This 14 – day Sri Lanka Itinerary is a trekker’s paradise. The itinerary combines hiking, sights, hills and tea plantations, a safari, and the beach. Hike the Knuckles Mountain Range, Horton Plains, the Lovers Leap Falls Trek, and Adam’s Peak.
Arrive Colombo International Airport. You will be met and escorted through immigration (express check out) by VIP Silk Route service and a porter will collect your bags while you are seated in the comfortable VIP lounge. Afterwards, your chauffer guide will drive you to Colombo (approx. 1 hour).
After breakfast, transfer to Knuckles Mountain Range. The drive is approximately 5 hours.
Known as Dumbara Mountain by the locals, Knuckles is located in the northern end of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. It is one of the most beautiful nature attractions of the island and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. The terrain of grasslands and rugged mountain peaks scattered with streams and waterfalls covers an area of 18,512 hectares. Knuckles Mountain Range is a biodiversity hotspot supporting 128 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians, 53 species of reptiles, 15 fresh water species, and 31 mammal species making it a trekker’s paradise.
En route visit the Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF) founded in 1999. This is an interactive and close up experience. Have an educational talk by an expert, walk behind an elephant and enjoying watching their every move and admiring the sheer size of these beautiful animals. Bathe with an elephant and more.
Full day trekking the magnificent Knuckles Mountain Range.
Named after the range’s resemblance to the knuckles of a hand, an adventure on foot here, is an invigorating way to explore the tranquility of the Hill Country. Hiking in the Knuckles with a trekker, an outdoors enthusiast and knowledgeable naturalist, you are unlikely to see another soul along the way. This part of Sri Lanka is valued by scientists and anthropologists alike for its biodiversity and native people. The rugged and often mist shrouded area is home to 40 hidden villages and a plethora of endemic wildlife. The best months are March – April and June – August. There is the choice of a half day (8km) or full day (18km) trek. This is one of those mystical regions of the island, still off-the-beaten track, with views and remote scenery that make a hike extremely rewarding through rural villages and rugged terrain.
After breakfast, leave the misty range of Knuckles and travel on to Kandy from where you will embark on what is known as the ‘most scenic train ride in Sri Lanka’ to ‘Little England’ Nuwara Eliya. The drive is about 4 hours.
Nuwara Eliya is surrounded by hills and tea plantations. Nuwara Eliya enjoys spring-like weather throughout the year. A favorite retreat of the British during colonial times, the town is dotted with English country style houses and half-timbered bungalows with names like Sun hill Cottage or Windsor Hotel. No surprise it’s earned the name “Little England”. The Holy Trinity Church might have stepped out of any village in England, with its Gothic architecture and eclectic collection of memorials, while the “pink post office” features a clock tower. The Grand Hotel, Hill Club, and Golf Club also hark back to a previous era, where tea by a log fire, overlooking the lawns with topiary and roses, might be followed by billiards.
Start early for a trek at the Horton Plains National Park. Your chauffer guide will speak to you the day before and discuss if you would like to partake in the half or full circuit trek.
Horton Plains, known to be the highest plateau at 7,000 ft (2,134 meters), is a national park visited by tourists. The patnas in the lower parts, rising from the marshes and streams extend up to the tree-line. The trees, stunted by the wind and mist, covered with Sphagnum moss or ‘old man’s beard’ is a sight to see. In addition, the jungle is full of rare and endemic plants. The red flowered rhododendrons or the ‘Niloos’ that blooms once in 12 years, the butterflies, birds, Bear monkey, large herds of Sambhur, leopards and other animals are a few of the magnificent sights around the plains. The ‘Worlds End’ and ‘Little Worlds End’ with sheer drops of 3,000 ft to the plantation below and the beautiful scenery are not found anywhere else in the country.
Optional Afternoon Lovers Leap Falls Trek
Hear the roar as masses of water crash down into the pool below at Lover’s Leap Falls. Take a half-hour hike along the river to the top of the falls, and admire the tea plantations along the way. Ask a local guide (not very conversant in English) to help you navigate the path, which can get steep and slippery at times. When you get to the top, take a moment to absorb all you see: the falls, the surrounding nature, and the breath – taking view. Make sure you visit during the rainy season, as the falls lose their water during the dry season.
After an early breakfast, visit the Galway’s Land Bird Sanctuary with a beginner level host.
A beautiful land area covering an extent of 57.6 hectares of land was declared as a wildlife sanctuary on May27, 1938. Subsequently, the Galway’s Land was elevated to a national park status on May 18, 2006. The park was declared to conserve the montane ecosystem. Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka considers the Galway’s Land as one of the significant birding sites in Sri Lanka.
Galway’s Land harbors about 20 very rare migrant bird species and 30 native species. Apart from the avifauna, the park has valuable floral species of both native and foreign origin. Endemic highland birds include the Dull-Blue Flycatcher, Sri Lanka White-Eye, and Yellow-Eared Bulbul. Migratory birds include Indian Blue Robin, Pied Thrush or Scaly Thrush lurking in the denser undergrowth. The Kashmir Flycatcher is another attractive bird species that you may spot.
Check out from Nuwara Eliya and drive to Nallathanniya also known as the landing point for Adams Peak. The drive time is 2 hours and 30 minutes. The ascend usually starts at midnight, but depending on your fitness level, the starting time can be later. However, an early start is recommended to avoid the crowds at the top during sunrise.
Adam’s Peak located in a beautiful area of the southern hill country, this lofty peak has sparked the imagination for centuries and been a focus for pilgrimage for more than 1,000 years.
It’s variously known as Adam’s Peak (the place where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint, left by the Buddha as he headed towards paradise), or perhaps most poetically as Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain; where butterflies go to die). Legends attribute the huge ‘footprint’ crowning the peak to St Thomas, the early apostle of India, or even Lord Shiva.
After basking in the hopefully amazing picturesque sunrise, make your way down Adams Peak. Once you have completed the descend, travel back to your rustic hotel in Nallathaniya for a hearty breakfast. At your own pace make your way to Kandy to explore the Royal City. The driving time is about 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Kandy, the laidback capital of the hill country, and the historical bastion of Buddhist power, is built around a peaceful lake and set in a picturesque bowl of hills. Today, it is the center of Buddhism, arts, crafts and culture.
On arrival in Kandy, check into the hotel.
After breakfast, explore Kandy. The city highlights will include a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Udawattakelle Sanctuary, and Galadeniya.
It is recommended that the day be concluded with a visit to the Royal Bar and Hotel for a refreshing beer and some local snacks. The devilled chickpea side dish is particularly a must try if you can handle all that spice.
It is a great place to have a couple of beers and try some Sri Lankan style tapas. Our pick will be the chickpeas. the devilled chicken, and if you don’t want to go super spicy the classic British fish and chips. Those more adventurous might want to order some arrack the local rocket fuel. Its sweet flavor can be deceitful since it is powerful but matches perfectly with the spicy dishes.
After breakfast, depart the Royal city of Kandy to make your way to the sun, sea and sand of Kalpitiya. The drive time is about 4 hours.
Rest of the day is at leisure.
After breakfast, enjoy a boat ride in Kalpitiya Lagoon.
In the afternoon, drive to Wilpattu National Park for an afternoon safari starting at 3 pm. The drive is 1 hour.
The unique feature of Wilpattu National Park is the existence of natural lakes, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu which is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is also among the top national park’s world renowned for its leopard population.
Day is at Leisure. There is no vehicle.
Departure transfer from Kalpitiya to the Colombo International Airport for departure.The drive time is approximately 3 hours.