Exploring Sri Lanka’s Pekoe Trail: A Journey Through Nature, Culture, and Sustainability

Sri Lanka's Pekoe Trail is a remarkable 300+ km long-distance hiking route that winds through the island nation's central highlands. Comprising 22 stages, this trail offers an immersive experience, connecting travelers to the essence of Sri Lanka while fostering sustainable exploration. Conceived by adventurer Miguel Cunat and supported by the EU and USAID, the Pekoe Trail promotes sustainable travel and community development, making it a unique endeavor in the realm of adventure tourism.

Each stage of the Pekoe Trail offers a distinct blend of diverse landscapes, rich history, vibrant culture, and tantalizing cuisine. From easy strolls to challenging treks, travelers can customize their journey to suit their preferences, whether they seek a short day hike or a multi-day adventure. The trail is meticulously maintained by Serendipity Trails, the organization responsible for its creation, which emphasizes responsible travel practices, supporting local businesses, and conserving natural habitats.

Stage 1: Hanthana to Galaha

Stage 1 of the Pekoe Trail, from Hanthana to Galaha, sets the tone for the adventure with an easy-to-moderate hike through the picturesque Hanthana Tea Estate. Travelers begin their journey at the Ceylon Tea Museum and traverse through tea plantations, enjoying highlights such as the scenic Katsu Konda and the famous filming location of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

Stage 2: Galaha to Loolkandura

Stage 2, from Galaha to Loolkandura, presents a moderately challenging hike through the charming town of Galaha and the picturesque Deltota Estate. Along the way, hikers are treated to breathtaking views of mountains, pine forests, and dense vegetation, with highlights including James Taylor’s seat and Konda Gala.

Stage 3: Loolkandura to Tawalantenne

Stage 3, from Loolkandura to Tawalantenne, offers a challenging yet rewarding trek through forests and tea estates. Starting at Loolkandura Estate, one of Sri Lanka’s oldest tea plantations, hikers climb through historically significant tea trails, including the forgotten Dimbula road. The trail becomes increasingly remote, offering glimpses of rock pools, ancient bullock cart roads, and lush forests.

Stage 4: Tawalantenne to Pundaluoya

Stage 4, from Tawalantenne to Pundaluoya, provides an easy stroll with breathtaking panoramic views. Beginning in Tawalantenne, hikers traverse small village roads bordered by rice paddy fields and cross the picturesque Ramboda Oya. Highlights include views of the Kotmale Reservoir and the Kadadora Viharaya Buddhist temple.

Stage 5: Pundaluoya to Watagoda,

Stage 5, from Pundaluoya to Watagoda, offers a moderate hike through the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country. Hikers navigate steep descents and winding trails, passing through villages and mountainsides, with highlights including the Pundal Oya River and the Kotmale River gorge.

Stage 6: Watagoda to Kotagala

Stage 6, from Watagoda to Kotagala, presents an easy stroll through lush tea country. Beginning at Watagoda Train Station, hikers pass by highland lakes and a serene banyan tree beside a babbling stream. The trail meanders through classic tea trails, passing Holyrood Estate and Hindu kovils.

Stage 7: Kotagala to Norwood

Stage 7, from Kotagala to Norwood, continues the journey with an easy stroll through tea country. Starting in Kotagala, hikers pass Chrysler’s Farm Tea Factory and ascend a hill for panoramic views of Hatton town below. Singamalai Lake, a serene spot ideal for a picnic, offers a tranquil respite along the way.

Stage 8: Norwood to Bogawantalawa

Embarking on Stage 8, from Norwood to Bogawantalawa, travelers traverse the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country with a moderate hike. Beginning in Norwood, hikers ascend towards a ridge separating the Bogawantalawa and Maskeliya Valleys, offering breathtaking views of Adam’s Peak. Zigzagging through Norwood Estate, hikers are treated to panoramic vistas and glimpses of Adam’s Peak across the lake.

Stage 9: Bogawantalawa to Dayagama

Stage 9, from Bogawantalawa to Dayagama, immerses travelers in the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea plantation with a moderate hike. Starting in Bogawantalawa, hikers pass legendary tea estates like Norwood and Kew, transitioning from tea plantations to pristine grasslands and the hills of the hidden Bopaththalawa valley.

Stage 10: Dayagama to Horton Plains

Embarking on Stage 10, from Dayagama to Horton Plains, adventurers delve into Sri Lanka’s cloud forest with a challenging hike. Starting in the remote village of Dayagama, hikers follow wide tea trails and dense forests towards the breathtaking Horton Plains National Park. Access requires purchasing a ticket beforehand, allowing travelers to explore wildlife, navigate steep trails, and revel in rewarding views of the cloud forest.

Stage 11: Horton Plains to Udaweriya

Stage 11, starting at Farr Inn, offers a challenging hike from the trail’s highest point to Udaweriya Valley, where travelers are treated to breathtaking views stretching to Udawalawe National Park and the coastline beyond.

Stage 12: Udaweriya to Haputale

While Stage 12, from Udaweriya to Haputale, traverses one of the trail’s most remote valleys, offering stunning views of the ocean on clear days. Hikers pass through tea trails inhabited by goats and friendly villagers, exploring abandoned villages and lush landscapes frozen in time.

Stage 13: Haputale to St. Catherine

Stage 13, from Haputale to St. Catherine, presents one of the trail’s most scenic routes, beginning in Haputale and leading to Lipton’s Seat, where Sir Thomas Lipton once surveyed his tea estates.

Stage 14: St. Catherine to Makulella

Stage 14, from St. Catherine to Makulella, offers a moderate hike through picturesque landscapes, passing colorful vegetable plots and a Eucalyptus forest.

Stage 15: Makulella to Ella

Stage 15, from Makulella to Ella, provides an easy hike through stunning landscapes, starting at a Buddhist temple in Makulella and overlooking Ambagaswatte valley, home to the famous Ravana Falls.

Stage 16: Ella to Demodara

Stage 16, from Ella to Demodara, is one of the most popular highland trails, traversing the Ella Forest Reserve and passing the iconic Nine Arches Bridge.

Stage 17: Demodara to Hali Ela

Stage 17, from Demodara to Hali Ela, offers a moderate walk through scenic tea estates, beginning at the picturesque Demodara train station.

Stage 18: Hali Ela to Ettampitiya

Stage 18, from Hali Ela to Ettampitiya, presents a challenging hike through remote tea plantation, traversing village roads and tea estates.

Stage 19: Ettampitiya to Lunuwatte

Stage 19, from Ettampitiya to Lunuwatte, offers a challenging hike with rewarding views, crossing the Uma Oya River and passing through lush greenery

Stage 20: Lunuwatte to Uda Pussellawa

Stage 20, from Lunuwatte to Uda Pussellawa, offers a moderate hike through tranquil countryside, passing by the mystical Sthripura Caves and picturesque surroundings.

Stage 21: Uda Pussellawa to Kandapola

Stage 21, starting in Uda Pussellawa, offers a moderate hike through serene landscape, with scenic tea trails and panoramic vistas.

Stage 22: Kandapola to Pedro Estate

Finally, Stage 22, beginning in Kandapola town, offers a moderate hike through idyllic countryside, passing by Courtlodge Tea Factory and Pedro Estate Tea Factory.

In conclusion, the Pekoe Trail offers an unparalleled opportunity to explore the natural beauty, rich culture, and sustainable practices of Sri Lanka’s central highlands. From lush tea plantations to remote valleys and breathtaking vistas, each stage of the trail promises a memorable adventure for travelers seeking an immersive and sustainable exploration experience.

Pekoe trail vehicle route

Stage 01 To 10

Stage 01 To 18

Stage 18To 22



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