Kalpitiya is located just over 170 km (3-hour drive) to the north of Colombo. If you love the sea, you are in for a treat as the town boasts an array of water-based activities. Many travellers know of Kalpitiya as one of Sri Lanka’s premier diving destinations. It is also frequented by kite surfing enthusiasts. That’s not all; let us book you on a boat safari to go dolphin watching. The feeling of gliding alongside schools of dolphins is priceless, and one that all our guests have loved. Alternatively, you may just bask in the sun and immerse yourself in the simple, captivating beauty of Kalpitiya Beach or the nearby Alankuda Beach.
The little beach town of Mirissa is located about 150 km to the south of Colombo, on the island’s pristine west coast. Since recent years, Mirissa has grown to become a sought after beach destination by tourists from all over the world.Head out into the ocean to be mesmerised by whales and dolphins or chill on the beach at one of the numerous bars and restaurants that dot the beach.The Mirissa bay is ideal for surfing enthusiasts. If you want more of a challenge, head over to the Weligama Bay. We can also organise a diving expedition for you to explore a plethora of beautiful fish and corals.
When heading down south from Colombo, year-round sunshine, salty winds, the majestic fort and a collection of Dutch-era buildings indicate that you’ve reached Galle. This fascinating fortress town was ruled by the Portuguese in the 16th century and was a main port. Its glory days were during the period of the Dutch. Strolling through the city, you will see a number of well preserved buildings reflecting colonial architecture. The undeniable landmark of the city is the Dutch Fort which dates back to 1588. Some of the attractions we recommend here are the Fort’s entrance, the Museum, the Dutch Reformed Church and Flag Rock.
The colonial port for the Portuguese, Dutch and British in the northern province of Sri Lanka was Jaffna. Its city Nallur was the capital of the 400-year old Jaffna kingdom. Jaffna is the pinnacle of Tamil culture in the country. One of the biggest attractions in Jaffna is the Fort built in 1618. Do drop by the Governor’s residence and also the Queen’s House. Another key landmark of Jaffna is the Public Library (1933), which was at one time the biggest in Asia.Be enthralled by the ruins of the Royal Palace, the former home of the ruling dynasty of an era gone by. The Nallur Kandaswamy Temple and Vaitheeswaran Temple too will be fascinating highlights of your trip to Jaffna, along with the hot springs of Keerimalai.
‘Batti’ or the ‘Land of the Singing Fish’ is located 320 km from Colombo, on the eastern coast. The picturesque lagoon, palm trees, temples, colonial buildings and scenic beaches, all set the stage for a beach holiday you won’t forget.During the months between April and November, you may hear distinct musical sounds rising from the lagoon waters on full moon nights. These serenades of the fish are why Batticaloa is known as the ‘Land of the Singing Fish’. Key attractions in this old town are the Dutch Fort (1628), Methodist Church (1838), Mexican-influenced St. Anthony’s Church, Thiruchchendur Temple and Anipandi Sitiwignewarar Temple. World famous beaches nearby are Pasikudah and Kalkudah.
Located just minutes from Batticaloa lies one of the most gorgeous beaches you would ever see on the island. It features one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline allowing you to wade miles into the sea in calm waters. Golden sands, clear waters and great weather; what better way to grab a dose of island life? With its weak current and shallow waters, Pasikudah is ideal for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts who wish to explore the coral reefs. The popular diving spots are Mushroom Reef, White Rock and Marrakkala Gala. You will also get to see the Boiler Wreck, SS British Sergeant and HMS Hermes. Other popular water-sports are kayaking, windsurfing and jet skiing.
The breathtaking little town of Ella is located in the Badulla district, 200km from Colombo. It is one of the most scenic vacation spots in the country. The town’s elevation of 1,040m places it amidst a number of rolling hills, steep valleys and majestic mountains. One of the most prominent attractions, the Ella Gap serves spectacular views across the Southlands. Little Adam’s Peak and the Ella Rock offer panoramic views with a mind-blowing sunrise and sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. An attraction that is synonymous with Ella is the Demodara Nine Arch Bridge. Constructed during the British Era, it reaches an elevation of 3,100 feet.
Adams Peak (Sri Pada)
Located in a beautiful forested area of the southern highlands, this tall, conical peak has sparked the imagination of locals and travelers alike for centuries. It has been a focus for pilgrimage by all denominations for more than 1000 years. Variously known as Adam’s Peak (the place where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), Sri Pada (‘Sacred Footprint’ left by the Buddha as he headed towards paradise), or as ‘Samanalakande’ (‘Butterfly Mountain’ where butterflies go to die); some believe the huge ‘footprint’ crowning the peak to be that of St Thomas, the early apostle of India, or even of Lord Shiva. The pilgrimage season begins on poya day in December and runs until Vesak festival in May.
Kithulgala’s claim to fame is it was the location for the Academy Award-winning film ‘Bridge on the River Kwai‘. The town is located about 2 hours from Colombo and sets the stage for a number of adventurous activities. Tear down the Kelani River Treat the adrenaline junkie in you by tearing down the Kelani River in a raft and tackling up to 5 major rapids and 4 minor ones. Covering distances of up to 8km, this is an adventure you do not want to miss.You may also go on a jungle trek, check out at least 25 species of birds in their natural habitats on a bird-watching tour or explore a range of caves where researchers discovered the remains of early humans at least 28,500 years old.
The Wasgamuwa National Park covers a considerable area in the Central Province and reaches as far as Polonnaruwa. It is bordered by Sri Lanka’s longest river, the Mahaweli and also the Amban River. Landmarks of historic importance within the park is the battleground where the battle between King Elara and Dutugemunu was fought and the ruins of Chulangani Chaithiya. The park is home to many mammal species including elephants, purple-faced langurs, water buffaloes and deer. If you are lucky you will also see leopards and sloth bear. The park also houses over 140 species of birds, 8 of which are endemic to Sri Lanka. You will also see the water monitor and mugger crocodile.
The biggest city on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka is also renowned the world over for its natural harbour. It is probably the biggest and best deep-water anchorages in the world. Besides showcasing a significant portion of one of the best beaches in the world, Trincomalee is also home to a number of attractions for those who are not content with relaxing by a picture-perfect beach. Some of the must-see attractions in this gorgeous city are Fort Frederick, Swami Rock and the ancient Hindu temple, Koneswaram. Take a stroll along the Dutch Bay in the evening to watch a sunset that cannot be described in words.
Wilpattu is the most scenic National Park in Sri Lanka and the largest. It is located on the north-western border of the country’s first medieval kingdom. Wilpattu means ‘natural lakes’ in Sinhala and ’10 lakes’ in Tamil. There is a high density of leopards and sloth bears and there is a higher chance of seeing sloth bears here compared to any other national parks in Sri Lanka. The park is also home to elephants, spotted deer and water buffaloes and birds such as painted stork, little cormorant, kites, buzzards, owls and many more. Adding to the park’s uniqueness are reptiles such as the mugger crocodile, water monitor, Indian python and cobra.
Sri Lanka’s most popular wildlife safari destination, Yala, is located about 290 km from Colombo, encompassing large areas from the south-eastern region. It is divided into 5 blocks, of which 2 are accessible by the public. This fascinating national park is home to 44 species of mammals and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Other interesting creatures that will captivate you are the elephant, sloth bear, toque macaque, spotted deer and saltwater crocodile. Of the 215 bird species here, the most common are the peacock, flamingo, a variety of herons and pigeons, eagles and much more. A jeep safari through Yala is a treat for any wildlife enthusiast.
One of the most sacred towns in Sri Lanka, Kataragama is frequented by devotees of Buddhist, Hindu and Indigenous faiths. Kataragama’s history can be traced back to the era of the Rohana Kingdom, with mentions of the village dating back to the 5th century BCE. This pilgrimage town houses many places of worship representing the Buddhism and Hinduism. Some of the temples here include the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama Devalaya and Kiri Viharaya. Another awesome feature about Kataragama is that since it is within close proximity to Yala, it makes for a great stop-over upon your return.
Minneriya is located 20 km from Polonnaruwa and is home to the largest elephant population in Sri Lanka. The lush greenery of the region is attributable to the Minneriya Tank, which was built in the 3rd century AD. The park is home to 24 species of mammals, 160 birds, 9 amphibians, 25 reptiles and much more. However, the highlight here is the annual ‘Elephant Gathering’ – a phenomenon unique to Sri Lankan wildlife. During the months between May and September, which is the dry season, over 200 elephants congregate near the lake. Other creatures are sambhar deer, water buffaloes, crocodiles and if you are lucky, leopards.
One of the newer national parks in Sri Lanka, Lunugamvehera plays an integral role in maintaining water levels near the Bundala National Park and surrounding regions. The park is also a corridor for migrating elephants travelling from Yala to Udawalawe. Located just over 260 km to the southwest of Colombo, Lunugamvehera is home to over 43 mammals and a plethora of amphibians, reptiles, birds and fish species. The biggest highlight here are the large herds of elephants. Adding to the excitement of our Lunugamvehera safari are water buffaloes, sambhar deer, wild boar, spotted chevrotain, grizzled giant squirrel, mugger crocodile and many more.
Yapahuwa served as the capital of Sri Lanka in the latter part of the 13th century. Built on a 90 meter high rock boulder, Yapahuwa was a palace and military stronghold built by King Buvanekabahu I in the year 1273. Many remains of ancient defences can still be seen, while an ornamental rock stairway, is its biggest showpiece. On top of the rock are the remains of a stupa, a Bodhi tree enclosure, and a rock shelter used by Buddhist monks as a monastery. There are several caves at the base of the rock one with with a shrine with Buddha images, another has an ancient Brahmin script inscription. At the southern base of the rock is a fortification with two moats and ramparts.
Magul Maha Vihare
Deep in the Lahugala Wildlife Sanctuary near Pottuvil, lies the ruins of an ancient temple built in the 2nd century BC by King Kavan-Tissa. According to historical records, the temple was built on the exact location where the King married the Princess Vihara Maha Devi, the much beloved mother of the famous King Dutugamunu and King Sadda-Tissa. The vihare which is in an attractive and peaceful forest setting, covers a very large area. It has the ruins of a royal palace, a Buddhist monastery, a bomaluwa (enclosure of the sacred tree), stupas, ponds and the statue of a headless limestone Buddha. The foundation of the ‘magul maduwa’ where the kings wedding ceremony took place, can still be seen in the premises.
Kandarodai is a small hamlet and an important archaeological site in a suburb in Jaffna reached only by driving down narrow winding country lanes lined with palmyrah fences. The site is a collection of ancient Buddhist stupas which once served as a monastery for Tamil monks. The area is considered archaeologically significant with excavations of Tamil Brahmi scripts from 300 BCE with Roman coins, early Pandyan and Chera Dynasty coins punch-marked with images of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi from 500 BCE, punch-marked coins called puranas from 6th-5th century BCE India and copper ‘kohl’ sticks similar to those used by the Egyptians in 2000 B.C.