Trekking in the Knuckles Mountain Range


Seeking to clear your mind and cleanse your soul? Well, escaping the mundane life and heading into the wilderness might be the answer you are looking for. A hike in a lush green forest region with trees covered in moss, breathtaking views of waterfalls, vibrant wildflowers on beautiful green terrains, the sun shining through the gloominess of the dense jungle in absolute quietness, interrupted only by the occasional sounds of the wildlife just maybe the one for you.

Now, if you are wondering where in Sri Lanka could you experience this? The answer is Knuckles. Located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, surrounded by 34 mountain peaks spanning 234 square kilometers, Knuckles is the home to about 34 diverse and challenging trails for the not so faint-hearted to explore. Unpredictable weather, high leech population, and hugely dense forest regions with highly diverse landscapes make exploration of Knuckles an adventurous off-the-beaten hike.

Embarking on a knuckles trail will give you a wholesome trekking experience of walking through diverse regions of dense rain forests, open plains, cloud forests, pine forests, and grasslands, with an abundance of flora and fauna, graceful and soaring waterfalls, and frequent peeks from wildlife. The frequently changing weather, multiple ecosystems, and distinctly beautiful scenes make this UNESCO world heritage site a trekkers paradise!

This magnificent mountain range, named after the view of mountains together creating a knuckle shape, is both ideal for a one-day trek of hiking through stunning scenes of nature, as well as for an overnight expedition with a camping experience under the starry skies among misty mountains.
While the Knuckles reserve can be reached from the “Matale” entrance or the “Hunnasgiriya” entrance, among the many diverse trails leading up to the most spectacular locations, the most explored ones are the “Nitro cave trail”, “Duwili Ella trail”, “Mini world’s end trail”, and “Dothalugala trail”.

1. Nitro Cave:

At the “Cobblett's gap”, one of the highest altitude points with an elevation of 1211 meters, the trail begins with a breathtaking panoramic view of the lush green landscapes of the Knuckles region. Descending from this point, the trail continues for 11 kilometers across stunning landscapes, a remote village, and ascends through a dense forest region via a narrow pathway leading up to the Nitro Cave. Inhabited by hundreds of bats, Nitro cave would be slightly nerve wrecking if you are not comfortable around these dark creatures. The trail up to Nitro cave from “Coblett’s gap” takes about 5 hours to complete.

2. Mini World’s End:

With a cliff drop of 1,192 meters, mini-world’s end offers spectacular views of vibrantly colored landscapes, puffy white clouds, remote villages, and green valleys in the distance. This short but enduring trail begins from Knuckles Conservation Centre (KCC), leading to the bank of “Deanston lake”, then to the rainforest region, moving to a pine forest with a slow ascend reaching the mini-world end. A 1.5-kilometer hike that takes approximately an hour or so to complete.

3. Dothalugala Trail:

The lead-up to the summit of one of Knuckle's 34 peaks, “Dothalugala mountain” will give you a mesmerizing view of the southern part of the mountain range. Beginning from the Knuckles Conservation Centre, uneven muddy tracks leads to beautiful forest views, village terrain views, and then to “Deanston campsite”. From this point, taking the left-most trail with an uphill climb will lead you up to a forest patch, which will straight lead you to the summit of “Dothalugala mountain”. While it is advised to descend through the other side of the mountain, the complete trail of ascending and descending the mountain is approximately 5.8 Kilometers long.

4. Duwili Ella Trail:

Ever wondered what it would be like to stand behind the curtain of a waterfall? “Duwili Ella” trail leading up to the "Duwili Ella falls" and the cave behind the waterfall will give you an experience like no other. Being there behind the curtain of silky “Duwili Ella” falls looking at the forest while listening to the sound of this gorgeous waterfall is out of this world. A trail walking through the dense rain forest of Knuckles, with many other streams and waterfalls such as "Dumbaraa Ella" along the way makes this by far the most breathtaking trail of all. Camping in the cave behind “Duwili Ella” falls overnight with friends around a campfire will make this trail a one for the books.

If you did reach this part of the blog, you surely must be a nature lover with an adventurous soul, and we guarantee that you most certainly will find your heaven on earth in Knuckles!