Hiking in Sri Lanka, Adams peak hike
About Sri Lanka with valuable information for your Sri Lanka tour

Hiking in Sri Lanka

Most wildlife reserves have a large stock of animals and suitable for wildlife explorations tours, mountains and forests provide suitable grounds for trekking, hiking, mountain climbing and for many other adrenaline-pumping sports. In this article “Hiking in Sri Lanka”, we are talking about some of the best hiking places in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Temple in the Sky and other places for Hiking in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a tropical holiday destination known to the world for many millennia, the island was earlier known to the world under name of “CEYLON” today it is called Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is multi-faceted holiday destination with cultural attractions, historical monuments, wildlife reserves, primaeval rainforests and beaches. However, you may think that Sri Lanka is a small country and has very little to offer other than beaches and saltwater activities. But you are wrong because Sri Lanka has a large extent of forest cover, mountains and some of the rainforests in Sri Lanka dating back Gondwanaland era.

Most wildlife reserves have a large stock of animals and suitable for wildlife explorations tours, mountains and forests provide suitable grounds for trekking, hiking, mountain climbing and for many other adrenaline-pumping sports. In this article “Hiking in Sri Lanka”, we are talking about some of the best hiking places in Sri Lanka.

Adam’s peak hike in a nutshell

  • A great deal of hiking in Sri Lanka required hard work, as well as patience. For example, the hike at sri pada and Adam’s peak and Sigiriya rock fortress.
  • Adams’s peak is one of the most popular places for hiking in Sri Lanka and, the view from the top of the mountain is simply spellbinding.
  • Perhaps you will find the lavish narration of the sunrise seen from Adam’s peak is overrated, this is very popular hiking in Sri Lanka and directly attributed to the religion, the hiking takes place through the chilled night is very difficult.
  • If you need to witness the sunrise from Adam’s peak, the visitors need to make a moonlight hiking in Sri Lanka, which lasts about 5 hours upon many thousands of steps, it is not something for the faint-hearted.
  • According to the historical information, Adam’s peak has been a pilgrimage site for the people of Sri Lanka for more than 1700 years. Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics as well as Muslims considered it to be a place of worship.
  • However, witnessing the dawn from the mountain top is lifetime wish of every Sri Lankan. As the twilight fading large number of people flock to the temple in order to see the big moment.
  • Adam’s peak is the 3rd highest mountain in Sri Lanka, the mountain is 2243 meters (7360 feet) high; the summit is reached via a narrow, steep path that features 5000 steps. It is a place for pilgrims, nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Why is Adam’s peak hike is so important?

People of Sri Lanka call it “samanala kanda” (peak of butterfly), Sri Pada or Adam’s peak, which is the most popular mountain in Sri Lanka as well as the site of the most popular hiking in Sri Lanka. At the pinnacle of the mountain is a Buddhist temple with a stone slab which contains the footprint of Buddha. One of the popular names for this mountain Sri Pada literally means the foot of Buddha. However the Hindu devotees believe it to be the footprint of God Shiva and Muslims believe it is the footprint of Prophet Adam, one of the popular names of the mountain Adam’s peak derived from this thought.

According to the Christians, the stone slab at the top of the mountain is engraved with the footprint of Apostle St.Thomas. Whoever the footprint belongs to this temple has been a leading pilgrimage site for all major religions on the island and all religious groups carry out their activities with harmony. This temple, which shines in the sky, is a place that retains religious harmony.

Hiking in Sri Lanka, sri lanka hiking, adam's peak hiking

Buddhist flags in all sizes line-up the Narrow, steep steps from the 1st step of the staircase uppermost step; it is a clear sign of Buddhist domination at the site. However, the visitors encounter a large number of foreign tourists every morning, who are venturing to the top of the mountain in order to see the sunrise and enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way. The peak wilderness, which is a wildlife reserve envelopes the Adam’s Peak Mountain, this patch of forest is resided by a large number of wild animals and it is an evergreen rain forest with higher biodiversity.

The flat surface on the mountain is small but can accommodate nearly a hundred people at a time. On top of the circular surface, the visitors encounter a small rectangular shrine which is built to house the stone slab with the footprint. Behind the shrine room is the tower with a hanging bell. It is customary to ring the bell by every visitor, who reaches the shrine; the number of strikes should resemble the number of all visits undertakes so far.

Hiking in Sri Lanka, sri lanka hiking, adam's peak hiking

When is the best time to hike Adam’s peak?

As I was reaching the top during my first visit to the site (with a group of foreign travellers), it had been very crowded, because we have chosen the peak pilgrimage season to go up the mountain. However, the pilgrimage season (from Nomevbr to April), is the best time to do the hike, most importantly due to the safety reasons. The hiking trail is abandoned during rest of the year, not illuminated, slippery (due to the frequent rain), encroached by the jungle and wild animals. You hardly find any visitors throughout the hike during the off-season.

During the peak pilgrimage season, the upward, as well as downward journey, might take up to 8 hours due to the tourists and pilgrimage traffic, demanding you to allocate more time for the journey. The delays of the movement might occur especially on public holidays due to the large concentration of local devotees to the site.

Reaching the summit as the dawn breaks is the wish of everyone, everyone at the top of Adam’s peak is keeping the antenna up and watching the eastern sky to catch the first glimpse of the sunrise. I was lucky to station myself in a place that enables me to see the sunrise clearly. There are several conditioned to be met in order to witness the clear sun-rise from Adam’s peak, the most important fact is the cloud-free sky. As the sun rises, the cone-shaped shadow of the mountain lands on the surface of the peak wilderness and diminish gradually in a few minutes.

The view from the mountain

The view from the mountain is incredible; the smell from just a few meters away from the peak is also very intense, where peoples burn incense sticks. Ther is no suitable place for a rest on the summit, even though you make an hours-long, very difficult hike. The restrooms are not well maintained; therefore it is largely unsuitable to put into work. If you wish to go up the mountain of Adam’s Peak it is highly recommended to reducing the chances of using the toilet near the peak as much as possible. There are a large number of guesthouses and restaurants near the starting point of the climb, the travellers can easily freshen up just before starting the climb.

Red-faced monkeys known as macaque are also frequented in the area along with the devotees. These red-faced monkeys are gathering to the area to find food, sometimes the people feed these monkeys. However, getting too close these animals can be dangerous because macaque monkeys can be aggressive and there is a chance of attacking people.

Hiking in Sri Lanka, sri lanka hiking, adam's peak hiking

The pilgrimage season starts in the month of December parallel to the North-East monsoon and subsequently last 6 months. It is highly recommended to refrain from climbing Adam’s peak during the off-season due to the wild animal attacks and adverse weather. There are hardly any Sri Lankan and foreign traveller set off on this journey during the off-season.

The month of December is a slightly cooler month with moderately lowered temperature, especially in the mountainous areas. Full moon days are the best time to climb Adam’s peak due to the light. However the stairs of Adams peak are illuminated by electric lights but they provide hardly any adequate light, it is better to have a head torch to get the better view on the steps and surrounding area. Don’t forget to cover-up against the cooler climate on the mountain, you might feel it very cool as you seas the movement and waiting for the sunrise.

The trekker encounters many stalls and boutiques selling Tea, Coffee, Rotty and many other things required by the people, some of them provide well-maintained toilettes. These are resting points and located infrequent intervals.

Climbing Adam’s peak is mainly a religious affair and undertaken by the local people, but there are many thousands of foreign travellers who set off on this arduous journey in order to experience this pilgrimage to the highest elevated temple in the world, which lies 2243 meters above sea level. The tourists are benefitted in many ways during the march, 5 hours long trek is a wonderful opportunity to mingle with the local community coming from various parts of the country. And this trek also helps the foreign travellers to witness the rich natural wealth around the area.

Sri Lanka’s best hikes

Dambulla cave temple, Hiking in Sri Lanka, sri lanka hiking
Dambulla cave temple, one of the oldest cave temples in the world hides thousands of buddha statues and thousands square meters of the ceiling and wall paintings dates back to 1st century BC.

1. Hiking in Sri Lanka: Dambulla cave temple

Better known as Golden cave temple for the elegantly painted granite caves in the jungle of boulders, in the central province of Sri Lanka is a great place to see the Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka. Artistically rich cave temple accommodates hundreds of statues and many thousands square meters of the painted ceiling. Pilgrims from all over the island gathering here to see one of the oldest temples in the world, which is a UNESCO world heritage site and dating back to 1st century BC. Dambulla golden cave temple is an essential part of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka and located at the heart of triangular area demarcated by Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. Today Dambulla cave temple is under the purview of archaeological department. The temple is located close to t5eh Dambulla town, about 181 km away from Colombo. It is about a 30 minutes trek from the foot of the mountain to the cave temple. There are well-paved granite stairs leading to the temple.

sigiriya fortress, Hiking in Sri Lanka, sri lanka hiking, sigiriya hiking
Monolithic rock was converted to a magnificent city with landscaped gardens, ponds, fountains, caves, frescoes, a palace and swimming pools in 5th century AD.

2. Hiking at Sigiriya rock fortress

If you look for something – both mentally and physically – then you should consider a drive to Sigiriya rock fortress. Laidback small town in the dry-zone of Sri Lanka is popular for iconic granite monolithic rock, known as Sigiriya rock fortress. It was the capital of Sri Lanka during the reign of renegade King Kashyapa. Today the fortress is visited by thousands of Sri Lankan and foreign travellers to take a glimpse of the rich artistic and engineering feats of the ancient people of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is a popular UNESCO world heritage site that can be visited all year round. The Sigiriya rock fortress is an essential part of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya rock hike

Sigiriya hike starts near the parking areas of the western gate of the Sigiriya rock fortress. The ticket counter is also located near the western gate, making it easy for visitors to get hold of the ticket. Most travellers think that it would be an easy hike at Sigiriya because it is very flat and the magnitude of the hike cannot be ascertained from the distance. No one can see the actual height of the rock until get close to it; the western entrance is about 1km away from the foot of the rock.  Before arriving at the site you have to pass a forest track and paved road.

Sigiriya rock hike, hiking in sri lanka
Rock cut steps of Sigiriya rock, steps are narrow and they are carved on to teh natural rock in 5th century AD

Sigiriya Hike indetails

You have to start the march eastward from here, which fairly easy on the flat gravel path. The direction to go is clear because you can see the rock in the distance; in fact, a large number of youths at the site help you to find the direction if you are confused, these young people, are working as site guides and guide foreigners to explore the rock fortress complex. Same times you can find informative signs about the place and give you a hint about where to go next.

As you march east towards from your vehicle, the ticket counters are to be found on the right side and toward the left side it the cloakrooms. This is the last opportunity you get to use a cloakroom before entering the site. Once you started the march at the main gate, there is no chance of emptying your bottle until you return to the main gate. The hike may last 2 or 3 hours, depending on your physical fitness.  

At the nearby main entrance, your tickets will be checked and stamped, authorizing you to enter the site. You have to keep the ticket with until you come to the parking areas again, because sometimes the tickets are checked again inside the site, by the officers of the archaeological department.

Once you enter the site it is a wide-open area with some brick structures that remains from the ancient constructions. You will come to the landscaped garden, fountains, swimming pools and many other constructions along the way.

 You need to march about 200 meters before reaching the ancient rock-cut steps. Afterwards, the climb gets gradually steeper and harder. About half of the march at Sigiriya is on flat ground while the rest is a steep climb on narrow steps.  According to Sarath, a young boy, who works at Sigiriya there are 1200 steps at Sigiriya, and about half of the steps are hewed into the natural rock while rest is done using burnt terracotta bricks.

You continue on the same direction thought the hike, the only exception is at the fresco pocket, where you have to climb on a spiral stair to see the paintings.  The fresco pocket is to be found about halfway down the track.

Lion terrace is an open area that you see after the mirror wall and fresco paintings; the ascent from the lion terrace is much easier than, what you have done so far because part of the steps is newly done with iron and protected with iron railing.  This is the last leg of the hike and it takes about 20 minutes to reach the top of the rock. The open area is a resting point for most travellers before continuing with the last part of the ascent.  From here you can have a nice view of the surrounding jungle, isolated paddy fields, villages, lakes and tanks.

sigiriya fortress, Hiking in Sri Lanka, sri lanka hiking, sigiriya hiking
Sigiriya hike with a beautiful view over the surrounding area

After brief rests make the remains of the hike on the metal stairs, and you will reach the summit without any trouble, a 360 degrees breathtaking view over the surrounding countryside is a sight to behold, and it is the best reward for your untiring effort. On the top of the rock, there is a large number of ruins, the foundation of the king’s palace, Throne, swimming pool are among them.

The downward journey takes place along the same route unless you have to go to the coach park, which is to be found in the direction of the southern entrance.  As the name suggests the place where coaches are parked, in which the big tourist groups are travelling. So if you are with big groups, most probably you have to make it to the coach park after the hike. On your downward journey there few interesting places to stop and have a look into such as meditation cave, audience hall, granite caves, arch boulder, circular pond, meditation caves.  The downward journey is much easier than the hike to the top and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the parking lot from the top.

Hiking in Ella

Ella can be best described as the village in the woods; Ella has rough terrain and large extent of green cover. Ella is a leading holiday destination on the island and a large number of foreign tourists are heading to this charming locality. Ella has a totally different atmosphere don’t expect loud music, vibrant nightlife, high-rise building, busy market, great shopping experience and large hotels. Ella is a laid-back village with a calm and quiet surrounding, it is a place to relax, it is a place to enjoy the serenity and peace.  

Ella is a mountain resort and surrounded by a large number of mountains, same times Ella is the home to many dozens of hiking trails and can give you pretty good adrenaline pumping thrilling experience.   Here we are going to talk about a few popular hiking trails in Ella, so get out onto the trail and explore the lush green highland.  

3. Ella hike – little Adm’s peak

Distance to cover: 4.5km (2.8mi)

Duration of the hike: 1 hour

Rewards: the breathtaking view from the top

The hike at little Adams peak is not hard at all and it is suitable to hikers in all ages. You do not need experience on hiking to do it. Even though it is fairly a simple hike at mini Adams peak, the reward you get for your sweat is far more than what you deserve.  The view from the mountain is simply gorgeous; it commands a breathtaking view of the surrounding low land. Make e leisurely hike in the morning or evening that’s the best time to evade the sun.

You need to make a little detour into the countryside from the main road, Take the Ella-Passara road from Ella town and turn to the right once you reach the Ella flower garden resort.  Thereafter the trail is clear and many signboards show you the direction to the mountain. The initial stage of the hike is on flat ground and you pass lush tea garden. Only the last 20 minutes hike is a little bit steep.

4. Ella Rock hike

Distance: 10km (6.2mi)

Duration: 3-4 hours

Rewards: Esperance on Hiking, fun, taxing and deeply rewarding, spellbinding scenery

Ella Gap is a geographical phenomenon known to the entire island, because ell gap is the deepest of its kind on the island, measuring more than many thousands of meters in some places. I remember I have learned about the Ella gat at the school in my geography subject. Ella is a classic example of this geographical phenomenon called gap. So when you say Ella it is this Ella gap that’s what everyone thinks of.

The gap is one of the most popular hiking trails in this mountain resort and it is a moderately difficult hike with exceptional and memorable views.  You have to allocate about half a day for the hike and the rest of the day will be for a rest. Best time to start your hike early morning or afternoon in order to evade the sun, during the mid-day it can really hot here. Having a local guide is recommended so that you are always on the track.

Ella Gap Sri Lanka

Hiking in Ella Sri Lanka- Nasdanda Mountain

Distance: 7km (4.2mi)

Duration: 2 hours

Rewards: Esperance on Hiking, fun, taxing and deeply rewarding, spellbinding scenery

Nasdanda Mountain is one of the best off the beaten track destination for adventure activities. The mountain is situated in the Badulla district in the central mountains of the island. The unpopular mountain provides opportunities for trekking, hiking, walking, mountain biking. Mountain is situated bordering the Nuwara Eliya and Badulla district more than 1500 meters above the sea level and this is a very popular trekking and hiking site that choose Ella for their holidays. Mountain looks like an elephant from the distance and its elevation of the peak well over 2250 meters above the sea level.

One can have a breathtaking view of the Uwa province from the top of the mountain. Climbing to the upper part of the mountain is difficult it could be dangerous for people who are new to mountain climbing. During the British rule, there had been a platform specially made for security purposes from which they could monitor the whole region. The platform existed more than 75 years ago and it had been delayed in the past.

The railway track from Nanuoya to Badulla goes through the Nasdana Mountain. The railway track in the mountain goes through several dozens of tunnels and tunnel 18 it goes through the Nasdana Mountains. One distinct character of the tunnel is two different climate patterns on either side of the tunnel. In one end of the tunnel is dry climate while the other ends show a wet climate.

Nasdana Mountain is identified as an important catchment area and it is the beginning of many streams. Today this valuable upper watershed became a protected area in the mountains with declaring the areas above 5000 above sea level as protected areas.

Vegetation in the Nasdana Mountain is different than the low land vegetation of the country. Cool climate, frequent rail fall, mist in the evening and morning, high elevation are main factors for the differentiation of vegetation in the area.

Nasdana mountain and the regions were used for Chena (clear and burn cultivation) cultivation in the past. Therefore much of its valuable initial forest cover was removed and today one can see mainly the secondary forest cover, which consists of trees such as eucalyptus. The natural beauty of Nasdana is enhanced by the number of waterfalls arise from its streams. Diyawatanalla is one such famous beautiful waterfall situated in Alawathgoda.

Hiking in Sri Lanka-Recommended gears for you

There’s no greater feeling than that of comfort and performance that having the right gear as you hike in the outdoors. One of the most important gears to pay extra attention to is footwear.

Hiking boots-Usually these boots comes with leather and mesh upper part, and it provides elevated breathability and durability during the trail. Usually, these boots are equipped with rubber or other material that offers stability, and it also offers slip-resistant performance. The air cushioning under the heels improves overall comfort whilst reducing stress with each step you take even if you hike all day long.

Hiking poles– it is better to have a pair of hiking poles as it makes the hike safe and easy. There is a big difference of the time takes on a hike with hiking poles and without hiking poles, hiking poles can reduce the time takes on the hike drastically. Hiking poles give you the added stability and it reduces the weight pass onto your joints too.  

Hiking sun glasses-this is a very handy gear for anyone, who undertake a hike in Sri Lanka. You will be explored to bright sunshine for a long time as you take a hike on all trails in Sri Lanka; therefore, sunglasses are very important to protect your eyes. It is not only the UV rays that harm your eyes but having to squint for hours on end can make your face very sore, which is why a good pair of outdoor sunglasses is important.

Selfie stick-a selfie sticks are also very important as you take a hike it enables you to take photos your own. You will pass breathtaking scenery along the way on these trails and there may be instances that you wish to make a photo with scenic background. However, you will not be able you do it without the help of a buddy or a stranger passing by.

Backpacking chair-light weight backpacking chair it definitely is a very handy tool on the hiking at Adam’s peak. The hike at Adam’s peak can last more than 5 hours depending on your fitness so it is a long backpacking trip. Keeping the backpack as light as possible is very important, however, lightweight chair is highly recommended on Adam’s peak hike, as you make many breaks along the way.

Drinking water-Drinking water is a vital resource for anyone to survive, but it is heavy though, which means carrying a lot of fluids make your backpack very heavy causing you difficulty. You should be having at least 2 litres of mineral on a hike similar to Adam’s peak hike. You can use a portable water filter instead of carrying mineral water on the hike and it is a good way of reducing the backpack Weight.   

Tourism-related information from the official website of sri Lank tourism

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