Sri Lanka is one of the worlds most special hiking destinations. No matter your experience, there will be a variety of treks to suit everyone, from easy walks to intense overnight treks. If you’re an avid trekker, then the diverse climate and landscape of Sri Lanka is sure to provide you with a true sensory experience.
Sri Lanka is a country that is becoming a much sought-after destination for holidaymakers, and trekking in Sri Lanka offers the opportunity for you to go off-road and explore the heart of the country in so many adventurous ways. Sri Lanka is home to 400 waterfalls, which just adds to the beauty of the many hiking trails.
The best part of trekking in Sri Lanka is the experience and location, with so many wonderful surprises in store in the form of wildlife, breathtaking views and waterfalls. When it comes to choosing a trek, there are a whole host of trails to choose from, so with that in mind, here are some of the top treks in Sri Lanka.
Ella is a beautiful village which is located in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka. The landscape may remind you slightly of the English countryside, with lush green meadows, railway lines and idyllic tea plantations, but these sights are best seen from Ella Rock.
Ella Rock is the highest cliff in the village and provides trekkers with stunning panoramic views across the village and beyond, making it one of the best hikes available in Sri Lanka. Easily a half day’s worth of hiking, this cliff sits above 1,000 metres sea level. It’s recommended that you begin your trek in the early morning, so as the miss the crowds which visit here in the afternoons. Once you reach the top, you’ll soon realise why taking this trail was worth it. If you are thinking about taking part in the Trek For Sight Sri Lanka adventure, then this will be one of the stops along the way.
If you are looking for a trekking trail which doesn’t have the usual attractions of tourist, then the Meemure trail is the one for you. Perhaps one of the most isolated villages in Sri Lanka, the Meemure trail is an experience that is unforgettable. This is one for more experienced trekkers as it can easily take two to three days to complete, but don’t let that put you off.
Meemure is a village which is completely and utterly surrounded by the dense, lush forests of the Knuckle Ranges and is a true natural ethereal beauty. What makes this trek so beautiful is the looming ‘Lakegala”, which is the world’s largest granite rock and is said to protect the village and its lake. If you do decide to take this trek, be prepared to take cautionary measures to repel the leeches, which are predominantly found along the trail.
One of the most popular and tourist-laden trails in Sri Lanka, Adam’s Peak is known for being quite challenging. With 5,200 stone steps to climb before you reach the top, it’s well worth the trek once you reach the top. Some say that, if you climb the stairs during the night, by the time you reach the top, you can witness one of the most spectacular sunrises in the world.
Adam’s Peak is of high religious value and offers a form of significance to all religions. Buddhists believe that the peak is in actual fact the left foot of Lord Buddha, whilst Hindus believe it to be Lord Shiva’s footprint. The Christian and Muslim faith believe that this was Adam’s first step after he was banished from the Garden of Eden.
You are likely to see a lot of pilgrims walking the stairs to reach the peak, but that is what makes it feel even more special. However, if you want to avoid the busy crowd times, avoid trekking on full moon days or during the Sri Lankan Year. What is easily a 3-4 hour trek can take anything up to 6 hours when the crowds are at their highest.
Whilst some people know Sri Lanka as being a beach country, others know it for being a hill country. The famous Knuckle Ranges, which are around 180km from Colombo, provide a whole host of trekking opportunities. The range gets its name from the five peaks, which are formed in the shape of knuckles.
There are plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities here, no matter what kind of trekker you are. You can take a one day hike to visit one of the lowest peaks or take a three-day expedition to Meemure. Oxfam’s Trek To Tackle Poverty features treks through the Knuckles Range, as well as a trek to Meemure, in the middle of their itinerary.
One of the most stunning things which people will find about trekking here is the abundance of nature and wildlife. This region, in particular, is filled with a wide variety of waterfalls, vegetation and lush greenery. The best part about the trails in the Knuckles Ranges is that the trails are more exotic than others in Sri Lanka, they tend to be tougher in difficulty and are far less crowded. If you are a true trek enthusiast, then the Knuckles Ranges is bound to be one of the most wonderful places you’ll ever visit to trek.
Kitulgala Rainforest Trek
If you want to make the most of the lush Sri Lankan rainforests, then take a trekking tour through the heart of the Kitulgala Rainforest Reserve. This region is blessed with lush, green vegetation and wonderful waterfalls, so you’re sure to fall in love with the scenic beauty which makes this trek one of the most unique in Sri Lanka.
Begin your journey in the rainforest with a wild catamaran ride and then trek through the shadows of the dense rainforest which towers above. If you’re a person with a true sense of adventure, then you’re sure to love the Kitulgala Rainforest, as it provides activities such as swimming with the fish, waterfall walking and rappelling. Be aware that this is the wettest region in Sri Lanka and monsoons happen around twice a year, so the best time to take part in this trek would be from February to April.
When planning your Sri Lankan trek, be sure to have all your documents, travel visas and documents arranged well in advance. Please make sure you review Smart Traveller before your trip to ensure that you have the right documents and check the visa requirements, particularly if you are planning on staying for an extended period of time. As you’ll be travelling around to carry out your treks, keep your documents safe and secure in your backpack. You should also be aware of where your native embassy is located in Sri Lanka, just in case!
About the author: Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer in the travel niche, and can provide advice on anything from packing essentials to hidden gems. When not writing, Natalie can be found reading a good book with a cup of tea or planning her next travel destination. You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976.