For many visitors, Sri Lanka is all about blissful, blonde beaches, but another world awaits in the rugged, mountainous interior. It was only when railways were built through the highlands that vehicles replaced hiking as the main way of getting around this stunning tropical island. Modern-day trekkers can enter a wonderland of rugged ruins, sacred sites, epic viewpoints and tumbling tea estates, within easy striking distance of the coast.With Sri Lanka`s manageable scale – the island measures just 268 miles long by 139 miles wide – there are few complicated logistics for hikers to worry about.
You`ll need a guide for walks in national parks (and off-the-beaten-track treks elsewhere) but most trips are easy day hikes, so you can turn up and start walking, safe in the knowledge that there`ll be a filling plate of rice and curry waiting at your guesthouse at the end of a satisfying day of hiking.The largest lowland rainforest in the country, Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a biodiverse wonderland, framed by rivers and buzzing with forest wildlife, including rare mammals and 147 bird species, including 33 species found only in Sri Lanka. Entry to Sinharaja is on foot not by jeep, with a mandatory guide to keep you safe in the dense and damp undergrowth.Most hikers base themselves in the villages of Deniyaya or Kudawa, arrange a trek with the guides hanging around the park gates. Stay nearby to access the park early in the morning when the trails are quiet and the wildlife is most active, before the tour groups arrive from the coast. The Sinharaja Rain Forest View Villas at Deniyaya is a lovely jungle escape that won’t burn too big a hole in your holiday budget.