This past weekend, we hiked up Kabaragala Mountain, which is the highest peak of the Dolosbage Mountain Range located in the Sabaragamuwa Province.
With an altitude of 1,500 meters, getting to the Kabaragala peak is not an easy task, although thanks to the spot being a popular hiking location and a frequented camping site, there is a dedicated path that leads you straight to the top without too many obstacles.
Kabaragala Mountain has an almost flat terrain and when you reach the peak, there is an incredibly steep fallout similar to that of World’s End.
The peak has become such a popular hiking spot primarily due to its beginner-friendly climb – while the hill may be steep, if you follow the dedicated path, it is only mildly challenging and is a perfect start to your travel journey, if you are a beginner and are testing out the waters in adventure travel.
Getting to Kabaragala in itself is quite simple, as you can easily take a bus to Kandy, travel along the Kandy Road passing Peradeniya, all the way up to Gampola. Once you are in Gampola, you can turn to Craighead Road and travel along this route until you reach Dolosbage. The Kabaragala trail starts from the Maryville Junction in the Nawalapitiya-Dolosbage Road.
We set off at around 5 a.m. on a Saturday hoping to beat the traffic and thankfully, we didn’t face any major challenges along the way, except that the entirety of Nawalapitiya was experiencing a two-day-long water cut. The lack of water put a slight damper on our plans to use the town’s facilities before we started the climb, but thankfully, we came across a public toilet at the Nawalapitiya Bus Stand that was relatively well maintained, where we were able to get ready before we set off on our hike.
As has been the norm in our travel experiences, considering that we were relying heavily on the information given to us by the locals, we ended up taking a middle path up to the peak, completely missing out on the dedicated trail. This new trail is frequented by the locals, and while the locals surely make it look easy, the climb was actually quite challenging, especially considering that the path wasn’t paved at all and there was a lot of crawling up almost vertical paths through tall bushes and plantations.
Despite the small mix-up with the trails, we were able to climb to the top without too many difficulties. The whole way up, we prayed to the rain gods pleading that it won’t rain down on us. Had it rained, our main challenge – leaving out an uneven terrain and the eventual slippage – would have been leeches. This fact alone is enough to deter many travellers; unfortunately, leeches are part and parcel of mountain terrains such as the Kabaragala peak. Thankfully, we only had to deal with leeches as we started our climb down; with the mist setting in, the dampness attracts leeches.
We started our climb at around 11 a.m. and by the time we climbed down, it was around 6 p.m., having got slightly carried away at the top. It was a race to the bottom to avoid getting mauled by leeches, but despite the hurried descent, we were still able to enjoy the tea estates that surround the path, taking a minute to drink some tea at the small huts right at the beginning of the hiking trail.
While the hike wasn’t a challenging one, it was a wonderful experience to the top, and having not travelled in the longest time due to the islandwide lockdowns, the hike was incredibly refreshing. We definitely recommend Kabaragala to anyone who wishes to set off on a hiking trip after a long hiatus, to re-establish your sea legs. You are sure to have an incredible time, and as we all know, as travel enthusiasts, it is often the journey and not the destination, but with such a beautiful destination at the end of the trail, it certainly adds to the experience.