What is the Best Hike in Sri Lanka?

What is the Best Hike in Sri Lanka (which is not too strenuous)? We think it is Horton Plains National Park and here’s why.

Well, I suppose it is all down to how much experience, how fit you are and how tough you want your hike to be.

There are many options to choose from in Sri Lanka which will provide a different experience and variety.

The newest hiking option is the Pekoe Trail which was launched in 2023.

This is a twenty-two stage, 300 kilometre trail which traverses the Central Highlands of the Island. This experience which

allow visitors to discover the varying terrain, history, culture, food, and local communities across Sri Lanka by foot.

The first stage of the trail starts in Hanthana (near Kandy). And the final stage finishes in Kandapoloa (Nuwara Eliya).

Sections 11 to 16 of the Pekoe Trail are within a drive from GlenMyu Estate. 

An easier type of hike.

As we are not seasoned hikers, and most of our guests are not conditioned for, or want to do, a strenuous hike on their holiday. We think that a hike around Horton Plains National Park is the best hike in Sri Lanka.

Horton Plains National Park - a UNESCO Heritage site.

Horton Plains National Park is a montane grassland and cloud forest located in the Central Highlands. It is on a plateau at an altitude of 2100-2300m. In 1988 it was declared a national park due to its biodiversity and geographical importance.

It is a popular tourist destination consisting of several tourist hot spots such as World’s End, mini World’s End, Bakers Falls and the peaks of Kirigalpoththa and Totupola Kanda.

What's in a name?

The area was originally called Maha Eliya Thanna by the local people.

It was renamed as Horton Plains after Sir Robert Wilmot-Horton (the British governor of Ceylon from 1831-1837) by Lt. Albert Watson, who “discovered” the plateau.

The flora and the fauna.

Horton Plains consists of two distinct vegetation – montane grasslands and evergreen forests, with nearly 700 species of plants being recorded of which 27 are endemic to Sri Lanka.

24 species of mammals, 87 species of birds, nine species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians are found in the park.

No Elephants but beware the Leopards!

Since the Sri Lankan elephant was last seen here in the 1940s, the largest, most commonly seen mammal at present is the sambar deer. Leopards, wild boars, mongooses and giant squirrels are a few among the many species that can be spotted here. 

Birds.

Horton Plains forms an Important Bird Area (IBA) together with Ohiya, Pattipola and Ambewela, and contains 21 endemic bird species with four endemic to Horton Plains alone (Sri Lankan blue magpie, Sri Lankan white-eye, Sri Lankan wood pigeon and dull-blue flycatcher.

If you can, we would recommend that you avoid weekends as it can be quite busy with local tourists. 

Why do we think that Horton Plains National Park is the best place to hike?

The circular trail is around eleven kilometres and is enough of a hike (at altitude) to make you feel like you have achieved something (but not killed yourself!).

Horton Plains is at an elevation between 2,100 and 2,400 metres above sea level. As the air is little thinner your body works a little more and you feel like you have had a workout. 

The flora and fauna that you will see on the trail is different from many parts of Sri Lanka.

 

Look for the information boards as you walk the trail which will give you information about the landscape and some of the unique flora and fauna.

The route for a hike around Horton Plains National Park

Mount Thotupola Kanda (2357 m) - the best hike in Sri Lanka?

If you are up for a challenge then you can opt to take the trail to Mount Thotupola Kanda (2357 m) which is the third highest mountain in Sri Lanka. It is also known as (Totapolakanda or Thotupolakanda).

The trail to the top of the mountain starts a few metres away from the Pattipola entrance to the Horton Plains National Park. The trail is around about two kilometres in distance.

One of our adventurous French guests did this and really enjoyed the more strenuous hike.

Mount Kirigalpoththa (2,388 m) - the best hike in Sri Lanka?

Even more challenging is the hike to the highest point in Horton Plains National Park: Mount Kirigalpoththa.

Read more in this article we found in TripAdvisor.

This is the 2nd highest Mountain of Sri Lanka after Pidurutalagala. It is also the highest peak accessible to the public. The peak elevation is 2,388 metres above sea level.
This 7 kilometre trail (one way) will take around five and a half hours of trekking, hiking & mountaineering.

Attempting Kirigalpoththa is for the more experienced and daring adventurers only as the conditions can be treacherous due to the difficulty of the terrain and weather.

An opportunity awaits the brave.

There are not many quality videos showing the hike to Mount Kirigalpoththa. We see this as an opportunity for a YouTuber or Social Media Influencer to create some fantastic content that we would be happy to share on our page. 

So , if you are adventurous and a skilled mountaineer with good video skills the challenge is there for you.

We consider this to be the best hike in Sri Lanka however….

There are so many more options as you travel around this paradise island.

A religious pilgrimmage.

Adams Peak 

This is a religious pilgrimage which you start early in the morning to experience the sunrise.

During the season the hike is very busy with people and you may well have to queue for some time as you get towards the top. 

In the off season you will have no problem with the crowds, however the weather may not be great, so prepare for rain.

There are lots of steps on this hike and we had guests arrive from their overnight experience who were very tired. The next day their legs were very tender due to the number of steps that they had to climb up and down. They were quite fit however did suffer the next day. Several dips in the swimming pool and a relaxing day at GlenMyu Estate helped them to recuperate. 

A hike for the more experienced

Knuckles Mountain Range

We had some German clients that did a hike in Knuckles before they stayed at GlenMyu Estate and they were quite exhausted. They had a great hike and their guide was amazing (like many others in Sri Lanka). This hike needs proper walking boots and leech socks. You have to be fit enough to tackle this hike. 

The Poster Boy of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya – The Lion Rock

Pictures of the iconic Lion Rock is used a lot to promote tourism to Sri Lanka, for good reason. If you read the history of this UNESCO Heritage site you will discover the amazing technology and endeavour used in creating this former Royal Palace. 

The hike is a “must do” on your first visit to Sri Lanka. 

We had some guests that tackled the Lion Rock in the morning and Pidurangala Rock in the evening. I was amazed that they managed this and they had a great experience.

Hikes near Ella Town.

Little Adams Peak and Ella Rock

Several of our guests do a stay trip to Ella and take in some of the sights. Nine Arch Bridge, Ravana Waterfall and Ravana’s Cave are some of the great sights to see.

Many of our guests climb Little Adams Peak which is a short hike.

Less of our guests have climbed to Ella Rock. The hike is a little bit harder and it’s good to do this early and see the sunrise.

Stay at GlenMyu Estate and hike Horton Plains National Park.

We normally send guests off at 6 am in the morning with a delicious packed breakfast to Horton Plains National Park. Getting there early is good as you are more likely to see the views at Lesser World’s End and Greater World’s End. 

As Horton Plain National Park is a montane cloud forest, the clouds do come in and obscure the view!

By setting off early you can be back at GlenMyu Estate in the mid afternoon and enjoy a dip in our Natural Spring Fed Infinity Swimming Pool to soothe your muscles. A delicious meal in the evening prepared by Ru. It’s a good reward for the energy you will have expended on your hike.

Find out more about a stay at GlenMyu Estate by visiting our website

Look at our reviews from our guests on Booking.com, Airbnb, Tripadvisor and Google.

For our best rates contact us directly by the WhatsApp button on our website or send us an email.

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