Misty Mountains of Sri Lanka – International Mountain Day
With its highs and lows, crests and troughs, Sri Lanka is truly a country which has it all. The numerous mountains and hill tops which offer the most beautiful panoramic views of the island adds up to the beauty and serenity of this beautiful country. In celebration of the International Mountain Day, here’s a review of some of the most beautiful, popular and important mountains in the country which are popular among both the locals and tourists.
Pidurutalagala mountain or Mount Pedro, located North East of Nuwara Eliya in the Central Province, is the only ultra-prominent peak in the island, and one of only 1515 ultra-prominent peaks around the world. An ultra-prominent peak is a mountain that has topographic prominence (height of the peak’s summit above the lowest contour line encircling it up to the highest summit) above 1,500 m. With an elevation of 2,524 m, it’s the highest peak in Sri Lanka and is covered with a pale green vegetation with a fairly flat summit. During Summer, vegetation dries in to a pale yellow, straw-like colour, hence the name, ‘Straw Laden Rock’ or ‘Straw Plateau Rock’ (‘Pidurutalagala’ in Sinhala). Pidurutalagala is visible for most parts of the Central Province of the island and has been a famous spot to visit since the British regimen. Enjoy a scenic drive up the Pidurutalagala mountain to witness the changes in the vegetation, climate and also to bask in the beauty of the magnificent countryside below.
2. Adam’s Peak / ‘Sri Pada’
Adam’s Peak or ‘Sri Pada’ (Sacred Footstep) is a conical mountain which is 2,243 m tall and is located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. There’s a point near the summit that is sacred to several faiths – which gives the name of the mountain: Buddhists believe it’s Lord Buddha’s footprint; Hindus believe it’s Lord Shiva’s footprint; Christians and Muslims believe that it’s Adam’s first step after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. The mountain is also known for the spectacular sight of thousands of beautiful butterflies gracing the area annually – hence giving the name Butterfly Mountain (‘Samanala Kanda’). The annual pilgrimage season to Sri Pada starts with the Full Moon Poya day in December and ends on the Poya day the following April. Trekking up Adam’s Peak takes around 4-6 hours, but can take up to 12-16 hours on a crowded day and depending on the route. Time your climb so that you will reach the peak sometime around 5 a.m. Find yourself a cozy spot on the steps facing the east and, if you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to one of the most beautiful sun rises you’ll ever see.
3. Knuckles Mountain Range
Situated between Kandy and Matale in the Central hills, Knuckles mountain range is a bio diversity hot spot, a water catchment and a wildlife reserve. The changing terrain of grasslands, rugged mountain peaks interspersed with streams and cascading waterfalls make Knuckles mountain range that covers an area of 18,512 hectares a trekker’s paradise. With a maximum elevation of more than 1900 m and a distinct resemblance to a clenched fist, Knuckles range is one of the loveliest natural attractions of Sri Lanka. Even though the range is only around 0.03% of the island’s total area, more than 34 % of Sri Lanka's endemic trees, shrubs, and herbs are only found in Knuckles making it home to a significantly higher proportion of country’s bio diversity. A UNESCO World heritage Conservation area, Knuckles is still relatively untouched and a trek up to a single Knuckles peak can be enjoyed in a few hours. The more adventurous of you can cover all 4 peaks with a couple of days of hiking and one night of camping. Beware of the leeches though!
4. Ella Rock
Ella is a town located in Badulla district with an elevation of around 1,040 m from sea level. Perched high in the South Eastern hills of the Sri Lanka’s tea country Ella is considered the closest resemblance to the English country side in Sri Lanka. Ella Rock is the more challenging hike among all the hikes in the surrounding area and gives you the opportunity for walking and mountain biking along numerous trails. But all these treks and trails are worth the while, as beautiful and awe-inspiring sceneries greet the hikers at the top. A 2-3 hour hike up the Ella Rock will take you to its summit which has views of grand vistas as far as your eyes can see. We recommend an early morning start so that you can savor the beautiful sunrise from the top of the peak. A hike up the Ella rock is a must do once you visit Ella and is equally popular among both locals and tourists.
5. Hanthana Mountain Range
Located in the Central Sri Lanka, South West of the city of Kandy is the Hanthana Mountain Range – an environmental protection area with a mountain range of 7 peaks. It is a popular destination among hikers, campers, bird watchers and nature lovers. Highest peak is ‘Ura Kanda’ which has an elevation of more than 1150 m. The summit treats you with spectacular views of Kandy city, Knuckles Range and other nearby mountain ranges. University of Peradeniya is located midway in the Hanthana mountain range and is arguably the most picturesque university in the island. Hanthana has been a subject for literature enthusiasts for years, hence being a subject for quite a few romantic songs. Hanthana mountain range is a day hike which will challenge your fitness but will greet you with stunning flora and fauna all throughout.
Apart from these stunning mountains, Sri Lanka is also home to a few more impressive hill tops. With a splendid scenery greeting you in every direction you look, Sri Lanka is a sight to sore eyes. As island famous for its natural beauty, Sri Lankan mountains are nothing less. To experience the beauty and to enjoy the hikes up these giants, visit Sri Lanka for your next holiday.