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Mammals found here (of 91 species) include the Sri Lanka Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes.  The rarest mammals of Sri Lanka are the red slender Loris, Toque Macaque, and Purple-faced Langur, which, according to IUCN clarifications are endangered due to loss of habitat.

Besides land mammals, it’s oceans are home to 26 species of cetaceans, including the enormous blue whales, sperm whales and a variety of dolphin species.   It is one of the best location for dolphin and whale watching.

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The country also boasts magnificent bird life, with around 433 species. Of these, 233 are resident  and 20 are endemic and found nowhere else on earth.  Another 80 species have developed distinct Sri Lankan races, and differ from their cousins on the mainland.

Sri Lanka has one of the richest diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 106 species of amphibians of over 90 of which are endemic. The highest concentration of amphibians is in the Sinharaja rainforest.



Step back in time for the train journey from Kandy to Ella. It is said to be one of the most scenic, epic train journeys in Sri Lanke, if not the world.  The train chugs slowly through mountains, passing picturesque valleys, tea plantations, and small villages, and crossing the nine-arch Demodara Bridge. The views are unsurpassed and the scenery is constantly changing. 


For the avid hiker, Sri Lanka’s diverse of terrain offers an abundance of hiking opportunities.  With the beautiful hill country of the Central highlands as your base you can enjoy hikes amidst rice paddies and tea plantations, through dense rainforests, and up high mountains.  With over 400 waterfalls throughout the country, they are a common attraction on many hikes and offer an opportunity for a refreshing dip en route.

There are trails for all experience levels, from easy hour walks to more intense treks. Here are some of the most popular and scenice hiking trails in Sri Lanka.

There are trails for all experience levels, from easy hour walks to more intense treks. Here are some of the most popular and scenice hiking trails in Sri Lanka.


Nuwara Eliya

Sri Lanka is one of the most important tea producers in the world and what better way to explore their famous tea estates and a hike between up tea terraces. In Nuwara Eliya in the Southern Highlands you can hike the Royal tea trails which winds through the steep tea terraces. 

Exploring these hills with it’s incredible scenery is a must do when visit visiting Sri Lanka. It's absolutely beautiful and you feel as if you are in another world.  Imagine you’re in England for a few days - stay in old plantation homes, drink tea and eat baked goods.

Knuckles Range

The Knuckles range is located in the Central Highlands, stretching between Matale and Kandy. It is a World Heritage Conservation area with rugged mountain peaks, beautiful waterfalls and distinct eco-systems that are home to a wide diversity of endemic plant and animal species.  

It is a real paradise for hikers, and offers plenty of options for all skill levels, from easy day hikes, to overnight treks.  Enjoy the wild beauty of this area while hiking across crystal clear rivers, through dense forests, past cascading waterfalls and green tea plantations, and alongside terraced paddy fields and colourful Kandyan home gardens. Hikers can experience all types of ecosystem, and weather conditions in a single hike.

Some popular trails include:

  • Mini World’s End trail,

  • Pitawala Pathena,

  • Ash Cave trail,

  • Nitre Cave and

  • the Knuckles Summit.

The highest peak in the range is Gombaniya. The views at the top are breathtaking, although on some days the view may be obscured by mist.

The best times to hike here are between March and September.

Horton’s Plains National Park

The Horton Plains National Park, and World Heritage site, is located in the Sri Lankan Highlands at about 7,000ft above sea level.  This high plateau rich with forests, grasslands, lakes and waterfalls, comes

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to an abrupt end at famous "World’s End", where it plunges almost 2,800ft, affording a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. The leisurely 8km hike to Worlds End takes around three hours.


Plan to hike early, as after 10am you're likely to have mist obscuring your view, particularly during the rainy season from April to September. 

Another trail is the hike to the beautiful Baker’s Falls. This journey will take you down a more strenuous downhill trail. 

Travelers to the area can expect to discover a diversity of native birdlife, unique flora, and resident animals like bears, monkeys and Sambar deer. 

Travelers to the area can expect to discover a diversity of native birdlife, unique flora, and resident animals like bears, monkeys and Sambar deer. 


Sinharaja, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the largest and most pristine rainforest on the island, and is only accessible on foot. This stunningly beautiful rainforest stretches out covering a massive land area in the heart of the hill country.

Slippery trails, sudden rain, exquisite flora and faun and rare wild creatures are all a part of your enchanting journey in Sinharaja.


The weather is ideal from January/February until March and April and also August to October

A hiking tour in Sri Lanka wouldn't be complete without visiting this fascinating rainforest, and hikes can be adapted to meet specific interests and fitness levels.

Climb Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya Rock, located in the central Matale District, dates back to the 5th Century AD, and an astonishing feat in architecture.  This UNESCO World Heritage Site is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.  At almost 600ft above the surrounding jungle (and almost 1,200 ft above sea level), this hilltop fortress is comprised of an abandoned palaces, stairways and old walls, surrounded by what remains of a network of ponds, waterways, old walls and gardens - some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.   In it's past it acted as a Royal palace and Buddhist monastery, and was subjected to many invasions, making it a very significant site, historically. 

The Lion staircase leading to the palace garden at the top of the rock is the most significant feature of this geological masterpiece. This tile-covered walkway, cut into the limestone, emerges from the open mouth of the lion and is built of rock and wood. 

The other primary feature that is a huge draw card for visitors is the surviving frescoes and paintings, that are the earliest examples of a Sri Lankan classical realism, which developed in the 

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5th century AD. There are also remnants of paintings in some of the caves at the foot of the Sigiriya Rock.

The climb to the top of the rock is relatively easy and takes about 15 - 20 minutes from the base.


The best time to visit, to avoid crowds is in the low season, between May and August (it will however be hot). 


Another great hiking destination is at Pidurangala, right next to the famous Lion Rock Fortress of Sigiriya.  Built by King Kashyapa, Pidurangala served as a meditative retreat for monks. Today the rock is quite a delight to explore with an uphill hike.   At the top there's a giant statue of Buddha, which is hundreds of years old.  The scenery is also spectacular - especially the view of Sigiriya, the famous lion rock fortress, rising out the the thick jungle. 

The best time to tackle this hike is between November and January, when the temperatures are cooler .


Nine Arch Bridge, locally known at 'Ahas Namaye Palama' (meaning 9 skies bridge), was built between Ella and Demodara stations during the British Colonial era. The bridge spans a distance of around 270ft

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at a height of around 80ft above ground level.  The beautiful nine arches, set amidst dense jungle and tea plantation, creates a very picturesque setting.

Story has it that World War II broke out as the bridge was being planned and the steel and metals destined for the bridge, were reassigned to be 

used for military purposes.  The bridge was therefore built entirely from rocks, bricks, and cement with no use of steel or other metals throughout the structure. 

Watching a train come around the bend on this bridge is very entertaining, especially for train lovers.


Pigeon Island Marine National Park, near the city of Trincomalle, consists of 2 islands, and contains some of the best remaining coral reefs in Sri Lanka.  Regular visitors to the reef include Olive Ridley

Turtle, Hawkesbill Turtle and Green Turtle, but its main attraction is the islands many blacktip reef sharks.  These non-aggressive sharks reach a length of up to 5 feet, and are quite accepting of human company.  Snorkelers are almost guaranteed of seeing them, often in shallow water and as close as a few feet away.  

The best place to see them is in an area known as Shark Point Reef, next to the larger of the two 

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islands.  This is one of the few places where a inexperienced snorkeler can have a good chance of a shark encounter.


The reef is also home to many species of corals and coral reef fishes.


The best conditions for snorkelling or diving on this side of Sri Lanka is from late March to Late October.


Turtles are under great threat in Sri Lanka due to fishing, pollution, habitat loss and hunting and turtle hatcheries are doing their best to keep the turtles alive and well. 

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If visiting the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery at sunset, visitors are able to take part in the nightly hatchling release. 

There are various turtle hatcheries near the beaches of Bentota, and like the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, provide a safehaven for these turtles from the time of their birth to the time of release into the ocean. Other than taking care of the turtles born here, these hatcheries also rescue injured turtles and nurse them back to health.  The Sri Lankan government has taken this initiative to ensure the survival and conservation of these species and their natural habitat.


Visiting a turtle hatchery is a must-do activity in Sri Lanka, some may even say a right of passage.


Just like the turtle hatcheries in Bentota, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was established to give a

home to abandoned, injured, or abused elephants as well as nourish and care for them. Housing over 40 elephants presently, many of which are babies, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has made tremendous efforts for the welfare and protection of elephants in Sri Lanka.


One of the most therapeutic activites in Sri Lanka is to watch these adorable and highly intelligent creatures bathe in the river near the orphanage, where they get up to all sorts of mischief. A trip to this orphanage is a truly unforgettable experience.

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