The Best Hiking and Trekking Trails in Sri Lanka

Clamber up Pidurangala for an arresting angle of Sigiriya
Clamber up Pidurangala for an arresting angle of Sigiriya | © Nando Machado / Alamy Stock Photo

Sri Lanka Hub Writer

Sri Lanka is a special hiking destination. There are trails for all sorts of experience levels, from easy walks to more intense treks. The country also has more than 400 waterfalls, a visit to which is included in plenty of hikes. Got your walking boots laced, camera packed and sunscreen on? Here are the best hiking and trekking trails in Sri Lanka.

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Ella Rock

Wake up early to avoid the crowds trekking to Ella Rock

Ella Rock is a day hike from Ella town in the highlands, about 1,000m (3,280ft) above sea level. It’s best to leave your hotel or guesthouse early in the morning to avoid the crowds and the rain that usually comes in the afternoons. You might have a neighbourhood dog following you up to the top.

Little Adam’s Peak

Little Adam’s Peak is another hike in the mountain town of Ella. An easy day (preferably morning) hike, the views from Little Adam’s Peak is of rolling hills and tea plantations (although it’s sometimes covered in mist).

Horton Plains and World’s End

Trek to World’s Edge for a bird’s-eye view over the Sri Lankan countryside

Horton Plains National Park is an area in the Sri Lankan Highlands at around 2,000m (6,560ft) above sea level. It consists of a rich plateau with thick forests, breezy grasslands, misty lakes and fresh waterfalls. There are a few options for hikers on Horton Plains, from one-hour trails to longer ones that span the entire plateau. On one edge of Horton Plains is World’s Edge, a sudden 800m (2,625ft) fall overlooking the countryside. On a clear day, you can even see the ocean.

Knuckles Range

The Knuckles Mountain Range is home to pretty tea plantations

The Knuckles Range is located in the Central Highlands, between Kandy and Matale. The mountains are called knuckles because of their shape from certain vantage points. The Knuckles Range has plenty of options for all types of hiker. One option is to take a day hike to one of the lowest peaks, have lunch at the top and come down a different way. Another is to take a three-day, two-night expedition to Meemure. Apart from those classic routes, there are other trails that can be explored with Rapid Adventures. One of the most special things about the Knuckles Range is that hikers can experience all types of ecosystem, including sudden changes in weather and temperature.

Meemure

Meemure is the most isolated village in Sri Lanka, so forget trying to tackle it in a day. Hikes of more than two days are easier for experienced hikers. To get to Meemure, go to the Knuckles Range and take a trail from there. Whatever option you take, the main attraction is the pointy mountain looming over the village.

Pidurangala

For an epic view of Sigiriya Fortress, hike Pidurangala

Pidurangala is a large rock in the Sigiriya region – hike it for a great view of the Sigiriya Fortress and 360-degree vistas of the valley around. Many trek Pidurangala at dawn to watch the sunrise, and then (after lunch) travel up Sigiriya for sunset. A breakfast picnic atop Piduragangala is also a great way to start the day.

Adam’s Peak

The hike to Adam’s Peak is more a pilgrimage than a hike. Followers from all four of Sri Lanka’s main religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity – hold the mountain as sacred, giving them all reason to climb the 5,200 steps to a height of more than 2,000m (6,560ft). Most make the calf-aching trek to reach the top for sunrise, but in reality there are people shuttling up and down all day and night. If you’re thinking of making the trip, try to avoid November to May, when the rains fall.

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