Ayurveda & Wellness
Sri Lanka has always been a place that refreshes not just the mind and body, but also the soul and spirit. For thousands of years, the most popular method used to restore and rejuvenate tired bodies and weary souls has been Ayurveda – the oldest and most holistic medical system available in the world, Sri Lanka has been a center of those spiritual and physical healing for 2,000 years.
Sri Lanka now has a number of spas, mainly on the west coast, which not only provides Ayurveda but also other Eastern and Western therapies, such as Thai massage, hydrotherapy, herbal baths, reflexology, and beauty treatments. For those seeking spiritual nourishment, meditation courses are also available.
Big Game Safari
If you want to experience one of the best wildlife outside Africa, Sri Lanka would be the best choice for you due to the easy visibility of animals in their natural habitats.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as varied as the island itself, ranging from the elephant, leopard, Sloth Bear, and Sambur; spotted deer, Wild boar, and a huge variety of birds to egg-laying turtles and the marine giant; Blue Whales. Sri Lanka is among one of the very few places in the world to see the largest mammals on the earth both on land and sea.
Discover Sri Lanka’s Big Five: Stay alert for a sighting of the endangered leopard & sloth bear; take your time as you watch the elephants feeding and washing in a tank or lagoon; sail up into offshore coastal water to sight grate Blue whales & Sperm whale
- Since the continental shelf is at its narrowest close to Dondara heads, Sri Lanka’s southernmost point, the deep water provides an ideal feeding ground for migrating whales.
- Yala National Park has one of the highest densities of leopards anywhere in the world. The leopard is also the top predator on the island. This lends it an air of confidence, which together with the open nature of the park’s terrain, allows for some fine Leopard watching.
- During July and September, the ‘Gathering’, is an annual migration of elephants to the receding shores of the Minneriya National Park. At times, up to 400 elephants may be present on the exposed lake bed.
- Sri Lanka’s Big Five
The Animal Place or National Park
- The Blue Whale Mirisse (Deep South) and Trincomalee (Northeast)
- The Sperm Whale Mirisse (South) and Kalpitiye (Northwest)
- The Leopard Yala National Park (Southeast) and Wilpattu National Park (Northwest) 4.The Asian Elephant Mineriye, Kaudulle (North Central), and Udewalewe National Parks 5.The Sloth Bear Wasgamuwe, Yala, and Wilpattu National Parks
Sri Lanka’s abundant bird life makes the island a true Ornithologist’s paradise. Of the 483 recorded species, 250 are resident and 33 are endemic to the country. With such a variety of environments ranging from wet to dry zone, forest to jungle, and hill country to low lands, there’s no end to the fascinating locations in which to spot many of these beautiful birds. Most of the endemic birds (such as the Sri Lankan grackle) are restricted to the wet zone, while birds such as Sri Lanka whistling thrush and the yellow-eared bulbul reside in the hill country. Others, like the brilliantly plumaged jungle fowl, the striking red-faced Malkoha, and the shy brown-capped babbler can be found in forests and sanctuaries throughout the island. Among the best areas for sighting these birds are the Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary.
The large lakes (irrigation reservoirs) in the dry zone attract numerous varieties of duck, while larger aquatic birds such as stork, heron, egret, spoonbill, pelican, and ibis can easily be seen in the wetlands, especially at Wirawila, Kalametiya, and Bundala National Park (which is also famed for its large flocks of migrant flamingoes). Around mid-August, the first migratory species arrive in Sri Lanka. Large flocks of sandpipers, stints, plovers, terns and harriers fly over from Northern India, Siberia, Scandinavia, and Western Europe and settle along the lagoons and slatterns of the eastern, north-western and south-eastern coasts. In the forested areas of Sri Lanka, birds like migratory tree warblers, thrushes and cuckoos can be seen.
Sri Lanka has always been a place that refreshes not just the mind and body but also the soul and spirit. Meditation involves the self-directed practice of relaxing the body, and calming the mind and could help a person achieve the required happiness and achieve mental peace. If you wish for a more in-depth understanding of Buddhist philosophy and meditation, Sri Lanka would be the place for it. There are several Meditation Retreats & Buddhist Centers across the island that conducts programs over an extended period of up to two weeks. These centers are located in tranquil settings that follow an intensive routine of meditation and Buddhist discussions.
Meditation Centers, we recommend offering basic accommodation and vegetarian meals. Some centers also have books shops to purchase Buddhist literature. We have provided direct links to these Meditation Retreats & Buddhist Centers so that you can contact them directly and make your own arrangements.
Nilambe Meditation Centre Nilambe: Near Kandy Telephone 0777-804555 (leave a message) or 0777-811653 E-mail address: email@example.com
Lanka Vipassana Meditation Centre 108 Wijeráma Mawatha, Colombo 7 Tel: 94 11 269 4100. Situated in Colombo’s diplomatic quarter, the present abbot (priest in charge of the center) is Ven. Ariyavaísálaòkára. The Ven. Abhaya is an English-speaking Sinhalese/Australian monk, who became a monk under Ajahn Brahmavamso. Group meditation is available. Lodgings and food are free.
Outdoor & Adventure
Though not always recognized as such Sri Lanka is in fact a thrill seekers paradise. There are so many activities on offer that visitors might find it hard to pack them all into just one holiday. For the more adventurous traveler, Sri Lanka offers a myriad of activities through which you can explore the island’s numerous landscapes, rural villages, wilderness, waterways, as well as the turquoise seas that surround this magnificent island.
Sri Lanka currently has three excellent golf courses in Colombo, Kandy, and in Nuwara Eliya. The first is situated in the center of Colombo, ideal for a half-day escape from the capital’s shopping. The other two, Kandy Victoria and Nuwara Eliya, are located in the central highlands and both are stunningly picturesque. Victoria is spectacular, ringed by rugged mountains and a huge reservoir, while Nuwara Eliya, in the heart of the tea hills, feels like the Scottish Highlands on a misty morning.
Hot Air Ballooning
Soar high above Kandalama, the ancient Dambulla rock temple, and the Sigiriya Rock Fortress; enjoy the beautiful sunrise and spot wild elephants and water buffalo as you fly over the untouched wilderness. Hot Air Ballooning is a rewarding experience made even better by the warm and friendly welcome that you receive from villagers when the balloon finally lands.
Scuba diving in Sri Lanka is immensely rewarding off the North West coast, the south coast from Beruwela to Weligama, and the east coast in Trincomalee. Diving in Sri Lanka is suitable for beginners as well as the more advanced ones. Spotting bright corals and exotic fish is easy and there is the opportunity to explore shipwrecks in some areas…
Hiking and Trekking
Trekking and hiking are excellent ways to not only explore a country but also gain insight into its people, traditions, and beliefs. The hill country offers some of the best terrain and scenery as trails wind through dense forests, up steep mountains, past flowing waterfalls, between fields of tea, and through clear rivers that offer a cooling dip. In addition, the paths within the Cultural Triangle offer hikers a chance to abandon the beaten track and discover little-known temples, uninhabited jungle, and archaeological remains
Paddling a canoe can be the most practical way to discover Sri Lanka’s country rivers, jungles, swamps, lagoons, and canals. For Jungle River canoeing there is a rewarding journey from the Sinharaja Forest Reserve to the coastal town of Kalutara. It can be done as a day or an overnight trip and is good for people who have never canoed before but are looking to experience wilderness and adventure.
With an archaeological history dating back to pre-historic Stone Age settlements on the island, Sri Lanka has a range of ancient caves scattered across the country that can be explored by amateurs as well as experts. There are several ancient caves located in the Sabaragamuwa Province, of which the Belilena Caves situated about 8 km from Kitulgala, is of great archaeological significance.
The size of Sri Lanka makes it extremely accessible by bike and a two-wheel adventure is a great way to view the country’s beautiful landscapes. Hear the birds tweet as you cruise along a jungle path and take a pedal back in time in the ruins of the ancient cities at Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura, or try a relaxing route along the beaches on the southwest coast.
Fishing provides one of Sri Lanka’s most enduring images – even if it is difficult to tell these days whether the famous stilt fishermen of Weligama are more interested in catching fish or tourists. But Sri Lanka’s fishing heritage runs much deeper than the traditional craft of the stilt fishermen and is the lifeblood of coastal communities all around the island. Sport fishing in Sri Lanka is relatively undeveloped, but 1,140 miles of shoreline and warm Indian Ocean currents ensure there is a plethora of fish in the sea, estuaries, mangrove lagoons and rivers.
Experience the thrills and spills of an exciting rafting adventure in a jungle paradise. Rafting mixes the ups and downs of rapids with calm sections perfect for looking at the tea and rubber plantations or mountains covered in jungle rainforest. Rafting options range from a one-hour ride in the Kelani River at Kitulgala, an ideal spot for beginners, to the “experienced paddlers only” rivers of Kotmale, Mahaweli, and Kalu Ganga.
Sri Lanka’s western, southern and eastern coastal belts are ideal for snorkeling. The turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, reefs, colorful corals, and an array of exotic marine life, have attracted many seafarers for centuries. The southern and eastern coasts are less-developed and more secluded than the west coast and are famous for their cove-like beaches, reefs, and interesting dive spots including several shipwrecks that are surrounded by large schools of tropical fish
The turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean surrounding Sri Lanka’s coastline are ideal for surfing. Arugam Bay on the southeast coast is listed as one of the Top Ten surf spots in the world and is popular , especially during the season between May and October when surfers come in search of thrilling wave breaks. Surfing season in the southwest is from November to April.
The west coast town of Bentota is popular for windsurfing with water and wind conditions best during the season from November to April. On the East coast, the best winds are from July to August when windsurfers head to Trincomalee. Windsurfing in Sri Lanka is also possible inland on lagoons and lakes in Negombo, Bolgoda, and Bentota.
The Indian Ocean waters of Sri Lanka’s south coast is magnificent with several bays including Unawatuna, Mirissa, Weligama, Dickwella, and Tangalle providing ideal waters for sailing during the season from December to April. Sailing inland on Bolgoda Lake close to the capital city of Colombo is also popular.
Sri Lanka is an island with many rivers, lagoons, and old canals that meander past a myriad of landscapes before gently flowing out to the Indian Ocean. Cruise by remote rural villages, pristine white Buddhist temples, centuries-old churches, lush green paddy fields, and mangrove marshes rich in birdlife.
The experience of sleeping under the stars surrounded by nature in one of the island’s national parks is second to none. Campsites are situated in the most beautiful locations off the tourist trail and are available in most national parks and nature reserves – from participatory camping where guests work with the staff to run the campsite, to standard and super-luxury (camping under canvas) where the experience is similar to that of a five-star hotel.
Gems and Jewellery
Once you have sated your appetite at the shopping malls, watch out for the jewelry shops. Around 800BC the Romans incorporated rubies obtained from the island in their jewelry. Later on, the islanders realized that they were missing out on the value addition of gems, so they became some of the finest jewelers in the world. Today many Royal families & celebrities around the world adorned their crown jewels with Sri Lankan Gems.
Sri Lanka is famous for its precious and semi-precious gemstones including Blue Sapphires, Red Rubies, Cat’s Eyes, Alexandrites, Tourmalines, Zircons, Garnets, Amethysts, and Topaz. This industry is monitored by the National Gem and Jewellery Authority which has outlets located in Colombo to check the authenticity of gems that you have purchased. You can purchase exquisite gem studded jewelry set in gold, white gold, or platinum in jewelry shops in Colombo, Galle, and Kandy. Colombo & Kandy have the best choice of reputed jewelry shops. When you are shopping for gems across the country, make sure you purchase stones from shops that are licensed with the National Gem and Jewellery Authority
Traditional arts & crafts are produced in different parts of the island as home-based cottage industries where intricate skills are passed down in generations. These crafts are best purchased from the villages where you can observe how they are produced. You can also purchase these crafts from the government-run Laksala outlets in Colombo and Kandy or Lakmadure in Colombo
Villages producing traditional arts & crafts
- Jewelry crafting – Kandy & Galle
- Traditional mask carving – Ambalangoda (West Coast)
- Cane and reed wear – Wevaldeniya (on the way to Kandy)
- Brass wear including oil lamps and wall hangings – Gadaladeniya( Kandy)
- Kandyan drums – Kurugala (Kandy)
- Wall hangings and mats woven with intricate designs – Dumbara( Kandy)
- Hand-woven Beeralu (pillow) lace – Dickwella (South Coast)
Several local artisans and entrepreneurs have developed exquisite arts and crafts blending Sri Lankan heritage with contemporary design. These products are made of indigenous materials such as recycled paper, elephant dung, terracotta, and scented woods and oils, and handloom fabrics. Elephant dung stationery, scented candles, relaxing massage oils, handloom toys, and linen, Sri Lanka T-shirts and souvenirs as well as beautiful hand-crafted object d’art are available for your home or for gifts
Train Journey To Hill Country
Experience one of the most fabulous rail journeys in the world with the dramatic landscape of the highlands of Sri Lanka….climbing uphill up to 6,000 ft above sea level with passing densely covered lush tea plantations, majestic peaks, remote villages, and rushing waterfalls; the train drive from Kandy up into the highest corners of the hills often stands out as one of Sri Lanka’s most unforgettable journeys.
The train from Kandy stops at most key mountain locations including Hatton, Nanu Oya (for Nuwara Eliya), Bandarawlea, Ella, Haputale, and Badulla. If you have a driver with you on your trip he can take the luggage and meet you off the train at you selected destination. It is also possible to take a short scenic route between some of the stations near your hotel.
A trip on the train can be incorporated into your itinerary at many points throughout the mountains. If time permits, we would recommend a ride in the 1st class ‘observation cabin’. Securing the limited number of tickets available for the 1st class section remains a fine and unpredictable art but we shall endeavor to get those tickets before others.
A trip in the 2nd or 3rd class is also worth recommending from a human perspective. Sharing the carriage with musicians, food vendors, and kids hanging out of the doors, this is the kind of train experience no longer available in most parts of the world.
Weddings & Honeymoons
Sri Lanka’s seductive mix of beautiful landscapes, tropical beaches, rich traditions, and friendly, laid-back people have lured many romantics over the years. It is no surprise that the island is an increasingly popular destination for weddings and honeymoons. It is an idyllic location setting for those in love and starting a new life together.
A wedding in Sri Lanka is like no other. Horoscopes, auspicious times, and rituals are blended with colorful dancers and drummers, followed by a feast to be shared by family and friends in celebrating the coming together of two lives. The island’s vibrant mix of ethnic communities – Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians – follow different rituals, yet all have an underlying tradition.
The perfect location for your wedding is a tough choice in Sri Lanka as there are numerous possibilities: A wedding on the coast with swaying palms and the shimmering waters of the Indian Ocean; in the hill country amidst luminous green tea plantations, misty mountains, and gushing waterfalls; or by an ancient reservoir in the north-central province surrounded by untouched wilderness and sounds of birdcall. Once the setting is decided upon, then comes the selection of venues which ranges from beachside villas, refurbished colonial bungalows, and boutique hotels to eco retreats – all offering a unique service to make your wedding a memorable one.
Wedding ceremonies are conducted Monday to Saturday excluding bank holidays. There is a requirement of a minimum period of residency of five days in Sri Lanka prior to the wedding ceremony. The minimum age requirement for marriage is 18 years. If under 21 years, parental consent is required. The following documentation needs to be submitted 12 weeks in advance of the wedding ceremony:
- Birth certificate
- Valid 10-year passport
- If single, an affidavit confirming marital status from a solicitor
- If divorced, a decree absolute with court stamp of the previous marriage and an affidavit to declare marital status stamped by a notary
- If widowed, the death certificate of the former spouse and marriage certificate
- If adopted, an adoption certificate
- If the name is changed by Deed Poll, legal proof stamped and signed by a solicitor
- A document with full names and addresses of the bride, groom, and both sets of parents ∙ A document with the details of the bride and groom’s professions and that of their father
Honeymoons are not mere holidays; they are once-in-a-lifetime journeys that celebrate the finding of love and your new lives together. They should be special, unforgettable, and unrepeatable. They should leave you with happy memories that glow far into the future. So let us design your honeymoon holiday which is intimate, personal, and a private tour that allows you to enjoy the highlights of this remarkable isle. We have hand-picked our favorite accommodations, from chic hotels to colonial bungalows and luxurious beach villas.
Festivals Year Around
Sri Lanka’s ancient civilization endows the island with a legacy of colorful festivals relating to the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian religions. Furthermore, these festivals are commemorated with the flair of festivals with a genius for pageantry and ritual. Every full moon day is a public holiday known as poya. The most important is in May – Vesak Poya – which marks the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and Pariniwana (passing away). Worth seeing are the illuminated pandals (bamboo frameworks), hung with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha.
Sri Lanka’s most tourist-oriented festival is the Kandy Esala Perahera, held in Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August and climaxing on Esala Poya. Perahera means “procession” and that’s exactly what