Reflections of Sri Lanka
Seductive beaches, tempting watersports, magnificent landscapes and an abundance of wildlife has made Sri Lanka a must be place to visit. The Asian island, with a distinctive shape of a pearl or teardrop has seduced travellers since time began and its scenic beauty you will want to return time and time again.
Rich in history, modern day Sri Lanka blends a the strong influences of Portuguese, Dutch and the British settlers who occupied the island. Today it relishes the freedom which the end to the thirty year civil war has bought in the past few years. Sri Lanka gained independence from the British in February 1948 and today is setting out on a path to be a more developed and prosperous country.
7°c north of the equator, Sri Lanka enjoys a tropical climate with temperatures in Colombo and on the beach between 26°c to 32°c. However, the rainfall varies considerably during the year and it is important to know when the Monsoon affect the different parts of the island.
Northeast monsoon: November to February
Southeast monsoon: April to June
The main language spoken in the country and in the southern regions is Sinhala. To the north of the country, Tamil is more widely spoken by the locals. However all over the country English is widely spoken in the tourist areas and in all of the hotels.
Sri Lanka is a multi-faith society. Although 60% are Buddhists, the remainder are Hindu, Christian and Muslim. In many places, temples, churches and mosques can be seen adjacent to each other. When visiting temples and historic sites, it is required to wear trousers or items below the knee line & keep shoulders covered. Essentially a conservative society, it is important to maintain dignity at all times in public
Distances in Sri Lanka can be deceptive and take much longer than would be the equivalent journey in the UK. Today most main roads are well surfaced, but the volume of traffic and congested small towns makes journeys slow.
A few top tips on places to visit
A tea and rubber estate that offers a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of rural Sri Lanka and escape into a bygone era, visit a local tea factory and understand how the tea is grown and turned into fine tea for export.
Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, and is a World Heritage Site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendour and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Kandy is perhaps most famous however for the annual Perahara, a most magnificent site which sees the scared tooth relic take to the streets accompanied by dancers, drummers and most significantly elephants dressed in all their finery and adorned with lights. The parade which goes through the streets of Kandy builds into a spectacular procession over consecutive nights with the number of elephants growing each night. The procession normally takes place annually at the end of July or early August.
Udawalawe National Park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir on the Walawe River. Udawalawe is an important habitat for water birds and Sri Lankan Elephants, which are relatively easy to see in its open habitats. Many elephants are attracted to the park because of the Udawalawe reservoir, with a herd of about 250 believed to be permanently resident.
Yala National Park Located in the wild south-east part of the island, this region is a haven for flora and fauna and excellent game. The beaches are backed by large sand dunes giving rise to lagoons, woodland and scrub bush. The premier wildlife location in Sri Lanka, Yala offers an almost African safari experience as well as an important Buddhist temple site. On game drives by jeep, one can usually view wild elephant, buffalo and boar, huge monitor lizards, macaque monkeys and many rare and endemic bird species: it is also the best place in south Asia to spot the elusive leopard, often seen and admired.
Weligama with beautiful sandy beaches, conveniently located a short drive from Mirissa the whale and dolphin watching hub on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Guests of Fishermans Bay have easy access to Galle & stilt fisherman. A great location for seafood.
Whale-watching The best of the whale watching months are December/January and April. February and March are also good. In the turquoise waters of Sri Lanka, the awe-inspiring presence of the Blue Whale and the Sperm Whale and Spinner Dolphins. The south of Sri Lanka beyond Dondra Head is considered one of the best locations in the world for spotting these magnificent creatures. They can be spotted in the deep seas off the southern coastal towns of Galle, Mirissa and Kirinda.
Galle (this can also be done by local train from Bentota) Before the Dutch took Colombo from the Portuguese, Galle was their headquarters. Contrary to the Colombo Fort, the one in Galle was not only not demolished, but is one of the best preserved examples of 17th century colonial fortifications in the world, and is on the UNESCO list of World Monuments. The reason for its remarkable state of preservation is that this once busy trading town, visited by the East-India fleets and many regional traders, fell upon slack times after the Dutch had left. The development that did take place focused on the new town of Galle.
Bentota should not only be regarded for its lovely beach but the Bentota River is beautiful and teaming with wildlife. Spend a few hours exploring the mangrove, river banks and lily clad islands looking for monitor lizards, birds of prey and crocodiles. You may also see the river’s sand digger boats and hand pulled ferry.
The Mangroves of the Maduganga river is a shallow water body in south-west Sri Lanka and despite the rapid development in the country most people living in and around the Madu Ganga still engage in traditional methods of catching fish such as use of yoth and other small nets. Shrimp farming is popular here, though a dying profession. For that they make use of the traditional method of laying separators made out of bamboo.
Sri Lanka makes for an outstanding wildlife and safari holiday to match that of East Africa.
Sri Lanka also offers the a perfect combination with the Maldives for a honeymoon or special trip
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Pictures from Travel Gallery Sri Lanka