Behind the dazzling beauty of Sri Lanka's world famous beaches is an island of lush jungle, spice gardens, ancient Buddhist temples and an abundance of wildlife - all of which makes for a unique trekking experience. Our adventure begins in Sigiriya with a visit to the stunning Lion Rock. From here the trekking begins in earnest, through the unspoilt World Heritage conservation area of the Knuckles Mountain Range, past rice paddies and brushing the vibrant, emerald-green tea plantations of Dickoya. After this we tackle the challenging Adam's Peak (2243m) and then enjoy the spectacular 1000m cliff drop of World's End.
Generally, you should expect rain at some time but with plenty of sunshine. On the plains, day and night time temperatures are very hot and humid with Colombo having an average daytime temperature of 30ºC. It can be humid whilst walking. The temperatures drop as we go higher into the hills where daytime temperatures are between 15º - 25º C and night time temperatures will be cooler (about 10º C minimum) and a warmish fleece will be needed.
This trek is graded level 3 (Moderate) with some day walks and some half day walks. There will be a backup vehicle making all the walking optional (except for the treks through the forest areas). Some days there will be options of easier and more challenging walks. Most of the walks are between 4 and 6 hours, with one longer 7 hour walk. The trails are fairly well made and used by locals. If it rains some of the trails can get slippery and there can be leeches. It can be hot and humid on the lower walks. The drives to the start of the walks and from the end of the walks to the hotels are sometimes on narrow winding roads. Most of the accommodation is comfortable with two nights spent in simple hotels and one night spent in a fixed camp.
The group flights usually depart London in the evening.
The group flight arrives at Colombo's Katunake Airport and we transfer to our hotel at Dambulla (160km, 4hrs drive). Those not flying with the group can meet us at the hotel or the airport in time for the transfer.
You stay at the Pelwehera Village Resort or similar
After breakfast we visit the magnificent Cave Temple at Dambulla, one of the most impressive sights in Sri Lanka. There are colourful and very well preserved paintings and statues of Buddha inside the caves, which date back to the 1st century BC. We then have a short, gentle, warm up walk which takes us through villages and rice paddies and on towards Sigiriya, where we have lunch. In the afternoon we visit the imposing 5th century rock fortress, which rises 180m from the plains overlooking the surrounding countryside giving far-reaching views. Used as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top is up a series of steep steps and gangways. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, we ascend 200m and pass an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the walls. Crowning the flat-topped summit are extensive remains of the King's Summer Palace from where there are breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. The descent is much easier and we have a final 35 minute drive back to our hotel in Dambulla.
Approximate walking distance 6km. Alt. gain 395m, Alt. loss 395m
You stay at the Pelwehera Village Resort or similar (breakfast and evening meal)
The next two days takes us across the famous Knuckles Mountain Range. We start early with a three hour drive to the start of our walk, from where we begin with an easy descent past rice paddies and through the villages of Pitawala Patana and Etanwala. Descending to the river we cross a small bridge and start to climb up through more farmland. Finally emerging at the top of an escarpment we are rewarded with great views of the surrounding countryside. An easy trail takes us along the top of the escarpment to Manigala Top at 1115m, the high point of today. Next we descend to the Mahalakotuwa village area which leads to the main road and then it's a 20 minute walk to our campsite by the river where we can bathe in the cool, refreshing water.
Today is the longest walk and is approx. 7 hours walking, 15KM, Alt gain 900m, alt loss 100mAlt. gain 240m, Alt. loss 450m
(Please note - occasionally due to high water levels we use an alternative campsite. The alternative campsite is about 40 minutes' drive from Illikumbura).
Camping at Knuckles with Eco Team or similar
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We begin with a short half hour drive to the Narangamuwa Temple at Ranamuregama. We then pass rice paddies and coconut groves before entering a heavily forested area. The trail climbs gently for an hour and then levels out before undulating though this lush forest. The only sound we can hear is the birdsong all around us. Emerging from the forest in the village of Meemure, make sure to look back for a spectacular view of the peaks of Lakegala. Passing farms growing pepper and other spices, we come to a small tea shop where we have lunch. After lunch, we take a truck or rickshaws for a bumpy 90-minute ride to Corbetts Gap, a famous viewpoint. Our bus will meet us here for the 1.5hr drive to our hotel at Orutota overlooking the Victoria Reservoir.
You stay at the Oruthota Chalets or similar (breakfast and evening meal)
A relaxing morning to enjoy the garden and pool at the hotel. Mid-morning we have a short 18km drive to Kandy and have the afternoon to explore. The town is located around a small lake and we can walk round to hopefully spot several varieties of water birds and large water monitors. Later we visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic - The Tooth of Buddha, which was taken from the funeral pyre in India in 543 BC and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD. There are literally hundreds of worshippers who visit the temple each day and in July/August the most spectacular ceremony takes place.
You stay at the Hotel Hilltop or Royal Kandyan or similar (breakfast included)
This morning we drive to Dickoya (3 hours), where we stay for two nights in simple colonial tea planters bungalows, with wonderful view of the Castlereagh Reservoir. On a clear day we can see the outline of Adams Peak in the distance. In the pilgrim season (December-May) we have the day to relax or you can take a short walk around the lake (approx. 6km). We leave around midnight for the walk up Adams Peak (approx. 14km). This will take around 4 hours and we should reach the top, with the many pilgrims at sunrise. In the off season (May - November) we spend Day 67(Day 7 at Dickoya and can walk around the lake and on Day 8 (Day 8 we will climb Adams Peak during daylight hours.
Total accent 1211m, decent, the same.
You stay at the Glencarin Bungalows or similar (breakfast on day 7 and breakfast and lunch on day 8)
This morning we have a wonderful drive through tea plantation districts to Nuwara Eliya. This was the favourite hill station during the British era, situated in the cool highland air at 1890m and has a very British feel. Known locally as 'Little England' it is dotted with British style houses, hotels and a racecourse. There will be an optional walk into the hills around the town and also time to explore the bazaar.
You stay at the Windsor Hotel or similar (breakfast included)
Today we drive to Horton Plains, a large plateau over 2,000m above sea level, overlooked by the second and third highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The scenery is beautiful and is best explored on foot. We trek through the rolling grasslands, seeing forest and unusual wildlife, such as the sambar deer and purple faced monkey, all the way to 'World's End', one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka. Here the ground drops 1050m to the plains below. We then catch the train from the highest railway station in the country; within two hours we've dropped from 1889m to 1097m. The train travels through the cloud forest into the tea plantations, the views are spectacular; we disembark at Ella.
You stay at the Hotel Country Comfort or similar (breakfast included)
We drive to Kithalaella and climb up to a rocky area to enjoy stunning views of the waterfalls. Continuing on to Ella Gap, we have dramatic views of the coastal plain nearly 1,000m below. Almost the whole of the southern part of the island is in view and on a particularly clear day the shimmering silver of the ocean is visible (approx. 12km walk). We return in the late afternoon to our hotel in Ella.
You stay at the Hotel Country Comfort or similar (breakfast and evening meal)
We now head south out of the hills to Tissamaharama down the plains stopping en route to visit the spectacular Ravana Waterfalls as well as the Kataragama Temple. This is a pilgrimage place for both Hindus and Buddhists, who come to worship here in the early mornings and evenings. Colourful and noisy, the temple is always busy. Tissamaharama will be our base for visiting Yala National Park. Its open undulating terrain made it famous for elephants for many years, but recently the park has become well known for leopard. The park, which is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and fresh water lagoons, has one of the highest concentrations of leopard per square kilometre in the world. We will have a game drive in the afternoon. (Please note that the sanctuary may be closed for 4-6 weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to check the animals. In this instance we will go to an alternative area close by, usually the Udawalawe National Park).
You stay at the Chandrika Hotel or similar (breakfast included)
This morning we drive to the beautiful Tissamaharama Lake where we walk for approximately 3.5 hours (approx. 5km). This is an opportunity to see the day to day life of the local people as well as a range of birdlife. In the late afternoon we drive for approximately 4 hours to the coast.
You stay at the Insight Resort or similar (breakfast included)
Free day to relax on the beach or by the pool. There are also numerous optional activities including a boat ride through mangrove swamps to a cinnamon plantation, or from November to April you can go whale watching off Dondra Head. This is one of the best places in the world for seeing Blue and Sperm whales.
You stay at the Insight Resort or similar (breakfast included)
We set off today and drive along the coastal road to the historic port of Galle, which dates back to the 17th century, and now a UNESCO world heritage site. On the way we stop at a small folk museum inspired by the local writer Martin Wickramasinghe. The museum is a typical house from the Koggala region and is set amongst beautiful gardens. We continue along the expressway to Colombo reaching our hotel in the late afternoon (the drives takes around 2-3 hours, plus stops).
You stay at the Hotel Mirage or similar (breakfast included)
If you are travelling on the group flight we will have a morning transfer to the airport for the daytime flight to London. The arrangements for those not flying with the group ends after breakfast.
Meals included: Breakfast
All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.
A visa (Electronic Travel Authorisation) is required if you are British and for most other nationalities. If you do not hold a British passport, please check the visa requirements with your local Sri Lankan Embassy or the ETA website www.eta.gov.lk. Passengers should also be aware of local laws and customs in Sri Lanka (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sri-lanka/local-laws-and-customs). The mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts is an offense; please note that people have been refused entry to Sri Lanka because of visible tattoos of Buddha.
There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.
Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.
The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.
Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.
You will stay 13 nights in hotels all of which have en suite facilities; all hotels have twin bedded rooms with attached bathrooms. There will also be 1 night of full service camping. The tents have two camp beds with bedding. There is a toilet tent with sit down toilet and a shower tent. A cook team will prepare meals which are usually served outside. Wi-Fi is available at the majority of places, either in the rooms or the communal areas.
Here at Headwater we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can continue to develop, and where necessary improve, our services and ensure our holidays continue to be the best they can be. However, as this is a relatively new holiday, we don't yet have any customer reviews available.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
Find out about The Headwater Price Promise to ensure you're getting the very best value for money.
This 14 night guided walking holiday includes:
Hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of hotels
All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 1 dinner included
Management by our sister company, Exodus
Services of an experienced walking guide
Standard group transfers from your final hotel
All transport and activities listed
Tour leader throughout
How to book:
|Oct 2019||Tour only||Availability|
|20th Oct||US$2749||Check availability|
|Nov 2019||Tour only||Availability|
|24th Nov||WAS US$2715
|Dec 2019||Tour only||Availability|
|15th Dec||US$2799||Check availability|
|29th Dec||US$2799||Check availability|
|Jan 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|26th Jan||US$2799||Check availability|
|Feb 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|9th Feb||US$2799||Check availability|
|Mar 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|15th Mar||US$2799||Check availability|
|Apr 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|5th Apr||US$2799||Check availability|
|Jul 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|19th Jul||US$2799||Check availability|
|Aug 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|16th Aug||US$2799||Check availability|
|Oct 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|11th Oct||US$2799||Check availability|
|Nov 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|15th Nov||US$2799||Check availability|
|Dec 2020||Tour only||Availability|
|20th Dec||US$2949||Check availability|
Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 4 people (in total) are required for each departure.
This holiday is unsuitable for children.
Guided walking Managed by our sister company, Exodus.
Selected Saturdays if Flight Inclusive/Sundays for Tour Only from 20th Oct 2019 to 20th Dec 2020, for 14 nights. All dates are subject to availability, please contact us to check.
All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 1 dinner included
Single supplements are available on request (not available for 3 nights).
Please note paying the single supplement may not mean that you receive a double or twin room for sole use. The room you are allocated may differ from hotel to hotel , and on some nights a smaller room for ‘one person’ may well be allocated.
Tour Only dates will commence the following day (on day 2)
If you choose to book your own flights please check with us first that your chosen departure date is definitely operating as our guided holidays are subject to minimum group sizes.
Due to the tailor-made nature of our holidays, we need a little more information in order for us to check availability for . Simply complete the form below (fields marked * are mandatory) and a member of our sales team will contact you (when it's most convenient for you) to provide availability information, travel options and an accurate price. Of course there's no obligation, but if you do wish to proceed with a booking they will be on-hand to assist you throughout the process.
Alternatively, you can call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 to discuss your requirements in more detail.