The Teardrop Isle has it all for travellers! From white sandy beaches lined with coconut palms to layered highland tea plantations, from enduring Buddhist monuments and evocative ruins to colonial vestiges from the Portuguese, Dutch and British eras, and from amazing wildlife sanctuaries to delicious spicy cuisine, Sri Lanka is continually surprising visitors.
Seek out hidden corners in Galle’s Dutch fort, Search for leopards in Yala National Park, climb up to the top of the ancient rock palace of Sigirya, discover amazing Buddhist rock art in the Dambulla cave temples and join the locals in paying homage in a holy shrine in Kandy, then enjoy a sunset drink on the seaside lawns at Colombo’s historic Galle Face Hotel.
With so many UNESCO World Heritage sites to visit and a myriad of other things on offer, the hardest thing will be what you to choose to do.
Yala National Park is probably Sri Lanka’s finest wildlife reserve with an area of almost 130,000 hectares of forest, scrub, grasslands and lagoons. Yala is home to 44 species of mammal and 215 bird species. Yala’s ‘Big Five’ would be leopards (the world’s largest population), Indian elephants, sloth bears, sambar deer and peacocks.
The best time to visit Yala is between February and July, when the water levels of the park are lower, which concentrates game around the remaining water-holes.
Two other fabulous parks in Sri Lanka are Minneriya National Park which is located 182 km away from Colombo in the North Central Plains of Sri Lanka. Which is one of the best for viewing Sri Lanka’s elephants and Udawalawe National Park is 180 km South of Colombo is also good for elephant and a range of species mammals, Udawalawe is also very good for bird life. North of Colombo, close to the ‘cultural triangle’ is the Wilpattu National Park, among the top national parks, world-renowned for its leopard.
Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, and is the best example of a fortified city built by the Portuguese in South Asia.
The city was extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century; the Galle fort is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers.
This sacred city was established around a cutting from the ‘tree of enlightenment’, the Buddha’s fig tree, brought there in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Hidden away in the jungle for many years, this beautiful site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again.
The fig tree has been continuously guarded for over 2000 years, making it the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world. The temple complex is surrounded by walls, and is quite busy with monks and worshipers.
Another UNESCO protected site Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. It comprises, besides the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.
Taking advantage of the beautiful topography of a secluded 800 metre crescent-shaped bay, Amanwella is the ultimate beach hotel. Each spacious suite – built on the gentle palm-shaded hillside – benefits from a host of luxurious amenities including a contemporary living space, a spacious terrace and a sparkling aqua plunge pool.
The 30 suites are located on the hillside, reached along little pathways that finally lead down to the sandy beach. Read, relax, run or take a stroll to the rocky headlands at either end of the bay and watch as the fishermen tug their catamarans onto shore. The best place for a dip is the serene swimming pool for its magnificent panoramic vistas over the bay. Its infinity edge is the place to be at sunset to gaze at the sun as it dips below a horizon enlivened by the Hoo-maniya blowhole that sporadically shoots up white spouts of water in the far-away distance.
Top class design and the finest facilities. Usually located in a spectacular setting it may be an exclusive hotel in a meticulously restored historic building, or recognised as the leading property of an international chain.
Colombo, Sri Lanka
A perfect alternative to the big brand hotels:
exclusive and independently-owned properties with a smaller number of rooms and highly personalised services.
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service; may be a new property or regularly refurbished with attention to ongoing maintenance.
Galle Fort Hotel
Galle, Sri Lanka
A tourist visa is required by all Australian passport holders. Visas are best obtained on-line or can be obtained from a Sri Lankan embassy.
We recommend that you obtain your visa on-line prior to departure to avoid any uncertainty or delays on arrival at the airport.
Malaria is prevalent throughout Sri Lanka and prophylaxis is recommended. A valid Yellow Fever certificate is required if coming from a country designated as being in a Yellow Fever zone. Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. Japanese Encephalitis may also be a risk for some travellers. There are no compulsory vaccinations unless you are arriving from a Yellow Fever zone.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess these risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons.
In practical terms, this means that the best time to visit the west and south coasts and hill country is from December to March, while the best weather on the east coast is from April/May to September.
High Season – December to March
The Hill Country plus the west and south coast beaches are busiest and driest at this time. With beds in demand, prices peak. The ‘Maha’ monsoon season (October to January) keeps the East, North and Ancient Cities wet.
Shoulder Season – April and September to November
April and September offer the best odds for good weather countrywide. New Year’s celebrations in mid-April cause transport to fill beyond capacity.
Low Season – May to August
The ‘Yala’ monsoon season brings rain to the south and west coasts plus the Hill Country. The weather in the North and East is best. Prices are generally at their lowest at this time.
Sri Lanka’s position close to the Equator means that temperatures remain fairly constant year-round. Coastal and lowland areas enjoy average daytime temperatures of around 26–30°C. Temperatures drop as the altitude climbs. The tea growing regions around Nuwara Eliya and the higher parts of the island can be a mild 14–17°C while nights there can be quite chilly. Humidity is high everywhere, rising to a sweltering ninety percent at times in the southwest, and averaging sixty to eighty percent across the rest of the island.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Asia are Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines. With hubs in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively both airlines are well positioned to provide a quality service from Australia to all major destinations in Asia.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll want to know the details of all of your fights. Flight times regularly change and, if or when they do, we want to make sure your transfers and other arrangements are amended accordingly.