This beautiful island is home to a amazing range of flora & fauna with a high rate of biological endemism. It is the only place in God’s creation where the elephant & the whale can be watched in the same environs.
The tradition still continues & Sri Lanka is home to a large number of national parks. Some of the popular wildlife parks are situated in Wilpattu, Yala, Udawalawa, Kumana, Bundala, Wasgamuwa, Minneriya, & Horton.
The Sri Lankan Elephant is one of the three recognized subspecies of the Asian Elephant & native to Sri Lanka. The Elephant is the star of Sri Lanka’s wild life & the largest animal on this island.
The density of leopards in Sri Lanka is probably the highest in the whole world. Leopard is the top carnivore in Sri Lanka & not threatened by the presence of lions or hyenas unlike in most other countries.
The Sri Lankan Sloth bear is an endemic species found mainly in lowland dry forests. Udawalawa wild life sanctuary is one of the best places for sloth bear sightings.
Whale & Dolphin Watching
Sri Lanka is fast rising as one of the best locations for whale watching. Consistent weather, tropical sun & relatively calm waters make the conditions for whale watching among the finest in the world. The most popular locations for whale watching in Sri Lanka are Kalpitiya, Trincomalee & Mirissa.
The Bird’s Paradise
For bird watching, Sri Lanka is one of the best locations in the world. Some of the interesting locations in the country to watch these beautiful birds from are Sinharaja rainforest, Horton plains, Muthurajawela, Kandalama, Yala, Bundala, Kalametiya, Wirawila, Kumana & Udawalawa.
Surrounded by the sea on all sides & blessed with thundering waterfalls & more than 100 rivers meandering between the bosky banks, Sri Lanka is home to a rich variety of aquatic life. Of these, amphibians & reptiles account for the highest number of endemic species. Of more than 100 species of fresh water fish found on the island, most have found a safe heaven in the marshes & the rivers.
Dehiwala National Zoo
Sri Lanka’s main zoo is located at Dehiwala. The National Zoo in Sri Lanka is one of the finest & largest in Asia. Well laid out gardens inside the zoo give visitors an opportunity to relax & enjoy watching the animals.
Bundala National Park
Catch a glimpse of the Great Flamingos which feature among the migrant birds that arrive here. Meander across the 6216 hectares that cover the park while taking in the sights of this impressive nature reserve which is located in Sri Lanka’s Southern Province. Keep in mind to visit the many lagoons that are spread out here as they are bound to contain an abundance of fish and other reptilians.
Gal Oya National Park
Found 314 km away from Colombo, the Gal Oya National Park will offer tourists the luxury of exploring its diverse features. Comprising of shrubs, grasslands and forests, the reserve is also home to three mountains and functions as the chief catchment area of the country’s largest reservoir. Among the 32 species of mammals that you will encounter are the Water Buffalo and the Sri Lankan Elephant.
Named as a national park in 1988, Horton Plains is arguably one of the best examples of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Situated a mere 32 km from Nuwara Eliya, the sanctuary comes across as a ‘breath of fresh air’ as nature lovers would be compelled to comb every section of the park. Attractions such as World’s End and Baker’s Falls are some of the most visited.
Kaudulla National Park
Bird lovers will surely love the Kaudulla National Park as the reserve is where 160 species of our feathery friends reside. Covered in dry evergreen forests, Kaudulla sees herds of elephants arrive in search of food and water particularly during the month of September. A jungle corridor is also found linking this site to the Minneriya National Park thereby promoting diversity amongst its species.
Kumana National Park
Formerly referred to as the Yala East National Park, Kumana will escort you through a myriad of wading birds and migratory waterfowls. Therefore visitors coming over will have access to large contingencies of some of the most sought after of birds in the island. The Golden Jackal and the Fishing Cat are amongst its most popular species worth exploring.
When in Lahugala, one would do well to stop by the Lahugala Kitulana National Park which is situated in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. Designated as a national park in 1980 and falling under the purview of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, Lahugala consists of flat land and the odd rocky outcrop. The Sri Lankan Axis Deer and Toque Macaque can be spotted while you take a tour of the park.
Lunugamvehera National Park
Characterised by the Lunugamvehera Reservoir, this national park consists of dense jungle and slightly elevated sections to the south. Established in 1995, the premises serves as a place of refuge for 43 species of mammals, 33 species of reptiles and a further 184 species of birds. Lunugamvehera is found in the Dry Zone and is often subject to the south west monsoon.
From sloth bears, elephants to water buffaloes and leopards, you will certainly be spoilt for choice when on an excursion to the Maduru Oya National Park. With options available for camping out in the jungle, travellers will have plenty to experience. Introduced under the Mahaveli Development Project, Maduru Oya is considered one of the recent additions to the country’s list of wildlife parks.
Elephants are a common sight when arriving in Minneriya which has also found fame for hosting the largest gathering of Asian elephants during the dry weather periods. Featuring a good consistency of wetlands, montane forests and scrublands, Minneriya is arguably one of the most visited national parks in Sri Lanka having been declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1938.
Found a short distance from Nilaveli Beach, Pigeon Island is a national park and consists of two areas. An enchanting coral reef surrounds the larger of the two while species of shark and turtle can be seen swimming in nearby waters. Scuba diving & snorkelling are popular pastimes carried out here, while visitors should watch for sightings of the famed Rock Pigeon after which the island was named.
Udawalawe National Park
Bordering Uva and Sabargamuwa Provinces, the Udawalawe National Park which covers over 30,000 hectares provides the ardent nature traveller with a wonderful outdoor experience. Whether you are interested in elephants or fascinated by slithering snakes, the area will prove to be well worth the time and effort spent. The sight of marshes would greet you when taking a tour of this imposing reserve.
Wasgamuwa National Park
A favourite for all those making their way towards the north central part of Sri Lanka; the Wasgamuwa National Park established in 1984 is rich in biodiversity. Found 225 km from Colombo, Wasgamuwa boasts of a prised collection of mammals, reptiles and birds thereby making it a must visit for those arriving in Sri Lanka on holiday.
Wilpattu National Park
The Wilpattu National Park is home to the illusive leopard and travellers on the lookout for the species will also come across a number of ‘willus’ or lakes that are found here. The premises receive an annual rainfall of 1000 millimetres and the best time to call by Wilpattu is during February and October.
Yala National Park
Regarded as the most popular national park in Sri Lanka, Yala is surrounded by traces of ancient civilisation while the park itself comprises of pilgrim sites and a number of intriguing wildlife. Leopards, Elephants and the Golden Palm Civet are some of its occupants. Comprising of five extensive blocks, the Yala National Park should definitely feature on any traveller’s itinerary.
The Hill Country of Sri Lanka is exceptionally beautiful with misty mountains, picturesque landscape, roaring waterfalls, winding roads & miles and miles of well pruned tea plantations. The temperature in this region stays cool all the year round. There are several towns in the hill country that re certainly worth a visit. A prominent destination within the island, Kandy was its last ancient capital, home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boasting a rich historical and cultural heritage, the city is relatively in proximity to Nuwara Eliya, also known as little England admired for its immense natural splendour coupled with unique architecture. Yet another scenic destination is Bandarawela with its alluring natural charm and unique heritage. Nestled amidst breathtaking scenery, Ella is also a famed destination in the scenic Hill Country.
Adventure & Nature
Looming large over the Dumbara Valley, the Knuckles Mountain Range would offer thrill seekers plenty of space to go trekking and sightseeing within its surroundings. Capture sights of indigenous plants and wildlife as you head off into the distance only to arrive at a local tea factory. Here one may learn as to how Sri Lanka’s favourite beverage is manufactured.
Strap yourself up and be prepared to be taken across the rapids of Kithulgala which caters to the diverse interests of the white water rafting aficionado. Begin your journey upstream and move along taking in the sceneries of a jungle habitat while indulging in one action packed experience designed for the adventurer at heart.
The sight of mist shrouded grasslands would greet you upon arriving at Horton Plains National Park in the chilly central highlands of Sri Lanka. Home to tourist hotspots such as Baker’s Falls and the World’s End, Horton Plains covers an area of 3,160 hectares where 128 species of fauna and almost 750 species of plant life reside amidst grasslands & montane forests, making this spot unique.
Translating to the ‘Kingdom of the Lion,’ the virgin rainforest of Sinharaja will lead you on a journey which is filled with plenty to see. Encounter flocks of colourful birds and majestic mammals as you wander down lush jungle paths. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sinharaja spans an area of around 21 kms from east to west and is a rich storehouse of endemic plants, birds, butterflies & amphibians.
The long stretch of palm fringed coastline of Sri Lanka includes some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. For the beach enthusiast, it is never out of the season in Sri Lanka, thanks to the two seasonal monsoons. When the north east monsoon wind blows from November to March, one can enjoy the sunny and calm beaches in the Western and Southern coastline. During the South West monsoon season from April to October, the beautiful beaches of the East are ready to enjoy.
Sri Lanka’s most beautiful beaches are in Negambo, Mount Lavinia, Wadduwa, Bentota, Beruwala, Kosgoda, Hikkaduwa, Koggala, Unawatuna, Dikwella, Tangalle, Mirissa, Arugam Bay, Passikudah, Nilaweli & Trincomalee.
A whale watcher’s paradise, Kalpitiya offers an idyllic coastal getaway for the entire family. From bar reefs to sandy beaches and azure ocean waters to mangrove swamps, this sanctuary by the sea is an ideal place to kickback, soak up the sun and enjoy a laidback island lifestyle. Kalpitiya also has the country’s most popular kite surfing school providing adrenaline pumping action at sea.
The beaches of Kalutara are ideal retreats to experience a bit of local culture as well. The many beachside restaurants that dot the coastline are great spots to savour some succulent seafood fresh from the sea, while you can also visit the famous Kalutara Bodiya which has a unique hollow interior featuring ornate painted murals and the basket centre where one can see local crafts people at work.
Nestled along sun-drenched shores, the peaceful fishing village of Bentota is today a true beach lover’s paradise. This coastal locale is also a hotspot for water sports be it jet-skiing, windsurfing, waterskiing or banana boat rides, all of which let you feel the rush of skimming the waves in total freedom. For more outdoor fun take a Bentota River cruise, ideal for bird watching enthusiasts.
Hikkaduwa has one of the best beaches along the South Coast and is home to the Coral Gardens which is a major highlight here; keep your eyes peeled as schools of fish dart in and out from this astounding natural formation. Popular pastimes here include diving and snorkelling amidst clear blue waters, while there is also a happening nightlife scene that provides plenty of fun after sunset.
Lush green palm trees adorn soft sands bordered by azure waters at Unawatuna, one of the best places for a beach holiday. Found a short distance from Galle, Unawatuna can be your base from which to visit enchanting Jungle Beach for a day of lounging by the ocean or for some snorkelling. A fascinating array of shipwrecks off the coast makes for quite the scuba diving trip as well.
A laidback coastal sanctuary, Koggala provides an ideal beachside hideaway in which to enjoy a bit of fun in the sun, sand and surf. Be it taking long walks that will bring you within easy reach of Ahangama Bay, sunbathing on an unspoilt stretch of golden sand or surfing the waves with the wind in your hair, the pleasures of Koggala provide something for young and old alike.
Bright and sunny weather will greet you the moment you arrive in Tangalle. White sandy beaches seem to go on for miles on end offering a sandy playground in which to sunbathe or cool off by taking a leisurely swim in the inviting ocean waters that lap the shore. Home to picturesque bays, these areas are mostly uncrowded and provide secluded bliss as you sit back and watch the world go slowly by.
Experience the charm of Sri Lanka’s Eastern coast with a visit to Trincomalee where unspoilt stretches of beach provide an ideal backdrop where one can sit back and enjoy an enchanting sunrise. Take your pick from some action packed surfing to more relaxed fishing, while also on offer are trips to Trincomalee Harbour and exciting whale watching excursions.
Shallow waters are a feature of the Pasikuda coastline which makes wading and swimming here an enjoyable experience. Painted in different shades of azure, the ocean waters are sheltered by the bay and let you enjoy jet skiing, snorkelling, wind surfing and kayaking. The soft sand beach also makes an ideal spot for everything from family picnics to romantic strolls on the shore with your true love.
From finely crafted fishing huts to the biggest waves in the region, Arugam Bay is where you may unearth the adventurer in you. Whether you are a beginner or a skilled surfer, the conditions here particularly in June and August are perfect and provide an unforgettable ride on the waves. Pottuvil Point should be given some thought before setting out with your surfboard, lured by the ocean’s call.
Heritage & Culture
One of the world’s oldest living civilizations is offering the discerning traveler a treasure of Art, Architecture, Philosophy, Classical Dances & Music. The below mentioned are the UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka. The Hill Capital Kandy
The last capital of the Sri Lankan kings which is a world heritage site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the Kandy lake built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1806, visit the Kandy town and bazaar, the arts and crafts center and a gem museum and lapidary. The evening is the best time to visit the temple of the tooth relic.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization. The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province, on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya. From the 4th century BC, it was the capital of Sri Lanka until the beginning of the 11th century AD. During this period it remained one of the most stable and durable centers of political power and urban life in South Asia. The ancient city, considered sacred to the Buddhist world, is today surrounded by monasteries covering an area of over sixteen square miles (40 km²).
The Garden City of Polonnaruwa
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka in 11th and 12th centuries AD which too a world heritage site. You will see here famous the Gal Viharaya where four splendid statues of Lord Buddha are to be found.
The Rock Fortress of Sigiriya
Sigiriya, a massive rock in the green scrub jungle, is perhaps the most memorable place for visitors to Sri Lanka. The site was known from ancient times as a hermitage for Buddhist monks. A well-planed monastic complex included caved temples, bathing pools, lovely ponds and Asia’s oldest surviving landscaped gardens. Today Sigiriya is famous for its frescoes painted in the pocket of the rock. The “Lion stairway”, the “mirror wall” and the “water gardens” are it’s other highlights.
The Golden Rock Temple of Dambulla,
This temple was donated by King Walagambahu in the first century BC to monks. This is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples, is a complex of five caves with over 2000sq meters of paintings and these caves contains over 150 images.
The Rock Monastery at Mihintale
Mihintale is only 12 kM away from the famous Anuradhapura city. The sacred forest mountain Missaka Pabbatha where King Devanampiya Tissa met Arhat Mahinda Thera and his companions is situated in Mihintale. Prior to that the Lord Gautama Buddha had visited this place on his Third visit which was called as Missaka Pabbatha then. Being one of the sixteen places (Solosmasthana) the Lord Buddha had visited in Sri Lanka, this is regarded as one of the most important sacred places by the Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
Kingdom of Dambadeniya
The first king to choose Dambadeniya as his capital was Vijayabahu III. He was able to bring about the unity among the Sangha that had fled in various directions due to the hostile activities of the invader Kalinga Magha and succeeded in holding a Buddhist convention in 1226 to bring about peace among the Buddhist clergy.
King Parakramabahu II was the king who inherited the throne after King Vijayabahu. He was considered a genius, who was a great poet and a prolific writer. Among the books he wrote are Kausilumina, which is considered a great piece of literature. Unifying the three kingdoms that existed within Sri Lanka at that point of time is regarded as greatest achievement.
King Bosath Vijayabahu, as the eldest son of King Parakramabahu the second was crowned in 1270. He was well known for his modest behaviour and for his religious activities. He was killed in the second year of his reign by a minister called Miththa.
After the demise of his elder brother Vijayabahu, Bhuvanekabahu I, as the next in line to the throne, shifted the capital to Yapahuwa for reasons of security. He followed his father’s footsteps as a writer and continued with the religious activities started by his brother Vijayabahu IV.
Kingdom of Yapahuwa
Yapahuwa was one of the ephemeral capitals of medieval Sri Lanka. The citadel of Yapahuwa lying midway between Kurunagala and Anuradhapura was built around a huge granite rock rising abruptly almost a hundred meters above the surrounding lowlands.In 1272, King Bhuvenakabahu transferred the capital from Polonnaruwa to Yapahuwa in the face of Dravidian invasions from South India, bringing the.