Travel Where to Hike in Sri Lanka

Where to Hike in Sri Lanka

2019 Dec 20

Mountains are one of nature’s precious jewels that mankind should treasure. According to the United Nations, mountains are home to 15% of the world´s population and a quarter of the world’s land animals and plants. They provide fresh water for everyday life to half of humanity. Their conservation is a key factor for sustainable development and is part of Goal 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

This International Mountain Day, Pulse has taken the liberty to introduce some of the most sought after hiking trails and destinations for your benefit. There are trails for all sorts of experiences, from easy walks to more intense treks. Sri Lanka also has over 400 waterfalls and rivers which and are another key attraction that allows hikers and trekkers to enjoy a refreshing dip en-route! And hey! It’s a holiday, so pack your bags!

Things to be aware of during a hike:

  • Weather conditions
  • Length of the trek
  • Ammunitions (water, food, insect repellant etc.)
  • Appropriate clothing
  • A tent if needed

1. Ella Rock

We have to be honest with you, this can be a knee-busting hike so it is best to chug a Red Bull, have a healthy breakfast and have enough hydration because the Ella Rock is a day hike from Ella town in the highlands itself. There are approximately 16 paths to the summit, and the last half is quite a bit of a climb (unless you have pretty good lungs).  It is best if you can have a guide in order not to get lost, but hey, at least a neighbourhood dog could be your companion!


2. Little Adam’s Peak

Little Adam’s Peak is another hike in the mountain town of Ella. This hike is best taken in the morning and is quite easy compared to the Ella Rock hike and DEFINITELY WORTH IT! The view is a vast area of beautiful rolling hills and tea plantations covered in mist. This is a vertical climb with two paths to take to reach the end destination; one is a series of steep stairs and the other is through bushy foliage. Even though you would be huffing and puffing at the end of this hike, make sure to catch the glorious sunrise from the peak as it’s surely a sight to see!


3. Meemure

Known to be the most isolated village in Sri Lanka, this requires taking a trail from the infamous Knuckles Range. This is definitely no feat for beginning day-time hikers as this hike is ideally a two-night long hike. The Meemure village is easily accessible but remember that if you want to make the hike up the mountain, you need special permission from the Forestry Department. Should you be granted special permission, the Diya Karalla will most probably be suggested by the residing local residents, this is a beautiful waterfall located right at the summit of the 3km vertical hike. In case you happen to run out of water and are hopefully taking the trail upstream, water bottles can be filled and pure fresh water can be enjoyed as well. 


4. Pidurangala

Also known to be the well-known neighbour of the great Sigiriya rock, Pidurangala is a large rock in the Sigiriya region with beautiful visuals of the Sigiriya rock fortress itself! A very direct vertical climb (easily climbed by fit hikers, but a couple of nasal breaths for the less fitter ones like me), this rock is a must climb for all hikers. Being a great tourist attraction, it can be crowded during peak months and weekends.


5. Kirigalpottha

Kirigalpottha is the highest accessible mountain in Sri Lanka although you do need permission from the SLAF to climb Piduruthalaagala. A couple of steep rocks and bushes and you have yourself a stunning view to share with a friend!


6. Idalgashinna – Ohiya Railway Hike

With 13 tunnels to walk through, this trail is considered one of the most beautiful and straightforward treks in the country and all you need to do is to follow the rail track from one station to the other to complete this journey. There aren’t any imminent irritations of big scratchy boulders to sting you in the leg; all you need to look out for are pine trees and a few thorns here and there. The rail hike is an 8km walk between the Idalgashinna Railway Station and the Ohiya Railway Station, and the weather is consistently cool and therefore, the walk is energizing and refreshing.


7. Demodara Rail Hike and Nine Arches

This is the shorter and an equally beautiful version (HELLO INSTAGRAM!) of the Idalgashinna – Ohiya Railway Hike totalling to 3 km. At the end of your hike, you will reach the famous Nine Arches Bridge and if you are lucky, you will catch the picturesque view of the train travelling on top of the great bridge. Find cute cafes on the corners so you can be sure to stretch your legs after a refreshing walk!


8. Knuckles Range

The Knuckles Range is located in the Central Highlands, between the regions of Kandy and Matale. The mountains are called ‘knuckles’ because of their shape from certain vantage points. There are two options that can be followed for varying durations of the hike; a one day trail consists of a hike on the lower peaks, enjoying a hearty meal with your friends and trudging back home before nightfall. On the other hand, for the more serious hikers, the 3 day and 2 nights hike to Memure is the preferable option. The Knuckles Range hike is indeed great to try as you can experience the varying climate changes and ecosystems.


9. Horton Plains

Horton Plains National Park is an area in the Sri Lankan Highlands at around 2000 meters above sea level. The plateau is thick with foliage with refreshing gusts of enveloping wind and covered with beautiful trees, therefore, giving you a great journey until the end of the hike. This journey can be enjoyed by both beginners and seriously fit hikers alike due to its magnificent views, wildlife and trails leading to multiple other sights including Bakers Falls, Kirigalpottha, and World’s End.


10. Diyaluma

This hike takes you across fragrant fields of wild lemongrass and trees laden with local gooseberries, the end destination is the beautiful Diyaluma waterfall which is considered the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka and one that will take your breath away.

11. Yahangala

Rumoured to be where the great king Ravan rests in a peaceful slumber, this hike comes with more than a few risks, but the view is worth it in the end. Beware of the mist that can thicken in seconds and be prepared for unpredictable weather. Elevation keeps rapidly increasing from where it begins.

12. Thotupola Kanda


Located within the Horton Plains National Park, Thotupola Kanda is the third highest peak in Sri Lanka. Arrive early at the entrance to witness a spectacular sunrise. This is a relatively easy hike and is recommended for novice hikers. On a clear day you will be able to catch a glimpse of Horton Plains and other scenic mountain ranges.

We hope you found this very helpful to plan your next wondrous hike! Stay safe, be prepared and most importantly, enjoy the amazing wonders the mountainside of Sri Lanka has to offer.