‘Twas the Hike before Christmas

Joy to the world, indeed. It’s Christmas season already!
For some, the festivities began in November while for others, the festivities never did.
We’ve got the solution for all of you part-time Grinches who’d rather spend your Christmas on top of a mountain far away from all the chaos than surrounded by relatives you haven’t seen in a year.

Literally.

So, if you’re ready to gather your favourite introverted fellows and hike up a giant pile of rocks this December, here are a few tips.

Planning

First, you need to PLAN the hike. Don’t jump in headfirst, no matter the inevitable clamour.
Gather your group of not-so-merry men (or people in general) and estimate your capabilities. Experienced hikers can easily do 20 km in a day, and so, if you are one, great! Go for it. Of course, you might want to check with your mates if that’s okay first or else there may be a mutiny.

If you are not experienced enough to take on that distance (or are out of practice), limit yourself to a comfy 12-14 km – just to be safe.

Once you’re aware of your capabilities, pick a suitable hiking trail and a campsite. You can’t just park yourselves wherever, unfortunately. A lot of the designated camping sites are protected areas so you’ll often need to seek out the relevant authorities and receive permission to set up camp. Sometimes, there’ll be villages or towns nearby, so you may not have to take a tent with you or sleep among the trees.

You’ll still need to pack a few necessities, however.

For example, you’ll need water. No, you can’t take eggnog instead. Dehydration is no joke. Just don’t carry gallons with you like you’re expecting the end of times, though. A change of clothes can help in case you get wet or too sweaty. But it also depends on where you are. If the site you’ve picked to visit is culturally significant, don’t be like “those” boys. Have some respect and keep. your. pants. on. Needless to say, don’t wear heels or slippers. Stick to a comfy pair of boots.

Best take a solution of saltwater and antiseptic though. It’s not like the leeches take a vacation in December!

First aid kits are handy things that may save a life or at least your dignity. Bonus points if it’s red or green! Extra festive!
And most importantly, pack food! It’s not like a restaurant’s going to make a delivery to the top of Thotupola Kanda. Pack foods that won’t spoil easily and possibly ones that won’t cover you and your things with gravy.

Don’t forget, it’s Christmas after all, so you’re going to have to take the merriment up the mountain with you.

That would mean all the things that makes a Christmas celebration what it is, like cake, and eggnog, and breudher, and presents and Santa hats and music. Of course, this would also include a tree and ornaments! For what is Christmas without a (fake) tree covered in tinsel?

I mean, the bigger the better, yeah? But, unfortunately, a 20ft Christmas tree is not going to make your climb any easier. And don’t be fooled. Coming back down isn’t going to be a joyride of any kind, either. Stick to smaller tree maybe.

Finally, there are a number of mountains to choose from in Sri Lanka, but here are a few recommendations! We’ve researched very hard and long into this to give you the best possible advice so you can have the very best introverted Christmas yet!

1. Ella Rock

Estimated time: 4 hours
The ever-popular mountain can be a bit of a puzzle. With 16 different routes to the top, you might spend all 12 days of Christmas trying to get up there if you are not careful. It’s got a few steep inclines and the summit is somehow always teeming with people. At least you’re not allowed to camp there so you don’t have to worry about sleeping two feet away from a snoring couple.

  • What you can take:

  • Moderate amount of water

  • a glass of eggnog each (consume only once at the top)

  • Christmas cake

  • one turkey

  • one drunk uncle (also doubles as Santa)

  • 2.495kg of ornaments

  • electronic items with sufficient charge (if needed)

  • Santa hats (can also protect against sunburn)

Ella Rock. Source: srilankafinder.com

2. Dothalugala

Estimated time: 3 hours
For this, you’re going to need a ticket from the Knuckles Conservation Centre but not to worry. It won’t take long since the office is close to the very start of the trail. It’s a well-marked trail though it involves a bit of a climb and is winding. The trail is about 4 km long, and can take you 2-3 hours to complete, leaving you plenty of time for celebrations. There are plenty of leeches though, so if you’re missing a few members of your party halfway up, feel free to recruit them – or rather, they’ll join without you having to ask.
Basically, go there if you’re not afraid of wildlife (crabs, frogs, you name it). You can also expect rain and plenty of mist so if you’re fond of white Christmases, a wet one’s the closest you’re going to get.

  • What you can take:

  • The ticket (more of a must than can…)

  • Nothing too… meaty (the wildlife, remember?)

  • A one-foot Christmas tree

  • 500g-1.35kg of ornaments

  • Bottles of saltwater and Dettol

  • A well-stocked first aid kit

  • Raincoats

Dothalugala. Source: Lakdasun

3. Kirigalpotta

Estimated time to climb: 5 hours

Kirigalpotta is situated in Horton Plains and is the second-tallest mountain in Sri Lanka.

So, if you’re eager for a challenge (no prizes guaranteed), this would be ideal. Don’t bother with carrying baubles and fairy lights with you as there’s very little space to actually set anything up. Oh, one more thing. You’ll have to leave early morning and return by 4 p.m. if you want to come back at all (the mists start creeping in and trust us, it does not fulfil the snowy dreams of a tropical islander). You’ll probably lose half your best men making it to the top, so might as well not call for volunteers and just take a paper cutout of a tree.

What you can take:

  • Three bottles of something isotonic. Per person.

  • A small but calorie-dense lunch

  • One volunteer in a green suit (because there isn’t any room up there for a Christmas tree)

  • One bauble

  • A partridge (but not the pear tree)

Kirigalpotta. Source: Wikipedia

4. Uura Kanda

Estimated time: 2-3 hours

Uura Kanda is the highest peak of the Hanthana Mountain Range and yet only reaches about 1,200 metres or so.

It’s a relatively easy hike so it shouldn’t take you more than an hour or so.

In fact, there’s even a staircase at the beginning! (Huzzah, am I right?)

What you can take:

  • One extra large bottle of eggnog (treat yourselves!)

  • A whole feast. In fact, take an entire turkey AND two ham legs! Go crazy!

  • A breudher

  • A three-foot Christmas tree (if you are hardcore)

  • Maximum 6kg of ornaments (That’s just a guess. We’re not entirely sure how this works)

  • A ukulele for carols

Uura Kanda. Source: Wikipedia

So, there you have it. The highly accurate and well-researched information provided here can help you have your Christmas cake and eat it too. You can indulge your Christmas spirit, your lust for adventure, and your borderline antisocial tendencies all at the same time. So go ahead, have a merry mountain Christmas and an adventure-filled new year!

P.S. While you’re spreading the joy, don’t forget to bring everything you take with you back down! Don’t litter while hiking. We may live in a tropical country, but that would make for a very uncool December.

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