Authentic Sri Lankan Experiences

Crafted . Personal . Insightful
Journey of Discovery

A 300-Kilometer Trail through Hill Country

Discover Sri Lanka's Charm on Foot
The pekoe trail

Long-distance hiking trail in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

The Pekoe Trail, a segment of the Serendipity Trails Collection, spans 300 kilometers and comprises 22 stages, making it a long-distance hiking trail in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. This trail winds through the extensive network of tea trails that define the Sri Lankan tea country, capturing the essence of the island’s diversity. It seamlessly presents a distinctive Sri Lankan experience that connects nature, its people, culture, and heritage.

Please note that not all stages have been marked or signposted at this time. The Pekoe Trail is currently in the development phase, and some stages are expected to be accessible to travelers in late 2023, while others will be ready in 2024.

The pekoe trail

Stage 01 - Hantana To Galaha

You will stroll over the rocky ridge known as “Katusu Konda,” which translates to “lizard’s back” in Sinhala. You might even be able to see some of the Victoria Reservoir on a clear day. At some of the higher elevation locations, keep an eye out for a variety of species that you may spot on this stage, including black eagles that glide across the steep hills.

Additionally, you’ll travel by a striking mountain facade that was part of the film “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Award-winning director Steven Spielberg shot parts of his film in Kandy and the Hanthana environs in 1983.
Along this stage, you will come across minor settlements strewn all over the trail. At the end of Stage 1, you will come to the community of Kithulmulla (be sure to stop by and ask to try some avocados, they have some of the best!).

stage 1 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Elagolla, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 02 - Galaha To Loolkandura

You will stroll beneath the massive pine trees that shade Deltota, but be cautious—especially in the wet season—as there are leeches about.

The first tea plantation in Sri Lanka, Loolkandura Estate, was founded in 1867 by James Taylor, a Scot who is known as the “father of Ceylon tea.” The route passes by this estate. Proceed down the tea trails, offering breathtaking views of exotic rainforests and a gigantic rock formation as you stroll among some of the most picturesque tea bushes. It concludes in Loolkandura.

stage 2 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Udadeltota, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 03 - Loolkandura To Tawalantenne

The second section of the walk crosses a pass and heads into the lowlands beyond, with views of Stellenberg Estate to the south, across Kotmale, and the distant Rilagala mountain range. On a clear day, Adam’s Peak, the sacred peak, ought to be visible in the distance.

The track keeps going through green tea bushes while estate roads meander between tea farms and forests. The Kotmale Reservoir is just in front of the route, and the vistas that unfold before you are simply breathtaking.

Upon starting your descent towards Tawalantenne, the famous Ramboda pass and waterfall will come into view. Tawalanetenne, a bustling town, is where the stage ends.

stage 3 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Gannewa, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 04 - Tawalantenne To Pundaluoya

Stroll along a former British-designed road that was intended for small cars and bullock carts. It turns into a neatly paved path that leads to the remnants of a closed tea mill. This location offers some of the nicest views in all of Sri Lanka’s tea country.

It’s interesting that this new path is mysterious in and of itself. Not a single car will be operating on it. Constructed for a massive underground power station less than a km distant, the seemingly endless road to nowhere has been idle since its construction. Pundaluoya is a little town where the path finishes.

stage 4ns | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Kotmale New Town, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 05 - Pundaloya To Watagoda

You will pass through the historically significant tea-growing regions of Dimbula, one of the first districts to be cultivated with tea, as you enter the real heart of tea country.

There are also amazing views of an almost impassable “great wall” that resembles something from Game of Thrones from this location. The Pundaluoya Valley lies beyond “the wall,” and it’s one of the most picturesque areas of tea country because of the tea estate that sits atop the wall. At Watagoda train station, the stage comes to a conclusion.

stage 5n | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Pundaluoya Town, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 06 - Watagoda To Kotagala

After leaving Talawakelle, you’ll wind between tiny hamlets by zigzagging up, down, and across small valleys. This section has the sense of a fairy tale, similar to “The Shire” in The Lord of the Rings. Climb further into the hills for additional breathtaking vistas of the beautiful tea area. The Nanu Oya river, which you just crossed at Talawakelle, may be seen in the surrounding mountains’ shape if you look closely. Kotagala is where the trek finishes.

stage 6 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Watagoda, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 07 - Kotagala To Norwood

Get ready for a journey along a network of paths that wind through undulating green tea hills and offer views of the Emerald Castlereigh Reservoir located in the Bogawantalawa Valley. The Darawella Club, one of the oldest planters’ clubs in Sri Lanka, is another landmark that the trail passes by and is definitely worth a quick diversion.

Strolling along the ridgelines or valley floors, you’ll come across a plethora of vividly coloured ‘line rooms’, which are the terraced homes of tea workers, complete with Christian and Hindu churches.

You start to descend later on the track as you meander through the trails of tea estates, arriving at the stage’s end in the town of Norwood.

stage 7 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Kotagala, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 08 - Norwood to Bogawantalawa

You will follow little trails that lead to the Kew Estate on the second portion of the journey as you drop into the Bogawantalawa Valley. Watch careful for this tea factory from the colonial era. Aside from lush tea fields and rural roads, you may anticipate views of the gorgeous countryside that lead to Bogawantalawa town. There will also be a very stunning church, hindu kovils, and a quaint cottage.

The stage comes to a conclusion in Bogawantalawa, the town that lends the valley its name. Surrounded by mist-covered mountains and emerald scenery, the town is surrounded by mountains.

stage 8 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Norwood, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 09 - Bogawantalawa To Dayagama

Additionally, the route passes via Manik Palama and the Bopaththalawa Farm, the two dairy farms in the valley. A pleasant trek through tall eucalyptus trees will lead you to the stage’s end at Dayagama, a small village in the Agarapatana Valley, one of the most inaccessible and secluded valleys in the tea area. Get ready for this gratifying experience.

stage 9n | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Bogawantalawa, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 10 - Dayagama To Horton Plains

The trail climbs the valley through a thick layer of rainforest as it enters the cloud forest. Pause while you’re strolling and listen to the sounds of the forest. The screams of sambur, monkeys, deer, highland birds, and, if you’re lucky, perhaps even a leopard, will be audible to you.

The walk ends at the former Farr Inn, which is now the Horton Plains National Park visitor centre. The Farr Inn was formerly the hunting lodge for senior British colonial officers.

stage 10 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Diyagama West, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 11 - Horton Plains to Udaweriya

You will encounter a “hidden valley,” so called because it is south-facing and located on the extreme border of tea country. There aren’t many valleys in this area that face south and are used to grow tea because of the severe topography.

The walk ends at the abandoned Udaweriya Tea Factory, which is now mainly just a skeleton of steel beams. You will also travel by small local homes and tidy terraces of vegetable fields. At the shuttered Ohiya Tea Factory, the stage comes to an end.

stage 11n | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Hortonplains, Central (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 12 - Udaweriya To Haputale

The trail’s highlights include passing through pine and tropical woods and arriving at the Idalgashinna train station, one of the most attractive in Sri Lanka’s central highlands. The station from the colonial era is also the one with the most tunnels connecting two railway stations.

Stroll by the train tracks beyond the Thangamale Sanctuary, also called the Thangamale bird sanctuary, a lesser-known woodland where you might see some rare highland indigenous species. Additionally, the famed Adisham Bungalow—now a Franciscan monastery—is meandered by on this route. At the Haputale rail station, your walk comes to an end.

stage 12 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Kirimetiya, Uva (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 13 - Haputale To St. Catherine

Proceed up steep slopes to the top of a mountain, which is a sort of plateau with several tiny settlements and a large number of green tea fields. The stage comes to an end at 1,875 metres at St. Catherine, the first charming settlement of tea plantation workers on the upper divisions of the Nayabedda Tea Estate, where Sir Thomas Lipton enjoyed looking over his tea empire.

stage 13 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Haputale, Uva (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 14 - St. Catherine (Lipton Seat) To Makulella

This stage descends via estate roads designed by former British planters. You pass by the historic Balagala Tea Planters Bungalow and proceed into the settlement of Balagala, which is home to a massive Hindu Kovil. This section features beautiful wooded areas that ultimately lead to Makulella’s Buddhist Temple, which signifies the end of the stage.

stage 14 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Dambethenna, Uva (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 15 - Makulela to Ella

Proceed through additional eucalyptus forests, passing by a few neighbourhood houses with well-kept gardens, until you reach Kithal Ella Station. It’s a fantastic idea to make a pit break if you need refreshments while you stroll along the railway track, where you may encounter sellers ready to sell you snacks and fresh fruit.

The stage ends at the Ella Train Station in the well-known hill country town of Ella, where visitors enjoy leisurely strolls amid tea plantations and other natural areas.

stage 15 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Egodagama, Uva (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 16 - Ella to Demodera

Continue up additional village roads in the direction of the Newburgh Tea Factory, then take a zigzag route past tea estates, chena farms, railway tracks and a tiny lake. The tea trails that round the Demodara Tea Estate are among the stage’s features.

The trip ends at the Demodara train station, one of the hill country’s most picturesque train stations. The “Demodara Loop,” a spiral rail line that goes under the station, round the loop, and emerges from a tunnel right beneath it, is what makes it most famous.

stage 16 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Ella Town, Uva (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 17 - Demodera to Hali-Ela

Since Hali Ela is not frequently visited, the views towards this portion of the tea country are lovely. Look for a massive purple Bougainvillaea, along a verdant trail that offers plenty of refreshing shade, and a forested area scattered with towering trees.

At the Rosette Estate, you will find the Uva Planters’ Club, a historic monument in the Uva district, along with a sizable tea-weighing station. The stage ends at the Hali Ela Train station.

stage 17 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo
Photos by The Pekoe Trail - Sri Lanka | Official Profile near Gawarawela, Uva (Sri Lanka)
The pekoe trail

Stage 18 - Hali-Ela To Ettampitiya

The famous Dickwella Tea Factory, which offers unobstructed views of the valley and rolling hills below, is one of the trail’s highlights. The town of Ettampitiya is where the stage concludes.

stage 18 | Pepper Life | Travel agency in Colombo