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Hiking in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka simply could not stop surprising us with its magnificent beauty. From its breathtaking scenery, golden sunsets, and beaches stretching for miles, the little island has it all. Tread inland into the plush green landscape surrounded by misty mountains and you can uncover a few spectacular spots for hiking and immersing yourself in nature.
Whether you’re in it to simply take in the panoramic beauty of the great outdoors and embrace a breath of fresh air, or you’re a hardcore adventure trekker that likes to push your limits, there is a multitude of options to pick from for a nature lover in Sri Lanka.
We have listed some of our favourite hiking spots in Sri Lanka along with their difficulty levels so you can decide where you want to venture next.
1. Ella Rock
Difficulty level: 3.5/5
The beautiful little town of Ella is a must-see for the nature-loving traveller. Hidden amidst lush green mountainsides and cradled within miles of pine forests lies the Ella Rock, standing tall at a steep elevation of 1,041m in height.
The hike to the top through the beaten path can be slightly unnerving if you’re headed there without a guide, as the trail is not properly visible to a newbie hiker.
When you reach its summit after a three to four-hour long hike, you are rewarded with some breathtaking panoramic views of the railway lines trailing through the tea estates up in the hillside of Ella.
2. World’s End in Horton Plains
Difficulty level: 2.5/5
Horton Plains is a favourite destination among wildlife enthusiasts, as the vast evergreen forest landscape surrounded by flowing streams and mushy swamps offer shelter to an astounding number of mammals, reptiles and birds. Horton Plains is also a fantastic camping destination for the adventure traveller.
However, these campsites need to be reserved through the Wildlife Department Office in Colombo prior to your arrival.
Along the Horton Plains trek, you’ll pass a viewpoint at Baker’s Falls before reaching World’s End. Standing at an elevation of about 4,000m, on a good day you can see the whole world stretched to eternity before you.
3. Pidurangala Rock
Difficulty level: 3/5
While it gets overshadowed by its big brother the Sigiriya Rock, the beauty of Pidurangala and its viewpoints are worth taking note of.
The two-hour long hike to its top can be slightly challenging due to its steep climb off a beaten path and narrow passages between massive rock boulders. Be ready to even crawl through some parts of the boulders where you may require a helping hand to cross through.
Pidurangala offers a wonderful 360-degree view of the valley that stretches out for miles, not to mention the majestic Sigiriya Rock. The best time to be at the summit is at sunrise, where you can expect to witness the ancient fortress encapsulated in the golden sunrise.
4. Little Adam’s Peak
Difficulty level: 2/5
Another favourite hiking destination for travellers to Ella, the Little Adam’s Peak offers some of the most breathtaking vantage points of the mountainous landscapes on the island.
Set amidst the lavish tea estates, passing the smiling faces of the Ceylon tea pluckers, this mini Adam’s Peak has much to offer the nature-loving explorer. It is a fairly easy hike at 1141m even for a beginner, as it offers a decent path all the way up and it should take you around two hours to reach its summit.
5. Bush Walk in Yala National Park
Difficulty level: 1/5
One of the better ways of experiencing a region's wilderness and habitats is to head out on a bushwalk and fully immerse yourself in the jungle.
You can do just that with the one-hour Guided Bush Walk, by Wild Coast Tented Lodge located on the border of Yala National Park. Home to the Sri Lankan leopard, elephant and sloth bear, you can truly appreciate the variety of flora and fauna during your guided walk, where you'll be accompanied by the resort’s ranger.
You’ll learn how to study footprints of different creatures, identify the sounds of birds, and recognize warning calls from other smaller animals when they spot predators.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 20, 2021:
This is a well-structured and well-illustrated article. Anyone planning on hiking in Sri Lanka would do well to read this.