Saptha Kanya or Seven Virgins is located near Laxapana Falls (Sri Lanka’s eighth highest waterfall) and is a seven-peak mountain range in the Nuwara Eliya district. Five of the peaks are easily visible while two lie further away. This mountain range became notorious after the tragic plane crash in 1974 which killed all 191 people on board.
On the trail
We travelled in our own vehicle through Ginigathena to Norton Bridge and then a further 8km towards Maskeliya. (If you’re using public transport it’s probably best to take a tuk tuk from Norton Bridge.) A fork to your left marks the start of the trail to the Laxapana Falls. About 1.5 km further, at a tea estate in Koththellana village begins the trail to Saptha Kanya. On the first day, we hiked up to the fourth peak and camped at the top. We could have gone further but were hampered by the rain. On the second day we reached the fifth peak and enjoyed the breathtaking view.
The entire hike is pretty strenuous. Pushing through thick jungle and bamboo most of the way, it took us about 9 hours to reach the fifth peak. Wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves, eye protection and leech socks – it’s actually pretty hard to get away from the leeches. We only came across one small stream during the entire hike – and this was a rainy day – so remember to take plenty of water. 1.5 litres should do for the hike but take more if you’re camping or cooking. We were able to find firewood easily but a bit of kerosene helped keep the fire alight. There are no clear paths over the peaks so it’s a good idea to take a local guide with you unless you are an experienced hiker with exceptional navigation skills.
This memorial marks the site of the plane crash. Parts of the wreckage are missing or stolen and the site is poorly maintained.
The trail begins about 1km away from the Laxapana Falls trail head.
The trail begins with an orderly walk through the neatly trimmed tea bushes – then you enter the jungle.
This is the first vantage point after a brief slog through the jungle. It is located at the base of the first peak.
This Buddha statue was placed near the plane crash site by the people of the village. A makeship covering protects it from the elements.
Until you reach the fifth peak there is no proper vantage point.
On a clear day you can see some of the larger buildings of Colombo city as tiny white dots on the horizon.