By Imtiaz Ullah aka NomadLawyer
ABOUT SRI LANKA The beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka is an ideal holiday destination for all kinds of travelers. Whether you want to trek through rainforest, climbing a mountain or laze around the pristine beaches; Sri Lanka has it all. This picturesque island country is what inspires poets to pen down nature’s miraculous beauty in the most expressive way. The country is home to an incredible range of wildlife, including leopards, elephants and hundreds of birds. Sri Lanka is a place to restore hope, and rejuvenate yourself. It touches your soul and takes you a step closer to nature.
Sri Lanka was the ideal stopover of ancient seafarers sailing across Indian Ocean. Marco Polo said, “Sri Lanka is the finest island of its in all the world”. A glorious history, a rich culture, age- old ruins, the world’s most hospitable people, rich biodiversity, endless tropical beaches, lush virgin rainforest, mouthwatering spicy food, “A Land Like No Other”
This is a guide to explore serendipitous Sri Lanka and the things to do in this beautiful island nation:
Offbeat Sri Lanka
Provides the opportunity to travel to less frequent destinations or indulge in some rare and novel activities where you can experience the true spirit of this magical island. List of travel experiences include white water rafting, surfing, tented camping, wildlife safaris, water sports, trekking, birdwatching.
Sun, Sea and the beach Sri Lanka’s 1600 km long coastline is rich with tropical beaches, lagoons, sandbanks, surfing, boating, snorkelling, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving and many more. Noteworthy beaches are- Kalpitiya, Negombo, Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, weligama, Mirissa, Tangalle, Arugam Bay, Pasikudah and Trincomalee.
Wildlife and Nature Trails Despite its small size, Sri Lanka is rich in biodiversity and rated among the 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Sri Lanka is one of the best places to see wildlife. From the largest animal on the planet, Blue Whales to Asian elephants, Sri Lankan leopards and 33 endemic species are the highlights of the island’s wild heritage.
Traditional Festivals in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s festivals offer the experience of diverse cultures that shape the island’s identity. Religious festivals representing Buddhist culture like festival of Kandy Esala Perahera – one of the country’s grandest traditional festivals – to the Catholic Madhu Church Festival and the Hindu’s Vel festival and Muslims’ Ramadan; gives a true reflection of multicultural cohabitation. If you happen to be visiting Sri Lanka during any of these festivals, make sure to leave some space in your itinerary to witness something a little out of the ordinary.
Traditional Food to eat and feel the culture Sri Lankan traditional foods have roots to many historical, cultural and other factors. Foreign traders who came with new items and traditions, influences from Indonesian and South Indian cuisine have helped to shape Sri Lankan cuisine. Some of the Staples of Sri Lankan cuisine are rice, coconut and spices.
Street food is also very famous in Sri Lanka.
Things to do in Sri Lanka
Ballooning in Sri Lanka Imagine flying under the blue sky and over the landscape and exploring the magnificent beauty of this island country…sounds captivating right? As the multi-coloured hot-air balloon drifts silently above the forest, adventure takes on a whole new meaning. Air Ballooning is an experience unlike traditional air travel, where you cannot feel movement and the silence is absolute.
Whale & Dolphin Watching Sri Lanka’s waters are home to blue whales, the largest animal in the world. Off Sri Lanka’s coast is the largest known pod of blue whales in the world, with over 1000 whales. In addition to whales, Dolphin watching is also quite a popular activity here. Dolphins are playful and can be spotted swimming alongside boats, jumping out of the water and being playful.
Cycling & Mountain Biking The terrain throughout the country offers challenges for beginners and experts alike. There are many interesting trails across the country that will take you through scenic landscape of tea, rubber and spice plantations. The diverse land of Sri Lanka has something for everyone who wants to try this exhilarating activity of cycling and mountain biking.
White Water Rafting
A challenging activity and an exhilarating water sport, White Water Rafting in Sri Lanka is a popular sport. Sri Lanka attracts a large number of tourists every year and tourism has become a very important source of income for the country. As a tropical island, Sri Lanka holds the reputation of one of the best beach holiday destinations. The small town of Kitulgala in the hill country is the most famous place in Sri Lanka to do so.
Surfing The beautiful island country of Sri Lanka is home to friendly people and impressive landscapes. With a dominant tropical geographical condition, the country is also home to several stunning beaches, therefore, making it one of the best reliable surf destinations in the Indian Ocean. Surfing in Sri Lanka is altogether a different experience, with Surf Safaris in tuk tuks, fun waves along with delicious snacks to try out from.
Safari Camping Camping in Sri Lanka is the best experience one can have while being close to nature. The country welcomes you with its 22 National Parks, which are undoubtedly among the best in the world. Sri Lanka has almost every geographical feature one can possibly think of compared to its size.
Golfing Although, Sri Lanka is yet to make a mark in the field of Golf, but it is Home to three of the finest 18-hole Golf courses based in Colombo, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. These golf courses run through the lush forests and the ball flies with the green canopy in the backdrop. Enjoy the game in The Royal Colombo Golf Club, The Victoria Golf and Nuwara Eliya Golf Club respectively.
Trekking Being blessed with a wide range of terrains, Sri Lanka offers great opportunities for trekking and hiking. It is full of lush paddy fields, swaying tea plantations, spice gardens, dense forests and waterfalls. They send an open invitation to every trekking enthusiast to take back the unique experience of walking close to the beauty of nature.
Kite Surfing A heaven for an adrenaline junkie, kite-surfing is just the perfect way to indulge in Sri Lanka and Kalpitiya is the best place for it. Get strapped to a giant kite, dragged on a surfboard over the sea and fly by the wind. Major destinations for kite-surfing are Vellai Island, Mannar, Puttalam, Kappalady and Kalpitiya.
Bird Watching Home to more than 400 bird species, the tropical climate and exotic landscape of Sri Lanka is perfect for Bird Watching. This is the reason; it attracts bird watchers from all over the world to its sanctuaries and wetlands. Colourful and tropical birds like Ceylon flycatcher, Green beater, eagles, woodpeckers and herons are a few of the delights that you can spot. Major bird
sanctuaries on the island are Kumana National Park, the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary, the Bodhinagala Sanctuary and Udawatte Kele.
Stilt Fishing One of the oldest traditional fishing methods of Sri Lanka, stilt fishing is done on a vertical pole embedded on the sea floor. It is a very tough technique of sitting on a crossbar and the fishermen are at work from dawn to dusk catching fish. Places to witness such fishing are the southwest coastal towns Madu River, Koggala, Ahangama and Kaththaluwa. The fishermen here sit some meters over the water, so that they produce minimum shadow on the water and avoid any disturbance to the sea creatures.
To sum up – Sri Lanka is blessed with a wealth of natural beauty and ancient architecture that dates back to the 5th century. One of the world’s most popular beach destinations, it caters to the concept of a perfect beach holiday. Heart of the island’s economy, tourism, has given birth to many hotels that offer world’s finest services with a heavenly setting. Along With all modern comforts, the tropical destination offer some mouthwatering delicacies and refreshing drinks. A holiday in Sri Lanka presents a discerning tourist a complete blend of culture in the lap of Indian Ocean.