1) TRAIN RIDE TO ELLA
The train trip from Ella to Kandy in Sri Lanka, or the other way around, is considered to be one of the most beautiful train trips in the world. This train ride is seven hours long and takes you through stunning landscapes of green and lush tea plantations and mountain views. This train ride takes minimum 7 hours to reach Ella from Kandy. If you feel it is too much for you, you can break up the ride to half way from Kandy to Nuwaraeliya or Nuwaraeliya to Ella.
The scenery is amazing as you see beautiful green hills covered of tea plantations, steep mountains, old lovely bridges, waterfalls, small villages, and you are greeted by lots of local kids running along the train tracks.
2) VISITING SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS
Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka.
Referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World this ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.
The palace is located in the heart of the island between the towns of Dambulla and Habarana on a massive rocky plateau 370 meters above the sea level.
Sigiriya rock plateau, formed from magma of an extinct volcano, is 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles.
Sigiriya is a must see place in Sri Lanka because of its engineering wonders during Kind Kashyap Era. The beautiful art of naked women in the west wall are believed to be his wives and the mirror wall is painted with inscriptions & poems written by the visitors of Sigriya.
3) VISIT TEA FACTORY AND PLANTATION
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea with a roaring tea industry that dominates the island’s central highlands. Introduced to the country by British tea planter James Taylor in 1867, tea irreversibly changed the topography, and even the demography of the country. In the wake of Sri Lanka’s coffee blight, British planters were quick to discover that tea was a more lucrative industry. As the number of tea estates rose, there was an increased need for human labor. The production of tea involves a tedious procedure of plucking, withering, rolling, oxidizing and drying – a process that requires heavy machines and plenty of manpower. Workers were shipped over from Tamil Nadu in India to maintain the plantations, and these people, an often overlooked ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, are still the main employees in the tea industry today. A visit to a tea factory has become a staple of every Sri Lanka travel itinerary,
Tea tourism has been long-established in Sri Lanka and almost every tea factory offers a tea tour of some sort. The tours don’t take too long and can be done en route whilst you are travelling through the tea country. Your guide can help you pick out a suitable tea factory based on your route or preferences. Once in the tea factory, you would generally start out in the plantation itself to learn about how tea is cultivated, then visit the factory where ancient machines pre-dating the industrial revolution wither, roll and dry the tea. There is normally a little time at the end of the tour for a tea tasting, either of one specific type of tea or occasionally of the various specialties of that particular factory. Much like a wine tasting, a traditional tea tasting would involve drinking tea (without milk), swilling it around the mouth to get the taste, and then spitting it out into a spittoon.
3) SUN RISE BALLOONING
If you ever visit the beautiful island of Sri Lanka then you should take the opportunity to see the wondrous sights from the air starting from Kandalama, Dambulla in the Cultural Triangle.
Flying over the jungle you may see elephants roaming freely, variety of birds, wild life, water buffaloes standing in the paddy fields and monkeys swinging from the trees.
As you gently leave the bonds of earth, you will float effortlessly over jungles, lakes and waterways as day breaks with the awakening of wildlife and villagers waving as you fly over their homes and the colours of nature.
5) WITNESSING ESELA PERAHERA
The Esala Perahera in Kandy is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers, and lavishly decorated elephants. This is held in Esala (July or August) which is the month that is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. The Kandy Esala Perahera lasts for ten days in the month of August while various festivities can be witnessed right throughout. The Sinhalese term ‘Perahera’ means a parade of musicians, dancers, singers, acrobats and various other performers accompanied by a large number of caparisoned Tuskers and Elephants parading the streets in celebration of a religious event.
After the Kandyan Kingdom fell to the British in 1815, the custody of the Tooth Relic was handed over to the Buddhist Clergy. In the absence of the King, a lay custodian called the Diyawadana Nilame was appointed to handle routine administrative matters. The purpose of the Kandy Esala Perahera Procession is to beseech blessings of the gods to obtain rain for the cultivation of crops and to enrich the lands of the kingdom.
This ritual is performed by carrying the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha through the streets of the Kandy city which is done with exceptional panache. This is considered as one of the most beautiful pageants in the Asia.
6) HIKE THE LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK
The Little Adam`s Peak got it`s named after it`s big brother, the holy mountain Adam`s Peak, because of the similar shape. Adam`s Peak is further west in Sri Lanka, close to Nuwara Eliya, and is 2243 m high and a much more exhausting and more challenging climb! The mountain has however three names; Adam`s Peak (this is where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), Sri Pada (Buddha`s footprint left by the Buddha as he headed towards paradise) and Samanalakande (Butterfly mountain, where butterflies go to die).
It will be priceless if you could visit the place in the morning when the clouds roll in. Further places like Little Adams Peak deliberates ‘How far Sri Lanka is worth and rich with beautiful natural destinations of Sri Lankan tourism’. It will feel like a neck exercise for the visitors as you have to rotate your body to seek the views outstanding for 360 degrees.
7) WHALE WATCHING IN MIRISSA
Mirissa is the best place to start your whale and dolphin watching tour in Sri Lanka. Whale watching season in Mirissa is from November till April.
Mirissa is one of the best places in the world for whale watching, especially for the most famous largest marine mammal “Blue Whales”. Actually it takes only six to nine nautical miles from Mirissa harbor to reach whale habitats. During the journey to watch Blue whales we can see several other whale species, dolphins and other marine creatures.
Killer whales, Sperm whales, Bride whales and Pigmy killer whales are the different kind’s whales that can be sought. Spinner dolphins, bottled nosed dolphins and Riso dolphins are the various dolphin types and Green back turtle, Whale shark, flying fish and Tuna fish can be visible if you are lucky.
8) HORTON PLAINS (WORLD’S END)
The Horton Plains plateau comes to a sudden end at World’s End, a stunning escarpment that plunges 880m. The walk here is 4km, but the trail then loops back to Baker’s Falls (2km) and continues back to the entrance (another 3.5km). The 9.5km round trip takes a leisurely three hours. Unless you get there early, the view from World’s End is often obscured by mist, particularly during the rainy season from April to September.
All you can expect to see from World’s End after around 9am is a swirling white wall. The early morning (between 6am and 10am) is the best time to visit, before the clouds roll in. That’s when you’ll spy toy-town, tea-plantation villages in the valley below, and an unencumbered view south towards the coast.
9) SAFARI AT YALA NATIONAL PARK
Yala is Sri Lanka’s most famous national park. Forming a total area of 1268 sq km of scrub, light forest, grassy plains and brackish lagoons, it’s very rich in wildlife and you’re virtually certain to encounter elephants, crocodiles, buffaloes and monkeys. Plan your trip carefully, however – such is Yala’s appeal that the main tracks and viewing spots can be crowded.
Yala National Park is located in the south eastern region of Sri Lanka and extends over two provinces of Hambantota district of southern province and Monaragala district in Uva province. The entrance to the park is at Palatupana, 12km from Kirinda. The distance from Colombo to the entry point of Palatupana is 305 km.
The gateway to Yala National Park is Tissamaharama. A 20 km drive via Kirinda takes the visitors to the Palatupana. At Palatupana, the well-designed visitor center provides the information to the tourists and assign a tracker to all incoming vehicles. The park provides jeeps with soft–tops which gives the opportunitiy to view wild life. Dawn and dusk bring about the best timing for Safari tours in the Yala National Park. Being located in one of the arid regions of Sri Lanka, the Climate of Ruhuna National Park is usually hot and dry. The mean annual temperature is 27 Celsius, although in the dry season the temperature could go as high as 37 Celsius.
Of all the National Parks in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park gives the best opportunity to witness Sri Lanka’s broad variety of wildlife: colorful painted stork in troops are seen perched at the shores of lagoon where the crocodiles too have chosen to doze off; lovely fantailed peacocks in their resplendent blues and greens parade about amidst the woods where monkeys hang, leap and chatter; in the bush jungle are the Elephants; crossing the tracks and wandering off into the thorny scrub jungle is the star attraction of the park: the leopard.
A total of 32 species of mammals have been recorded. The threatened species include sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya), elephant (Elephas maximus), water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), spotted deer (Axis axis ceylonessis), sambar (Cervus unicolor) and golden jackal (Canis aureus).
10) MADU RIVER BOAT SAFARI
The Madu River safari is a relaxing trip with plenty of interesting things to see. You will pass dozens of tiny islands forested with mangroves, and you will view old temples and watch the locals cultivating cinnamon. Madu Ganga is Sri Lanka’s second largest wetland and it consists of 64 islands including two main islands with to 215 families living in them. This wetland spreads over 900 hectares of area and most of it covered with water.
Madu River is located in the south of Sri Lanka. The river is dotted with small islands and the banks are all covered with lush mangrove forests that are home to dozens of incredible animal species. A visitor can spot hundreds of dazzling tropical birds and a few crocodiles depending on the time. Some of these creatures are very rare.
Madu river enters the sea at Balapitiya. The people of its islets produce cinnamon and cinnamon oil. Over the years, Madu Ganga has played an important role in providing food and shelter and providing easy access to the main land via small wooden boats.
Fish therapy was introduced to Madu Ganga several years ago. Now there are several places by this river offer fish therapy. Different types of fish are put in to tanks and visitors can immerse their feet to these tanks and fish starts biting. You will feel ticklish when they nibble your dead skin on the feet. It’s a great experience.