While the island of Sri Lanka may be relatively small, within this land one will find a diverse range of attractions and things to do. Here are some of the reasons why you should visit.
Thrill-seekers have much to enjoy when it comes to an adventuretour; Sri Lankais an ideal place for trekking in the Knuckles Mountain Range, white water rafting along the Kelani River in Kitulgala and hiking to the summit of Adam’s Peak which has around 5,500steps!
There are some truly sublime beaches around the island which can easily be explored with tour specialists like Walkers Tours. South coast highlights include the Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa and Bentota beaches, while on the east coast you get Pasikuda and Arugam Bay, the latter being a surfing hotspot too.
The island has a rich heritage which can be experienced at many historical attractions in Sri Lanka including the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress and the archaeological sites in Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. Other cultural sites include the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy and the colonial Dutch Fort in Galle.
There are many national parks in the country which provide encounters with a range of animal and bird species. Wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka give you a chance to spot leopards inYala andWilpattu, elephants in Minneriya and Udawalawe, birdlife in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and even blue whales in Mirissa!
If you’re planning to tour Sri Lanka, you should definitely make plans to view the island’s amazing wildlife. In recent times, Sri Lanka has been cited as a premier destination for safari-goers outside of Africa. This is in large part due to the numerous national parks doted around the island, and among these ones clearly stands out – Yala National Park.
Yala is situated in the South-Eastern edge of Sri Lanka, bordered by the waters of the Indian Ocean to the south. The park stretches for over 130,000 hectares and consists of a variety of biomes, from dense scrub forests to lagoons surrounded by fertile grassland. Due to Sri Lanka’s highly developed road network, reaching the park mis relatively easy by car – it’s a 300km drive from Colombo via the Southern Express Highway.
Leopard Watching at Yala
If there’s one thing Yala is known for above all else, it’s for its leopards. In fact, Yala boasts one of the highest concentrations of leopard anywhere in the world! Due to a large number of vehicles that pass through Yala near every day, these big cats have become habituated to safari jeeps and do not shy way from them. As such many safari operators – like Walkers Tours – make a point to seek out these elusive big cats, providing you with some excellent photo opportunities.
The Elephant Herds of Yala
Leopards aren’t the only stars of Yala, as the park is home to several herds of majestic Sri Lankan elephant. There exists a natural corridor that connects Yala to Uda Walwe National Park, and the elephants regularly use it to travel back and forth between the two protected areas. If you’re aching to get a good look at these gentle pachyderms, the dry season which lasts from May to August is the best time to visit.
The Other Denizens
While the big cats and elephants are the park’s main attractions, they are by no means its only residents. Yala is, in fact, a bird lover’s paradise – it is home to over 130 species of birds, including the rare black-necked stork and raptors like the crested serpent eagle. If you visit the banks of the park’s many lagoons and tanks, you’re bound to spot basking mugger crocodiles and the odd monitor lizard. Ungulates like chital and sambar – favourite prey of the leopard – are also a common site.
Playful and swift, dolphins are amongst the most fascinating creatures that call the ocean home and can be found off the coasts of Sri Lanka.
Also referred to as the long snouted dolphin, spinner dolphins are relatively small in size. This species can be seen in areas like Kalpitiya as part of dolphin watching excursions offered by tour specialists like Walkers Tours. One of the features of spinner dolphins is that they are known for their acrobatics, and sometimes leap in the air!
One of the most well known species, bottlenose dolphins can easily be seen on a dolphin watching tour Sri Lanka has to offer in areas like Mirissa. This species has a diet that’s mainly forage fish and is generally known to be part of pods that can be 10 to 30 in number.
One of the largest species of dolphins, Risso’s dolphins can also be spotted off the island’s coastlines. While this species has a sizable anterior body, it can sometimes grow to lengths of around 14 feet! You can look to spot them while on excursions out to sea in Trincomalee on the country’s east coast.
Commonly found in tropical and temperate waters, the striped dolphin is relatively smaller in size and generally feeds on squid and pelagic fish. One of the characteristics of this species is its body colour, which is different from other dolphins and makes it easier to spot as well.