Expeditions
Phone : +61 3 9598 8581

Sri Lanka Hidden Trails

Background

Sri Lanka has so many hidden nature hiking trails, that few people have ever trekked. No Roads Expeditions has just opened up these trails and we are so excited to show you this side of Sri Lanka that has remained hidden for so long. If you love hiking in nature and would like to be introduced to Sri Lanka's wildlife, mountains and jungles, all part of a fully guided small group tour, then this is the Sri Lankan adventure you have been dreaming of. This expedition will be the first of many to come, so if you would like to be one of the first to explore the hidden trails of Sri Lanka, you have come to the right place. Welcome to No Roads Expeditions Hidden Trails of Sri Lanka.

Highlights

  • Trek the Knuckles Ranges staying in Luxury Tents
  • Stay with the UNESCO World Heritage Site Horton Plains
  • See Leopards, Sambar Deer, Eagles and more
  • Traverse Adam's Peak, rarely done by visitors
  • Ride a train through tea plantations and learn to cook in a local home

Overview

Sri Lanka is well known for it's wonderful beaches, tea plantations, Ayurveda, quaint hill towns and Buddhism. But Sri Lanka has another side; a wild, untamed side of rugged mountains, open plains and pristine rain forests. Through this landscape, there are hidden trails rarely trekked, other than by a local farmer or wandering monk. No Roads Expeditions is excited to offer you a way into this rugged side of Sri Lanka, all within the safety of a fully guided trekking tour.

Our expedition starts, of course, in the heart of Sri Lanka, Colombo where you will be shown Colombo's many sides and deep history, from Indian princes to the English and ultimately independence. We will visit a local market, drink at what was once the world's most exclusive hotel (where you had to apply to stay the night) and see the very cafe where Duran Duran filmed "Hungry Like a Wolf". 

From Colombo, we head for Kandy, in the foothills of the central mountain range of Sri Lanka. Kandy is the last place of king rule, the holy resting place of the Temple of the Tooth and houses the most sacred Buddhist temple in all of Sri Lanka. We will stay in the same bungalow Lord Mountbatten stayed in during WWII and visit the Temple of the Tooth before we start our trekking the next day.

The first part of our trekking expedition is within the Knuckles Range, a rugged mountain range girt by tea plantations. We will traverse the range making summits of the first 2 knuckles of the range. We will overnight in our luxury tented camp, with built in shower and toilet facilities and wonderful large stretcher beds. We will also explore the tea plantation surrounding this area and attend a cooking display in the home of a local family.

From the Knuckles Ranges, we will take a train from Nuwara Eliya to Ohiya through beautiful tea plantations and small villages. From the train station we trek to a wonderful guest house overlooking deep ravines and valleys. 

From Ohiya we hike into the World Heritage Site of Horton Plains. While this place is famous for the World's End trail, we are here to seek out Leopards and Sambar Deer. We have exclusive access to the basic accommodation here so that we have a chance to witness wildlife in the park at night and early morning. We will also trek to Sri Lanka's second highest peak, Kirigalpotha.

Our final trekking expedition is to traverse Adams Peak or Sri Pada, one of Sri Lanka's most sacred and spectacular mountains. While the trek up the 5000 plus steps will be with thousands of others, we will cross over the mountain and head down along a rugged natural trail only a few people do each year.

This is a truly unique Sri Lankan adventure. If you love nature, trekking and wildlife then don't miss out on this exclusive expedition along Sri Lanka's Hidden Trails.

For those who want to stay on for a Safari or a beach getaway afterwards please let us know because life is all about balance!

Itinerary

Day 1: Airport / Colombo 
Day 2: Colombo (B,L)
Day 3: Colombo to Kandy (B,L,D)
Day 4: Kandy to Knuckles Ranges (B,L,D)
Day 5: Knuckles Ranges Trek (B,L,D)
Day 6: Knuckles to Ohiya (B,L,D)
Day 7: Ohiya to Horton Plains (B,L,D)
Day 8: Horton Plains trek to Kirigalpotha (B,L,D)
Day 9: Horton Plains to Adam's Peak (B,L,D)
Day 10: Traverse Adam's Peak then to Rathnapura (B,L,D)
Day 11: Rathnapura to Colombo (B,L)
Day 12: Colombo to next destination

If you would like to extend your trip please let us know as we can transfer you to where you need to go before you reach Colombo.

A Single Supplement can be applied to this trip but only for Colombo, Knuckles Ranges, Adams Peak and Rathnapura as accommodation in Ohiya and Hortons Plains must be shared.  Single supplement is $550

Note: For those that wish to do a beach getaway we suggest the southern and west coast beaches at this time of year around Galle. For those wishing to do a Safari, Yala is excellent this time of year.

Expedition Dates
This expedition is open between January - April for all group sizes of 4 or more. If the advertised dates do not suit, please contact the office on 03 9598 8581.

WILDLIFE

Despite its small size, Sri Lanka boasts one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world, whether in plants or animals and is included among the top five biodiversity hotspots in the world. Sri Lanka boasts ninety-one species of mammals including the Asian elephant, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes.

Despite the mighty elephants and rare amphibians found in the country, birds are the glory of Sri Lanka's wildlife. Boasting nearly 433 bird species of which 233 are residents of Sri Lanka and 20 are endemic.

SRI LANKA TOURIST VISA

Visa applications for Sri Lanka is a quick and simple online process with applications usually processed within 24 hours. Cost is approximately $35 USD. Passport and flight details are required to lodge an application.

Click here to link to the Visa Application

Routes

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo

You will be greeted by one of our team members and transferred to our downtown hotel for the evening. Tonight we will have our briefing during dinner.

Day 2 - Colombo Town Tour

Colombo has a fascinating history however it became more prominent as a larger town when the Portuguese made it their Capital in 1505. Portuguese rule lasted for over 150 years before the Dutch took control who then ceded power to the British in the 1790s. This vibrant city with its' important natural harbour is now the Capital of Sri Lanka and a major business centre for products produced all over this island nation. Our guide will masterfully explain to you the history including the bloody civil war that raged between the Sinhalese and the Tamils of the north between 1983 and 2009. 

Another night in Colombo before we head into the countryside. (B,L)

Day 3 - Colombo - Kandy

Today we head to the cultural centre of Sri Lanka, Kandy. However, we will do this in style as we board our Cinnamon Air Sea Plane in downtown Colombo and fly to Kandy. On route to the Mountbatten Lodge, we will visit the famed Temple of the Tooth, a sacred Buddhist temple on the shores of Lake Kandy. From there we head up into the hills overlooking the town and check into the Mountbatten Lodge, where Lord Mountbatten resided during WWII for some time.

This is a wonderful place to relax and ready ourselves for the coming days of adventure. (B,L,D)

Day 4 - Kandy - Panwilla - Thangappuwa

We will have an early start so that we can reach the trailhead at Panwilla. Our walk will take us through tea plantations first and then into the Knuckles Ranges. By lunch, we will be atop the range with incredible views over the lower landscape, in one direction mountains fold into more mountains and in the other, gorgeous green tea plantations unfold across the rolling horizon. 

After lunch, we will head down to our Luxury Tented campsite for a wonderful traditional Sri Lanka meal prepared by our resident chef. This is a big day and our trekking time will be approximately 8 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 5 - Trek through tea plantation and cooking demonstration.

There is no need to rise too early this morning, though we probably will as the songbirds sing and the sun breaks the horizon at 6am. The views from our campsite are wonderful and provide the perfect motivation to get up and out as we explore the tea plantations and the local surrounds. We will even have an opportunity to eat and cook in a local's home, giving us access to the way people of this region live. (B,L,D)

Day 6 - Thangappuwa – Nanu Oya 125 kms -4h by vehicle, Nanu Oya - Ohiya– 1 h by local train

Today is a wonderful mix of fun and hiking as we transfer to the local train station at Nanu Oya. From there we take this bustling locomotive through the rolling green hills of tea plantations and wild jungle to Ohiya Station, one of Sri Lank's highest rail stations. From there we will trek to the Ohiya Lodge with a warm welcoming tea and awesome views over the valley below. This is a family-run lodge so we will all dine together in a very warm and family atmosphere.

Dinner & overnight stay. (B,L,D)

Day 7 - Ohiya-Horton Plains– (this stretch is done as part of trekking)

After breakfast, we will head off on our trek to Horton Plains. Reminiscent of treks in Europe, this 8-kilometre walk will take us through agricultural land and finally into the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Horton Plains. We will have lunch along the way.

Once we are in the park, we will see sweeping open plains once home to over 150 wild elephants before the British hunted them. It is now home to Sambar Deer and the mighty Leopard.

At 6pm all visitors are asked to leave the park, but we will have special access staying inside the park at the Circuit Bungalows. The bungalows are situated in an open plain giving us an excellent vantage point to see wildlife. We will have night vision monoculars to hopefully witness a Leopard hunt.

Samba Deer abound here. (B,L,D)

Note: The Circuit Bungalows are very basic as they are public amenities. However we will have private use of them for this trek and as such we will bring our own sheets, pillows and towels in from a local hotel so that we are as comfortable as possible.

Day 8 - Trek to Kirigalportha Sri Lanka's second-highest peak.

This is one of our favourite days as we start it with early morning Leopard watching from the bungalow before departing for our trek. 

The entrance to Kirigalpotha is the same as the World's End trail however while 1000's of people head to World's End, we will head along a beautiful trail, through open plains and thick jungle. Wildlife spotting is very possible. And the views are amazing even across to our next destination, the jutting summit of Adam's Peak. Lunch will be had at the summit; what a place to eat.

We will return for another night at the bungalows, another night to hopefully see Leopards in action. (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Horton Plains – Nallathanniya 100 km -3h30 min by vehicle

Another chance for some early morning Leopard watching from our Bungalow. Then before the crowds get in we will trek to World's End. This is a wonderful trail past waterfalls and then (if the weather is kind) to what seems to be the end of the world with a drop off of over 800 meters below down to the valley floor. It is breathtaking in more ways than one.

From there we head back to the bungalows and then transfer to Nallathanniya.

This is the starting point for the pilgrimage up Adam's Peak made by 10's of thousands of devoted Buddhists each year. 

Day 10 -Nallathanniya -Rathnapura– 130 Km 

This morning is an early start (4am) as we start out for the summit of Adam's Peak. This is a pretty long walk, mostly in the dark, however you will be joined by 1000's of other pilgrims heading for the summit of Sri Pada. They say that every Sri Lankan must climb Sri Pada at least once in their life. A large bell at the top is rung for every time you have visited Sri Pada. We expect to reach the summit at 7am.

By 8am we will head down to Ratnapura via the Kuruwita Trail. The Kuruwita Trail is a steep and rugged trail that meanders down through rainforests, along the river and through very small hamlets. It is rarely used and is a wonderful though tiring conclusion to our trekking expedition.

We will overnight in the wonderful Serenity Lakes Inn. (B,L,D)

Day 11 - Rathnapura – Colombo– 95 kms 2h30 min

It's not too far to Colombo from Rathnapura so we should be there by lunch. Plenty of time to relax and contemplate what we had just done. (B,L)

Day 12 - Home or next destination (maybe a beach or a safari)

After breakfast at the hotel, we will head to our next destination. For those with a late-night flight, we may be able to request a late checkout and even a tour of a local village before heading to the airport.

Note 1: Above mention timings are approximate and subject to change due to traffic, weather condition or unexpected interruptions on the road.

Note 2: All visitors to religious sites are expected to be unshod and have their heads uncovered. It is advised to be decently clad when visiting religious sites and any place of worship. Sun and beachwear is not the ideal for temples and shrines. Briefs, shorts, bare shoulders and backs may not be appreciated. Proper and decently covered dress code is appreciated.

NB: On Poya days which are the day of the Full Moon,  it is forbidden to serve or sell alcohol. Hence the consumption of alcohol can only be done in private away from the public on this day. 

Inclusions

  • Welcome assistance and transfers on arrival and on departure.

  • Fully guided
  • Nature Guide and First Aid Assistant on all trekking portions
  • Meals as per itinerary
  • Accommodation on Half Board basis through-out.
  • Transport in an a/c vehicle with an English speaking guide.
  • Visits / activities according to the program.
  • Entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the above itinerary.

Exclusions

  • International Airfares
  • Airport Tax
  • Travel Insurance for your trip
  • Tips
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Hiking equipment
  • Photo and video camera permits at the sites
  • Visa

Maps