Climbing Sigiriya Rock

If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka, you have to see the impressive Sigiriya Rock. Sigiriya Rock is one of the 7 World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka and dates back to 495 AD. In this article, I share my experience of climbing Sigiriya Rock to inspire you to visit. 

N.b. If you book your Sigiriya tour through this article, I donate money to vulnerable girls in conflict zones. Thanks for helping
Climbing Sigiriya Rock

The mighty Sigiriya Rock

Climbing Sigiriya Rock

Situated within the Matale District, this formidable rock fortress, dating back to the 5th century, served as the royal palace of King Kasyapa. Surrounded by jungle, Sigiriya is known for its iconic Lion’s Gate entrance, intricate frescoes and its once-reflective Mirror Wall.

Climbing this giant rock is like stepping into an ancient Sri Lankan adventure. The climb takes you up the dramatic Lion Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site bursting with history.  Picture yourself wandering through the remnants of a royal palace, past celestial frescoes and making your way up steep staircases and narrow paths carved right into the rock.

As you climb, the views get better and better with rolling landscapes and far-off mountains. And when you finally reach the top, you’re standing in the ruins of King Kasyapa’s 5th-century fortress, with the remains of a colossal lion statue’s paw-shaped platform.

It’s not just a climb; it’s a mix of nature, history, and a dash of adrenaline that gives you a sense of achievement as well as stunning views. Sigiriya Rock is a living piece of ancient history that is easy to reach on a Sigiriya Rock tour from Kandy or a Sigiriya tour from Colombo

Climbing Sigiriya Rock

Climbing Sigiriya Rock: My Story

We couldn’t go on.

The path was blocked and if we attempted to go any further, we could be in serious trouble but we had already climbed over 1000 steps and I wasn’t one to be defeated.

It’s only a load of bees,’ I said. ‘Let’s do it.’

They’re hornets Lisa,’ I was told by the other member of my party. ‘More dangerous than bees.’

I looked at our tour guide, who only moments ago had saved my peanut snacks from a ninja monkey that had come out of nowhere and tried to snatch my energy snack from my bare hands. Not one to be put off by a challenge and a bit of danger, I made a decision that frankly could’ve been my worst.

‘Let’s do it,’ I said again to an amused tour guide.

Quietly,’ he said. ‘And very quickly.’

Climbing Sigiriya Rock

I have never climbed three flights of steps so fast and as the last ones came dangerously close to my potential enemies, I gulped at the size of hornets nests that had looked more like tennis balls from down below. Now, up close, they were wider than giant melons, and there were too many to count.

With panic setting in, my pace increased, lightly touching each step so as not to wake the buzzing hornets.

Climbing Sigiriya Rock

The many hornets nests

As my foot touched the last, the view around Sigiriya Rock opened itself to me: unspoilt scenery that you could see for miles, with nothing around except for the flickering of a gold Buddha in the far distance.

Sigiriya Rock is one of the 7 World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka and dates back to 495 AD during the reign of King Kasyapa. The site with its ruins and water gardens is on par with those of the Seven Wonders. But what went up had to come down. And we scurried back down the ancient rock fortress, passing a group of noisy schoolchildren on the way.

Climbing Sigiriya Rock

As far as the eye can see

I later heard that 12 schoolchildren had been taken to hospital after being stung by hornets on the very same day. It had seemed that we were the lucky ones. Maybe if we had left it an hour later, it could have been us. All I know is that that trip to Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka was a buzz that I’ll never forget.

Climbing Sigiriya Rock

Scurrying down the side

Sigiriya Rock Tours

Sigiriya Rock is an amazing place and please don’t let the hornets put you off visiting. If you don’t disturb them they don’t disturb you, and this was years ago that I visited so check with your tour guide if they are still there. 

There are Sigiriya Rock tours from Colombo, but I recommend staying in Kandy and booking your Sigiriya Rock tour from there. Kandy is gorgeous!

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climbing sigiriya rock