Sri Lanka safaris and holiday tours … a fabulous destination that we will focus in this article. Yala National Park is the most visited park in Sri Lanka and also one of the biggest in terms of size. It was the first national park created in Sri Lanka in 1938 along with Wilpattu. It covers an area of 979 square km (378 square miles) and is divided in 5 blocks. Only blocks 1 and 5 are open to tourists, with number 1 being the most popular for sightings (and the most crowded by jeeps). The other blocks cannot be accessed by the public because they are used for research and documentaries.
Sri Lanka is proud of its natural bounty. For over 2,000 years, swathes of land have been preserved as sanctuaries by Sri Lankan royalty – Mihintale, the world’s first reserve, was created here in the third century BC. Now there are 100 areas of protected land in the country, and this is the pick of the bunch… Located in the south-east of Sri Lanka, Yala is a beautiful area of lowland dry scrub sitting on a long stretch of coastline, punctuated by rocky outcrops. It is the premier national park of Sri Lanka, and arguably one of the best for mammals in Asia. The top draw is the Sri Lankan leopard, a sub-species endemic to the country; in certain areas of the park, the average leopard density is as high as one cat to every square kilometre. During the fruiting of the palu trees in June and July, sloth bears are often observed. Other animals you might spot include sambar (a large deer), spotted deer, buffalo, wild pig, stripe-necked and ruddy mongooses, langur monkey, toque monkey, golden jackal and Indian palm civet. The combination of freshwater, marine, scrub and woodland areas ensures a high diversity of birds. Indeed, the park hosts 220 different types, and serious twitchers have recorded 100 species in a single day. Ardent birdwatchers should also visit Bundala National Park (an hour away) or the Palatupana Salt Pans (ten minutes away), especially for migrant shorebirds. See extra details Sri Lanka wildlife tours.
The Kandy to Ella train journey is said to be one of the most scenic, epic train journeys in not only just Sri Lanka but the world. So with a few days to spare in Sri Lanka, I decided to purchase a ticket for $1.50 and climb aboard for the 5-hour journey. Yes, the train really does cost just $1.50. I have now taken the train in both directions. From Kandy to Ella and in reverse from Ella to Kandy. On both occasions, I just arrived at the train station and bought the cheapest ticket and walked on. I didn’t sit in a seat, I preferred to an open door and hang my legs over the edge for the entire journey.
Mirissa is the ultimate Sri Lankan beach getaway. The beautiful long beach is flanked by tall overhanging palm trees and lined with modern restaurants and hotels. The restaurants have western style food at Sri Lankan prices. Just off the beach is Parrot Rock. It has a small staircase leading to the top that offers great views of the ocean and coastline. Day trips from Mirissa include whale watching, snorkeling and surfing. Weligama, just a few kilometers from Mirissa, is one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka to learn surfing. Come happy hour and into the evening, many the restaurants turn their venues into beach clubs and pump out drinks and tunes. Arugam Bay is revered by surfers. This small town on the east coast of Sri Lanka embodies the quintessential laid-back surf lifestyle. The Main Point surf break is within walking distance from the town center, but is only recommended for advanced or intermediate surfers. Otherwise, Whiskey Point or Peanut Farm are two great surf beaches for beginner and intermediate surfers; a short tuk-tuk ride will take you there. Often elephants and peacocks can be spotted beside the road, just outside of town. The main strip in Arugam Bay town is lined with restaurants and hotels where you can dine on anything from traditional Sri Lankan curry to full English breakfasts.