Less crowds, less cash splash, more rock scrambling and more views of actual Sigiriya. And word going around on the travel street at the moment is to avoid Sigiriya’s main attraction completely and head to its little sister; Pidurangala Rock. If you are interested in doing Sigiriya a bit differently then this is the place to go.
Aka Little Sigiriya, Pidurangala Rock is said to be 199m high (compared to 200m height of its big sis). It’s just as much fun, with all of the adventure feels of hiking a big rock with the added bonus of viewing Sigiriya rock rather than sitting on top of it. All that, at a fraction of the price. If you’re looking for a more off the beaten track experience, you’ll love this.
Here’s how we spent our day hiking up the rock and cycling around Sigiriya, jam packed with top tips to avoid the tourist masses!
GETTING TO PIDURANGALA ROCK
The funnest, easiest and most adventurous way is by bicycle. Here’s a map of the cycle route we took to the entrance of Pidurangala rock including our cycle around the area afterwards. This is a half day trip which should take you around 3-4 hours.
HIKING PIDURANGALA ROCK
This hike is a low impact activity that’ll make you feel like you’re one step away from dropping everything and shacking up with Indiana Jones… or Rambo. Take your pick, but either way it’s going to take you 30 – 45 minutes depending on fitness level to reach the top. Unlike the hikes we did in Nepal, you probably won’t need the jelly babies to get through this one.
The trail starts off as uneven stairs and then continues into a forest pathway after reaching the white Buddha. Walking along a well trodden dirt path and climbing up over rocks, it’s a gentle and steady climb. Once you pass the big reclining Buddha that’s when sh*t gets real. You’ll find yourself scrambling over rocks and boulders right the way to the top. Which is heaps of fun! And the views from the top make all that scrambling totally worth it.
TOP TIP: When you reach the white Buddha at the top of the staircase, towards the beginning of the hike, turn RIGHT. The path is relatively hidden after the Buddha but if you look for the red trail markings you’ll find it easily enough. We did some proper exploring here (got a bit lost) and finally found our way!
AFTER PIDUNGALA ROCK
Follow the map above and ride around the moat that surrounds the ancient city of Sigiriya, then head to lake starred on the map for a ride-around. If you’re lucky you might see wild monkeys (we did!).
Ice ice baby
Go for an ice cream in Sigiriya town. There’s nowhere selling fresh scoop (soz) but if you hit the local grocery store, you’ll find a selection of refreshing popsicles.
Chill out on the veranda at your guest house and listen to the rustling of the trees and read a good book in the shade.
Eat (my favourite bit!)
Finish your day off with a traditional Sri Lankan rice & curry. We enjoyed ours on the veranda at our guest house in the calm & quiet early evening.
Continue the adventure!
If you’re feeling adventurous drop a pin on google maps and explore! Be aware that wild elephants do operate in the area. Check with your guesthouse or hotel first and show them your planned destinations to check it’s safe.
TOP TIPS & COST
Entrance to Little Sigiriya
COST: 500 LKR per person (as a comparison entrance to the main Sigiriya Rock is $30 USD (or 4,800 LKR or £23 GBP) at time of writing)
COST: 600 LKR per day
Men – be sure to cover your shoulders.
Women – be sure to cover shoulders and knees.
Sarongs are available at the entrance (which I used), but a heads up if you would rather hike in your Lulu Lems than a floaty sarong (which gets in the way a bit).
The footwear conundrum
It’s always a conundrum for me. You might see some locals going barefoot, so besides joining them, here’s the best advice; whether you call them flip flops, jandles or thongs don’t wear them. Sturdy sandals like Teva’s are a great shout, or a pair of lightweight trainers. Hiking boots are not necessary but if that’s all you have, wear them!
Timing is everything
Get to Little Sigiriya early. Partly to avoid crowds of people who head up later in the day, partly to avoid the heat of the day. Leave no later than 8 o’clock from your accommodation.
Be sure to bring water. We brought 1.5L each which worked for us as we were out for the morning only. It’s hot and dry in Sigiriya. I suffered heat stroke in India a number of times (when will I learn!?), and you’ll want to avoid it by drinking plenty and keeping your head covered.
Mix it up
Why not head to Little Sigiriya for sunrise or sunset (don’t forget you head torch for both). If you go for sunrise, make sure you pay on your way back down as the ticket counter won’t be open when you arrive.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at a budget option but there’s SO many places to choose from. The location of our villa and price was absolutely spot on. I’d recommend staying here or closeby: Sigiri Lion Villa ( approx. 2900 LKR (£14 GBP) per night)
Find other accommodation options on booking.com
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