How to seek out Sri Lanka's most beautiful natural sights
Sri Lanka is home to all kinds of amazing nature experiences, whether you’re into hiking in the wilderness, spotting wildlife or strolling around in the tropical sunshine.
- February 2020
From a rugged rock fortress and landscaped gardens to national parks and idyllic beach towns, here are four must-visit spots in Sri Lanka that are just hours away from the commercial capital of Colombo.
Yala and Wilpattu National Park
These are two of the largest national parks in Sri Lanka. Big game can be sighted in both places but Yala opens in new window — the further of the two from Colombo — has the highest density of leopards, while Wilpattu opens in new window is commonly associated with the sloth bear.
The beach town of Mirissa opens in new window is worth visiting for its white-sand beaches alone, but it’s also a great place for whale-watching. It is best to go between November to April when the seas are calmer and blue whales are passing by as they migrate from the southern hemisphere to warmer waters for breeding.
No trip to Sri Lanka would be complete without a visit to what is dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World. Perched atop a 200m-high rock plateau, Sigiriya opens in new window contains the ruins of a palace that dates back to the 5th century. With landscaped gardens and evidence of complex water engineering, it is an unparalleled example of ancient urban planning.
Address: Rock Front, Sigiriya 21120
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Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya
Voted by Guardian as one of the 10 great botanical gardens in the world, the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya opens in new window is home to over 4,000 plant species. The century-old Javan fig tree is a hit, but don’t miss the collection of 40m-tall giant Burmese bamboo and the Orchid House, where you will find exhibits of rare species.
Address: Peradeniya Rd, Kandy
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A world away from the balmy coastal lowlands, Sri Lanka’s cool central highlands is home to lush jungles, misty hills and over a hundred waterfalls. A 3.5-hour drive from Colombo, the 126m Laxapana Falls opens in new window is one of the country’s most iconic (in fact, it’s featured on Sri Lanka’s 100 rupee note). While you can admire it from above, take the steps to the bottom of the falls for the most breathtaking views.
Address: Nuwara Eliya
Jetstar Asia is currently the only low-cost carrier to fly direct from Singapore to Colombo up to four times weekly from July 1, 2020.