Sri Lanka simply has it all: tropical beaches, cooler mountainous terrain punctuated with waterfalls, incredible wildlife, tea plantations, fabulous food and diverse culture featuring time old ancient sites. Though the list of what makes Sri Lanka so special is endless, Asia Travel Expert, Kirsty has narrowed it down to her top five reasons, and it isn’t an understatement to say it was very hard to pick just five…
After spending an extensive 16 nights in Sri Lanka I am already planning my return. Just a small island located in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is incredibly diverse and truly is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you are a couple on your honeymoon, a family of five, a self-proclaimed foodie, or obsessed with wildlife, you will find a reason to love this culturally rich island. During my trip I was fortunate enough to see all the highlights and more, so in no particular order, here are my top 5 reasons why I think Sri Lanka should be on everyone’s bucket list:
If you find yourself heading to Sri Lanka for a vacation, chances are you’ve already been told how incredible the food is. From spicy homemade curries to fruit salads that contain produce handpicked that morning, this tropical island has something to satisfy everyone’s appetite. Predominantly their meals are curry based, but if you’re not good with spice it doesn’t matter as the chefs will accommodate everything to your taste buds. While there make sure you try the local specialties of buffalo curd with treacle, and egg hoppers, these were my personal favorites.
I cannot say enough good things about the people of Sri Lanka. They are all so incredibly hospitable and everywhere you go I can guarantee you will be greeted with a refreshing towel and some sort of fresh juice. It is in Sri Lankan’s nature to accommodate everyone for free, simply because they want to, so while there expect to get a lot for nothing. At Scott Dunn we hand select the best drivers and guides, who will be with you throughout your stay. While I was there I was lucky enough to be guided by one of our finest. My colleague Tory commented that ”if everyone in the world was a little more like him, the world would be a better place” and having spent a large amount of time getting to know the locals, I think this is true for the majority of Sri Lankan’s.
Despite the fact that I grew up in South Africa and was constantly on safari, I didn’t see my first leopard until I went on safari in Sri Lanka. Within 20 minutes into my first game drive in Wilpattu National Park, our rangers had spotted a leopard sitting on a rock. While we were watching her, a sloth bear walked behind the vehicle. So, we had a leopard in front of the car and a sloth bear behind us, and no idea where to look – it was an incredible experience. Since Sri Lanka is home to elephants, sloth bears, leopards, and over 435 species of bird, don’t be surprised if it happens to you too.
My top safari destinations are Leopard Trails in Wilpattu and Leopard Trails in Yala. If you want to be near a park, and only safari once or twice then I highly recommend a few nights stay at Wild Coast, it’s one of my favorite properties in Sri Lanka.
The History & Culture
As small as Sri Lanka may be, it has an incredibly rich history. Sri Lanka is famous for its Cultural Triangle which consists of ancient monuments, royal cities, and Buddhist temples that are unlike anywhere else. From the Ancient fortress on top of Sigiriya Rock to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, there is a lot of history and ancient artifacts to admire in Sri Lanka. However, if temples are not necessarily your thing, then definitely don’t forget about the incredible views from the tea plantations. In the Hill Country, you quickly realize just how apparent the British colonial influence and culture still is.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a city break as much as the next person, but personally I believe for a vacation to truly be relaxing and complete there needs to be some beach time incorporated into the itinerary and this is why Sri Lanka is an ideal location. After you have finished running through true cultural triangle and game spotting on safari, head to the South Coast to experience some of the island’s most pristine beaches and luscious rows of palm trees. Whether you want to spend every day in the water surfing, tanning by an exquisite pool, or being catered to in your private beach villa, Sri Lanka has something to offer everyone.