Ettampitiya to Loonuwatte – 18.60 km

This stage is currently walkable but not yet signposted. The official opening of this stage will be announced as soon as the signage has been completed.

This stage starts at Ettampitiya, a small yet busy town with plenty of shops to stock for the walk. It’s an 18 km stage divided into two very distinct parts. The first 8 km is a gradual descent towards the crossing of the region’s most distinctive river the Uma Oya.


That was a hard walk. Steep streets up and down and up again. Then something easier and nicer up to the Kukulagala viewpoint. There a protected area stretches around a bend in the Uma Oya River. From there it went down from an altitude of 1,080 m to the Uma Oya River (880 m), past a hydroelectric power station, over a suspension bridge uphill over paths and 380 caustic steps up to 1,180 m. The further path to Ettampitiya was then easy to manage.
I signed up for 5:30 in the morning to complete my hike to Lunuwatte. They invited me for breakfast, I wanted roti with sambal, dhal and boiled eggs. A modest and filling meal, good for long hikes. They missed my dogs, would have liked to see them again. However, 21 km would have been too exhausting for Lucky and Browny.
My way led up and down steep roads, past rice fields, a lake and temples to Lunuwatte. I got some provisions there. The end of my hike between Uda Pussellawa and Lunuwatte. From Lunuwatte the trail no. 19 led downhill through tea plantations and villages to a very beautiful Buddhist temple called Sri Bodhichethiyaramaya
I continued through a tea plantation and village where many young athletes were out and about. Apparently there was a school sporting event going on. In front of the Yahala Arawa School, I met a group of young students who wanted to invite me to the school. So there was only time for a group selfie with Lakshitha Nuwan and his friends.
On the way to the Kukulagala viewpoint, I met Thilagar, who wanted to hike with me to Hali-Ela from then on. At one house we got fresh drinking water from the resident. Just ask, it’s so easy to get in touch with people.
Kukulagala is a really nice place to stay. Below the viewpoint is a bend in the Uma Oya River and a vast nature reserve called Dawataella Forest Reserve.
A small lake with light blue lotus blossoms followed. Then it was 200m downhill to the Uma Oya River. On the way we stopped at a small shop that was right next to the hiking trail. The shopkeeper gave us delicious fruits called Jam Guava which I didn’t know before. Slightly sour and sweet, like a passion fruit.
The next spot was really interesting. A hydroelectric power station fed by the Uma Oya. The hiking trail leads around the power station and along the path that the water takes to the power station.
This was followed by a reservoir and the highlight of the hike. An old suspension bridge I first crossed 23 years ago while hiking from Horton Plains to Mahiyanganaya. It seemed to me as if the bridge still consisted of the old wooden slats from back then, only now some more were broken or missing. I always performed where there was a steel cable under the crossbars. At the same time I made a video and feared losing my balance or my cell phone. Luckily there were no crocodiles down in the river.
Now the part of the hike that I didn’t like began 300 m uphill over stairs and steep paths and a long staircase with 380 steps. Past overripe jackfruit trees with sweet-smelling, fermented fallen fruit. Surely a good schnapps could be made from it.
When I finally reached the top, a young girl jumped off a piece of land in my path and wanted to run downstairs. She was so scared of standing in front of a white nearly 2m man that she ran screaming back onto the property and disappeared into the house. Her father ran out, saw me and started laughing heartily. Such a pleasant laugh that, drenched in sweat, I decided to enter his property and ask for a rest. He invited me to his house, but I preferred to stay out in the wind. He wanted to carry a couch out for me, we agreed on chairs. In the meantime the whole family with wife, grandmother and children had gathered in front of the house. They offered us tea and rusks. 
The further way was then easier to cope with. Village paths, fields, a temple, a lake and tea plantations followed. We took a break at a large tree with a bench and a carved stone. There we met our first Pekoe Trail hiker. His speed was much higher than ours, and he also seemed much sportier. A fast walker, extreme athlete, in short our first “Ironman” on the Pekoe Trail. He was about to keep walking when he spontaneously decided to take a selfie with us. Would be happy if he sends me the picture if he reads this. Photo was taken at Dehiwinna school
Our final stop was at the Assistant Superintendent Bungalow. There I met the resident of the bungalow, Mr. Indika Premachandra who showed me through his garden. We couldn’t stay long. It was already dawn.
When we finally arrived in Ettampitiya it was already dark. The police put us in touch with the manager of the Galoya Hotel. There we reserved a room, went to a restaurant for dinner and hiked the last 2 km to the Galoya Hotel. Of which the first 700m of Pekoe Trail 18 from Ettampitiya to Hali-Ela.
This trail was a special challenge for our joints. Lots of steep paths and stairs. I was glad to have a kneeguard with me.
The path along the waterworks and over the suspension bridge is not for people with a fear of heights and impaired balance.
The times given in the Wikiloc app were too short for all the stages we have run so far. We needed significantly more time for breaks and photography. However, also because of my dogs and the search for accommodation/camping sites. You should rather assume 2-3 km/h.