For tourists and tour operators alike there are certain facets of Sri Lanka that should not be missed when compiling an itinerary or planning a holiday. 2 or more of the following will combine to create a memorable holiday in Sri Lanka.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are 8 world Heritage sites in Sri Lanka. The 3 ancient and magnificent cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list is 1982 followed by Galle, Kandy, and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in 1988. The Golden Temple of Dambulla in 1991 and finally the Central highlands were added in 2010. These places of historical and natural significance are not to be missed for any visitor to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Cuisine
Being an ancient kingdom, Sri Lanka has preserved its most precious treasures, its culture and tradition. An integral part of this is its cuisine. Sri Lankan cuisine has many influences from varied destinations such as North and South India, Persia, Malaysia, Holland and Portugal. Rice, which is usually consumed daily, can be found at any special occasion, while spicy curries are a favourite dish for lunch and dinner. Fish curry is a particular specialty.
Ceylon Tea and the Hill Country
Tea was introduced to Sri Lanka in 1867 by James Taylor the British planter that arrived in 1852. The British went on to transform the lavish hill country in to lush green tea plantations. Today it Sri Lankan is the world’s 4th largest producer of tea and tea has become one of the main sources of foreign exchange. Many different types of tea are grown but perhaps the best known and most prized is white tea. Also known as ‘silver tips’ this tea was first grown near Adam’s Peak and is harvested and rolled by hand with leaves dried and withered in the sun. It has a delicate taste with notes of pine and honey.
Birds in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a bird watchers paradise with 435 resident species of which 26 are endemic. Most of them are found in the wet zone, (south-west Sri Lanka). The winter migrants, including the rare Brown Noddy and Pied Avocet come from distant Siberia and Western Europe. The reservoirs attract vast number of water birds including the Gray-headed Fish Eagle, Greater Flamingos and, Wood and Green Sandpipers to name a few. The forests attract many other species. There are several bird sanctuaries across the island, most notably Bundala and Kamana Bird Sanctuary.
Having a history marked by four centuries of colonial rule, the country still manages to safeguard remnants from the past in their original grandeur. Some of the more renowned historic sites are the Galle Fort built originally by the Portuguese, Colombo Harbour and the ancient city of Polonnaruwa all confirm Sri Lanka’s ancient and colourful past. The rock temple of the Buddha, Gal Vihara is one of the finest examples of the religious heritage. Temples play an important part in everyday life and a visit to one should be a must for all visitors.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is as varied as the island itself, ranging from elephants and leopards to Whales – it is the only place in the world to find all three in such close proximity. Sri Lanka is ranked amongst the world’s best biodiversity hot spots. As a country with a high rate of endemism, it has many groups of animals including birds, mammal, reptiles and amphibians which can’t be found anywhere in the world. With over 12 per cent of the country designated for wildlife protection it is easy to get a taste of Sri Lankan wildlife. Safari parks and sanctuaries, particularly in the southern and central zones, offer the easiest way to see animals in their natural habitat. Sri Lanka is an all-year destination for wildlife making this a nature lover’s dream escape..