Things to Do
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- Sri Lanka
- Things to Do
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Activities in Sri Lanka whilst on holiday, Sri Lanka is full of possibilities, from relaxing beachside or sipping tea amongst the serenity of the plantations, to going snorkelling and mountain climbing. The diverse habitats within each region allow for a variety of options.
Sri Lanka is an island of beautiful coastlines, reservoirs and lakes. This makes it a wonderful place for fishermen to gather to explore the range of possible catches! Both inland and deep sea fishing are available to try, though deep sea is a seasonal activity, with November to April being the best time on the Western and Southern coasts, while the Eastern coast is better ventured to from May to September. Motor boats are commonly used to access the waters, or alternatively you can just fish from the beach. There are various fishing excursion groups that can take groups out to sea, providing the necessary equipment and advising on the best areas to find good catches. These excursions can be a day trip or an extended tour, depending how enthusiastic you are about fishing!
What better way to experience the beauty of Sri Lanka's landscapes than on horseback? You can truly lose yourself to the variety and wilderness of the scenery, with a range of locations to explore. Pass by historical sites such as temples, and roam besides mesmerizing tea plantations, fishing villages, beaches, mountainous horizons, lagoons and lots of tropical greenery. It's an exhilarating way to go sight seeing and provides a unique perspective of Sri Lanka. Riding tours can usually be organised through the hotel or with your travel agent, and there should be a choice in tour groups and destinations to experience!
If you're interested in mountain climbing, or just want to try out an exhilarating excursion that will show off the best views of the island, you'll want to head to the central province of Sri Lanka! Around the area of Nuwara Eliya, within the Hill Country is where the best of the country's mountains can be found.
One of the most famous of these has to be Sri Pada, which is also known as Adam's Peak. This peak is 2200m above sea level, and therefore difficult to miss if near the area! It makes for a truly exciting climb, with a trail that resonates with the islands past, having been climbed by famous pilgrims, Marco Polo, and even Buddha. It is also an extremely important site to Sri Lankans due to being a sacred spot to all major religions. This emphasises the feeling of shared inspiration and bliss that you are sure to feel once at the top, staring out across the vast greenery, unravelled toward the horizon below.
Other mountains around the area include Pidurutalagala (tallest mountain in Sri Lanka), Thotupola Kanda, Kikiliamana and Hakgala Mountain. The calm ambience of the highlands makes this all the more of a thrilling activity, immersing you in the escapism of the environment. Knuckles Mountain, which is 1862m, is in Kandy and a popular choice with those looking to go rock climbing. Kandy especially has a romantic atmosphere that is rich with tradition and culture. It makes a spectacular location for a day spent exploring nature for this reason! There are various rock climbing and mountain climbing expedition organisations around the island.
Sri Lanka is bordered by some of the most beautiful coast lines, which as a plus provide opportunities to dive all year round. This is due to the monsoons ensuring there's always one side of the coast that is in perfect scuba diving conditions! The Southwest is generally best to explore during the months of November to April, while the Northeast is better in May to October. The water is usually temperate, and has good visibility of about 50 to 100 feet.
There are many dive centres scattered about, lots of which offer either PADI courses or just fun excursions. If interested in going scuba diving, you'll really get the best out of this through going with a company. You'll have the assistance of a guide, along with fellow divers to share the experience with! You'll be taken out on a boat to some of the most recommended areas, as well as the more secluded reefs.
Some of the most popular diving sites include Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Negombo and Trincomalee. A whole plethora of marine life can be seen, with eels, turtles and stingrays amongst the variety of things you might see, depending on the area. There are also shipwreck tours, to add an element of history to your scuba experience!
Sri Lanka is actually one of the most popular destinations in Asia for shopping. It has a range of modern and traditional items available, with large malls selling well known brands of clothing alongside a selection of markets selling various items that are ideal as souvenirs. Jewellery, furniture, antiques, tea and spices are amongst the most common things purchased here. Prices aren't too expensive here either, though it is sometimes a good idea to research how much certain items should cost. In the bazaars and craft shops you can also put your haggling skills to the test! Souvenirs
First thing's first: you definitely cannot visit Sri Lanka without buying Tea . It's just a must. If you take a day-trip to one of the beautiful tea plantations you're sure to want to anyway. Ceylon tea is, of course, one of the island's main sources of trade, and a strong part of its identity. For this reason it is a culturally significant memento to bring back, and each cuppa will be a reminder of your time spent in Sri Lanka.
For similar reasons, Spices are another popular souvenir. Sri Lankan food usually has a lot going on in the flavour department, with a plethora of spices to ensure there's never a boring meal to be had. To emphasise this further, there's even such a thing as a World Spice Festival held there. Popular spices include betel nut, cinnamon, cloves, coriander and nutmeg. Handcrafts - such as pottery, baskets, embroidered tablecloths and wooden sculptures - are also available. Precious stones are also common, although you should beware of fakes.
White-water rafting is one of the most exhilarating of water sport activities. Sri Lanka is an especially great place to try this, too. It has many rivers perfect for having a go at this thrilling sport, and of these the Kelani River in Kithulgala is one of the most popular. This was also famously the shooting location for much of the award winning film, 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'. You'll usually have class 2-3 rapids here, with a rafting time of around 2 hours. It is where many whitewater rafting tour groups go for their excursions, as it suits all levels of rafters, whether young or old, beginners or experienced. Those wanting more of a challenge, however, could visit places such as Sitawaka, which has class 3-4 rapids, and Kotmale, which has anything up to class 5. Whitewater rafting can usually be organised through the resort or with travel agents. It provides a fun and adrenaline fuelled experience, as well as allowing you to experience the excitement of the islands' tropical wilderness!
A popular attraction is to visit during annual festivities
Esala Perahera - Also known as 'The Festival of the Tooth', this is a Buddhist festival that is celebrated through a spectacle of dancers, beautiful costumes and elephants!
World Spice Festival - A festival that embraces the many exotic spices Sri Lanka has to offer! Attendees can sample various foods here, exploring some of the most distinctive flavours of the island.
Deepawali - One of the biggest Hindu celebrations, this is also known as the festival of the lights, or 'Diwali'.
Independence Day - 4th February is when Sri Lankans celebrate the anniversary of their independence from British rule. Sinhala & Tamil New Year - the Sinhalese and Tamils celebrate their New Years each April, with a spectacular array of feasts and religious services.
Nawam Full Moon Paya Day - A two day festival of parades, elephants, dancers and music celebrates the full moon around February time.
Vesak Day - A colourful illumination of spectacles make this day so memorable each year, as it celebrates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha.
Poson - Once again, an awe-inspiring display of celebratory decor and entertainment marks a remembrance and appreciation for the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Duruthu Perahera - This festival marks the anniversary of Buddha's first visit to Sri Lanka many centuries ago! It is a collage of vibrant decoration and cultural attractions at the Kelaniya Temple in Colombo.
Eid al-Fitr - This is the end of Ramadan, the feasting month for those of Muslim faith. This is celebrated with great feasts and lots of fun! Christmas - Christmas is not as widely celebrated through Sri Lanka as it is in the UK due to different beliefs. You will still find decorations and some festive spirit in the capital city of Colombo though.
Any plans for Sri Lanka holidays cannot be complete without a visit to the national parks and their wildlife.
Sri Lanka’s national parks represent the heart of the country’s natural beauty. They are preserved and respected areas in which the wildlife is left to roam in its natural habitat, with un-spoilt scenery that is charmed with an essence of centuries gone by. These are wonderful places to spend a day out, admiring the elephants and leopards amongst other striking sights! They will give you a feel for the country at its barest, revealing the peacefulness and fascinations of the environment.
There are 20 protected national parks in total. These are managed by the department of Wildlife conservation. The most popular of these include Yala, which is one of the largest national parks in Sri Lanka, and is located on the southeast coast of the island. It is popular due to having an exciting variety of wild life, including the Sri Lankan elephants, aquatic birds and leopards.
Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe has 500 wild elephants to marvel at! The Horton Plains is a hauntingly quiet park, most famous for its ‘The Worlds End’ feature, which is the point where the plains come to an end and drop for 700m. Minneriya Park has a huge reservoir, which attracts gatherings of elephants, sambar deer and leopards, while Kumana is a bird watchers dream due to the parks highlight being the ‘Kumana Villu’, which is a mangrove swamp that particularly in the months of May and June plays host to many exotic water bird visitors such as flamingos! Wilpattu is one of Sri Lankas oldest national parks, and is located in the Northwest lowland dry zone. It is characterised by a dense forest that covers the majority of its landscape, and you’re in with a chance of spotting some of a total of 31 species of mammals that have been identified here!
Yala National Park
Yala is one of the largest national parks in Sri Lanka, and is located on the southeast coast of the island. It is popular due to having an exciting variety of wild life, including the Sri Lankan elephants, aquatic birds and leopards.
Yala covers 1297 square km of land, and for this reason contains a diverse range of landscapes, from thorn forests to marine wet lands. The park is divided into five blocks, with each block containing a different landscape that attracts different creatures. Block one is one of the most popular due to being the most common habitat of the leopards. To experience the best of the park’s wildlife a safari tour is a good idea. Some of the species you may see are the spotted deer, elephants, sloth bear, buffalo, crocodile and over 120 types of bird. On top of this the area is embellished with some magnificent flora and fauna, and historical and religious sites of importance such as Kataragama.
To have an into the wild holiday that gets right to the heart of Sri Lanka’s nature, Yala is a beautiful destination with endless wonders to be found amongst the landscapes. It should be noted however that due to many of these species being endangered, seeing certain animals depends a lot on the time of year you visit, and just on pure chance. The above are just a handful of the National parks available to visit in Sri Lanka. Each one has its own unique environment, with characteristic landscapes that mean you’ll be able to spot a variety of the islands wild life at each different one.