Sri Lanka

 

Sri Lanka is an excellent example of good things that come in small packages! This lush tropical island, which is a quarter of the size of the UK, is bursting with colour and life and crammed full of different experiences.

Sri Lanka’s Sanskrit name ‘Ratna Dweepa’ translates as ‘Island of Jewels’ and alludes to its centuries old history in the gem industry. The renowned 13th-century explorer Marco Polo noted on his travels that the island had ‘the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems in the world’. A certain jewel-like quality is mirrored in Sri Lanka’s scenery which sparkles with vibrant hues. From the azure blue waters of the surrounding Indian Ocean that lap against golden sandy beaches and beyond to the vivid greens of the hills of the central highlands, tea plantations and tropical rainforest, this is an island of startling natural beauty.   

Human history on the island can be traced back over 2000 years and there is wealth of ancient ruins and monuments still in evidence today. In fact, Sri Lanka boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Much of the island’s splendid cultural heritage is allied with the history of Buddhism in the country and the best place to see it is in the famed Cultural Triangle in the center of the island. Within the area of this triangle lies the extensive and well preserved ruins of Sri Lanka’s first ancient capital city of Anuradhapura dating back to the 4th century BC, the stunning rock fortress of Sigiriya, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth in Kandy – home to the tooth relic of Buddha, and the Golden Temple of Dambulla – a huge cave monastery with hundreds of Buddhist statues and gorgeous murals. On the southwestern tip of the island the Dutch built Galle Fort affords an insight into the more recent colonial history of the country. 

Some local traditions appear very old but surprisingly have more recent origins like the striking and unique technique of Stilt Fishermen in Ahangama, who fish perched atop simple wooden crosses fixed out in the water. This practice originated in the Second World War when food was in short supply and some enterprising fishermen took to fishing on the water to avoid over crowded spots on the shore. Today the returns from this method of fishing are dwindling fast and in 2004 the tsunami destroyed much of the coastline, so the art is dying out.

History, culture and fish play a big part in Sri Lanka’s aromatic cuisine. Rice and curry is the staple dish and the curries can be fish, meat or vegetable, mild or hot but are always notable for their fragrant spices such as cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and pepper as well as the use of coconut. It’s a real melting-pot of flavours! 
In addition to breathtaking scenery, an incredible historical past and delicious food, Sri Lanka is one of the best places in South Asia for wildlife thanks to its diverse habitats. Yala National Park in the southeast of the country is a good place to spot leopard, as well as elephants, sloth bears and buffalo. Sri Lanka’s birdlife is wonderful too and wetland areas such as Muthurajawela near Colombo are a haven for all kinds of water birds including herons, egrets, bitterns, and colourful kingfishers.

Sri Lanka really does have oodles to offer and you will be welcomed with smiles and kindness. Travelling around here is easier and slower-paced than in neighbouring India and there is an excellent network of comfortable hotels.

You can read about our next Sri Lanka departure here.

 

Join our Art Safari in Sri Lanka

The quickest and often easiest way to make an enquiry is to call us on +44 (0) 1394 382235

Alternatively you can email us at info@artsafari.co.uk

Please note:- If you have six or more people, please feel free to discuss your own private safari, with dates to suit you and with an itinerary to suit you.