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Highlands of Sri Lanka

Highlands of Sri Lanka


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  • Holiday type
    Guided walking
  • Duration
    14 nights
  • Accommodation
  • Activity level
  • From $2449per person, tour only
  • NEW FOR 2019  
  • Departures
    Selected Saturdays if Flight Inclusive/Sundays for Tour Only from 20 Oct '19 to 20 Dec '20
  • What your holiday price includes
  • 14 nights 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
  • Optional Upgrades
  • Maldives extension available
  • Excellent choice for
  • Flora & fauna, art & history, solo travellers, couples, coastal routes, high peaks

Sri Lanka:

Highlands of Sri Lanka

  • Walking through rice paddy fields and tea plantations
  • Exploring parts of Sri Lanka rarely seen by other Westerners
  • Visit the beautiful lakeside town of Kandy
  • Sunrise on Adams Peak (except between May-November)
  • Searching for a Leopard in Yala National Park
  • 14 nights hotels, all en suite, 1 night full-service camping
  • 8 full and half-day walks
  • Full porterage throughout

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.

We're here to help

If you have any questions about this holiday call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347, use our live webchat or email usa@exodustravels.com

Typical holiday itinerary

Walking information

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.

We're here to help

If you've any questions about this holiday call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 , or email usa@exodustravels.com

Day 1: Leave London

The group flights usually depart London in the evening.

Day 2: Arrive Colombo and transfer to Dambulla

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

Day 3: Visit Dambulla Caves, village walk towards Sigiriya; afternoon visit to Lion Rock Fortress.

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)

Day 4: Drive to Illukkumbura; walk the Manigala Trail in the Knuckles Range

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

Day 5: Walk through forests to Meemure; transfer to Orutota

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)

Day 6: To Kandy; visit the Temple of the Tooth

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)

Days 7-8: Ascend Adams Peak (2243m)

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)

Day 9: Drive to Nuwara Eliya; optional walk to explore the town

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)

Day 10: Early morning to Horton Plains; walk to World's End viewpoint; to Ella by train

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)

Day 11: Daywalk around Ella; visit the Ravana Waterfalls and Ella Gap

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)

Day 12: Drive to Yala National Park; afternoon game drive

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)

Day 13: Visit Kataragama Temple and walk around Tissamaharama lake; transfer to the coast

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)

Day 14: Free day to relax on the beach or optional activities including whale watching (Nov to April)

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)

Day 15: To Galle; transfer to Colombo

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)

Day 16: Fly to London

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


Sri Lanka

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.


Sri Lanka

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.


Sri Lanka

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.

Where you stay

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.

To find out more call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347, use our live webchat or email usa@exodustravels.com

Hotels and Camping, Sri Lanka

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.

Eating and Drinking

We suggest allowing about GBP10-15 (approx. USD16-24) per day for all other meals and drinks. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the island's heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English.

Despite (or perhaps because of) these influences, Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to as simply 'Rice and Curry'. This is the staple dish in most restaurants and is usually a serving of rice accompanied by assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as various pickles, 'sambols,' and a handful of tiny poppadoms - all using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and garlic.

Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat or dairy-free. Please be prepared for this and you may need to bring these from home. Spicier food can be avoided easily and lots of the hotels will serve Western options alongside traditional food.

Drinking water is provided in large containers where available so you need only bring a re-usable bottle to top up along the way.


Call now to speak to our specialist team at 1-800-267-3347 or email us at usa@exodustravels.com for enquiries or to book your trip.


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.

Dates and prices

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:

For further details, or to check availability, speak to our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or complete our holiday enquiry form (we'll contact you at a time that's most convenient for you).

To enquire about this holiday, or for further information, call our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or complete our holiday enquiry form.

  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Oct 2019Tour only Availability
20th Oct US$2749 Check availability
Nov 2019Tour only Availability
24th Nov WAS US$2715
Save US$266
Check availability
Dec 2019Tour only Availability
15th Dec US$2799 Check availability
29th Dec US$2799 Check availability
Jan 2020Tour only Availability
26th Jan US$2799 Check availability
Feb 2020Tour only Availability
9th Feb US$2799 Check availability
Mar 2020Tour only Availability
15th Mar US$2799 Check availability
Apr 2020Tour only Availability
5th Apr US$2799 Check availability
Jul 2020Tour only Availability
19th Jul US$2799 Check availability
Aug 2020Tour only Availability
16th Aug US$2799 Check availability
Oct 2020Tour only Availability
11th Oct US$2799 Check availability
Nov 2020Tour only Availability
15th Nov US$2799 Check availability
Dec 2020Tour only Availability
20th Dec US$2949 Check availability

The prices quoted for each individual departure supercede those published in our current brochures. Air prices are subject to change and we advise early booking to obtain the best prices. Please see our Planning your holiday and What's included in the price? pages for additional information.

Holiday details

Minimum group sizes
A minimum of 4 people (in total) are required for each departure.

This holiday is unsuitable for children.

Holiday type
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

Other details
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)

Tailor-made travel

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.

How to book

For further details, or to check availability, speak to our sales team on 1-800-267-3347 or complete our holiday enquiry form (we'll contact you at a time that's most convenient for you).

Call now to speak to our specialist team at 1-800-267-3347 or email us at usa@exodustravels.com for enquiries or to book your trip.

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.

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