The typical highlights whilst touring Sri Lanka provides the traveler ample opportunity to get familiarized with the small island nation. From lying on a picture postcard beach to scaling great rocks or mountains and seeking out ancient cities. There are impressive landscapes to take in, friendly native people to talk to, and free-roaming monkeys to keep an eye on. The world renowned photographer Roloff Beny had once said that he had never seen such a variation of greens anywhere in the world. Sri Lanka is often called the ‘Emerald Isle’.
It is not only the scenery which would captivate you. There are heaps more which could be termed as highlights whilst touring Sri Lanka. The ancient cities with stupendous monuments, sculpture, cravings and huge man- made lakes; landscaped gardens, have taken pride of place among the treasures of the ancient world. Eight of these sites are listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. A grand list of fauna and flora, gem mines yielding precious and semi-precious gems, including the spectacular blue sapphire. And above all, a smiling, simple, hospitable people are a delight to any visitor to our shores.
In keeping with its range of sights and activities, Sri Lanka offers holidays for an array of budgets: five star hotels and boutique properties for those looking for luxury and exclusivity, and for the budget travelers, cheaper guest houses or home stay accommodation among the locals providing authentic Sri Lankan experiences..
Some of the highlights whilst touring Sri lanka
Exploring the City of Colombo
Colombo is a functioning city, often moving at a frenetic pace,with fascinating sectors to discover. The district of Fort is the historic centre and boasts a number of old colonial buildings, which look classical and attractive next to more modern structures.To the east of Fort is the bazaar district of Pettah – a bustling sector full of market stalls and small shops selling a wide variety of goods which can provide the traveller with a genuinely Sri Lankan experience.
Typically, tourists only stay in Colombo for a day or two before moving further along the coast, or travelling inland to visit the ancient cities, but if tours of ancient cultures or finding the ideal beach aren’t foremost on the agenda, Colombo has a great deal to offer in the way of really seeing a different side to Sri Lanka, and is worth exploring, either on foot or by tuk tuk,
Visiting the Cultural Triangle
Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is the name given to a selection of cultural and archaeological sites which are markers of an ancient and rich civilization. The most ancient capital city of Anuradhapura, the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, the Cave Temples of Dambulla, and the famous 200 m rock fortress at Sigiriya – known as the – Lion Rock and the beautiful Hill capital city of kandy hosting the Sacred tooth relic of the Buddha at the Temple of the Tooth. All this sites boasts of rich ancient artwork, sculpture and architecture in rock, brick and wood. The 3 Giant ancient Stupas standing at over 100 meters in Anuradhapura are as awe-inspiring as much as the Giant Pyramids at Giza.
If you find yourself in Sri Lanka at the end of July and the beginning of August, you may be in time for the Perahera – a grand parade with elaborate costumes and a long procession of elephants, dancers and drummers, held in the town of Kandy.The festival is Buddhist in origin and is thought to have begun in the 4th century A.D.,when what is called the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was taken to Sri Lanka from India by Princess Hemamala. The Perahera lasts for almost 2 weeks and is counted as one of the world’s more spectacular street festivals. Those wanting to see the Perahera should reserve their seats early or claim their roadside spots early in the day and be prepared to sit there until the parade begins in the evening.
A relaxing beach stay
It is generally agreed that the north east coast has the clearest sand to offer, but there are beautiful beaches to be found all around the island, and the south, in particular, also have some picturesque stretches of coast to stay in the beach and enjoy the sun, sand and surf.
Certain beaches are affiliated, to resorts or hotels, but it is also still possible to find a small, uninhabited beach simply by traveling along the coast and talking to the locals. Visitors can easily find themselves offered accommodation with a family who live next to the sea through previous friendly encounters. Although most of the locals are friendly, it is wise to exercise caution as visitors maybe led astray by touts who would want to become friendly for commercial purposes.
When considering island-wide weather factors, tourists must be aware that Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons and the tourist season is considered to be the period sans the rainy onslaught. This is November to April – the driest season – in the hills and on the south west coast. For those aiming to visit the east coast, May to September is considered the best time as this is when it’s dry in the eastern regions. Which part of the island you visit will, eventually depend on these weather patterns. Therefore, those who are eager to explore Sri Lanka, have the assurance that there will be an ideal part of the country to visit during any time of the year.
Experiencing Sri Lanka’s Wild Life
Apart from sunny beaches Sri Lanka is becoming world famous for its beautiful nature and wildlife. Mountains, Geo Plains, Dashing Water Falls, National parks, Rocks, Paddy fields, Tea Gardens, Rain Forests, Rivers, Landscapes, Streams are all part and parcel of the Sri Lanka package. Most of the nature reserves are found in the dry zone. Sri Lanka has 86 species of mammals from which 16 are indigenous to the island. From the 427 recorded species of birds 250 are resident and 26 are indigenous to the country. Some of the popular nature reserves are Sinharaja forest, Udawalawe reserve, Yala National Park and the Wilpattu National Park . One of the main species of mammals that could be found in almost all the nature reserves are the majestic elephants.
Sri Lanka has been leveraging its wildlife attractions as value additions to Sri Lankan Tourism promotion. Today, “The Gathering” of elephants at Minneriya National Park from May to October each year, is fast becoming a “must see” on the tourism itinerary. Whale watching off the Mirissa coast is also a popular tourist attraction. The fact that one can see the two largest mammals on this Earth, the elephant and the whale in one and the same place, is one of the unique features of the island nation..
Sojourn in the cool climes of the hill country
Most tours incorporate a quick sojourn to the wonderfully pleasing climate of the hill country consisting of velvety green carpets of tea hills covered with mist on most occasions. The scenery that engulfs this mountainous terrain is always breathtaking. You could stay in the hill country not just as tourists, but pampered like Royalty, if you seek to patronize one from a multitude of colonial-styled tourist bungalows situated in scenic locations in the middle of Tea Estates. You could read a novel, while sipping a rich cup of Tea and being spoilt by well clad butlers. The most popular of the hill country resorts is Nuwara Eliya aptly titled “Little England”, with its typical English cottages and buildings. A newly developed tourist Hamlet is Ella which has gained fame as the most generous tourist resort in the world since fostering 23 stranded tourists from around the world due to the Covid19 Pandemic lock-downs. There are the soft treks such as Little Adam’s Peak in Ella and the hard treks for the more ambitious adventurers who seek fun and excitement and the most popular of these treks is to the top of the most holiest mountain in Sri Lanka – Adam’s Peak is a one of the most important tourist attractions as well as the holiest pilgrimages for the locals. The treat of course is to arrive to the top at dawn and experience the optical illusion of the dancing sun and sunset and the sinister conical shadow it displays at the other side of the mountain at dawn.
Activities to try out
Apart from visiting and experiencing the sights and wonders mentioned above a visitor also has the wide array of choices to select activities which could range from scuba diving to whale watching whilst trying out activities such as hot air ballooning, white water rafting or taking a sedate train ride across the country. A fun and action packed adventure package mixed with awe inspiring sight seeing is what’s in store for a visitor to Sri Lanka.
Come and discover a land of abundance and diversity in all kinds of experiences. Traditionally known for its golden sun-kissed beaches Sri Lanka has transformed into a dynamic island of many delights waiting to be discovered and rediscovered by enthusiastic travelers. The highlights featured above whilst touring Sri Lanka on a jam-packed itinerary, could well give the visitor an insight to the serendipitous nature of the mysterious island.