Taking on a Challenge. Pekoe Trail 02 Sri Lanka
After a restful night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we set out with eager hearts and renewed energy to conquer the Pekoe Trail 02 from Galaha to Loolcondera, a distance of 14.6 kilometers.
Known for its ‘moderately challenging’ terrain and breathtaking vistas, this trail was divided into two sections: Galaha to Deltota and Deltota to Loolcondera. We were yet to find out what ‘moderately challenging’ was!
As we began the trail from Galaha, a charming town nestled in the hills of Sri Lanka, the day dawned bright and early. Accompanied by fellow hikers Hemanthi and Anoma, we embarked on our adventure, eager to experience all that lay ahead.
Following the main road for just over a kilometer, we turned right at the sign that read, ‘Welcome to the Deltota Estate.’ As the trail was not officially opened as yet, it was all thanks to the All Trails app that we managed to find our way.
One of the highlights of the trip was encountering the locals along the way, who loved to ply us with so many questions: Where are you from? What country? Why alone? Can we take pictures?
Teaching an old shopkeeper how to take photos!
The trail to Deltota took us almost 3 hours on estate roads, past an old kovil and over mountains.
As the day wore on, we reached the bustling town of Deltota, where we stopped at a small grocery store to enjoy some ice cream and cold water, which provided much-needed relief from the scorching heat.
As we continued on the trail from Deltota, we faced unexpected challenges, from navigating a pine forest crawling with leeches and (possibly) hidden snakes to bushwhacking our way through dense vegetation and climbing over fallen trees, sometimes unable to get over it!
From that point on, the path became steep and challenging, with no discernible markings to guide us. Despite the terrain’s difficulty, we were rewarded with stunning views of the lush green forests and the surrounding mountains, the sun beating down on us relentlessly as we pushed forward.
We even had to balance on the edge of precipices, watching our steps with care. Despite the physical exhaustion, we remained steadfast in our determination to complete the trail.
Finally, as we arrived at the end of the trail at Loolcondera, we were greeted by a stunning vista of rolling hills and tea plantations. Established in 1867 by Scotsman James Taylor, the Loolcondera Estate was the first tea plantation in Sri Lanka. Taylor, who arrived in British Ceylon in 1852, settled on this estate and worked with Thomas Lipton. Though Taylor passed away in 1892 and was buried at the Mahaiyawa Cemetery in Kandy, his legacy and the breathtaking views of his plantation remained.
However, our joy was short-lived as we realized we were stranded on a lonely estate road with no means of returning to our starting point. It was at this moment that I came to the realization that the lodging I had initially reserved was too far to reach with no available means of transportation in sight. With dusk settling in fast, we managed to hitch a ride on a private bus that took us close to Deltota town. Whilst taking refuge inside a small wayside shop, we contacted Yasas, the manager of Windloft Retreat, who kindly offered us a room for the night.
Upon arriving at Windloft Retreat, we were greeted with warm hospitality, comfortable rooms and excellent service. We will always appreciate Yasas’s kindness, which saved us from what could have been a total misadventure.
Our journey along the Pekoe Trail from Galaha to Loolcondera was an unforgettable experience, pushing us both physically and mentally. However, it also allowed us to connect with the local community, appreciate the beauty of nature, and witness the resilience of the human spirit.
As we ended Trail 02, we experienced a profound sense of appreciation for the adventure that had strengthened our spirits thanks to our stamina and persistence, created bonds of friendship and left an enduring impression on our hearts.
We reminded ourselves that this was not a race but an experience, and we took our time to soak in every moment of the journey.
So, two done, 20 more to go!
And oh the very many side stories we had at each turn, making this such an awakening to the spirit. As for us, each group of hikers, I’m sure, will experience this Trail 02 in their own special way and will have their own collection of side stories to spice it up!
Of course! We did it our way!
I’m so happy you invited us to join you. Enjoyed the new hiking experience very much. I would recomend this to all nature loving people.
You have documented it so well.
Not the first nor the last! We have to put that new backpack to good use soon.