Rising gracefully among two significant districts in Sri Lanka, the Knuckles Mountain Range is a place that should not be missed by any traveler who loves trekking. The rare beauty of this site is worth exploring at least once in a lifetime.
The Knuckles mountain range stretches between Matale and Kandy Districts in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This is considered one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the country, with an illustrious history. It is home to many species of endemic flora and fauna, while you can have an epic trekking adventure exploring the mesmerizing landscapes.
So, read this article till the end to learn everything you need to know about this magical mountain range and why you should visit this site.
What Is The Knuckles Mountain Range, And Where Is It Located?
Knuckles mountain range, which is also popularly known as Dumabara Mountain Range (Dumbara Kandu Watiya), is situated in the Central province of Sri Lanka, lying between the Kandy and Matale districts. The mountain range has got its name for its series of peaks and recumbent folds located in the west of the massif that resembles the knuckles of a clenched human fist.
This is one of the most popular trekking destinations visited by hikers from around the world. With an elevation of about 3000 feet from the sea level, the mountain range comprises five main peaks and several other smaller peaks. While the highest peak is known as “Gombaniya,” it is also the second peak of the knuckles mountain range.
This site stretches for over 150 square kilometers, and the knuckles forest conservation was declared a UNESCO natural world heritage site in 2010. This mountainous forest area is one of the finest areas in the country, with a rich biodiversity. It has over 30 rural villages, and most of them are fortified with agricultural and water resources.
A Flash From The Past Of The Knuckles Mountain Range…
The knuckles mountain range is undoubtedly one of the most valuable heritages of Sri Lanka since its history draws back to the prehistoric periods.
It is archaeologically proven that there is evidence that shows the existence of the Yaksha settlement in the area. In addition, this area has also been known as Giri Divaina and Malaya rata back then. The historical sources also claim that this mountain range is associated with the last kingdom that existed in Sri Lanka.
Why Is The Knuckles Mountain Range So Significant?
There are many reasons for this beautiful mountain range to be an extremely important natural resource to the country. This is a place that every local and foreigner who loves to explore the wilderness should visit.
As mentioned earlier, this area is rich in biodiversity and fortified with endemic flora and fauna. The evergreen mountains contain five major forest formations known as:
- Montane forests
- Sub-montane forests
- Dry and wet Pathana
- Dry evergreen forests
It is also enriched with pristine water bodies that nourish the entire country as the three main rivers of Kalu, Heen, and Hulu.
Since the Knuckles mountain range is located in a wet zone, it is abundant in rainfall, boasting a variety of streams, lakes, and waterfalls. Moreover, some parts of this region are still untouched by humans, so they remain isolated, being a pristine and protected wilderness of the country for centuries.
The breathtaking vistas and adventurous experience are things you’ll get to indulge in only from this site, making it one of the most significant places on the island!
The Unforgettable Experience You Can Have At The Knuckles Mountain Range
Bordered with rich vegetation all around, the Knuckles mountain range is the perfect place to be if you’re an adventure lover, hike lover, or a nature enthusiast.
Depending on your route, you will have 11-20 km to trek, and it will take around 5-6 hours to complete the hike. We can assure you that this will be one of the most exciting and pleasing adventures you will experience during your stay in Sri Lanka.
Here, you will be able to catch a glimpse of enchanting views that you can rarely see in other places in the country. The exploration up to the peaks through the wilderness will be quite the expedition. It is also perfect for escaping from the country’s urban areas to relinquish serenity and solace.
The Boasted Beauty To Be Explored…
You can walk from ecosystem to ecosystem, and there is such a noticeable shift in the landscape that you feel as if you could be on several different excursions. With each trek, you will come to woodlands and grasslands, where you will be mesmerized by the scenic view and incredible wildlife, including vibrant butterflies, birds, flowers, and trees.
The highest of each peak is often covered with a thick layer of mist so that it will create magical scenes around you as if you are lost in a fairytale. The sounds of the birds, insects, and some mammals, along with the soothing water-flowing sounds of the streams and waterfalls, are the only things that will keep you occupied throughout the stroll.
The undisturbed wilderness will resemble the tranquility of meditation, where you can unwind to your heart’s content. Do not forget to visit the water bodies, including Dumbara Ella and Duwili Ella. Along with the unexplainable beauty of this place, you will also meet with the warm hospitality of the villagers, where you will experience a portion of their lifestyle, adding a whole new level of experience to your travel diary.
Trekking And Night Camping
The knuckles mountain range has some of the most challenging trekking paths that make the best adventurous part of your journey.
The unmissable hike will take you across the Corbette’s Gap Viewpoint track, starting from Leopard Rock and terminating at one of the country’s highest points. Your journey will get more challenging if you trek during the rainy season; otherwise, the terrain is relatively smooth.
You’ll make the most out of your hike once you enter the forest area. This area is run under the guidance of the Forest Department of Sri Lanka, and only some selected locations are allowed for night camping. Those areas are considered safe zones for placing your tents, and you will be left under the stars to spend a magical night!
What Is The Best Time To Trek The Knuckles Mountain Range?
Since the Knuckles mountain range is located in the wet zone, it would be best if you choose the dry season in Sri Lanka for your adventure. These are usually the months from December to February when you can expect less rainfall.
However, the area is open year-round for anyone who needs to explore. But the only thing is you will find the trekking paths more challenging during the rainy season, and the effect of the leeches can be more aggressive than usual.
Also, you will have the best out of your hike if you can start early, around 6-6.30 AM. If you start around this time, you’ll be able to enjoy the surroundings in their best views and complete your journey before nightfall (if you have no intention of night camping).
How Can You Reach The Knuckles Mountain Range?
Getting to this hike destination mainly depends on where your current lodging is. However, the most popular entrance to the reserve is through Matale. You will not find any public transportation into the Knuckles from here onwards.
The next entry is through Hunnasgiriya, which is also closer to the central city of Kandy. You’ll find many buses traveling to Hunnasgiriya, but you will have to accommodate private transportation from here onwards. Nevertheless, it would be much easier if you could contact an off-road trek organization so that you’ll get a guided tour in an off-road vehicle picked up at your lodging.
Things You Need To Consider About Safety And Security When Visiting The Knuckles Mountain Range
You can be an adrenaline junkie or an adventure lover. Still, whatever it is, it is crucial to remember that you are about to enter an unfamiliar wilderness where there is a higher probability of getting lost if you don’t follow the right track.
Therefore, we highly recommend you to get the assistance of a guide who is well knowledgeable about the area. You can easily get this done through the hotel/ resort/ hostel you are accommodating. They will always help you to get an experienced guide who will help you throughout your trek, showing you all the exciting things and taking you to the places you shouldn’t miss.
Night camping should also be done under the guidance of someone well aware of the restricted areas so that you will not face any unnecessary danger or problems. We will put down a list of pro tips that will help you to organize and get prepared for your trek to the knuckles mountain range.
Pro Tips To Trek The Knuckles Mountain Range
Hiking this world-renowned mountain range should never be unestimated. Thus, you must start with proper preparation and be ready for the possibilities that you might encounter on top of the range. That being said, here are some of the pro tips for hikers who wish to make a successful trek to this enchanted mountain range!
- Pack your backpack with enough water. You will not find any shops or water on top of the mountain, so carry your water.
- You can also pack your breakfast, snacks, and lunch. There are some beautiful spots on top where you can enjoy your meals indulging in the beauty of nature. But make sure you bring down all your trash with you. Protecting wildlife is your sole responsibility!
- Pack only what is necessary. Leave as much luggage in your vehicle or the place where you stay.
- The anti-leech spray is a must! If you’re hiring a guide or trekking through a company, they will provide you with this spray, which usually includes an antiseptic (Dettol), soap, water, and salt. Therefore, you should inform them if you are allergic to any ingredients in the spray.
- Wear a good pair of hiking shoes/ walking boots.
- Wear comfortable clothing which will help you to trek through the wild paths. Long sleeves are recommended so you won’t get hurt by shrubs, twigs, etc.
- Apply sunscreen, wear a cap/hat and sunglasses, and do everything possible to protect yourself from the sun. Carry the sunscreen with you so you can reapply.
- Take tissues and wet wipes.
- Carry a torch, extra clothing, socks, etc.
- You are allowed to take your digital devices, such as cameras, drones, video cameras, tripods, etc. But remember that you will have to carry them at your own risk.
- Hiking during pregnancy or with your kids is not encouraged since the trek can be challenging and tiresome.
- Removing plant parts from the forest reserve is prohibited. So, stay on your best behavior until the end of your hike.
Places You Shouldn’t Miss Visiting When You Reach The Top…
Your hike will be incomplete if you don’t visit these incredible spots when you reach the top of the Knuckles mountain range:
- Meet the friendly locals in the rural villages
- Dothalugala nature trail
- Nitro Caves
- Mini World’s End
- Duwili Ella trail
- Dumbatra Ella trail
- Lakes and streams
Places To Stay Around The Knuckles Mountain Range
Ever since the thriving tourism around this area, resorts, hotels, hostels, and homestays have been seemingly established. And they also ensure you a comfortable stay with high-quality, delicious food.
Above all, most of these places will provide home-cooked meals prepared according to authentic Sri Lankan recipes, most of which are village-style menus. This food experience is something you should have since most vegetables and plant-based ingredients are organic, harvested from their fields.
However, this area is known for its rural beauty, and you will not find many luxury hotels near the Knuckles mountain range. But still, star-grade hotels can be found in Kandy and Matale areas.
Nearby Attractions That Might Interest You
If you plan to spend a few around this area, you should not end your trip from the Knuckles mountain range. There are plenty of places around this area that you should explore and add up to your wander journal.
One of those lesser-known places is the quaint little village of Meemure. This village is worth visiting to witness the calm and beautiful rural life of the hospitable Sri Lankans.
As said before, you can even stay a few days in a village house and experience their lifestyle while enjoying their unique and scrumptious food. In addition, you can take a trip to visit nearby places such as:
- World’s End
- Hunnas Falls
- Sembuwatta Lake
- Sera Ella Waterfall
- Bambara Kiri Ella
- Wasgamuwa National Park
- Pitawala Pathana
- Religious places like Aluviharaya and Nalanda Gedige Viharaya
- Spice gardens
f you come to the Knuckles mountain range without stopping by Kandy, you should also visit this heritage city as you will get plenty of things to do and see there.
Touch The Clouds, Get Lost In The Wilderness–Enjoy The Majestic Beauty Of Mystical Knuckles Mountain Range!
Famous as one of the best hiking destinations in Sri Lanka, hundreds of nature enthusiasts visit the knuckles mountain range annually to witness its unparalleled beauty.
From unexplainably beautiful views, pristine water bodies, endemic flora, and fauna to challenging treks, this location in the country will offer you a combination of unexpected experiences that you will get only once in a lifetime. We are sure this exquisite mountain range will be a true adventure that you will want to taste more than once in your travel diary!