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This ‘resplendent isle’, is a tropical paradise of culture, food, flora and fauna, and pristine beaches

Sri Lanka Sleeping Buddha Temple 1.jpg

Sri Lanka is heady and intoxicating, an experience surpassed only by its warm and friendly inhabitants! This ‘resplendent isle’, which inspired the term serendipity, is a tropical paradise of culture, food, flora and fauna, and pristine beaches. Its diversity is only matched by its beauty, and it is one of the finest family holiday destinations in Asia.

Where is Sri Lanka located and how to get there?

Sri Lanka is a teardrop-shaped island located south of India in the Indian Ocean. Colombo is the primary gateway to Sri Lanka, and it is well connected with many major travel hubs across Asia and further afield. From London, Sri Lankan Airways operate direct scheduled flights, and from the US and Canada, there are excellent flight options via Dubai on Emirates, Doha on Qatar or Abu Dhabi on Etihad. Colombo is also connected with Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Male.

Sri Lanka

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Where are Sri Lanka’s top places and experiences?

Sri Lanka has a great diversity of landscape ranging from tropical rainforests to verdant tea plantations, elephant speckled grasslands to pristine golden sand beaches, bustling cities to quaint countryside dotted with sleepy villages and ancient monuments. Thanks to its relatively compact size, travelling within the country is hassle-free, and the combination of safari, beach and culture makes it one of the finest family holiday destinations in Asia.  Some of our favourite highlights include:

  • Colombo - Owing to a myriad of foreign influences, Colombo is home to an incredible melange of sub-cultures. From trendy restaurants to speakeasy bars, upscale shops and art galleries to bustling local markets, and contemporary urban spaces to traditional colonial architecture, Colombo offers an ideal glimpse into contemporary Sri Lanka.
  • Wildlife sanctuaries - For such a tiny island, Sri Lanka is teeming with an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Leopards, sloth bears and Asian elephants are the star draws for safari lovers, but there are many other smaller mammals as well as endemic birds that make Sri Lanka one of the finest wildlife and nature destinations. Frequent sightings of leopards have turned Yala into Sri Lanka’s most popular national park, but for those willing to venture off-the-beaten-track, Wilpattu National Park and Gal Oya National Park offer a truly unique wilderness experience far away from the crowds and amidst stunning landscapes. Sinharaja Forest Reserve is Sri Lanka’s finest birdwatching destination with the highest concentration of endemic birds as well as a very high concentration of plant species and butterflies. It is the last remaining area of lowland tropical rainforest in the country and has been designated as a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Minneriya and Kaudulla national parks near Sigiriya are renowned for large herds of Asian elephants, especially during the annual elephant gathering between July and October.
  • The Cultural Triangle - Comprising of the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura, Pollonnaruwa and Sigiriya, Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is steeped in the island’s ancient Sinhalese heritage and is filled with magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A must-visit region for those interested in history and archaeology, it can also be hugely attractive for kids and adventure-seekers. Some of the highlight experiences include exploring Anuradhapura on a bicycle, going on a hike in the forested hills up to Ritigala Monastery where you can explore ruins and rock inscriptions dating back to 1st century, a thrilling pre-dawn climb to the top of Pidurangala Rock, a hot-air balloon ride or a private helicopter trip over the iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress, or spending time with the researchers at the Smithsonian Primate Research Station in Polonnaruwa.
  • Kandy and the Knuckles Mountain Range - For nature lovers and those with an adventurous spirit, the Knuckles Mountain Range, located about two hours’ drive from Kandy is pure heaven. One of the most remote parts of Sri Lanka, this UNESCO-protected conservation area offers amazing opportunities for trekking and birdwatching. Furthermore, this region is home to Sri Lanka’s finest and multi-award-winning luxury wellness retreat- Santani, which is a sort of a place where you can leave all the distractions behind and be one with nature and your inner-self, a true sanctuary. Nearby town of Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic – Sri Lanka’s holiest shrine, a stunning botanic garden and a rich heritage in traditional arts and crafts.
  • The Tea Country - A not-to-be-missed experience, visiting the resplendent tea plantations in the Central Highlands and staying in charming colonial estate bungalows is nothing short of a holy pilgrimage. Spending time here is most relaxing and refreshing, taking leisurely walks through the plantations, learning everything about tea production, kayaking on the reservoir, rafting on the thrilling rapids of Kelani River, playing a game of croquet, and most importantly indulging yourself in steaming cups of fresh Ceylon Tea and fine Sri Lankan cuisine. Some of our favourite bungalows are in Hatton, Nuwara Eliya and Ella regions.
  • The South Coast and Galle - No holiday in Sri Lanka is complete without a stay on the pristine south coast. This region is home to picture-perfect golden sand beaches, incredible private villas and lavish beach resorts, the historic city of Galle with its iconic Dutch Fort, an idyllic countryside that lends itself beautifully to leisurely bicycle explorations, amazing food, and fine handicrafts. Between December and February, the sea off the southwest coast is full of majestic whales. Surfing is also big in Sri Lanka and there are superb spots all along the coastline that offer world-class waves for surfers of all levels and skills.

When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

Being a tropical island, Sri Lanka enjoys plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures throughout much of the year. However, the island experiences two monsoons at different times of the year, so the best time to visit depends on the areas and activities you are planning to focus on.

Vast majority of first-time visitors tend to focus on the west and south coast regions along with the hill country, as this is where Sri Lanka’s primary highlights are located including the Cultural Triangle, tea plantations, Wilpattu and Yala national parks, as well as Galle and the pristine south coast beaches.

The best time to visit this region is between December and April, which makes Sri Lanka an excellent option for Christmas vacations. If you don’t mind hot and humid conditions, the period between mid-July and September is a great secret season for summer holidays, especially along the south coast and in the hill country. The period between May and September is also an ideal time to explore the areas in the north and along the east coast.

How can you help protect and nurture Sri Lanka’s local environment and communities? 

Like most developing nations, rapid urban and industrial development has resulted in serious environmental, economic and social imbalances across the country. In 2020, the German Watch declared Sri Lanka as sixth most vulnerable country threatened by changing climatic conditions in their annual Climate Risk Index. There is a lot that needs to be done for the protection and restoration of Sri Lanka’s unique ecosystems, and sustainable and responsible tourism could play a vital role. 

There are various avenues that can be explored for a meaningful philanthropic engagement during your holiday. These range from education and sports to wildlife and nature conservation. Depending on the cause that is closest to your heart, you could choose to support a local primary school and engage with the students and teachers, spend time with tea plantation workers learning about the ongoing initiatives to make tea production as green and sustainable as possible, learn about marine as well as terrestrial ecosystem conservation, and explore the possibility of funding a local cricket club or helping to alleviate the plight of stray animals.  

  • Lanka Environment Fund (LEF) - A pioneering not-for-profit organisation set up in June 2019, LEF focuses on a range of initiatives covering marine conservation, terrestrial ecosystem conservation, effective waste management and responsible tourism. The aim of the Fund is to support existing conservation and environmental initiatives with their work and to foster a sense of stewardship of Sri Lanka’s exceptional natural value through the empowerment of local communities. One of their ongoing projects is supporting the research project undertaken by Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust that focuses on the identification and establishment of forest corridors in the Central Highlands to protect the leopard population in the area. Being the country’s primary tea growing region, wildlife conservation has been neglected in this area and the human-animal conflict is becoming a major threat to local wildlife.
  • WeCare Worldwide - An exceptional not-for-profit organisation focused on the veterinary care and treatment of street dogs in Sri Lanka. There are an estimated three million street dogs in Sri Lanka, lacking even the most basic veterinary care. Set up by a very enthusiastic and passionate English vet Dr Janey Lowes, WeCare Hospital near Galle is the only professionally run veterinary hospital in Sri Lanka. Since 2014, the hospital has vaccinated and treated thousands of stray dogs and they are now in the process of expanding their services and outreach programmes to focus on education programmes in schools and community centres as well as treating other sick animals. They also carry out veterinary teaching and aim to help transform standards across Sri Lanka.

 

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The Explorations Company

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore – Dream – Discover - Mark Twain - You can view clips of some of our own favourite discoveries here.


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- Established over 30 years ago we have been around longer than most

- Our specialists come from, have lived in or travelled extensively in the regions we cover

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Making a difference

- Philanthropy is our philosophy

- Our founding principle is to always ‘put something back’

- An amount from each holiday is donated to our selected conservation and humanitarian charities


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