Five quintessential Sri Lanka experiences
Written by: Julia Hammond
The teardrop shaped island of Sri Lanka is a popular destination on the Asian tourist trail. Nicknamed the Pearl of the Orient, here are five quintessential Sri Lanka experiences that will ensure your vacation is one to remember.
Explore colonial Galle Fort
UNESCO-listed Galle Fort sits on a promontory extending out into the Bay of Galle on Sri Lanka’s south-western coast. The Portuguese built the fort in the late 16th century, though it was more heavily fortified by the Dutch a century later. Today, many of the buildings inside the fort have been sympathetically renovated. They now house a wonderful collection of cafés, hotels and boutique shops making this a delightful destination for visitors.
Photograph the stilt fishermen
Snapping a picture of Sri Lanka’s famous stilt fishermen has become something of a social media must amongst travellers. The practice began soon after World War Two. Though it’s now a dying art, you can still find fishermen balancing in the shallows along the country’s south coast. They’ll show you how it’s done and let you take their photo for a small fee. Afterwards, hang out on one of the beautiful sandy beaches nearby.
Take a train ride through tea country
Conditions are just perfect in Sri Lanka’s hill country for growing tea. Catch a train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. You’ll chug slowly past verdant terraces lined with tea bushes. Picking the sweet tips is back breaking work. If you’re keen to try it for yourself, stop the night at the elegant Heritance Tea Factory hotel. There, you can learn how to pluck, sort and dry the leaves. Inside, don’t miss their tea tasting afternoon and a trip to the hotel’s spa for an energising tea facial.
There are something like 1200 steps to climb if you are to reach the top of Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress near the town of Dambulla in central Sri Lanka. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break as you make your way up. Stone staircases lead to what was once the palace of King Kasyapa in the 5th century. Pause at a stone plateau about halfway up and admire the two carved lions which reflect Sigiriya’s name: Lion Rock.
Enjoy an elephant safari in Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park was created to provide a sanctuary for animals displaced by the construction of a nearby reservoir. It is one of the country’s best areas for wildlife spotting. The park’s best known for its population of Sri Lankan elephants which you’ll easily spot by the park’s watering holes. It’s also home to a variety of other mammals, including water buffalo, wild boar, civets, macaques and several species of deer as well as a significant number of birds.
These five quintessential Sri Lanka experiences can be combined into one unforgettable week, though you’ll be tempted to stay for longer. Why not ask Mundana’s experts to help you plan a trip to this friendly nation?