Sri Lanka is justly famous for its stunning beaches, but beyond the golden sands lies a verdant and entrancing interior with thick jungles, spice gardens, ancient temples, paddy fields, tea plantations, crashing waterfalls and rich biodiversity.
Make the most of this inner landscape by exploring the country on foot. Trek through primary rainforest, scale mountains to view ancient shrines, stroll through remote villages fringing tea plantations, and feel the spray from waterfalls as they plunge into gorges below.
Highlights of walking in Sri Lanka include:
Immerse yourself in manicured rows of tea plants, and have a go at picking the leaves before sampling a brew at the estate factory.
Visit ancient temples that are farther off the beaten track than the average visitor ventures.
Make the arduous ascent of Adam’s Peak to see the shrine containing what is believed to be the Buddha’s footprint.
Enjoy views over valleys of lush green tea plantations, rolling hills and distant mountain ranges.
Spot some of the country’s most iconic species on wildlife hikes through tropical rainforest.
Stretching from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands, the Pekoe Trail creates a boot-shaped loop through 300 kilometres of hills, mountains, forests and grasslands, taking in tea plantations, Hindu and Buddhist temples, ancient religious sites, remote villages, abundant wildlife and sweeping views. But, don’t worry - you don’t have to suffer too many blisters to enjoy this magnificent region. Embark upon a multi-day walk along your choice of the trail’s 22 stages, staying in atmospheric lodges and tea estates along the way, or opt for one of the many day walks to enjoy on and around the Pekoe Trail.
Surrounded by vast, vibrant green tea plantations that stretch across undulating hills, you can walk through neatly manicured rows of tea bushes or head off into the forested hillsides.
With so many trails available, take your pick from experiences such as the spectacular vistas from Little Adam’s Peak, the trek through forest for awe-inspiring valley views from Ella Rock, or the stroll to the impressive engineering triumph of Nine Arch Bridge, which still carries trains over the hillside through the ever-encroaching greenery.
Towering above the treetops lies the endurance-testing ascent of Adam’s Peak. This pilgrimage site attracts devout Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus alike in the climb season between December and May, all hoping to reach the peak which is crowned by a shrine covering a holy footprint (Sri Pada) embedded in a rock.
Should you choose to tackle the challenge, there are 5,200 steps between you and your goal. The climb is usually made in the early hours of the morning, to reach the summit for sunrise, and if you’re lucky you’ll witness the mysterious mirage of multiple suns rising across the valleys below.
Just off the trail, the gentle circular walk through the rich biodiversity of the Horton Plains encompasses both mountain moorland and cloud forest. Pass several inviting pools before pausing at Baker's Falls, where the rushing waters of the Belihul River plunge into a gorge filled with rhododendrons.
Enjoy the luxury of an all-suite tented campsite in the remote wilderness of the Central Highlands after a day’s hiking. Alongside star-gazing beds and outdoor bathtubs, you can unwind with yoga classes and enjoy a variety of sublime wellness treatments.
With no road connection, it’s a short trek through forested lands to reach the camp. Once you are settled in, you can enjoy as many guided bush walks through the area as you wish. Follow trails past mountain ranges, waterfalls, grasslands and remote rural villages, while keeping an eye out for elephants at nearby waterholes.
The only way to explore the forest reserve of Sinharaja is on foot. Bordered by the mighty Koskulana Ganga and the Gin Ganga rivers in southwestern Sri Lanka, it is the country’s last remaining primary tropical rainforest.
Challenging jungle hikes to the Mulawella and Sinhagala peaks take you through remote villages to refreshing streams, and could reward you with a sighting of some of the country’s rarest wildlife including Indian elephants, purple-faced langurs and the Sri Lankan blue magpie.
Combine the island’s top wildlife crowd pleasers with some magnificent hidden gems and cultural highlights before spending some time on the beach.