If you’re looking to do lots of hiking in Sri Lanka during your time there, it’s a great idea to speak to local about which hikes they enjoy the most and which they consider to be the best hikes and walks in Sri Lanka. Whilst many tourist guidebooks will point you in the direction of well-known hikes, some of the lesser known hikes in the country are the ones with the best views and vistas to enjoy.
We spoke to Prateeque, our incredible Sri Lankan local expert, and he talked us through his favourite hiking and walking spots in the country, and why you should pay them a visit during your stay.
Knuckles 5 Peak
For an all-round experience of hiking in Sri Lanka, Prateeque recommends the Knuckles 5 Peak hike. These beautiful forests and mountains are stunning to hike through, and offer up some incredible views of the surrounding countryside and landscapes. This area was also declared a world heritage site in 2010 by UNESCO because of the high biodiversity in the region, and being home to numerous indigenous plants and animals.
Prateeque explains what makes this area so unique:
“I would say the Knuckles 5 peak is amazing. It’s called knuckles because there’s 5 peaks and they kind of look like the knuckles on a hand. So when you’re on top of the 2nd peak you have this amazing view of the landscape all around. Some people say you can see the coastline from there as well. Also, on the hike there’s a really special waterfall that you can jump in and swim in”
Sri Lanka’s hill country
Sri Lanka’s Hill Country is truly beautiful and for many visitors it is the Sri Lanka they imagined seeing, before visiting. With amazing landscapes, hills and forests, the green country is an area just waiting to be explored.
There are a variety of ecosystems co-existing in this area, from the tea plantations, the deep forests and the spice plantations and farms too. This diversity makes it a fascinating place to walk through and explore.
Our Hill Country tour is unmissable and let’s you explore this area of the country in depth. You’ll visit farms, waterfalls, walk beautiful hiking trails and even see small reservoirs, streams, forests and jungles. There’s a little bit of everything in this area and if you want to sample the Sri Lankan wilderness, this is the way to do it.
Adam’s Peak is one of the most popular hikes in Sri Lanka, and it’s not hard to see why! The hike is beautiful, varied and challenging (in a good way).
Adam’s peak is 2243m high, and it’s location in central Sri Lanka, means the views on offer are second to none. The climb to the top passes many different eco-systems and and also includes rising stairs (all 5,000 of them!) in order to reach the top.
“Climbing adam’s peak is one of the best free activities in Sri Lanka, which is the fourth highest peak in the country. It’s amazing at sunrise, and during that time it’s also a special place for buddhists, christians and muslims. On top of the mountain, there’s a small rock formation that looks like a footprint and different religions claim it to be theirs – Christians say it’s Adam’s footprint, buddhists say it’s Buddha’s footprint… There’s also a temple up there and a lot of Sri Lankan people go on a pilgrimage there once a year. What people do is, leave at around 2am, climb up in the dark (there are lights set up) and then you wait for the sunrise and then come down. It is such a beautiful sunrise. If you can get to the right place as well, the mountain makes like a perfect triangle shadow from the sunrise”
Hasalaka is a small village 2 hours out of Kandy and it’s home to many farming communities and small family businesses. The countryside around this area has so much to offer to hikers and walkers – and it’s a beautiful place to set off by foot to explore.
Our Hasalaka tour is based in this area, and gives you many opportunities to hike and walk the surrounding countryside. For example, the Vadda Pani Falls is a 2.5km walk from the village, followed by another 1km to Rathana falls, the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka. These are both incredible sights to see, and you’ll see them both as part of the tour.
If you fancy yourself a bit of a ‘discoverer’ then you’re going to love hiking to Secret Beach. The Secret Beach at Mirissa is free to visit (there’s no entrance fee) and there’s even a beach bar waiting for you on the sand to reward your efforts at the end of your walk. You’ll find an abundance of wildlife around the Secret Beach too, making it ideal for animal lovers. You might spot black monkeys, squirrels, peacocks, fruit bats and various birds.
“If you’re down in Mirissa, there’s something called the secret beach which is a nice place to watch the sunset. Here there’s a beach, but you need to hike to a cliff to watch the sunset – it’s really beautiful”
Horton Plains (World’s End)
If you can get to Horton Plains during your visit to Sri Lanka, Prateeque describes it as an ‘easy but rewarding hike, with plenty to see along the way’. Making it a great choice for beginners, or those that don’t want anything too challenging.
It’s not too far from Nuwara Elia, or if you’re part of a group, it’s relatively easy to hire a car or a van. You can enjoy incredible views from Horton Plains, and there’s also plenty of local wildlife to see and experience too. The hike should take around 2.5 hours approximately, but some complete it quicker.