The natural world can be staggering beyond belief. Seemingly insurmountable mountains, vast and impenetrable oceans of deepest blue and verdant forests of incredible green can often feel at odds with man’s endeavours, when cities and scenery squabble for supremacy. Not so in Sri Lanka. This island, nestled in the Indian Ocean, is the place where the two worlds meet and peacefully coexist side by side. Here the discerning traveller will find fortresses topping 200 metre high monolithic rocks, lush tea estates providing work for people of different religions and ethnic groups, and a plethora of wildlife. Here, we look at the best of both…
Teeming with Life: Galle and Wilpattu National Park
Sri Lanka is a busy island. It is full of life, whether you head for humans and civilisation or heed the call of the wild. Wildlife enthusiasts should head for the vast national park of Wilpattu. It’s a prime place to spot leopards, elephants, sloth bears and water buffalo, just four of 31 species of mammals to be spied in this natural wonder. With only 25% of the park open to the public – the remaining 75% consists of dense forest and scrubland – Wilpattu is an natural treasure. For a different taste of a huge and diverse population, the UNESCO city of Galle provides the perfect backdrop. Stimulating to the senses, this is a town bursting with life. From the Dutch-colonial buildings, the historic fort and an abundance of thriving local art, Galle is a real taste of vibrant Sri Lanka.
The Top of Sri Lanka: Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress and Adam’s Peak
From the top looking down is never a bad place to be. For a natural high seek out Adam’s Peak, the tallest peak in Sri Lanka. Walk in the footsteps of history and follow the variety of pilgrim routes up the mountain – at sunrise, the distinctive shape of the mountain casts a formidable triangular shadow on the surrounding plain, offering unrivalled views of the island’s stunning landscape. Take me there: Highlands of Sri Lanka
To scale the height of man’s achievement in Sri Lanka, look no further than the incredible Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress, a lap of luxury for Sri Lanka’s historic rulers. Scale the many steps of the fortress to earn your reward: elaborate ruins of the opulent upper palace, and gaze down at the exquisite moats and walls surrounding it. Take me there: Sigiriya
Beauty Above and Below: Dambulla Cave Temple and Horton Plains
The cloud forests of the Horton Plains in Ohiya reach an altitutde of 2,100-2,300 metres. A multitude of birds swoop overhead and large herds of sambar deer roam freely. Leopards, giant squirrels and macaques can also be spotted in this beautiful natural paradise. Take me there: Discover Sri Lanka Alternatively, set your sights lower – though only in the literal sense. The Dambulla cave temple in the centre of Sri Lanka contains 153 intricate Buddha statues and murals covering an area of 2,100 metres surround you.
Take me there: Sri Lanka holidays
Ancient Habitats: Polonnaruwa and Mirissa
Blue whales, those ancient beasts of the sea, have been roaming our planet’s waters for thousands upon thousands of years. Once abundant across the earth’s oceans, there are now only a few places left where they can be spotted. One such place, Mirissa in Sri Lanka, offers the unique opportunity to spot these fascinating creature up close in their natural habitat. Take me there: Sri Lanka holidays To get closer to Sri Lanka’s history and ancient way of life, take a trip inland and explore the ruined city of Polonnaruwa. It contains astonishing Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas and the haunting ruins of the evocative garden-city created by King Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.
Feeling inspired to discover Sri Lanka? View all of our adventure holidays in Sri Lanka here!