Diyaluma Waterfall is Sri Lanka’s second highest waterfall and a great day trip from either Ella or Haputale. But be prepared as the best way to see it (and the only one that’s really worthwhile) is a very steep uphill walk along rubble for 45 minutes each way.
It is truly worth the effort though as there are several natural infinity pools at the top, all with amazing views.
The bottom falls
The view from the bridge is a good view point to see the whole of Diyaluma falls, and it's a view you can drive right up to. Getting to the pool at the bottom of the falls is a short 10-15 minute scramble over boulders and slippery sections of path. Sadly there is litter along the way and we even saw a few used nappies. It wasn’t pleasant.
Being dropped off here is the tuk tuk driver’s favourite as they try to get you to pay over the odds for a guide. Guides try to charge 1,500 rupees (about $10 USD) to guide you to the upper falls.
Guides will tell you there are elephants and tigers in the area and you mustn't go alone. In truth, after speaking to locals, there are two elephants active in this area but they are normally seen only at night.
It is possible you could see them but we didn't feel unsafe on this hike, and given we know what it is like to be attacked by wild animals in the jungle, that was a blessing. The guides are mainly local kids so in all honesty if we had encountered elephants I don't think that they would be able to do much... In fact I'd feel like we should try and look after them!
So in our opinion you don't need a guide for this hike. Here is how to do the hike to upper Diyaluma Falls without a guide!
Note: Bring any snacks and water you want for the upper falls from the falls viewpoint as there is nowhere selling anything after this point.
How to get to the Upper Diyaluma Falls without a guide
Take this turn
If you came from Ella, look out for this track (its five minutes before you get to the lower falls lookout). Turn right up it. The concrete you see in this picture only lasts for a minute or so before it turns to broken rubble.
The road is horrendous and is one of the worst you’ll ever see a tuk tuk drive along. Cars will not make this journey. You could do it in a motorbike but it won't be a pleasant experience either. After 10-15 bone shattering minutes (which felt like an eternity), you’ll get to these buildings.
It is GPS: 6.725460, 81.030004
Or you can look at this map (warning, the map location isn't completely accurate, but close enough. Keep an eye out for the concrete right hand turn).
Find the dirt track by the white building
On the left of the road is a dirt track that goes to the right of the white building. Keep following it as it crosses two streams and curves right into these houses.
Go left before the orange house
The dirt track goes through the buildings (just before the orange and after the blue) and leads down to another stream. It does feel a little odd as you are essentially walking through someone's back garden but they all smiled and waved us on.
Go straight on and you’ll start the endless uphill climb.
Follow the path to the top of the ridge.
The path is now almost entirely uphill to the top of the ridge (from the bottom you’ll be going to the ridge on your left). It's a very rocky and slippery path, so take care. Best to avoid this walk if it has been raining.
After 15 minutes you’ll reach a flattish section. Curve with the path left until the top.
Start the loop
As you reach the top continue straight and stay on the path. Once you’re near the edge of the ridge you’ll hear the water. At this point you can go right to the smaller infinity pools or left to the top of the falls.
We’d recommend going right first as you’ll climb up the steeper paths in this direction (walking down them is quite slippery).
The upper pools
The upper pools are just by the black rock. There’s one to the right and three to the left.
The one on the right is completely safe, so if there’s been a lot of rain this is spot for you. The other pools on the left of the black rock are a bit more precarious. The first is ok if the flow of the falls is calm. In dry season it is fine to go in.
However, the other two are for people who are a bit crazier than us. Getting down there requires sliding down a cliff face with huge drops either side. We all like a natural inifinity but this was just a bit much.
Take the path down
You don’t have to come back the way you came to continue the loop. You can follow the small trail along and this will eventually lead to the very edge of the falls.
Be careful here as the rock is slippery and you really don’t want to test how good the Sri Lankan healthcare system is.
The top of Diyaluma Falls
This is the part of Diyaluma Falls you came for. The views here are stunning and you'll see for miles in all directions from the very top. It's an incredibly sheer drop down to the bottom and you'll feel like you're on top of the world.
Be careful to time your arrival though as you could end up with a view like this.... we'd recommend visiting Diyaluma falls early in the day. Or do as we did and visit at midday but allow plenty of time to wait for people to move on.
We've been told that going in the late afternoon is not advisable as the wild elephants like to roam around Diyaluma at this time.
Climb up the black slope
From this point you can walk up the black slope (it's directly uphill from the final infinity pool) to the path, completing the circuit. Keep an eye out for the part of the ridge you started the circuit on (it can be easy to miss) to find the path back over the ridge, down the slope and back to your patient tuk tuk driver or motorbike.
How to get to and location of Diyaluma Falls
Diyaluma is about an hour’s tuk tuk drive from Ella and an hour along some very windy roads from Haputale. The hike is pretty hard in the heat of the day but definitely worth it.
Check out the earlier part of the blog to find the turn off and directions for the hike. You can just look at the falls from the road if you don't fancy the hike, but we wouldn't recommend the long journey just to do that!
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Would you hike to Diyaluma without a guide? Have you been to the falls? Let us know in the comments below!
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