Sri Lanka“Undoubtedly the finest island of its size in the world”
Tailor-made holidays to Sri Lanka
Here lies a lush, tropical island paradise known to Arab traders as Serendib, hence the word ‘serendipity’ meaning discovery by happy accident. Famously described by Marco Polo as “undoubtedly the finest island of its size in the world” Sri Lanka is a fantastic holiday destination.
Located at the toe of India, you can explore mystical ancient cities, dense jungles, cool hill stations, highlands and miles of palm-fringed sandy beaches. It’s one of the most beautiful and scenically interesting islands in the world. Costs are cheap and the people very hospitable.
There’s so much to do that we simply can’t tell you everything here. Instead, we’ve provided descriptions of a selection of the attractions below. We’ve also put together a few sample itineraries (see links below) to provide you with an idea of the expected cost of your Sri Lankan holiday. However, always remember that we’re able to tailor itineraries to suit most, so feel free to give us your wish list and we’ll do the rest.
A ‘World Heritage Site’ and the 5th Century ‘Fortress in the Sky’, Sigiriya is perhaps the most fantastic single wonder of the Island. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Royal Palace. The Water Gardens, Fountain Garden, summerhouse, Boulder Gardens and caves should not be missed.
Minneriya National Park
This National Park is famous for its large population of elephants in herds of 100 to 150 roaming in the jungle and around the lake. You can also see wild buffaloes, wild boar, spotted deer, sloth bear, sambhur, leopards, crocodiles, jackals, nine species of amphibian, twenty-five species of reptile, one hundred and sixty species of birds, twenty-six varieties of fish and seventy-eight varieties of butterfly. That’s enough to keep anyone going!
The ‘Hill Capital’ is another World Heritage Site. It was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings during the Portuguese, Dutch and British rule and finally ceded to the British in 1815.To Buddhists, Kandy is one of the most sacred sites as it is the home of the Dalada Maligawa – Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. Close by are the remains of the Royal Palace. The Bathing Pavilion (Ulpenge) is by the lake and in the centre is the Island called Kiri samudraya (milk white ocean) used by the kings as their summerhouse. Today Kandy is the centre of Buddhism, arts, crafts, dancing, music and culture and you can see daily dance and music performances.
Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve
This is the only World Heritage site rain forest in Sri Lanka with a very high rate of bio-diversity. Of the over three hundred woody trees identified, 69% are endemic at Sinharaja. There are also many fauna species.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a national park and a biodiversity hotspot of international significance. It has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The hilly virgin rainforest was saved from the worst of commercial logging by its inaccessibility and designated a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve’s name translates as Lion Kingdom.
Because of the dense vegetation, wildlife is not as easily seen as at dry-zone national parks such as Yala.
Of Sri Lanka’s 26 endemic birds, the 20 rainforest species all occur here including the elusive red-faced malkoha, green-billed coucal and Sri Lanka blue magpie.
With its glorious palm-fringed sandy crescent beach, this is perhaps the best-known south-coast resort in Sri Lanka. As well as having the biggest fishing port in the region, well known for its tuna, mullet, snapper and butterfish, it is also one of the leading centres for whale and dolphin watching.
In the warm Indian Ocean you can see blue whales, Bryde´s whales, sperm whales, fin whales, sometimes killer whales, and common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, spinner dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and striped dolphins
The beach’s tranquil sense of tropical-island peace and solitude is due to the fact that all the hotels, guest houses and other tourist accommodations are set well back and mostly out of sight. Chilled beers at sunset and moonlight walks in the surf are a particular pleasure for guests as you wind down from the rigors of life.
Here you can visit the low grown tea plantations and tea factory where you will see demonstrations of how the tea is manufactured. Galle is also Sri Lanka’s most historically interesting town having been a major port until about a hundred years ago, but today still handles shipping and sailing boats in the natural harbour. Stroll around the lighthouse and harbour or visit the old town where you can see the traditional lace makers and wood carvers and purchase some of the finest souvenirs.
This town is home to the Weherahena Buddhist temple, which houses an abundance of artwork and a huge Buddha statue. The scenic views from the top of the temple are spectacular and well worth the climb.
Yala National Park
Established in 1938, Yala is famous for its big herds and large number of elephant, leopard, spotted deer, sambhur, crocodile, mongoose, wild boar, wild buffalo and many other animals. More than a hundred and thirty bird species are recorded here.
A natural highlight of the park is a 200-hectare swamp lake sustained by the river through a half-mile long narrow channel. These mangrove swamps are a destination for migratory birds. Among regular visitors are pelicans, painted storks, spoonbills, herons, egrets and little cormorants.
This is an amazing tour on the river of Kalu Ganga through mangroves to see baby crocodile, water monitor lizard and many bird species. It also includes a village tour and a turtle hatchery where five species of turtle (Green, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Leatherback and Olive Ridley) are reared by local villagers.
Udawalawe National Park
Only 115 miles from Colombo via Ratnapura and Pelmadulla, this park is rich in elephants. You can also possibly see wild buffalo, spotted deer, barking deer, wild boar, sambhur, mongoose, crocodiles and 30 species of snakes. Fifty species of butterfly and many species of birds are found in the park.
Getting to Sri Lanka is easy. Sri Lankan Airlines offer daily direct flights to Colombo from London Heathrow from £550 pp. Competitive fares are available with non-direct airlines such as Emirates, via Dubai, from £510 and Qatar Airways, via Doha, from £520.
Cultural Sri Lanka is a perfect combination to your dream liveaboard dive trip to the Maldives. Sri Lankan Airlines and Emirates offer onward flight connections to Male from an extra £75 pp. Please call us for information and a tailor-made quotation.