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Climbing Sigiriya Rock

You can’t miss Sigiriya. This rocky outcrop is one of the most dramatic things you’ll see in your time here, near-vertical walls that rise to a summit where you’ll find the ruins of an ancient civilization and one ridiculous view.

Built in the 5th century, Sigiriya is an astonishing feat of engineering and construction. The most striking portion of Sigiriya, a terracotta and grey core of rock set in the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, rises a sheer 200 metres above a forested plain. A series of moats, ramparts and water gardens — remnants of an ancient city — spread out on two sides of the rock, with the remains of a pair of giant stone lion’s paws still guarding the staircase that leads to the summit, once occupied by a royal palace.

Like so much of Sri Lanka, the true majesty of what you see takes time to percolate – don’t rush up and then rush back down.

Be warned: Sigiriya doesn’t hand over these delights easily. To access these treats you’ll first have to climb a series of vertiginous staircases along sheer rockfaces. And I do mean a series, they just keep going, and going, and going (and going). We lucked out, visiting on a particularly cool and cloudy day, but on a warmer one I dread to think of what state we’d have found ourselves in when we did eventually reach the top. There is plenty to occupy you along the way. There are rooms of frescoes, hidden caves colossal lion paws, a ‘mirror’ wall and views as far as the eye can see. It is a challenging climb, and though your progress along those narrow staircases can be frustratingly slow when visitor volume is high, don’t let that deter you. It is worth all the huffing.Hydrate, make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes, and leave your skirts and dresses at home because it is super-gusty up there. Like so much of Sri Lanka, the true majesty of what you see takes time to percolate – don’t rush up and then rush back down. Sit. Enjoy the view. It is one of the most spectacular you will see in this lifetime.

We travelled to Sri Lanka with IBEX Expeditions; this itinerary was created especially for Nicobar and booked entirely through IBEX.

 The next chapter of this journey here.

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