THE PEARL OF THE INDIAN OCEAN
Sri Lanka is located 30km’s off the coast of India in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. The islands of The Maldives lie just over 1,200km’s to the west but to the south there is nothing but thousands of kilometres of ocean until Antarctica! Sri Lanka as a nation has come a long way from its turbulent past, which has been blighted by civil unrest and the 2004 Tsunami. The Sri Lankan people are wonderfully resilient and proud people and they are looking forward to the future with much optimism. In fact, this unique island has very quickly become a destination hotspot.
The history of the island dates back over 2,500 years when an exiled prince from North India landed on the shores to establish the first known civilisation. Shortly afterwards Buddhism arrived, leaving an indelible mark on the islands history and culture. The Portuguese arrived in 1505 followed by the Dutch, and finally the English to whom the country was ceded in 1815. The influence of the colonial European’s, combined with the islands own colourful past and natural beauty have created a destination that is worthy of exploration.
On the island you will discover lush, green-tea covered mountains, beautiful golden beaches, 14 National Parks protecting the countries rich diversity of flora & fauna, 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a number of developed and interesting cities, including the Commercial Capital Colombo and the Royal Capital Kandy. All of this (& much more) ensures that a visit to Sri Lanka will satiate the desires of the most ardent of travellers. Getting around this island is a real adventure but the key is to simply go with the flow and enjoy the stunning scenery and ever-day life of this charming island.
Colombo is the economic capital and the hub of what’s happening throughout the country and at first things seem a bit manic and overwhelming. However, life here can go surprisingly slowly once you discover the laid-back mindset of the fun and charming Sri Lankans and you slow down and take in all the sights, sounds and smells at your own pace.
Heading inland is the cultural heartland of what has made this nation what it is today. From the rich history of the Golden Triangle, endowed with temples and monasteries offering an insight into the history of the ancient kingdoms, to the quintessentially British colonial charm of the Hill Country, with tea plantations dotted across the verdantly green hills and quaint houses that wouldn’t look out of place in the English countryside, this is an area deserving exploration. The so-called ‘Capital’ of the cultural heartland, Kandy, was the last ancient kingdom to hold out against colonialism and is rich & proud in its strong Buddhist heritage, and it was no surprise that it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
Sri Lanka’s picturesque beach towns and ports have drawn past explorers and traders to its shores, lured by the exotic offerings of fruits, spices and tea. Today those towns offer smart little boutique hotels and lodges, with bustling centres that house energetic markets. Alongside they offer miles and miles of wonderful pristine beaches that provide the perfect base to relax and just do nothing at all.
For nature and wildlife lovers, Sri Lanka has a number of superb National Parks where you can spot the Sri Lankan elephant, leopard and sloth bear for starters, which are all endemic to the island. Many other species of mammal plus over 200 species of birds are also found in the National Parks, to ensure the offerings of nature are rich and varied.
The island also offers an array of land-based and water-based sports activities including golf on one of three excellent 18-hole courses, trekking across superb nature trails, mountain biking, windsurfing, water-skiing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and white-water rafting. For the less adventurous the resorts and beaches offer plenty of idyllic spots to relax and enjoy the sun, and for those interested in spa treatments Sri Lanka is renowned as a place that refreshes the mind, body, soul and spirit. The most common treatments are based on the practice of Ayurveda – the oldest and most holistic medical system available in the world that draws on an understanding of physiology, philosophy, psychology and spirituality.
Accommodation on the island is of a high standard and there are plenty of choices to suit all preferences and budgets, including five-star deluxe hotels and resorts, boutique properties, villas, budget hotels and guest houses.
Sri Lanka has enough to appease the visitor as a destination in its own right with regular direct flights from London Heathrow but it can also be easily combined with any of the islands in The Maldives or Middle East destinations such as Dubai.
It is hot and humid in coastal areas with average temperatures around 27°C. However, as the land rises into the hill country the temperature drops to between 20 & 10°C. There are two monsoons, which occur May to July and December to January. The monsoons tend to occur in different halves of the island so if you want to enjoy the western and southern coastal resorts the best time to visit is between December and April. Even during the monsoon periods warm and sunny days are common, although evening showers can be expected.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
Sri Lanka actually has a complicated climate for a country of its size but with careful planning you can travel to the island year round. The important thing is to work around the two monsoon seasons that affect different parts of the island. The Yala Monsoon occurs between May to September (wettest from April to June) and affects the west and south west coasts and the hill country, whilst the Maha Monsoon occurs between November to January and affects the north and east coasts. Therefore the best time to travel to the west coast, the south coast and the hill country is between December to March, and from Arpil to September for the ancient cities region and the east coast.
Health & Vaccinations
We recommend that you are up to date with all of the usual vaccinations – Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus and Rabies. In addition a course of malaria prophylaxis is required if visiting a malaria area. Please contact your local GP for full advice at least 3-4 weeks before travel.
Passport & Visa
British passport holders must be in possession of a full 10-year passport and must have at least 6 months validity beyond the date of the return journey back from Sri Lanka. In addition we also recommend that when travelling you have a minimum of 2 consecutive blank pages in your passport. British passport holders do not need a visa to enter into Sri Lanka.
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