The city of Anuradhapura has been a royal town for centuries. And the cultural and historic sanctuaries within the city have become no less popular over the years. A must-see are the crumbling monasteries and dagobas, the largest stupas found in Sri Lanka. These old Buddhist monuments make Anuradhapura an interesting destination for pilgrimages. Every day, pilgrims walk around the stupas in meditation and tribute to the gods. Another highlight is the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, one of the oldest trees in the world. Still maintained and tended to this day.
The Horton Plains National Park is an elevated wooded and rugged natural area. It’s a little cooler there than in the rest of Sri Lanka because of the altitude. The plains are elevated grasslands with high peaks and beautiful vistas. It is worth to wake up early here for the views while you hike this country. At the Great World's End Drop viewpoint, you’ll have amazing views of the valleys below where villages and tea plantations are scattered through the landscape.
Kandy is the cultural center of the island and home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is said to contain a tooth of the Buddha himself. Up until the arrival of the British, Kandy was still an independent kingdom. But these days it is the center for traditional art, dance, music and architecture. In addition to its rich cultural heritage, the surroundings are also impressive. There are museums to discover and botanical gardens to explore. Kandy Lake provides the area with a rural character. The Kandy Esala Perahera festival takes place annually in the months of July and August. It turns the city into a spectacle. Ten nights in a row parades walk through the streets. Dancers and drummers are followed by a procession of colorfully decorated elephants. The festivities take place in honor of the sacred tooth.
In the middle of the rainforests of Gal Oya Valley National Park is a vast lake called Senanayake Samudra. This reservoir is one of the largest lakes in Sri Lanka and has several small islands. With this much water and coastlines, it comes as no surprise that this national park is a birdwatcher's paradise. Many tropical water birds can be found around the lake. You can explore the park by jeep, but it is also possible to make a beautiful boat safari along the islands in the lake. If you’re lucky you can encounter a group of elephants along the shores of the lake or see elephants swimming from island to island in search of food.
This is a unique and protected park where you can experience the rainforest jungles of Sri Lanka. It is a great place to walk and hike with many available routes to explore. This nature reserve was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989. It is a treasure trove filled with unique flora and fauna. Between the small streams and gently flowing jungle rivers you’ll find an incredible diversity in plants and trees. And with over 150 different bird species, it is also a great place to spot tropical birds.