Sigiriya is one of those places that is pretty much mandatory on a tour of Sri Lanka.. kind of like the the Empire State Building in NY or the Colosseum in Rome. It's basically a big rock surrounded by some nice gardens, but it's quite an impressive looking big rock and there's a lot of history to it.
Our driver dropped us off at the entrance and we set off along the gardens. All along the way are 'guides' who will try and charge $20 to help you to the top. Now, $20 might be fairly cheap to some but remember that is several times the average daily Sri Lankan wage so if you do want one of these guys to help you up to the top, barter down (I'd do it in rupees). We didn't need/want any help so we avoided them as best we could (and it's not easy - they are almost as persistant as the 'beach boys' in Kenya) and worked our way up.
On the way up there are some spiral stairs that lead up to a cave with some old cave paintings which are quite cool, then some more spiral staircases down to the mirror wall (which didn't impress me that much). Both sets of staircases are pretty dodgy looking in my opinion and the places where it was attached to the sheer rock face did not look overly safe to me.. but then it takes thousands of people daily so I guess I am perhaps just a little paranoid :)
About halfway up, there is a rest area where the giant lion's paws are, on either side of the steps that take you the rest of the way. From here, the steps are kind of narrow and if there is anyone who is struggling, there is likely to be a queue behind them. Once you do get to the top however, there are some great views to be had.
The way back down is pretty much the same way as the way up but just before the mirror wall, take a different set of steps down to head to the exit. We caught a family of toque macaques playing at the bottom of those steps and one of them grabbed someone's water bottle and clambered up a tree, opened the bottle and drank the rest of the water.. quite hilarious. At the bottom, there's a 'vendor alley' with a load of stalls selling various Sigiriya, buddhism and Sri Lanka memorabilia but we didn't feel any pressure to buy here.
A definite must-do but if can avoid going there during a Sri Lankan holiday or weekend (we went on a crowded Sunday), I'd recommend doing that.
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