Hiking and trekking in Sri Lanka – The absolute bucket list

Hiking and trekking in Sri Lanka – The absolute bucket list

Not all those who wander are lost. We didn’t say that, J.R.R Tolkien did! And if you’re the type who likes getting lost for a while and letting the beauty of nature lead you down untrodden paths, Sri Lanka is definitely your calling for the wild and wondrous treks and hikes it has on offer, hiding the most magical spectacles at every nook and cranny. 

This tiny gem of an island is so varied in its geography that it has you gasping and exhausted with its sheer choice of places to explore. A little research however will let you understand the destinations that cater to your hiking and trekking needs and you can then plan your trips effectively suiting your requirement. Here’s a little guide to get you started.  

Simply said, Ella is breathtaking in its entirety. The cascading waterfalls, the rolling hills and the valley that hides many secrets, Ella offers many treks and hikes within it. The magnificent Ella rock hike takes approximately 04 hours and about 1000 meters above sea level, it offers you beautiful vistas of the mountains, various flora and fauna and even delightful streams of the freshest mountain water to freshen up. 

Another relatively easy hike is the little Adam’s peak which also offers up beautiful views of the surrounding mist robed mountains. If you are lucky, you can also catch breath-stopping sunsets atop the Little Adam’s Peak.

Image by by Hendrik Cornelissen on Unsplash

Horton Plains 

Located at above 2000 meters sea level, the Horton Plains is a plateau which is renowned for its marvelous waterfalls, the breezy grasslands, mist-covered lakes and the astounding variety of flora and fauna, most of which are endemic. There are several hikes that you can opt for, longer or shorter as you like.   Located at one edge of Horton Plains one finds the ‘World’s End’ named so due to its abrupt and steep 800 meter fall overlooking the countryside. This drop is often covered in mist and therefore one cannot often see the bottom which is one reason why it is referred to as the ‘World’s End’. However, on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of the miniature versions of the villages and towns at the bottom. (Velarde, 2017) 

Image by Ishan Kahapola Arachchi on Unsplash

The Knuckles range 

Located in the cool Central Highlands between Kandy and Matale, the Knuckles mountain range is another unique hike that Sri Lanka offers.  Spreading over 234 square kilometer, this mountain range boasts of around 35 mountain peaks rising over 915 meters and is shaped like a human fist owing to how it appears from various vantage points. (Lakpura, n.d.) 

There are many trails available in this mountain range, mainly Alugallenna trail , Itawala pathena trail, and the trail to the 5 peaks; Dothalugala trail and Mini World’s End via the Deanstone forest office. There are also places such as Ash Cave which is pre historic cave in the mountain range which makes for a wonderful camping site and Nitro Cave which is a large cave hidden deep inside the forest which is not very popular due to the difficulty of the trek through the thick forest. You can also visit Meemure, one of the most isolated villages in Sri Lanka where the beauty of nature and also the simplicity of a life that is one with nature can be explored. 

Image by Lia Panidara on Unsplash


A relatively easier trek, Pidurangala located in the region of Sigiriya and is highly recommended for its 360 degree views and surreal sunsets and sunrise. Once at the top you will be treated to a once in a  lifetime view of the Sigiriya rock in the distance which allows amazing photo opportunities of the rock from a different angle.   

Image by by Damien Cornu on Unsplash

Adam’s Peak 

More popular among pilgrims than hikers, the Adam’s Peak, believed to house a footprint of the Lord Buddha consists of 5200 steps to a height of over 2000 meters. November to May is off-season for this climb as it is often rainy but other times are ideal for the hike. Visit for the cultural significance as well as for the splendid sunrise at the top which often leaves one breathless. Also unique to this hike is the astoundingly rich biodiversity, many of which are endemic to Sri Lanka and also the flocks of butterflies that seem to take over the area during these times.  

Image by achinthya dinoli on Unsplash

By Jayani Senanayake 


Lakpura, n.d. Hiking & Trekking. [Online]  

Available at: https://lakpura.com/hiking-trekking [Accessed 15 February 2021]. 

Velarde, O., 2017. The Best Hiking and Trekking Trails in Sri Lanka. [Online]  

Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/sri-lanka/articles/the-best-hiking-and-trekking-trails-in-sri-lanka/ [Accessed 15 February 2021].  

Image reference 

Cover photo : Photo by Yves Alarie on Unsplash