From the steep slopes of the Knuckles mountain range, to the breath-taking view that is the reward for scaling World’s End, the hikes and trails in Sri Lanka are a beautiful way of seeing the country and getting in touch with nature. The choice of hikes in Sri Lanka can feel a little overwhelming. There are far too many to try to pack into one trip. So since you have to choose, which ones must you absolutely not miss?
Belihuloya is the perfect starting point for many of the trails. It’s unique positioning means that you can use it as a base for treks that include paddy fields, jungles, mountains and waterfalls. Keeping that in mind, the trek to Horton Plains is possibly the best in Sri Lanka.
Horton Plains, roughly 2,200 meters above sea level, is a magnificent and quite unusual environment. Patches of forest are sprinkled stingily across the grassy plains, and trees twist upwards from a gently sloping verdant field. There’s wild life here as well, monkeys that will chatter to you from branches, elephants that loom in the distance and the ubiquitous sambar deer. A glimpse of the Sri Lankan leopard is a splendid treat and definitely worth watching out for! Another factor for why the Horton Plains stretch is such a wonder is the sheer amount of birds that are found there, some of which are endemic to the Island and other flocks that migrate. It’s a bird watcher’s dream! Of course the main reason the trek is so popular is the fact that the snaking rocky path leads you to one of the most breath-taking views you’ll ever see. World’s End, as it is called, drops dramatically some 800 meters and it takes real guts to stand on the edge and look over.
The trek up Adam’s Peak is also extremely popular. The mountain is impressive, rising out of the surroundings into a cone, its peak providing a fabulous vista. The mythology (To Buddhists, the large footprint is that of Lord Buddha, and to Hindu’s it is Lord Shiva’s. Christians believe it was Adam’s, thus the name) connected to it means that tons of pilgrims flock to it, and since heavy mist, rain and wind prevent it from being climbed for most of the year, the mountain may seem a logical idea to give the slip. However, the climb up is uniquely enjoyable and if you trek in the early hours of the morning and reach the top in time to catch the break of dawn, well, that is an experience not to be missed. It might be the definitive hike in Sri Lanka, a combination of the physical and spiritual, and at its simplest level, a lovely climb.
The Knuckles Mountain Range can be reached from Kandy. Its name is derived from its appearance, which is that of a clenched fist with the knuckles being five mountains nestled close together. The mountain range has had many safe and interesting paths prepared in it, with campsites as well. These lead to waterfalls, a mini world’s end and also connect to various tracks that take one through the same paths that tea plantation workers and others use. The flora and fauna is magnificent, the biodiversity of the range condensing and accounting for quite a bit of the variety of the whole island. There are countless caves and footpaths to take, and the choice makes this trek one of the most interesting in Sri Lanka.
If you are a seasoned trekker and would like to travel off the beaten path there are many hikes available for you as well. Check with Cinnamon Nature Trails on what other exciting excursion you can take with them!