Highlands of Sri Lanka

15 Days Starting in Dambulla and ending in Colombo

Visiting: Dambulla, Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple, Sigiriya, Sigiriya Fortress, Illukkumbura, Manigala, Knuckles Range - Aruni Villa, Meemure, Orutota, Kandy, Sri Pada / Adam's Peak, Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains (lasang), Ella, Kuda Ravana Ella (Water Fall), Yala National Park, Kataragama, Lake Side Tourist Inn, Tissamaharama, Galle, Colombo

Tour operator:

Exodus

Tour code:

TGY

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 16

Physical rating:

Moderate

Age range:

16 to 99

Special diets catered:

Please inform Exodus of specific dietary requirements

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Active

Activities:

Sightseeing, Trekking

From:
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Tour Overview

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.



Highlights

  • Maldives extension available

  • Walking through rice paddy fields and tea plantations

  • Visit the beautiful lakeside town of Kandy

  • Searching for a Leopard in Yala National Park

  • Sunrise on Adams Peak (except between May-November)

  • Exploring parts of Sri Lanka rarely seen by other Westerners

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 : Start Dambulla.
Location: Dambulla
Accommodation: Resort, Pelwehera Village Resort or similar
Accommodation Name: Pelwehera Village Resort (or similar)
Meals Included: No Meals

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. Please be

aware if you are meeting the group at the airport for a transfer you might

need to purchase a ticket outside to enter the arrivals hall.

*Pelwehera Village Resort or similar*



Day 2 : Visit Dambulla Caves, Village Walk Towards Sigiriya; Afternoon Visit To Lion Rock Fortress.
Location: Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple, Sigiriya, Sigiriya Fortress
Accommodation: Pelwehera Village Resort or similar
Accommodation Name: Pelwehera Village Resort (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

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



Day 3 : Drive To Illukkumbura; Walk The Manigala Trail In The Knuckles Range.
Location: Illukkumbura, Manigala, Knuckles Range - Aruni Villa
Accommodation: Camp
Accommodation Name: Camping at Knuckles with Eco Team (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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).

Day 4 : Walk Through Forests To Meemure; Transfer To Orutota
Location: Meemure, Orutota
Accommodation: Oruthota Chalets or similar
Accommodation Name: Oruthota Chalets (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

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.

Day 5 : To Kandy; Visit The Temple Of The Tooth.
Location: Kandy
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Suisse (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast

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.

Day 6 : Ascend Adams Peak (2243M).
Location: Sri Pada / Adam's Peak
Accommodation: Glencarin Bungalows or similar
Accommodation Name: Summer House Hatton (or similar)
Meals Included: No Meals

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 6 (Day 7 Ex London) at Dickoya and can walk

around the lake and on Day 7 (Day 8 Ex London) we will climb Adams Peak

during daylight hours.

Total accent 1211m, decent, the same.

(Day 6: B) (Day 7: B,L)

*Glencarin Bungalows or similar*



Day 8 : Drive To Nuwara Eliya; Optional Walk To Explore The Town
Location: Nuwara Eliya
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Windsor Hotel (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast

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.

*Windsor Hotel or similar*



Day 9 : Early Morning To Horton Plains; Walk To World's End Viewpoint; To Ella By Train.
Location: Horton Plains (lasang)
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Country Comfort (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast

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.



Day 10 Daywalk Around Ella; Ella Gap.
Location: Ella, Kuda Ravana Ella (Water Fall), Ella
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Country Comfort (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

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.



Day 11 : Drive To Yala National Park; Afternoon Game Drive.
Location: Yala National Park
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Chaarya Resort (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast

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).



Day 12 : Visit Kataragama Temple And Walk Around Tissamaharama Lake; Transfer To The Coast.
Location: Kataragama, Lake Side Tourist Inn
Accommodation: Resort, Insight Resort or similar
Accommodation Name: Insight Resort (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast

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.

*Insight Resort or similar*



Day 13 : Free Day To Relax On The Beach Or Optional Activities Including Whale Watching (Nov To April).
Location: Tissamaharama
Accommodation: Resort, Insight Resort or similar
Accommodation Name: Insight Resort (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast

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.



Day 14 : To Galle; Transfer To Colombo.
Location: Galle, Colombo
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Hotel Cinnamon Red (or similar)
Meals Included: Breakfast

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).



Day 15 : End Colombo.
Location: Colombo
Meals Included: Breakfast

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.

**



What's Included

  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

  • All transport and listed activities

  • All accommodation (see below)

  •  All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 1 dinner included

  • Tour leader throughout

What's Not Included

  • Visas or vaccinations

  • Travel insurance

  • Single supplements are available on request (not available for 3 nights).

Food


All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 1 dinner is included.

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 poppadum’s – 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.

Accommodation

You will stay 13 nights in hotels, all with twin-bed rooms. There will also be one night of full-service wild camping.



For the one night camping, you will be in a remote area with limited facilities. The tents provided have two camp beds with bedding which your local team will prepare for you in advance. There is a toilet tent with a sit-down toilet and a shower tent for basic washing provisions. A cooking team will prepare all meals, which are usually served outside.



Worth Knowing:



There is no access to wifi or charging facilities (phones/cameras etc) at the campsite.

Hotels in Sri Lanka are becoming increasingly busy and, occasionally, we must find alternatives to the ones we typically use. We endeavour to find the nearest alternative with a similar standard of rooms.

The standards and styles of hotels on this trip vary. Some of our selections are based on location and what is available in the area or the character and atmosphere at the premises. Some properties in the hill region may not have air conditioning in rooms and instead have fans. This is due to the cooler climate.

Single supplements are available on request (not available for three nights).

Paying the single supplement may not mean 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 one-person room may be allocated.

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Check out our Q&As

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes, our local guides are English speaking.

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    The minimum age for this tour is 16 years old.

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    We are happy to assist with pre and post tour accommodation. Please enquire for detailed information.

  • Is there a supplement for solo travellers?

    If you would like to be paired with a tour member of the same gender, there is no additional charge. A single supplement can be requested if you would like your own room.

  • Who is Exodus Travels?

    At Exodus Travels, we've been exploring the world for nearly 50 years. From Walking and Trekking, Cultural and Cycling, Responsible Wildlife, to Polar and our new Premium Adventures, we are proud to offer award-winning small group and self-guided tours to 100+ countries worldwide.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    International flights are not included with this tour.

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    If you wish to make any changes to your booking, particularly if you need to alter any flights booked through us, please let us know as soon as possible. There is a booking or flight amendment fee of £40 per change and flight amendments often incur extra airline costs depending on the changes to be made and if the ticket has been issued or not.

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Exodus has been trading since 1974

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Your final joining instructions and flight details, if booked with us, will then be sent out 2 to 3 weeks before departure. If you would like a hard copy posted, or if you require these any earlier, please contact the customer operations team. We advise that if you are booking connecting travel before receiving these, please ensure you leave plenty of time.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Travellers are welcome to opt to share a room with a tour member of the same gender for no additional charge. If you'd like your own room, we can request a single supplement so that you will have your own room throughout.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    You are welcome to meet the group after the tour has departed however there is no reduction in rate for joining a tour after the departure date.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Sri Lanka Walking Tour

This was an amazing tour. It was very well organised. The walking was good. The countryside and people were fantastic and the guide himself was very personable and knowledgeable. It was totally enjoyable. I would recommend going up Adam's peak on a Monday-Thursday evening to avoid the crowds, but that is the only thing I would have changed.

HIGHLANDS OF SRI LANKA

We saw and learnt a lot about the country and its peoples. The days were packed with exotic sights, tastes, sounds, smells ...... 

Highlands of Sri Lanka

A wonderful experience in a beautiful country.

HIGHLANDS OF SRI LANKA 2012 ITINERARY

Great place to go: cheap, warm, safe, wonderful scenery and interesting culture.  Brilliant challenging itinerary.

Highlands of Sri Lanka walking tour

Two weeks walking tour in Sri Lank. through cultural hotspots, mountain ranges, tea plantations, national parks. An excellent programme for a first discovery of the Country, its traditions, its people and its wildlife.

Truly an incredible country

The trip was extremely well organised! The day walks were challenging but beautiful and climbing Adams Peak is a must! Our leader Ruwan was exceptional. He really helped us connect with the locals and showed us the culture of Sri Lankan villages. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who is curious to see what Sri Lanka has to offer.

Walking the best of Sri Lanka

I have recently returned from the most incredible walking trip in Sri Lanka. The walks were very diverse, up mountains, through rainforests and around serene lakes. We also explored the cities, beaches and National Parks (where we were lucky enough to see a Leopard!). Our leader, Ruwan, was first class - he was very organised, friendly, told us interesting stories about the culture and history and took us to meet lots of local families, who were all lovely. I couldn't speak of this trip more highly.

Highlands of sri lanka

A totally encompassing experience. Sujee the guide shared many different aspects of such a wonderful country. Not always easy =as in walking in the rain with leeches(leech socks were invaluable!). We saw many beautiful and diverse places, animals and met very friendly and hospitable people.

Highlands of Sri Lanka

My first hiking tour, my favorite walks were the jungle walks and those through the rice patty fields in the small villages. Amazingly beautiful and very old Buddhist art work in the Dambulla Caves. The Sri Lankan people are friendly and welcoming, the country has an old world feeling, very green, very laid back, the land of elephants and coconuts.

Highlands of Sri Lanka

Good walking and sight seeing and experience of Sri Lanka. Adequate/good hotels.

Read all 33 reviews

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Book with Confidence

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Exodus allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform exodus, 43 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Exodus requires a minimum deposit of 25% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 90 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of exodus charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

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