Sri Lanka is an small island in the Indian ocean very rich with its own mountain ranges, landscapes, waterfalls, rivers, golden beaches, wildlife, birds, bio-diversity and endless nature. And also this miracle island is rich with both natural and man-made world heritage sites, culture and history, amazing human creations, traditional lifestyle of people and many more. Sri Lanka is one of best destination for trekking and hiking for worldwide tourists. There are many trekking destinations in Sri Lanka and following are top five trekking routes.
Knuckles Mountain Range
The Knuckles Mountain Range lies in central Sri Lanka, in the Districts of Matale and Kandy. The range takes its name from a series of recumbent folds and peaks in the west of the massif which resembles the knuckles of clenched fist when viewed from certain locations in the Kandy district. Whilst this name was assigned by early British surveyors, the Sinhalese residents have traditionally referred to the area as Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning mist-laden mountain range. Knuckles Mountain Forest Range covering an area of approximately 21,000 ha is a part of the Central Highlands World Heritage site, declared in 2010. Though it is a part of Central Highlands it is well separated by Mahaweli river valley from the sides of South and east and Matale valley from the west.Knuckles Mountain Forest Range consists of a range of vegetation types that have resulted from diverse climatic and topographic conditions. Among these are the humid tropical lowland semi evergreen forest, tropical sub-mountain humid evergreen forest, montane grassland (patana) and pygmy forest. The complexity brought to the area with vegetation types is further increased by range of modifications made to the landscape by people since the British colonization.
Knuckles Mountain Forest Range supports a rich biological diversity with 128 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians, 53 species of reptiles, 15 freshwater species and 31 mammal species. All species are not equally distributed throughout the range. Their distribution depends on multiple factors such as food availability, availability of nesting sites etc. that vary with climate, elevation and land cover.
Trekkers could enjoy both knuckles peak hike which is 16 kilometers both ways and knuckles waterfall trekking which is 09 kilometers both ways. The best time to start trekking is 06.30 am and overnight stay at camping site would make the journey perfect trill and adventures.
Hiking & trekking in Devil’s Staircase trail to Ohiya
The track through the Devils Staircase is one of the most popular hiking and jeep tracks in the hills of Sri Lanka. The difficulty levels and the spectacular view of the green mountains of Sri Lanka has made this a hikers paradise but only the most ardent hikers will undertake this 15 km hike. Generally hikers choose the Bambarakanda Rest near Bambarakanda Ella Falls as the starting point to the journey if they wish to start the journey from this end. This trail goes over old dilapidated estate roads through many estates. This trail ends on the Ohiya – Horton Plains road around the halfway distance from Ohiya Railway Station to the Horton Plains Entrance.
There are no markers along the route, therefore it’s advised to use a guide if attempting the journey for the first time. The route has number of folks and they could easily divert you from the original path. The trail is 15 km long from Bambarakanda and would take approximately 7 hours to complete the hike. The two most popular points on the route is the “V cut”, a channel cut through the hill to allow the road to pass through. You will come across this after entering the Udaveriya estate. Passing this, the road will go across a stream which creates the tallest fall in the country, the Bambarakanda Falls.
The best time to start trekking is 07.30 am at the Bambarakanda trail head. Once you reach to Ohiya you can spend overnight at small local guest houses or local homestays near by enjoying natural beauty of hill country and comfortable climate.
Hiking/trekking to Kirigalpoththa Mountain via Horton Plains.
Kirigalpoththa is the 2nd highest Mountain of Sri Lanka after Pidurutalagala. With a peak elevation of 2,388 meters above sea level. Kirigalpoththa is the highest point in the Horton Plains National Park and also the highest peak accessible to the public. This 7km trail (one way) will take around 5 1/2 hours of trekking, hiking & mountaineering challenges. Attempting Kirigalpoththa is for the daring adventurers only as the conditions can be treacherous due to the difficulty of the terrain and weather. For every eight people who have reached the summit, one has always never reached the summit. A single & a slightly overgrown path snake through grassy plains, cloud forest, bog & finally steep rock surfaces. Sri Lankan Leopard & Sambur are the bigger wild animals you may sometimes come across; if you are lucky, you may even encounter a few endemic bird species as well. Horton Plains National Park in Pattipola is a protected area in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. This plateau at an altitude of 2,100– 2,300 meters (6,900–7,500 ft.) is rich in biodiversity and many species found here are endemic to the region. This region was designated a national park in 1988. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) from Ohiya, 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) from the world famous Ohiya Gap/Dondra Watch and 32 kilometers (20 mi) from Nuwara Eliya.
The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers, the Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. In Sinhala the plains are known as Maha Eliya Plains. Stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found here. The plains’ vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest, and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sāmbhar deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an Important Bird Area with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to the Horton Plains. Forest dieback is one of the major threats to the park and some studies suggest that it is caused by a natural phenomenon. Horton Plains is located on the southern plateau of the central highlands of Sri Lanka. The peaks of Kirigalpoththa (2,388 meters (7,838 ft.)) and Thotupola Kanda (2,357 meters (7,733 ft.)), the second and the third highest of Sri Lanka, are situated to the west and north respectively. The park’s elevation ranges from 2,100–2,300 meters (6,900–7,500 ft.). The rocks found in the park belong to the Archaean age and belong to the high series of the Precambrian era and are made up of Khondalites, Charnockites and granitic gneisses. The soil type is of the red-yellow podzolic group and the surface layer is covered with decayed organic matter. Best time to start trekking is at 06.00 am as usual.
Trekking to Lipton Seats from Haputale
Lipton’s Seat is the most famous viewpoint where the man himself, Sir Thomas Lipton used to look over his tea plantation and host tea parties with his guests. Lipton’s Seat is the highest observation point located on the hills of Poonagala, near the Dambatenne Tea Factory. For the best view, visit before 10.00 am. Tea and vegetable plantations, endless views across south coast, smiling school children and amazing nature en-route makes you amazed.
Best time to start journey is 6.00 am with the sunrise, this route is amazing through tea plantations, local village, vegetations and endless views. This trekking is 15 km one way from Hapulate.
Trekking to Little Adams Peak and Ella Rock
The small hill town of Ella has gained popularity over recent times thanks to its stunning vistas and jaw dropping mountain silhouettes. Hiking and trekking to some of the most beautiful view points are a popular pastime here. Mountains such as Worlds End, Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak are a few of most popular names in the town. There are several small accommodation types to cater to the travellers that venture here. Ella can be accessed via train, car or bus. Weather in Ella is mostly great, as it’s cool in the mornings and evenings, and gets hot by midday.
Little Adams Peak
Deriving its name from its big brother, the sacred mountain Adam’s Peak, Little Adam’s Peak is 2243m above sea level. The trail to the mountain is fairly average and would require you to have a medium level of fitness. With marked paths, you’ll have to clamber through some narrow rocky areas to reach the summit. The view from the peak is definitely worth the arduous climb. The ideal time to start your hike is either in the morning or late evening, when it isn’t to hot. Approximately it will take around one and half hours of time for both ways.
The iconic Ella Rock is a mesmerizing view point that gives you an unhindered view of the mountain silhouettes and the villages below. Loved by hikers and nature enthusiasts, conquering Ella rock during your stay here is an absolute must!
Best time is to start early in the morning at 6.30 am to enjoy sunrise and it will take two hours of time to complete trekking both ways.