Being the second highest peak in the paradise isles of Sri Lanka, Kirigalpoththa, christened after the white barked trees that grow on the mountain itself, rises to a height of 2,388 m (7,835 ft.). Looking out over the district of Nuwara Eliya, it is the highest peak accessible to the general public unlike Piduruthalagala, which is motor able right to the summit but embarking from the vehicle is prohibited unless special permission is granted due to it being a high security zone.
The trekking trail of Kirigalpoththa begins in the Horton plains but to get there you can use the adventurous public transport option of taking the rickety Badulla-Colombo night mail train to Pattipola and thereafter hiring a Tuk Tuk to the plains (the cost of which will be around 2k for a round trip, a reasonable amount considering the difficult terrain and distance.)
You can also opt for private transport and take either the route from Colombo to Ohiya through Haputhale and Boralanda (220km) or the shorter route from Colombo to Pattipola through Nuwara Eliya and Ambewela (180km).
We decided to be a little dauntless and took the night mail from Colombo to Pattipola, arriving there before 5am. After having Breakfast at the Karunadasa guest house, a famous stop amongst backpackers, we set off as early as possible and watched the beautiful sunrise a couple of hundred meters before the Pattipola gate, which opened at 6am.
The trail head starts near the Visitors Information Centre formerly known as Farr Inn and is about 7km to the summit. No plastic is allowed in this area as to protect this precious ecosystem. More than 50% of the trek is a walk through the peaceful plains cutting across a small stream during the first half of the trail.
The panoramic view once you conquer the summit is breath-taking as nature is when captured in such a raw rare state, but as the Miley Cyrus song goes, it’s the climb. The first view point is situated about 100m below the summit itself and is supposed to be more picturesque than the summit view itself.
The hike takes about 5-6 hours in total to reach the top and then descend and if you’re really up for the challenge you can conquer Thotupola Kanda on the same day. We did it on the second day of our stay along with the Pattipola Summit Level, where we returned to Pattipola and hiked a short distance for 30 minutes from the Pattipola Station to see the summit level which is the highest point of the Sri Lankan railway; a whopping 18981 meters from sea level.
We found accommodation at Karunadasa Guest House which had basic facilities and cost around Rs. 2500. All in all our Kirigalpoththa adventure was a success and we hope yours will be too!