The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
The Knuckles mountain range, so called because its appearance resembles the knuckles of a clenched fist is located to the east of Kandy and Matale in central Sri Lanka, and consists of five mountain peaks and several other smaller peaks.
Walking in the Knuckles is immensely satisfying for this is some of Sri Lanka’s finest walking country. Trek through dense forests, along rivers and waterfalls, past tea plantations and terraced paddy fields and visit some of the small rural village communities. Panoramic views of misty mountains, stunning valleys, ancient rock formations, lush forests, crystal clear streams, beautiful animal and plant life, paddy fields, traditional villages and hospitable people make the Knuckles an unmissable experience.
A wide variety of rare and endemic flora and fauna also makes this World Heritage Conservation area a storehouse of rich biodiversity.
The Knuckles can be approached via the A26 from Kandy to Hunnas Giriya, where a rough minor road leads to Corbett’s Gap which reveals magnificent views of the Knuckles range. From Corbett’s Gap the road that leads to the village of Meemure can also be travelled by an appropriate vehicle. The Knuckles can also be reached from Matale via Rattota and Riversten, and from Wattegama via Panwila.
Weather in the Knuckles mountain range is unpredictable and can change within a few minutes. December to February has a moderate possibility of rain but still attracts trekkers; March to September has lower rainfall; September to November is best avoided. Temperatures range from 6 to 35C. Inexperienced walkers in the Knuckles should take a guide. Take careful note of weather forecasts and follow all sensible trekker precautions.
The Knuckles mountain range is also home to traditional villagers who live in 37 ancient villages, some of which only received electricity in the 21st century. The existence of theses indigenous community depends upon cultivation of rice, spices and Chena.
31 species of mammals have been recorded in the Knuckles wilderness, four of which are endemic and nine of which are nationally endangered. Some of the common species include Wild Buffalo, Wildboar, Black-Naped Hare, Jackal, Toque Macaque and Purple-faced Leaf Monkey (both these primates are endemic to Sri Lanka). Other mammals recorded include Leopard, Fishing Cat, Sambar, Mouse Deer and Elephants.
The Knuckles forest region has a rich composition of birdlife and has recorded over 130 species of birds. Over 10 migrant species are also found here. Of the total recorded species 20 are nationally endangered. Some of the endemics seen here include the Yellow-eared Bulbul, the elusive Sri Lankan Whistling Thrush, Sri Lankan Spot-wing Thrush, Yellow-fronted Barbet, Jungle fowl, Sri Lankan Super fowl, Sri Lankan Wood Pigeon, Sri Lankan Green Pigeon, Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot, Layard’s Parakeets, Brown-capped Babbler, Crimson-backed Woodpecker, Sri Lankan Woodshrike, Sri Lankan Dull-blue Flycatcher, Sri Lankan Myna, Bush Warbler and the Sri Lankan White-eye. Some of the migrants include Indian Pitta, Common Sandpiper, Gray & Forest Wagtails, Brown Shrike, Indian Blue Chat, Greenish Warbler, Large-billed Leaf Warbler, Brown-breasted Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatchers and the endangered Kashmir Flycatcher.
20 amphibians have been recorded here – 12 are endemic and considered nationally endangered, and among them is the Kirithisinghe’s Rock Frog which is found only in the Knuckles Mountain Range (inhabiting small streams which slide along rocky surfaces. Knuckles is believed to be home to several as-yet-undiscovered amphibian species, and there are some which have not yet been scientifically described. The Small-Eared Tree Frog could be commonly heard in the lower and upper montane forests, while the Corrugated Water Frog can be near the steams flowing through the above forest.
The reptiles in Knuckles range from small geckos and skinks to large monitor lizards and pythons. Of the 53-species recorded in the area, 23 are endemic whilst 24 are nationally threatened. Interestingly half of the Agamid lizard species in Sri Lanka are found in the Knuckles. Among them, the endemic Leaf-nosed Lizard is found only in the Knuckles region. A combination of both venomous and non-venomous snakes can be found in the forest, but their scarcity means that an encounter will only occur with a deal of luck involved! The network of streams in Knuckles harbours at least 25 species of freshwater fish with 8 endemics and 7 nationally threatened fish species recorded.
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