Lanka is on your own two feet, exploring quiet trails and beautiful landscapes on a guided trekking tour. This weeklong adventure takes you to Horton Plains National Park, Ella Rock, the famed Hill Country, and several other destinations for hiking, canoeing, and appreciating native wildlife. You'll also visit ancient temples and learn about the harvesting and production of tea, adding a cultural element to this outdoorsy itinerary.

Highlights

  • Hike to the top of Pidurangala Rock for incredible views
  • Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
  • Trek in Hill Country & Horton Plains National Park
  • Learn About Tea Production in Nuwara Eliya
  • Venture to the summit of Ella Rock

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Discover the Ancient Rock Fortress of Sigiriya Sigiriya
Day 2 Hike to the Top of Pidurangala Rock & Tour Kandy Kandy
Day 3 Trek & Learn About Tea in Nuwara Eliya Nuwara Eliya
Day 4 Explore Horton Plains National Park Ella
Day 5 Ascend Ella Rock Belihuloya
Day 6 Hike Around Kinchigune & Sightsee in Negombo Negombo
Day 7 Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Discover the Ancient Rock Fortress of Sigiriya

Aerial view of Sigiriya Rock
An aerial view of Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Start at the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Some say the site should be named the eighth wonder of the world. The name translates to "Lion Rock," a reference to the way visitors traditionally began their final ascent to the top of the monument, passing through the open jaws and throat of a lion. Unfortunately, the only remains of this lion figure today are the gigantic paws sculpted into the side of the rock. The fortress, rising up high from the jungle, is an incredible sight to see. 

Day 2: Hike to the Top of Pidurangala Rock & Tour Kandy

View of Sigiriya from Pidurangala Rock
View of Sigiriya from Pidurangala Rock

This morning, you'll hike to the top of massive Pidurangala Rock near Sigiriya. Tour the ancient monastery and enjoy sweeping views over the jungle from the top of the volcanic hill. Take a break for lunch before continuing onward to Kandy, strategically situated between three mountain ranges, and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), another 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. 

Day 3: Trek & Learn About Tea in Nuwara Eliya

Tea fields around Nuwara Eliya

Go for a morning hike before moving on to Nuwara Eliya, often referred to as "Little England." Colonized by the British, Sri Lanka’s highest town still retains an old-world grandeur. You'll see old colonial-style hotels, a golf club that dates back to 1889, and abundant rose gardens. The climate here is unlike anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Due to the high elevation, it offers a cooler, invigorating atmosphere that makes for a pleasant journey as you travel to a tea plantation in the afternoon. There, you'll learn about Ceylon tea, one of Sri Lanka's main exports. Observe colorfully dressed tea leaf-pickers hard at work on the sloping hills. With incredible dexterity, they fill several sacks of tea leaves each day. You'll get to see the entire process, from tea bush to teapot, on this dedicated tour.

Day 4: Explore Horton Plains National Park

Sambar Deer
A wild deer 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 5: Ascend Ella Rock

Ella Rock view
The trail to the top of Ella Rock

Today you'll arrive in the sleepy mountain village of Ella. The town, located in the central highlands, has a wonderfully cool climate. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the south coast of Sri Lanka. Ella is also a perfect base for relaxing, with lots of fantastic walks that lead through tea plantations to temples and waterfalls. You'll hike to Ella Rock, famous for its breathtaking views across the Hill Country, and have the option to go on other self-guided hikes later in the day.

Day 6: Go Hiking Around Kinchigune & Sightsee in Negombo

A quiet canal in Negombo

After breakfast, you'll hike around Kinchigune, an ancient village that's now almost totally submerged in the waters of the Samanalawewa Reservoir.  The trail runs through forests, paddy fields, and waterfalls, across rivers, and past local village houses. Observe the simple way of life in the countryside, noticing several varieties of birds and butterflies during the walk. The trail ends where the Belihuloya River meets the reservoir.

In the afternoon, continue to 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 on the last night of the trip.

Day 7: Depart Negombo 

A dam on a tributary of the Kelani River

The trip has come to an end. You'll head to the airport this morning to catch your flight out. Safe travels!

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