The Knuckles National Park is a lush green mountain range, rated one of the best places to hike in Sri Lanka. In 2010, the Knuckles Conservation Forest was inducted into the UNESCO natural world heritage list. This amazing place welcomes nature lovers and offers them a change to explore the biodiverse Sri Lankan rainforests. To the Sinhalese locals, the mountains are known as Dumbara Kanduvetiya, meaning ‘mountains covered in mist.’ Located just one hour outside of Kandy, our groups can easily visit local villages and temples in the area before setting off on their hike through the forest.
The five highest peaks in the mountains (out of a total of thirty-four) form an outline resembling a row of knuckles. Gombaniya is the highest mountain, with its peak sitting at 1,906m.
Through the many forest paths, the beautiful countryside gives way to beautiful vistas. One of the best views in the park can be seen at the Mini World’s End. The group starts at the Knuckles Conservation Center and follows a short trail about 1.5 kilometers, heading south towards a clearing that features a cliff with a massive 1,192m drop. On a clear day, students will be able to see breathtaking views for miles on end.
Our groups can explore the various trails throughout the park, with the most popular route being the Dothalugala Nature Trail. At 4 kilometers, the hike can be completed in a day. This route climbs deeper into the jungles and groups will pass through a bamboo forest before reaching the observation point. Khiri Campus can take groups on a slight detour to one of the local villages scattered throughout the park for lunch. At the top, panoramic views await and make it all worthwhile. On the way back, students can take an alternate trail and pass through a tea estate as they make their way down the mountains.
Another popular trail leads to the Nitro caves, famous for its bats. Bat guano mixed with the mineral deposits in the caves makes saltpeter, which is one of the key ingredients used to make gunpowder. Since ancient times, the Kandy rulers used this cave to supplement their military. Beginning at Corbett’s Gap, this hike is approximately 11km and takes 5-6 hours to complete. As the group enjoys the great outdoors, we recommend that students look up above into the trees: the conservation park is home to over 100 native Sri Lankan bird species and can be found looking for fruits and insects overhead. While meandering past the various waterways, don’t forget to bring a proper pair of hiking boots for the longer trails.
For more adventurous groups wanting to hike all five of the Knuckles’ peaks, there are various trails that start at Bambarella. The best time for the longer hikes is from March to May, during the dry season when there is very little rainfall. As students venture off the paved road, the hike begins on relatively flat plains that lead to the Knuckles falls: the breathtaking waterfall is the perfect place for a quick dip and to refill everyone’s water bottles. Climbing onwards to each peak, the path can be quite steep, so we advise groups to proceed slowly and methodically with their guides. The hard work is promised to be well-rewarded with 360-degree views of the whole park at the top.
For more information on our customized educational tours in Sri Lanka, please contact our team. To experience the magic of these mist-covered forests, our guides recommend hiking during the winter break from December to February.