Yala National Park
Yala National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s crown jewels and a must-visit destination for every visitor. A safari in a Land Rover is a great way to watch the many different animals that call Yala home, 44 different species of mammals and one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Bird watching is excellent here too.
Herds of elephant and buffalo drinking beside crocodiles sunning themselves along river banks and, if you are lucky, the odd honey bear hiding in the rocky outcrops. Nearby a touching memorial in the shape of a steel wave has been built to remember the many locals and tourists killed in the devastating tsunami of 2004.
This large town houses the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in all of Sri Lanka, holding five cave temples containing a huge collection of Sri Lankan Buddhist artwork, including statues, shrines, and murals. The paintings and statues tell stories from Buddha’s life, there are a whopping 153 Buddha statues throughout the complex. Other statue subjects include Sri Lankan kings, gods, and goddesses. The amazingly crafted murals cover a total area of 2,100 square meters.
Situated beside a river, Kalutara is festooned with lights for the occasion. The long, wide bridge over the river is illuminated and people throng to the temple in their thousands – by car, motorbikes, scooters, push bikes and also on foot. Walking amongst the throng to reach the temple is a thrilling experience and one you will feel privileged to be a part of.
Vesak Poya is an important festival celebrated by Buddhists on the day of the full moon in May. If you find yourself in Sri Lanka while it is on, head to the stupa in Kalutara and join the festivities.
Located in a diverse biological site, Adam’s Peak is a tall, pointed mountain in central Sri Lanka. The 2,243-meter ascent is a common pilgrimage route in the Buddhist religion, as it is said there is an impression of Buddha’s own footprint near the summit. Aim to arrive at the top of the mountain around dawn to see an unforgettable sunrise.
Arugam Bay, situated on the south east coast of Sri Lanka, is known locally as surfer paradise. It is possible to walk along the sandy beach for miles, enjoying your own company or to people watch, as young men play football and others lie on their surfboards waiting for the waves to break.