Top 6 Hiking Trails in Sri Lanka You Just Cannot Miss 0 278

Top 6 Hiking Trails in Sri Lanka You Just Cannot Miss 0 279

Hiking Sri Lanka

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – Sri Lanka is one amazing holiday destination to be in. With glorious beaches, resplendent nature and enthralling history, it’s no wonder that tourists flock to this little island nation. However, hidden amidst the myriad vacation options, you’ll find a rarely explored means of experiencing the real beauty of Sri Lanka – hiking.

Beaches may be the top draw in Sri Lanka, but the highlands of Sri Lanka and the enchanting mountain trails, softly undulating hills, rolling tea estates, meandering streams, magical forests and forgotten little villages nestled in mist-shrouded valleys are veritable treasure troves of wonder.

So, if you’ve always wanted to go on that grand adventure and sync with nature, it doesn’t get better than Sri Lanka. Adventure holidays are always better with a healthy dose of hiking so, without further ado, here are our top hiking trails in Sri Lanka:

Ella Rock

East of Horton Plains, the Ella Rock is a brisk hike for the quaint village of Ella. There are approximately 16 paths that wind up to the breathtaking summit of the Ella Rock. So, make sure you get a guide if you don’t fancy getting lost. The hike up the rock takes roughly two hours if you don’t take any breaks. The last leg of the ascent is quite arduous, unless you have knees of steel and lungs to match.

From valleys enveloped in mist and filigree waterfalls to tea estates and verdant greenery, you’ll be treated to a plethora of magnificent sights en route to the summit. The real treat, however, is the view from the top. It’s nothing short of spectacular, especially if you’ve managed to get a very early head start to catch the first rays of a magical sunrise.

Then you can make your way down, stretch out those tired legs and take a well earned break in one of the guesthouses in Ella or in one of the hotels in Ella Sri Lanka.

Horton Plains National Park

With Middle Earth-esque landscapes, mist-wreathed views and spectacular biodiversity, the Horton Plains National Park has some otherworldly beauty to it that hikers have been hard put to resist. At about 2,000 metres above sea level, this is the only National Park in Sri Lanka that allows visitors to walk through on designated trails. One of the most famous tourist destinations in Sri Lanka, the Horton Plains is a rich plateau that is home to lush forests, icy cold waterfalls, breezy grasslands and lakes swirling with mist. For hikers, there are short trails as well as longer trails that span the entire plateau. On the edge of the Horton Plains is where the real surprise is – the World’s End, a sudden and sheer 800 metre fall that will leave you awestruck at best.

The two most popular trails in Horton Pains are the Kirigalpoththa Nature Trail and the Thotupola Kanda Nature Trail. Kirigalpoththa is the second highest peak in Sri Lanka and the trail is arguably the best nature trail in Horton Plains. The hike up its summit is not too tough to tackle and allows you to experience the fragile and hauntingly beautiful ecosystem of the Horton Plains in all its glory.

Thotupola Kanda is the third highest peak in Sri Lanka and the trail up its summit is easy enough to tackle. Hiking up the Thotupola kanda will let you experience the unique montane forests of Horton Plains. On a clear day, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding savanna and forest patches of Horton Plains from the summit.

Knuckles Mountain Range

One of the best places for backpacking in Sri Lanka, the Knuckles Mountain Range and its ethereal cloud forests, secluded mountain villages, gushing waterfalls and amazing diversity of flora and fauna is a paradise for hikers. The mountain range has a number of hiking trails to choose from. These trails are, however, more suited for hikers with some experience. Also watch out for the sudden changes in temperature and weather.

Idalgashinna – Ohiya Railway Hike

This trail is considered as one of the most beautiful hikes in Sri Lanka and one of the easiest to tackle. All you need to do to complete this hike is follow the rail track from one station to the other. On this hike, you’ve nothing to worry about – no knee-busting walks or steep climbs –  just sweet smelling pine forests, eucalyptus and at the most, a few thorns and leeches. The hike will take you through 13 stunning tunnels but keep an eye and ear out for the puffing trains and you’ll be safe enough. This rail hike is an 8km walk but with the weather being cool and nippy and with the beautiful scenes of nature to keep you company, the hike is wholly refreshing.

Demodara Rail Hike and Nine Arches

A mini version of the Idalgashinna Rail trek and only about 2-3 kms long, the trail from the Demodara Railway Station to the Nine Arches Bridge is a hike that everyone can enjoy without breaking a sweat. Once you reach the famed Nine Arches Bridge, climb on one of the hills encircling the bridge, find yourself a nice cafe, stretch out your legs and wait for the train to rumble out into the morning mist.      

Note: Due to the possible dangers involved in railways hikes, the above mentioned rail hikes are strictly regulated by station officials. So make sure you get the all clear from them and check on train schedules before trying out these hikes.

Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada

A place of legends, Adam’s Peak is one of Sri lanka’s most iconic destinations. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, this magical peak has sparked the imagination for centuries and has been a focus for pilgrimage for more than 1000 years. Trekking up the mountain is hugely popular with both tourists and locals, who are drawn to its mystery as well as the enchanting beauty they are rewarded with at the top.

A typical climb starts in the middle of the night so you can reach the peak for a magnificent sunrise. When it comes to this conical peak, it’s true when they say that there may be no sunrise on earth like that of Adam’s Peak.

There are several routes that can be used to hike up the summit but the Hatton – Nallathanni route is the most popular trail to the summit. This trail is the shortest amongst the conventional trails leading to Sripada. Being the most popular trail, it is well paved for the most part. The hike up the summit is not an easy one so make sure that you’re up for the challenge.


Featured image by Vithurshan Sharma.

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Freelance writer by profession, travel and shopping aficionado, vintage stuff hoarder, absolute cricket fanatic and hopeless day dreamer, Afra is a 20-something obsessed with a multitude of things. When she's not writing, scrolling endlessly on Tumblr or obsessing with what to eat next, you'll find her nose buried in a novel or hands stained with water paints.

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