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Explorer by Mahoora


Elephant’s Head Trekking Trail

Reaching the rock that is formed like an Elephant’s head, is a full day trekking trail that takes you through the Knuckles Nature Reserve Sri Lanka. The highlights of this challenging trekking trail are the diverse forest patches, different species of flora and fauna that are unique to this Knuckles Mountain region. The trail takes you through a number of small, age old villages that are a rarity in Sri Lanka today. You get to encounter and experience the village life, smiles and warmth of the villagers of this valley surrounded by the Knuckles mountain range.

elephant head trail trekkingA truly rewarding and an exhilarating walking trail that is a must for anyone visiting Knuckles Mountain Range.

  • The trekking journey commences with a light walk on the paths that wind through the sleepy little villages of the misty valley. These villages have hardly been influenced by modernisation. You are likely to meet villagers who are getting about attending to their daily work and smile across and bless you on your journey.

  • The walking path that takes you to the entry point of Knuckles Nature Reserve is exciting. You will cross a small bridge where the water underneath gushes through a set of large and small boulders. The village folks refer to the waterfall under the bridge as ‘Vedda Pani Ella’ meaning A "Vedda" (indigenous person of the area) jumped into. Inevitably, he was washed away due to the strong currents.

  • The journey commences with a beautiful panoramic view of terraced paddy fields and the mountain ranges belonging to the Knuckles cluster in the backdrop. Of course, this is just the beginning - what you are likely to see further on in your journey is amazing. The colourful houses in pretty pinks and bright greens are just as eye-catching.

  • There are three key viewpoints in this trail with absolutely stunning panoramic views. The last is Elephant’s Head, around which there are number of interesting stories are built. During the British rule the workers in the tea plantation used this rock for timing as their clock based on the reflection of the sun, hence getting it’s localised name. This place is also considered as the place where Rama landed his flying machine in  the epic Ramayanaya. After a short rest you may begin to climb down from this point.

  • knuckles trekking trails sri lankaBoth the climb up and the climb down of the trekking trail, take you through some of the most amazing fauna and flora. Habitats of Pangolin; the constant reverberating call of the Sri Lankan junglefowl making his presence felt loud and clear to all around; a quick glance at the shy endemic Gray Hornbill before he flies away, makes you forget any thoughts of fatigue. Fresh markings by a wild boar and just knowing that there are even more exciting things happening inside the forest are good enough to get excited yourself.

  • The tall trees get replaced by cloud forests as you reach the mountain tops. The hidden beauties of exquisite and colourful mushrooms are certainly worth the clicks.

  • This is home to many wonderful and rare varieties of butterflies, in varied sizes and colours. Seeing these, the child in you may want to chase some of them as they flit and float across the little patches of grasslands, or else hide behind the bushes and simply watch them fly around with a true sense of freedom.  

There are a few options to choose from the Elephant Head Trekking Trail , based on your travel schedule and fitness level  and your preference.

Although it is hard to be absolutely precise about how hard a walk may be,we have developed a guideline that is likely to help you in understanding the level of intensity of the trekking trail. Trail Grading Guidelines



flora and fauna at knuckles mountain range sri lankaVariation 1 - Grading of the trail - C (Strenuous)

  • Timing: approximately 8 hours by foot - Full Day

  • Total distance: 14.2 km  - from Explorer by Mahoora campsite at Illukkumbura and back to the campsite:

    • The journey commences after breakfast

    • Approach 1st viewpoint in 1 hr 20 min

    • Approach 2nd viewpoint - for lunch

    • Approach 3rd viewpoint - 1 hr later from the 1st viewpoint  (not considering an extended lunch break)

    • Descending time - 2 hrs

  • Entire journey by foot



trekking trails knuckles mountain range sri lankaVariation  2 - Grading of the trail - B (Moderate)

  • Timing: approximately 6.5  hours - Full Day

  • Total distance: 12.2 km

What makes this Trail different from Variation  1

  • A 20-minute drive to the first village where journey by foot will commence.


Variation 3 - Grading of the trail - B (Moderate)

  • Timing: approximately 6.5  hours - Full Day

  • Total distance: 10.2 km

  • A 20-minute drive to the first village  where journey by foot will commence.

What makes this Trail different from Variation 2

  • Climb up to the 3rd viewpoint and descend via the same path as the climb where the journey ends in the village where the trail began.


paddy fields around knuckles mountain rangeVariation 4 - Grading of the trail - B (Moderate)

  • Timing: approximately 7  hours - Full Day

  • Total distance: 12.2 km

What makes this Trail different from Variation 3

  • Walking trail from Campsite to the village which is located at the foothills of the Elephant, where the uphill trek will begin.

  • Climb up to the 3rd viewpoint and descend via the same path as the climb where the journey ends in the village where the trail began.

  • A 20-minute walk back to the campsite in Illukkumbura.

  • A 20-minute drive back to the campsite.

 knuckles mountain range sri lanka


What's included in these fully guided trekking trails

  • An expert local guide from the area who has roamed in this region for decades.

  • Professional Naturalist who will explain and interpret social life, nature encounters and sightings.

  • Snacks & Water

  • First-Aid and required backup for any emergency.   

  • Lunch ( packed lunch during the trek, lunch served at the home of a villager lunch served at the campsite -  based on the programme and timing)

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B E S T   R A T E S   G U A R A N T E E D !


Much more than just a great place to stay

"Thanks to our guide Avinka we had five great safaris staying four nights just after reopening this February. The staff made us feel so very welcome during the entire stay.

The safaries are just wonderful, and having a great guide in your vehicle makes a big difference. Avinka can spot animals you would never see and we were even lucky enough to sight leopards on the trees, close to our vehicle, and also running through the field. The wildlife is so exciting that you will have a great experience even if you don‘t see any leopards. We also had a great driver, which is essential if you drive through difficult territory. You are being taken care of the entire time, so even for those who do safaris for the first time, you will always feel safe.

The camp itself is very comfortable, you get everything you can think of, and on top of the great food being served with so much attention and friendliness. You also get wonderful vegetarian and vegan options. They put on bonfires at night, which makes it unforgettable.
When booking and making plans, you get great support from the headquarters, even if it gets difficult since you have to change your plans.
The best thing what can happen to you at the end of a vacation is when you are a bit sad to leave the place, having experienced something to remember forever, and the team does everything for this to happen. Thank you so much"

Axel S wrote, Traveled with family
January 2021

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