The Knuckles Mountain Range – so called because its rugged peaks resemble a set of knuckles on a clenched fist – sits in central Sri Lanka, within the district of Kandy and Matale. The entire mountain range spans over a whooping 155 square kilometres, and has a soaring summit set at 6,000 feet above sea level.
Visitors to the Knuckles Mountain Range will find a plethora of rare and endemic flora and fauna here. Dense, emerald forestry, winding rivers, cascading waterfalls and expansive tea plantations form part of the attraction’s stunning landscape. Trek up to one of the mountain peaks; it offers an excellent vantage point to enjoy sweeping vistas made up of rock formations, lush greenery, sparkling waters and unique rural village communities. Unlike other popular attractions in the country, such as Yala, Kunckles Mountain Range does not draw large hordes of visitors, reducing the likelihood that you’ll encounter large crowds of tourists during your visit here.
Flora and Fauna
The grounds of Knuckles Mountain Range is home to about 31 species of mammals, over 130 birdlife species and about 20 species of amphibians. Avid birdwatchers will enjoy a feast for the eyes, for they may catch sight of endemics such as the yellow-eared bulbul, Sri Lankan whistling thrush and jungle fowl, as well as migrants like the Indian blue chat and Indian pitta during their vist. 12 of the amphibian species here are endemic and endangered, and certain species, like the Kirthisinghe’s rock frog, can only be found at Knuckles within the country.
Visitors can participate in a wealth of activities at Knuckles Mountain Range. Travellers with a love for the outdoors and a great sense of adventure will enjoy rock climbing, moutain biking and caving. If the above activites sound a little too taxing, explore the grounds of Knuckles by joining in a nature trek or walking safari. This is an acitivity that is not to be missed, as trekkers will be well rewarded with breathtaking views.
For a more immersive experience, stay in an overnight camp set up within the grounds. Overnight camps usually last a duration of between two to five days, and may be organised to cater to small groups (2 pax), as well as larger ones (20 pax).
Essential Travel Information
Best times to visit:
March – April and June – August
A one-day hike at Knuckles is likely to cost about 5000 – 6000 rupees per person. This amount covers park permits, guide fees, jeep rental, food and water.
A two day camp may cost about USD 500 per person; this amount may vary significantly, depending on the tour provider that you select.
Transportation to Knuckles Mountain Range:
There are eight different routes leading to Knuckles Mountain Range. Most travellers arrive at the site from Colombo or Kandy. The journey from Colombo will take about a five to six hours drive, depending on the route that you take, while a drive from Kandy lasts a duration of about three hours. Vistors may arrive by bus, train, taxi, mini-vans, inter-city buses and air taxis.
Females are not advised to head here as a solo traveller. The grounds of the Knuckles Mountain Range are rather isolated, so it will be safer to travel as part of a group.
Chances are that you’ll encounter numerous leeches, so arrive for your trek well-prepared to fend off these persistent amphibians. Don long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Be sure to wear a pair of leech socks over your normal ones, and to tuck your pants tightly into your socks. Leech socks are to be tied at the knee, and your shirts should be kept tucked in. Lastly, arm yourself with plenty of tiger balm and deet. Even with these precautionary measures, leeches will still jump up onto you, but you’ll be able to brush them off easily.
Travel providers for tours and overnight camps:
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