Sitting less than 40 miles off the coast of southern India, the teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka combines tropical paradise with South Asian culture. Visit Buddhist ruins, sandy beaches and forests teeming with wildlife. At Yala National Park see elephants in their natural habitat, spot leopards in the forest and even crocodiles splashing about in lagoons. Waterfalls and golden beaches add to the ambience of this tropical island, but cosmopolitan cities bring the country to life.
Walk to the summit of Sigiriya, a magnificent 5th century rock fortress that was never conquered, for spectacular views of the central plains. Get up close and personal to over 70 elephants in Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, all either rescued or born in captivity. And for a more unusual memento of your visit, why not treat yourself to a pack of writing paper made from fibre-rich elephant dung.
The landscape is incredibly diverse, from the highlands dotted with tea plantations to pristine beaches where you can witness fabulous sunrises and sunsets. Galle retains much evidence of its Dutch colonial heritage, while the lively coastal resort of Negombo is the perfect location for a relaxing few days by the sea. Kandy, the capital of the lush highland region, is home to the Temple of the Tooth, which holds a tooth of the Lord Buddha and so is considered one of Sri Lanka’s holiest shrines.
The cuisine has a strong Asian flavour but with unexpected twists. Don’t confuse rice and curry, for example, with curry and rice. The former is a Sri Lankan speciality consisting of a huge bowl of rice with an assortment of interesting side dishes, while the latter is a curry with an accompaniment of rice that is associated, of course, with the Indian mainland. And no visit to Sri Lanka is complete without a short trip on a tuk-tuk, best described as a motorised rickshaw, and an Ayurvedic massage, a soothing and incredibly relaxing ancient massage technique involving scented oils, which will be especially welcome after a tuk-tuk ride.
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupees
Visas: 30 Day Tourist Visa