how to hike up Diyaluma Falls in Sri Lanka without a guide + a map to help you navigate

Diyaluma Falls in Sri Lanka makes a great day trip from Ella and is a wonderful way to cool off in the beautiful, natural pools. But, how do you get there? And is it even worth the trip? I’ve got the scoop.

Most millennials recognize the idyllic Diyaluma Falls thanks to Instagram. Oh, what a world we live in. Despite the beauty I saw in photos, I didn’t think there was any way Diyaluma would live up to what I’d seen on the internet and in guide books. I was so wrong. Like many tourist stops in Sri Lanka, I found that Diyaluma Falls met my expectations. Swimming at the top of a waterfall that high and looking out over the lush, green landscape that surrounded me was a total “WOW” moment.

In almost every blog I read before my trip, the writer hired a driver. I knew I didn’t want to do this if at all possible, because I didn’t want to have to negotiate a price or keep an eye on the time I spent at the top. This guide focuses on those looking to motorbike their way to Diyaluma Falls and hike it without hiring anyone to get you there!


READ ON FOR HOW TO MAKE YOUR WAY TO DIYALUMA FALLS


VIEW OF DIYALUMA FALLS FROM THE BRIDGE ON THE HIGHWAY

VIEW OF DIYALUMA FALLS FROM THE BRIDGE ON THE HIGHWAY

A LITTLE ABOUT DIYALUMA FALLS

Diyaluma Falls is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, standing 720 feet high. It’s name translates to “rapid flow of water”, which is very appropriate. It’s actually the 361st highest water fall in the world, which I kind of think isn’t too shabby a ranking. The falls are approximately 1-hour outside of Ella, but if you’re taking a motorbike, expect a longer ride since the roads are curved and bumpy! You can view the waterfalls from a bridge at the bottom, but hiking to the top is well worth the time and energy.

THE HIKE DOWN TO THE LOWER FALLS THROUGH THE OVERGROWTH AND DOWN THE SLICK ROCKS

THE HIKE DOWN TO THE LOWER FALLS THROUGH THE OVERGROWTH AND DOWN THE SLICK ROCKS

MODES OF TRANSPORT

The easiest way to get to the waterfalls is to pay a taxi/tuk-tuk to take you. This can be outrageously spendy, not to mention inconvenient. Once you get to the waterfalls, you then have to figure out how to get back. You can negotiate with your driver to make it a roundtrip affair, but the cost is usually steep.

If you opt for a one-way journey, you will have to first find a tuk-tuk and then you’ll need to negotiate your price, which is a lot harder to do when you have limited options. Hiring out your driver for the full return trip is the smartest way to go about it. You won’t have to worry about getting back to Ella or your next destination after your time at Diyaluma.

Ultimately, I decided that the ridiculous up-charge by taxis drivers wasn’t worth it and opted to rent a motorbike. I hired my motorbike through my accommodation, Namal’s Great View, for 1,500 LKR {USD $8.60 per day}.

POOLS FLOWING BETWEEN THE UPPER AND LOWER FALLS

POOLS FLOWING BETWEEN THE UPPER AND LOWER FALLS

MOTORBIKING TO + FROM DIYALUMA FALLS

My motorbike journey took approximately 2 hours from my accommodation to the parking lot near the top of Diyaluma. The roads were curvy, but paved most of the way. On the way to Diyaluma, my travel partner and I took the highway {A23 to the A4} from Ella. This allowed us to pass by Ravana Falls, which is a nice little photo opportunity on your way out of town.

There is a parking lot at the start of the trail. We were asked to pay 100 LKR {USD $0.57} for parking. There were men in the parking area offering to act as guides to take us to the waterfalls. Aided by the Maps.Me app {which works offline}, neither myself nor my travel companion felt it was necessary.

After about 2 hours at the waterfalls, we hiked back to the parking area. We made our way back on the motorbike using a different route, meandering through the mountains on curvier roads than we came in on, but the views were absolutely stunning. The trip back took about the same amount of time. The roads were windier and we came into rain. Truly though, taking the B42 route back was the best thing. Village children waved at us on their walk home from school. We stopped off at a local corner shop to grab some snacks. We saw endless rows of tea plants up steep mountains.

LOCAL MEN SWIMMING IN THE POOLS AT THE TOP OF THE LOWER FALLS

LOCAL MEN SWIMMING IN THE POOLS AT THE TOP OF THE LOWER FALLS

HIKING TO THE TOP

Once you’ve parked your motorbike, you will begin your trek. It is your choice whether you want to hire a guide or not. I didn’t think it was necessary, but I can see how first-time travelers or those going it alone might want the security of hiking to the top with a local.

The trails are overgrown with tall grass and unkept, but they are visible enough to follow. I highly suggest wearing shoes. I wore sandals and my feet got a bit scratched up by some of the vegetation.

If you keep following the trails for 15-ish minutes, you will inevitably come into view of two sets of waterfalls. On the right is “Upper Diyaluma Falls” and on the left is “Lower Diyaluma Falls”. The upper waterfalls are beautiful and have spots deep enough to jump into, but the dramatic drop-off {and the photo spot you see so often on Instagram} is at the lower part of the falls.

The pools were cool and refreshing, especially after the short hike in the heat. Locals who were swimming were super friendly and asked to take selfies with me.

TIP: Use Maps.Me on your hike. The trails to the upper and lower waterfalls are mapped out for you, making it easy to not get lost.

DIYALUMA FALLS

WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU

  • water

  • snacks

  • towel

  • change of clothes {if you don’t want to wear soggy ones on the ride back}

  • sun hat

  • suncream/ sunscreen

  • cash for parking

  • waterproof camera gear

  • camera

  • power charger {if navigating your way via phone}

DIYALUMA FALLS IN SRI LANKA
DIYALUMA FALLS IN SRI LANKA

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

The waterfalls are free for tourists to visit {albeit the cost of motorbike rental, parking, and petrol}. This area is not equipped with handrails, ropes, or barriers. Also, the pools at the lower falls are deep enough for swimming, but are not to be dived into {despite what you may see online}. It is dangerous to dive into the rock pools. You never know what you could hit your head on. The heat in Sri Lanka is stifling, so bring lots of water with you to battle heat stroke or dehydration.

NEED HELP NAVIGATING? PEEP THE MAP BELOW, WHERE I’VE PINNED ALL THE MAJOR POINTS ON YOUR JOURNEY TO DIYALUMA


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A GUIDE TO HIKING DIYALUMA FALLS IN SRI LANKA
A GUIDE TO HIKING UP DIYALUMA FALLS IN SRI LANKA