Sri Lanka is a wonderful island to explore, situated south of India and east of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. The country has a lot to offer to anyone seeking adventures in nature, relaxing beaches and exploring historical places.
Having been traveling around in Sri Lanka twice, I have seen quite a lot of this beautiful country. Yet there is far more to explore. And all though the island is surrounded by beautiful beaches, this is not the highlight of my travels in Sri Lanka – there is far too much exciting things to see elsewhere.
These are my top 6 experiences in Sri Lanka:
1. Staying in a tea factory
Actually, visiting the tea country is something everyone visiting Sri Lanka ought to do. I have travelled both by car and train, an I highly recommend seeing the area both ways. I have stayed in a wonderful bungalow, with only a few rooms in Nuwara Eliya, I have visited tea plantations and wandered the fields of tea plants. But the best experience is still staying at Heritance Tea Factory at 2500 mas. It was chilly up there, the fog is thick, but from time to time, the sun would shine and I could see the beautiful scenery surrounding the big, grey building of which we were staying for one night.
2. Visiting Sigirya
Doing the hike up the 1200 steps to the top of Lion’s Rock at 200 meters above the ground for the second time, still amazed me. How did they manage to build a civilization at the top of this flat rock, in the middle of the jungle all these years ago?
The area surrounding the rock is also filled with ruins, some have not yet been carved, and remains for the next generations to uncover.
Tip: If you visit Sigiriya, you should also make a stop at Dambulla Caves, a pilgrimage site for 22 centuries. The temple compex consist of five caves and 157 statues, most of them Buddhas. There is an entrance fee to both sites, both being Unesco sites.
3. Glamping in Wilpattu
I don’t care much for camping or bugs. This stay was (almost) all about that. An yet, it was totally worth it. Staying at Noel Rodrigos Leopard Safaris, is simply an experience I would not have been without. The food that is served here, is locally produced and delicious. The camp site has an eco focus, and the atmosphere is one of a kind.
Staying here for two nights, would typically include four safaris at Wilpattu National Park, where you can spot the leopard and the sloth bear, if you are lucky.
4. Exploring chic Galle
Another Unesco site which is a must see, is the colonial town and fort of Galle. With a unique and well kept mixture of European and South East Asian architecture, this is really a charming place to visit. The town has many small boutique shops and hotels, nice cafés and is a good place to just wander around the streets.
5. Elephant spotting in Udawalawe
With approximately 5 000 wild elephants in Sri Lanka, you are bound to see one. And if you don’t happen to see one outside the parks, you should consider stopping by Udawalawe National Park, where more than 420 wild elephants stay.
During our safari there, we lost count on how many elephants we got to see in the end.
6. Hiking Horton Plains
Two of the Unesco sites of Sri Lanka is dedicated to landscape. Horton Plains is situated in the Central Highlands, and is situated on a plateau at 2 000 mas. The landscape is vast and filled with rhododendrons, keeping a few rare endemic species. Tops attractions is Greater World’s End and Backer’s Waterfall.
Tip: Go in the early morning, when the park opens at six. You may spot some of the animals on the way, and you should get to Greater World’s End before 10, when the fog and clouds thickens.
Tips for traveling in Sri Lanka:
- It is easy to get around on your own: you can hire a car and driver, go by bus and train, and go by tuktuk for shorter distances.
- Traveling with public transportation, you need patience and more time on your hands, and the buses drive fast, can be crowded and warm.
- Hiring a car and driver may also be possible through a travel agency, if you wish to have the same driver for a longer period, and have a company arrange the round trip. Suggestion: check out Norlanka Travels for this.
- If you wish for more flexibility, you can hire a driver and a car along the way, without bookings up front.
About Sri Lanka
- 21,2 million inhabitants and the people are mainly Singhalese and Tamil
- Official languages: Singhalese, Tamil, English
- It is a multi religious country, with mostly buddhism, but also hinduism, islam and catholic.
- The Sri Lankan people is friendly, easy to talk to, are interested and curious to visitors. Most of them speak English, so it is quite easy to travel around as a foreigner.
- There is a lot of cultural, natural and historical sites to visit in Sri Lanka, as it has eight Unesco sites, 12 national parks and 52 nature reserves and eight Unesco sites.
- The food is really good to my taste: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of fish and seafood. Typical dishes is curries, roti and string hoppers.
About my travels in Sri LankaMy first roundtrip in Sri Lanka was at my own expense, traveling with husband during Christmas time. My second trip was sponsored by KLM (flights) and Norlanka Travels (round trip)