The backpacker’s trail to Elephant Spine: Riverston Peak

4 Hours

Follow the Manigala Trail to soulful views of rivers, paddy fields, old villages, and a mountain which resembles the spine of an elephant… all with a bird’s eye view from Riverston Peak at Knuckles Mountain Range.

Why should you book this trip?

  • The Knuckles Mountain Range is a vitally important conservation area, recognised as a National Heritage and Wilderness Area by UNESCO.
  • A great addition to your list of “things to do in Kandy”.
  • Backpacking in Knuckles, is to experience every forest range type found in Sri Lanka, travelling from 250 to 4,000 feet above sea level.
  • This trekking trail will mean experiencing different climatic zones - unique to the Knuckles Mountain Range.
  • A magical trail to do bird watching as well. This wonderful range covers almost every forest type found in Sri Lanka at elevations ranging between 250 and 4,000 feet.
  • A walk through the Pitawala Pathana – the island’s largest dry pathana plains – will let you glimpse the 1,500ft sheer drop to the Puwakpitiya valley below.
  • Fantastic, moderate treks which will help you burn your extra calories gained during your holiday.
  • Hassle free, pickup and drop-off of packages from the Kandy city hotels you are staying in is also available.
  • You will be accompanied by an experienced naturalist.
  • The Knuckles trekking tour could be combined with a visit to the Mathale Aluwihare Temple.

The Knuckles trek will commence from the pre-agreed point, after a briefing on the route and on safety precautions.

A popular and favourite trek for a day trek is - the Manigala trail.

Climbing Manigala is a rewarding experience. It lets you enjoy the true beauty of the Knuckles Range. The beautiful “Thelgamu Oya” (river) and the paddy fields with the mountains in the backdrop at the traditional villages will simply take your breath away. The panoramic view of the Knuckles Range from the top of Manigala; the unique flat area on the top of the mountain which resembles the spine of an elephant and the rich diversity of vegetation - are some of the other highlights of the Knuckles trek.

At the conclusion of the exhilarating trek to Knuckles, we retire into a small beautiful guest house to relax and enjoy our lunch prior to departure.

The Knuckles Mountain Range was established as a climatic reserve in 1873 and with over 21,000 hectares, was more recently, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Property in 2010.

Named after its resemblance of a set of knuckles in a closed fist, the region is famed for its unique landscape, spectacular natural beauty and more critically for its “ outstanding value that reaches far beyond national significance.”(UNESCO)

Unique Features of the Knuckles Mountain Range

The Knuckles forest covers an expansive area and falls within the Kandy and Matale districts. It is a standout scenic part of Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands and possesses some of the island’s most rugged, spectacular and breathtaking mountain landscapes.

A unique aspect of the Knuckles Mountain Range is that it represents almost all major climatic zones in Sri Lanka and this is a geographical feature that astounds and captivates the curiosity of nature enthusiasts, botanists and researchers alike.

This wonderful Range also covers almost every forest type found in Sri Lanka, at elevations ranging between 250 and 4,000 feet:

From Illukkumbura, you’ll experience Dry Zone Forest and then traverse through Wet Zone Forest, Dry Pathana, Montane Forest and finally end up in the Pygmy Forest in Riverstone, where windblown trees mark the highest point of the trek.

A highlight of this bewildering trekking Knuckles Tour, is that all of these forest types can be encountered within a half hour’s drive; meaning that separate short hikes into each forest type are entirely possible for those short of time.

A walk through the Pitawala Pathana – the island’s largest dry pathana plains – will let you glimpse the 1,500ft sheer drop to the Puwakpitiya Valley below and is another stunning attraction of Knuckles’ beautiful wilderness.


  • Services of a local guide for the trek
  • Bottled water
  • Entrance fees


  • Suitable casual clothing for windy, rainy, warm weather conditions should be considered.
  • Lightweight clothes and shoes/boots are recommended for trekking.
  • Insect/leech repellent and sun-protection lotion are recommended items to carry.
  • All electronic devices should be securely carried.
  • Water bottles and refreshments should be carried by clients at all times.
Overall Trip Rating:
- Based on 3 travel reviews
Very Good
  1. Amazing Hike in the Knuckles Riverston
    By Nikolaj
    from Sri Lanka
    February 1, 2024
    Doing a trek in Knuckles Riverston is a must do in Sri Lanka! This was the highlight of our trip. Our Guide Wasantha was so knowledgeable about literally everything. But with little English. Lucky that we had our driver guide with us.
    Date of Experience: January 18, 2024
  2. Hiking the knuckles
    By Sarah
    from Sri Lanka
    August 9, 2023
    The Knuckles is a unique hiking destination with stunning landscapes, natural swimming pools, and friendly locals. We also learned about plants, flowers, and animals. It was a fantastic experience!
    Date of Experience: July 12, 2023
  3. Magnificent day !!!
    By Helen
    from Sri Lanka
    January 11, 2023
    The Manigala trip was fantastic; we saw a variety of wildlife, rice fields, tea plantations, and village life... The landscapes were spectacular. The walk begins on the outskirts of the the village. From the summit of the mountain, you can see the entire surrounding area, which is incredibly spectacular.
    Date of Experience: January 03, 2023

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

The backpacker’s trail to Elephant Spine: Riverston Peak
From $65
/ Adult - Single Person(SOLO)
From $60
/ Adult - 2 Persons
From $55
/ Adult - 3 Persons
From $50
/ Adult - 4 Persons
From $45
/ Adult - 5 or More people
From $35
/ Child - Price per child
  • SLDT/2405/TR04
  • 4
  • 6:30 AM
  • Knuckles Mountain Range
  • 24 Hours
  • Throughout the year


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