Standing at over 200 metres, the incredible ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya can be seen for miles around and is one of the most prominent landmarks in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.
This itinerary is a fabulous introduction to the history, geography, wildlife and culture of Sri Lanka. Through a series of day treks, groups will experience an incredible variety of landscapes and learn about the history and traditions of this ‘Island Paradise’.
The island nation of Sri Lanka has developed throughout the centuries as a direct result of its geography and wildlife. Delving into the heart of the country, this trip starts in Sigiriya, where the group is thrust into the core of Sri Lankan history with plenty of incredible scenery. Sudents will then have a day's trekking in the picturesque Knuckles Mountains before exploring Kandy. Surrounded by stunning scenery, Kandy is a location that not only captures the natural beauty of the island, but is also home to one of the most sacred Buddhist objects – the Tooth Relic – and is a pilgrimage spot for buddhists across the globe.
Heading south, the group will trek in the tea growing areas which surround the small picturesque city of Nuwara Eliya, and close by is the scenic Horton Plains National Park, which can be explored on foot. The itinerary then moves to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve which is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful part of Sri Lanka due to its seldom-seen trails and diverse biospheres.
Depart the UK on an overnight flight bound for Colombo.
You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel near Sigiriya in the Central Province.
After breakfast you will set out to visit Sigiriya Fortress on the Kaludiya Pokuna Trail, with the aim to reach the top of Sigiriya Rock, the fortress built and first used by King Kashyapa. The trekking route starts at Kaludiya Pokuna, an archaeological site which consists of an area of rock caves used by monks for meditating. There are hundreds of caves with carved drip ledges and stone inscriptions scattered around the area, most of which are still covered by forest growth.
The path begins in dry evergreen forests where the dominant trees are rosewood and the sub canopy is covered with thorny bushes. As the path continues towards Sigiriya, the atmosphere begins to change and the forest takes on intermediate forest characteristics. After reaching the fortress, the journey to the top of the rock (Lion Rock) continues with opportunities to explore the art, archaeology and history of this ancient rock fortress.
Today you will undertake a day's trekking in the Knuckles Mountain Range. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif, which resemble the knuckles of a clenched fist when viewed from certain locations. The entire area is characterised by its striking landscapes, often robed in thick layers of cloud and is of great scientific interest, being a climatic microcosm of the rest of Sri Lanka. The conditions of all the climatic zones in the country are exhibited in the massif. At higher elevations there is a series of isolated cloud forests, harbouring a variety of flora and fauna, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. After completing your trek you will transfer to your accommodation in Kandy.
Kandy is surrounded by mountain peaks, and today’s trekking route explores the Hanthana Mountain range to the west of the city. Hiking allows groups to experience the rapidly changing landscape and ecosystems from tea plantations to mountain grasslands and tropical forests. This is home for many birds and other wildlife; an endemic tarantula and tree-climbing crab are found in these mountain forests. On the return to Kandy you will visit the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist site, home to one of Buddhism’s most sacred objects, the Tooth Relic, which attracts pilgrims from all over the island and many other places in Asia.
Today you will transfer to Nuwara Eliya, stopping off en route to visit a tea factory. Tea cultivation was introduced to Sri Lanka by the colonial planters and remains one of the major incomes of the country to this day. Sri Lanka has gained a good reputation for its quality tea, and several varieties are cultivated on the steep mountain faces of the Central Province. You will also visit Hakgala Botanical Garden, first used for experimental cultivation of cinchona, a medicinal plant known as the source of quinine, the malaria cure. After the tea industry replaced the cultivation of cinchona, it was used as a test ground for tea cultivations. In 1884 it was named as a botanical garden and some subtropical and temperate trees were introduced. The endemic bear monkey and toque macaque are often seen in Hakgala.
After breakfast you set out for another day trek, this time in Horton Plains, the only national park in Sri Lanka that visitors are allowed to explore by foot. The park covers a high plateau consisting of grassland and cloud forest and is rich in biodiversity. Many species found here are endemic to the region.
The most popular trekking path is the World’s End Trail which takes in the parks most impressive sights including Chimney Pool, Governor’s Pool, Baker’s Fall, Small World’s End 1 & 2, and the sheer precipice of Great World’s End. At the end of the day you will travel back to Nuwara Eliya where you will spend the night.
Today you will transfer by road to Sinharaja Forest Reserve for an overnight stay.
After breakfast you will set off for a full day trek in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to thousands of animal and plant species. Your trekking route follows the Sinhagala Trail to the summit of Sinhagala, or ‘Lion Rock’ named after a belief that a mighty lion once inhabited this rocky outcrop. The trail takes you deep into the rainforest and you will get an opportunity to walk along tracks only visited by few. It is one of the most rewarding hikes in terms of the diversity of scenery, landscape and views and since it is a lengthy walk, involving an extremely steep climb to reach the summit, it is arguably the most challenging hike you can do in Sinharaja.
Today you will transfer to Wattala on the outskirts of Colombo where you will have time to relax and prepare for your journey home.
This morning you will return to the airport for you daytime flight back to the UK.
- Destination: Sri Lanka
- When to go: Mar to Oct
- Duration: 11 days
- Trip type: Adventure
- Knuckles Mountain Range
- Horton Plains
- Sinharaja Rainforest Reserve
- Accommodation: Hotels, lodges and camping
- Ideal for: Ages 14 to 15
Travellers will need:
- Good level of fitness
- Appreciation of the outdoor environment
An ancient capital home to religious relics and the gateway to exploring central Sri Lanka, Kandy is the cultural and historical heart of Sri Lanka and a location not to be missed.
Bursting with endemic species, secluded cloud forests, and stunning trekking trails, the Knuckles mountains are of great scientific interest and filled with adventure at every turn.
The last surviving stretch of virgin rainforest on the island, Sinharaja is a rich treasure trove of nature with a great diversity of habitats and a vast repository of Sri Lanka’s endemic species.
Horton Plains is one of Sri Lanka's premier trekking locations, famed for its varied terrain, monumental highland views and the prolific wildlife that roams throughout the area.