Memos from Asia

Best Hiking Spots in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is undoubtedly a cultural marvel with some of the most amazing food and heritage spots in South Asia. But what makes the country truly shine as and live up to its name as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” (not just in its unique shape) is its breathtaking landscapes. Sri Lanka is a country blessed with stunning natural resources, ranging from sandy golden beaches, verdant rainforests teeming with diverse wildlife and flora. So if you’re visiting, be sure to take some time to plan ahead and visit it’s awe-inspiring trekking grounds with once in a lifetime views that make you wish the moment in time would last forever.

To help you make the most out of your stay in Sri Lanka, here are some of the best Trekking spots in the country.

Ella Rock

Beautiful view of mountains and valley in Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella Rock is located in Ella Village, Uva Province. From the already very beautiful and rustic Ella Railway Station, the trail to the viewpoint is lined with thick and verdant trees and jungle that spiral so heavily it’s easy to get a little lost without a guide. Once you hike up the trail encased with greenery, you’ll be greeted to lush landscapes of tea bushes and plantations as far as the eye can see. The hike to the top only takes around two hours and if you’d like you can even purchase some tea beforehand at Ella’s numerous shops selling the delicious fresh brew.

World’s End in Horton’s Plain

The Great World’s End, a drop of about 1200 meters, in the Horton Plains National Park in Nuwara Eliya

World’s End is one of the most famous and most visited trekking spots in the entire country. The fame of World’s End doesn’t come without very good reason. The ending point of the trail greets you to a sudden stop of a cliff with a stunning sight of the local Sri Lanka landscape, tea brushes, trees and rolling hills and slopes, tiny mountain towns dotted along the greenery. Aside from such a view you’ll also come across other wonders on the trail like the multi-tiered Baker’s Waterfalls that is very reminiscent of a cascading rice terrace formation. It’s best to travel in the high noon or shortly afterwards for a cloud-free view as trekking the trail too early will only give you a sea of clouds to gaze at (although the sight of that is still beautiful nevertheless!) All in all, World’s End is a quick and easy hike at about 2-3 hours with sights that are more than worth the effort.

St. Catherine’s Seat

The hike to St. Catherine’s Seat doesn’t have a ‘peak’ or a single viewing destination – what makes this trekking spot unique is that the entire hike is the view itself. The trail is also lined with magnificent scenery such as trees, local villages, and neat manmade rows of the tea plantations of the Nayabedda tea estate.

Kitulgala Rainforest Trekking

Kithulgala rain forest (Lasitha 1987, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Mountainous hikes with overarching views of tea plantations are definitely already very abundant in Sri Lanka. So if you want a change in scenery, then a trek to the Kitulgala Rainforest is a wonderful hiking option. You’ll get to cross the Keleni river with the help of tour guides in traditional Sri Lankan wooden boats, getting to experience first hand how the riverways were used in the past as the primary mode of transportation in the past. There are many hidden treasures to be discovered on this hiking trail, such as mini waterfalls, lakes, and streams to take a dip in after a long day of walking.

Adam’s Peak

Sun rise at Adam’s peak (Credit: Mahesh Dias, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Adam’s Peak is another very sought-after hiking spot in Sri Lanka, most especially known for its sacred footprint-shaped rock formation at the top of the 7000 foot mountain that makes it not only a popular tourist attraction, but also a holy sight of pilgrimage. The hike up to Adam’s peak takes two to four hours on foot – a great way of getting terrific views is trekking up there in the early hours of the morning at around 1-2AM so you get enough time to be at the peak of the mountain by the sunrise dawn. It’s best to also check the yearly dates for pilgrimage as to avoid the crowds during high season.

Pidurangala Rock

Pidurangala Rock (Credit: Ji-Elle, CC BY-SA 3.0)

What makes this trekking spot unique is not only the fact that it provides hikers with terrific views of tea plantations and the lush green landscapes, but also the history that stands behind it. Pidurangala Rock was once an ancient fortress now lined with abandoned castles and structures reminiscent of the beautiful history of Sri Lanka. The hike to the top of the rock takes only 30-40 minutes, best traversed before sunrise so you can catch a breathtaking 360 degree view of the scenery uncovered by fog and clouds. On the path up the viewpoint you’ll also come across other marvels such a reclining Buddha statue as well.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

A waterfall in Sinharaja Rainforest (© A.Savin, WikiCommons)

Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a protected reserve in Sri Lanka, a site of major biodiversity in the country which is home to hundreds of endemic trees and animals that are unique to the area. A hiking tour will take you through the sights and sounds of the deep, lush forests that locals had once described as ‘dark and mysterious’ in the past – thus the name ‘Sinharaja’ which stands for tiger is known to many in the local area as the guardian and protector of the beautiful abode. Nature lovers will get to photograph and spot a variety of different creatures in the area and eventually come across a hiking waterfall where you can rest, rejuvenate, and further admire the fresh scenery of the untouched reserve.

Sri Lanka’s natural marvels are definitely must-sees when visiting the beautiful Pearl of the Indian Ocean, the highlight of which are the satisfying sights of their tea plantations all lined up in neat rows combined with the overgrowth of forests and trees that just rejuvenate the spirit. Breathe in the fresh Sri Lankan countryside air with these beautiful trekking spots that have views more than worth the effort of the trail.

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