The Knuckles National Park is a lush green mountain range and 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: students can explore the Sri Lankan rainforests and appreciate its biodiversity. The Sinhalese locals have another nickname for the mountains, Dumbara Kanduvetiya, meaning mountains covered in mist. Located one hour outside Kandy, our groups have the opportunity to visit local villages and temples in the area before setting off on their hike.
With a total of 34 peaks in the mountain range, the five highest peaks 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. As the group starts at the Knuckles Conservation center, this short trail is about 1.5 kilometers and heads south toward a clearing that features a cliff with a massive 1,192m drop. Walking through the evergreens and up to the steps of the observation deck, on a clear day, students can 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 as well. This route climbs deeper into the jungles as groups pass through a bamboo forest before reaching the observation point. GROUND Asia 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 as our groups will see the lush mountains and valleys. 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. The caves got their nickname from all the bats living there. 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 looking for fruits and insects overhead. While meandering past the various waterways, don’t forget to bring a proper pair of hiking boots if your students want to tackle one of 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. With the loose soil and rocks giving way under your feet, the hard work is 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 winter break from December to February.
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