Trip idea /

Sri Lanka

New Pathways Through Sri Lanka

The opening up of a network of tea plantation pathways called the Pekoe Trail creates a deeper connection with Sri Lanka on single to multi-day treks through tea estates, forests, valleys and rural communities.

Discover Sri Lanka on Foot

Sri Lanka’s newly restored and curated Pekoe Trail traverses 300-kilometers of the exotic island’s scenic interior – offering a huge array of choice when it comes to trekking – from guided one-day walks to self-guided hikes over five days.

    What is the Pekoe Trail?

    Ideal for second or even third timers to Sri Lanka who enjoy an active holiday, the Pekoe Trail is a new way to experience the Teardrop Isle, where the emphasis is firmly on hyper-local connection and access to a much lesser-seen side to Sri Lanka’s nature through walks in the Central Highlands. Stretching from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya the new trail links up former tea plantation pathways which were created by the British in the 19th century for workers to walk between the plantations to the factories and the railway line.

    Today it amasses 185-miles of rural terrain through the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka and covers a variety of topography including bright green tea fields, woodlands of pine trees, cloud forests, tea estates and small communities. It is this opportunity for interaction with day-to-day Sri Lankan life that is the main draw – far from the tourist-magnet sites, the Pekoe Trail is a peaceful way to get to know authentic rural rhythms.

    How to Hike the Pekoe Trail

    Covering over 185 miles and with around 22 stages, there are many ways to enjoy the Pekoe Trail. With our guidance and depending on how active you’d like to be, we can put together day walks, or sections of the trail linked together with stays in some of our favourite Hill Country hotels, with your luggage forwarded to your next lodging.

    We can also arrange visits to tea factories, epic train rides and cool-off stops at waterfalls. To get the most out of your trip we’d advise a guide to escort you, who will help root you culturally into your environment and facilitate interaction with Sri Lanka’s friendly and welcoming people. It also goes without saying that if you’d like to explore other areas of Sri Lanka: its temples, wildlife-rich national parks or cultural towns we can add this into a longer itinerary. And after your exertion, if you want to spend a week on a palm-fringed beach, we have plenty of options for that too.

    Pekoe Trail Unpicked

    To give you a taste of the Pekoe Trail, we’ve outlined one way for you to experience it, although each trip can be bespokely organised to your liking. From the airport, decompress in pared-back comfort at colonial country house hotel Wallawwa before being transported to Nine Skies, a tea bungalow property with dreamy views over the mist-clad hills.  From here, it’s an easy stroll to take in the Pekoe Trail’s shortest route via Ella and onto the architectural wonder that is the curved Nine Arches bridge, which stands at 80-feet tall and 300-metres long. Follow a pathway through the Demodara Tea Estate with a view onto the unusual Demodera Railway Loop, where a spiral tunnel allows two trains to pass at once. On clear days you may have the scenic privilege of seeing Lipton Seat and Ella Rock in the distance.

    The following day, enjoy a gradual elevation towards Kandapola as you pass through rural agricultural land into high-altitude rainforests that harbour squawking birds and chattering monkeys. The hike opens out onto iconic tea factories with views onto Hethersett Estate before you end your day at colonial tea bungalow hotel Goatfell, just outside Kandapola.

More Hikes in Sri Lanka

Adam's Peak

With spiritual significance for Sri Lankan Buddhists, climbing Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada is seen as a rite of passage for many pilgrims. Starting at 3am, head up the steps carved into the sacred mountain, stopping for sweet tea to fortify you. As dawn breaks at the top, watch prayer flags flutter as the temple is bathed in the apricot glow of sunrise and the shadow of the mountain hovers intriguingly in the distance.

Knuckle’s Mountain Range

An hour south of Kandy lies the Knuckles Mountain Range, made up of stunning altitudinous scenery in this UNESCO-protected biodiversity hotspot. Those who like challenging hiking will find plenty to enjoy within the five main peaks including Kirigalpottha, Gombaniya, Knuckles, Koboneelagala and Dotulugala where pathways wind between plunging waterfalls, rural villages, wildlife-filled forests and rocky outcrops.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Occupying Sri Lanka’s last remaining piece of primary tropical rainforest, World Heritage Site Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a dense jungle in the southwest of the country. Filled to the brim with exotic bird and wildlife and striking biodiversity, this steamy rainforest makes for challenging yet rewarding treks through jungle-framed pathways.