Sri Lanka is a country of many wonders and many pleasures. It is not called the paradise island for nothing. There are so many things to do and experience in the country that if you start making a list, you will never be able to finish it. This is why sometimes visitors who come to the country get confused as to what they must do in Sri Lanka and what they must give priority to. This article is designed for you to make sure you will not miss the best things to do Sri Lanka, no matter how little time you must have.
Climbing the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in the country. Built on a natural rock formation during the era of the Anuradhapura Kingdom by King Kashyapa this was a fortress and pleasure palace all rolled into one. Standing over 200m high and encircled by fortifications, canals, fountains & gardens the Sigiriya Fortress is a sight to behold.
The marvel of Sigiriya is not limited to the rock itself there is a vast array of rock and water gardens that adorn the path up to the rock and the rock garden has fountains that still work today using the ancient irrigation systems.
The Rock itself is a tough climb but you will be better off for it. You will be able to see the famous Sigiriya frescos halfway through the climb and near the top, you will be able to see the world-famous lion feet. On the very top of the rock, you will be able to see the ruins of the ancient palace that stood atop the rock while being awed by the amazing view from the top.
Camping in the Wilpattu Wildlife Park
Wilpattu is the largest wildlife park in Sri Lanka and stretches over 1317 square kilometers of land. Situated in the Northwestern Coast the park gets its name from a large number of lakes that are dotted along its landmass, the name Wilpattu literally translates into “The land of lakes”.
The flora of Wilpattu consists mainly of scrub monsoon forests with taller trees in-between. Traversing the park requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle because there are no roads inside the park, only forest trails. This means that sometimes normal vehicles run the risk of getting stuck if the ground turns muddy.
Wilpattu is famous for its leopards, elephants & birds and the best time to spot them is either the late evening or early morning. This is why camping in the park itself is a great activity. That way you can start your day very early to catch glimpses of these majestic beasts. There are countless camping and safari tours available for you for this endeavor.
Visiting the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a Must Do in Sri Lanka
Kandy was the capital of the last kingdom of Sri Lanka before it was conquered by the English Colonists. Located in the center of Sri Lanka among the misty hills of the central province, Kandy is a magnet for visitors from all over the world.
The crown jewel of Kandy is the famed Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Tooth. ‘Maligawa’ literally translates to palace, and the temple is part of the palace complex. The complex houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha and is a sacred site to Buddhists the world over. Visiting the maligawa, which is considered one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka and is an important pilgrimage destination. The golden-roofed temple is supposedly home to a tooth of Buddha and during the puja, the time of offering and prayers, tourists, as well as religious followers, are able to inspect the gold casket in which it is guarded. The temple itself is located in the royal palace complex, which encompasses several temples and museums.
Visiting the Temple of the Tooth is not to be missed by any visitor to Sri Lanka, Buddhist or otherwise.
Trekking through the Horton Plains to World’s End
The Horton Plains is situated at the center of Sri Lanka’s hill country and is a breathtaking highland plateau placed about 2200 meters above sea level. The entire land areas is been protected as Horton Plains National Park and it was declared a world heritage site back in 2006.
There is a quite a large historical value to Horton Plains as well because it was discovered that prehistoric man had lived on the plateau and lived and hunted on it. Today it is mostly regarded as an amazing wildlife sanctuary that has some amazing views. Because of the unique ecosystem of the area, it is home to some amazing flora and fauna. You can find plants that are unique to the area and can find animals such as Elk, and even leopards in the park.
The Horton Plains is famous for “The World’s End” location, a precipice that has breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The Hike through Horton Plains up to World’s End is an activity that is loved by many visitors to the country.
Scuba Diving among the Beautiful Reefs and Marine Life
The main attractions for scuba diving in Sri Lanka are obviously the amazing coral reefs and the beautiful schools of fish and other marine life which call it home. But there are other attractions as well. The coast of Sri Lanka is dotted with a number of shipwrecks that date to ancient times. This is something that extreme divers are quite interested in.
There are various different places for Scuba Diving and snorkeling around the island and there a number of PADI diving schools that will teach you the craft before you take the plunge.
Places such as Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Kirinda, Pasikudah, and Unawatuna are some of the best spots on the island if you want to see beautiful coral reefs and some breathtaking shoals of fish that inhabit them.
The Sri Lankan coast is dotted with shipwrecks going back millennia and most of them positioned around famous harbors and ports. The wrecks of the HMS Hermes, The Earl of Shaftesbury, The Lord Nelson and the Rangoon are some of the more famous ones out there.
Hot Air Ballooning at Sunrise
This is a very novel activity in Sri Lanka only gaining traction in the past decade but now has gotten quite popular. Using a balloon is a brilliant way to views such a beautiful country and you get to see everything from a different angle.
Hot Air Ballooning is available in Dambulla, one point of the cultural triangle. The starting point is usually on the banks of Kandalama Lake. We will meet up at the take-off point just before sunrise. A normal take-off is usually scheduled right after dawn so that you can take advantage of the cool environment, in what is usually a warm part of the country and still be able to get good visibility because of the rising sun.
Some of the main landmarks and attractions you get to see from the air are the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, The Pidurangala Mountain Monastery complex. Also on a clear day, you might even be able to glimpse at the Great Stupas all the way over at Anuradhapura. You will also be able to spy in on great herds of elephants and buffalos in the wildlife parks. This is how you will be able to see them in their natural environment.