‘Undoubtedly the finest island in all the world’ were the words thirteenth-century merchant traveller Marco Polo used to describe what was known as Ceylon in his day. Throughout history Sri Lanka has been known by many names – Serendib, peardrop of India, Resplendent Isle, Island of Dharma, Pearl of the Orient – all of which emphasise it’s jaw-dropping beauty. With majestic mountain top temples, lush rolling green hills spotted with tea plantations, tranquil rice paddies and cities steeped in history, there are few places on earth that can rival Sri Lanka not just for its natural splendor and culture, but for its sheer variety of landscapes and ecosystems. Paradise beaches, primary rainforest and elephant trodden savannahs can all be found on this incredible island, which amazingly is just one quarter of the size of the UK. As you may have guessed, we at Rickshaw Travel are huge fans of Sri Lanka and believe it is the perfect holiday destination. Not convinced yet? Then read on…
Sri Lanka is an Eden for wildlife and wildlife lovers alike. The island may be small, but the animals are big. Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to see wild elephants, with over 5,800 Asian elephants roaming the green pastures of the Minneriya, Kaudulla, Wilpattu, Yala and Udawalawa national parks.
In addition to these iconic gentle giants, Sri Lanka boasts the largest concentration of leopards in the world, and you can see them along with sloth bears and water buffalo in the Wilpattu National Park. Scores of rare amphibians also live in the lowland rainforests of Sri Lanka, as well as the rare red slender Loris, Purple-faced Langur and a cacophony of exotic birdlife, including several species that can only be found in Sri Lanka, such as the Sri Lanka Junglefowl and the Crimson-fronted Barbet. The ocean surrounding Sri Lanka is also an embarrassment of riches when it comes to wildlife, and is home to blue whales, sperm whales and dolphins.
Where is the best place to go to see wildlife in Sri Lanka?
Our Sri Lanka Travel Specialist, David says: “Well there are many national parks in Sri Lanka, including; Yala, Udawalawe, Wilpattu and Minneriya also you can go to Sinharaja rainforest or see the whales in Mirissa and the dolphins in Kalpitiya – there’s basically too much choice!”
Being an island, Sri Lanka naturally has no shortage of glorious coastlines. Be it lazing on golden sand with turquoise waters tickling your toes, strolling down a deserted stretch of paradise or windsurfing, yachting or scuba diving, whatever your beach dreams, Sri Lanka can make it come true.
If your flight touches down in the capital city of Colombo, then we recommend all golden sand lovers make a quick beeline for the modest little beach town of Negombo, just a 20 minute drive from the airport, and recline on it’s truly stunning castaway style coasts. For those seeking the sea more than the beach, the crystal clear calm waters of Trincomalee’s palm fringed beaches are perfect for swimming. For the most immersive beach experience of all, spend a couple of nights living the life of Riley in a charming wooden cabana on the paradise coastline of Tangalle, with spectacular views across the sparkling Indian ocean,
What area in Sri Lanka is the best for beaches?
David says: “The best beaches in our winter time are on the south coast, Unawatuna, Tangalle and Mirissa. In our summer time the east coast Trincomalee.”
For an island so rich in mountains, savannahs, rainforest, rice paddies and plateaus, it seems impossible for there to be space for one city, yet alone several. But once again Sri Lanka rises to the challenge and can boast cityscapes just as unique, varied and spectacular as its natural landscapes.
The capital of Sri Lanka is Colombo, which started life as a port town on east-west trade routes and was ruled by first the Portuguese, then the Dutch and then the British, a changing heritage reflected in its charming miss match architecture that ranges from colonial buildings to shopping malls. Although not known as Sri Lanka’s most beautiful or most historic city, Colombo has its own unique hodge-podge charm and, just like its detective namesake, it is certainly not to be underestimated.
Now if we are talking about beautiful cities, then Kandy is arguably the ‘Creme De La Creme’, gorgeously set on a plateau surrounded by jungle-clad mountains and with the scenic Kandy Lake at its heart. Kandy is also known for its colourful markets, extensive botanical gardens and sacred ‘Temple of Tooth’ Buddhist site, where a tooth believed to hail from the Buddha himself can be found.
Moving on to the historic, the ancient city of Anuradhapura is a former capital of Sri Lanka and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The city is full of fascinating ancient ruins including huge bell-shaped stupas built from sun-dried bricks, as well as palaces, temples and reservoirs. Anuradhapura is also famous for being the home of the sacred Bodhi tree, which is believed to have been propagated from the original Bodhi tree under which the Buddha discovered Enlightenment.
Which city in Sri Lanka is the best base for a holiday?
David thinks: “Kandy is a good central city, and it’s also the home of the Temple of the Tooth!”