Partly Edited - Original article by Ethan Gelber (Loney Planet)
Hiking Through Culture & Traditions in Sri Lanka
June 8, 2020
While soft-sand beaches and lowland jungles may be the first images that leap to mind when you imagine Sri Lanka, this tropical isle is endowed with a mountainous interior that is every bit as scenic as the coast, blessed by pleasantly cool temperatures that rarely tip 21ºC. Join Art In Voyage in discovering the home to a striking colorful scenery, one of the most stunning train rides in the world, hiking opportunities galore and unique tea plantation accommodation, Sri Lanka's Hill Country is a must for any visit to the island.
The Hill Country
Sri Lanka's Hill Country is the island at its most scenic, a mist-wrapped land of emerald peaks and stupendous views, of hillsides carpeted with tea plantations and graced by astonishing waterfalls. This is a place where you can wear a fleece in the daytime and cuddle up beside a log fire in the evening. Where you can enjoy a memorable meal in the eternal city of Kandy or at a roadside shack in lovely Ella. A region where you can walk to the end of the world, stand in the footsteps of the Buddha and be surrounded by a hundred wild elephants.
Situated at the southern edge of the Hill Country and boasts some of the most glorious vistas in the region like the largely Tamil town of Haputale that clings to a long, narrow mountain ridge with the land falling away steeply on both sides. It attracts those seeking solitude and tranquility, and ramblers who want to make the most of the cooler climate and magnificent views by exploring Haputale on foot. Enjoy the most incredible stunning walks and hikes by discovering some of the Island's best viewpoints and gaze all the way down to the south coast, and visit Lipton's seat, the point from which Scotsman Sir Thomas Lipton used to gaze out across his extensive tea estates. On a clear day, you can view the south coast from this ridge, and at night the Hambantota lighthouse pulses in the distance. On a not-so-clear day, great swaths of mist cling magnetically to the hillsides. Either way, it’s a spectacular part of the country.
World's End, Horton Plains National Park
Situated in the depths of Horton Plains National Park, World's End is the name of a viewpoint along a 9km (5 miles) loop track through the forest and cross the plains of a wildlife conservation area. The park is rich with diverse bird life and endemic species such as samba deer and leopards. The best time to do the hike is in the early morning where no much sun, and you can enjoy the sunrise views of the villages from the top mountains. The World's End has so much to offer from the wildlife under the rainforest to Baker Water Falls, a small waterfall where the falls run over the rocks, a perfect spot to capture images, and to take a few minutes break from your Hike.
Ella is a beautiful village in the Uva Province of Sri Lanka which will remind you of the English countryside. The lush green meadows, tea plantations, and railway lines are best seen from Ella Rock. It is the highest cliff in the village that gives you breathtaking panoramas making it one of the best hikes in Sri Lanka. It is only after you reach the top you will agree why hiking up to the top is all worth it. Even the weather which is a mix of sunny, misty, and cloudy makes a good reason to climb the steep path. The beautiful, enchanting trail begins from and ends at the Ella Railway Station.
The most popular and touristy trail in Sri Lanka is the hike to Adams Peak. Climb the 5,200 odd stone stairs in the night so that by the time you reach to the top of Adams Peak you can enjoy the spectacular sunrise. Adams Peak or Sri Padas has an important significance for all the religions. While Buddhists claim that it is the left foot of Lord Buddha, Hindus believe it to Lord Shivas footprint. Muslims and Christians believe it was Adams first step after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. This is why you will see a lot of pilgrims crowding the stairs to the peak but it is all worth it.
Even though the popularity of Pidurangala Rock is eclipsed by Sigiriya Rock, the beauty and hiking prospects should not be overlooked. Located in the neighborhood of Sigiriya, not only Pidurangala offers a wonderful viewing spot for Sigiriya but also the alluring views of the sunrise. Since most people do not know about this gem, you will encounter much lesser crowd as compared to Sigiriya. Even the trail to the top offers a variety of attractions on the way like the Cave Temple, Reclining Buddha Statue, and even massive paws of lions. It is one of the most off-beaten places for trekking in Sri Lanka.