Sri Lanka: Holidays, national customs, climate
There are numerous festivals and events in Sri Lanka. Most of them are religious in character. The Buddhist full moon festivals (perahera) are held on days and/or nights when the moon is full.
The parades in Kandy in July/August and in Lulani in January are particularly beautiful.
|Tamil Thanksgiving Day
|Day before Sinhala and Tamil New Years Day
|Sinhala and Tamil New Years Day
|Deepavali (Festival of Lights)
|December 25th and 26
Source: Countryaah – Sri Lanka Holidays
Every full moon day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka, which means that banks, many shops and public institutions remain closed.
Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Sri Lanka, but is rarely reported or punished
The top priority when dealing with people is friendliness.
Anger and anger are not shown in public, as those who react abusively become embarrassed and those who are abusive “lose face”.
Behavior in temples
Before entering temples, shoes and headgear must be removed.
Eating with the right hand
In Sri Lanka, people eat with the fingertips of the right hand. The left hand is considered unclean.
Ayurveda “The knowledge of a healthy and long life” is one of the oldest health teachings in the world and includes the treatment of the whole person as a complex being of body, soul and spirit.
Meditation, the unintentional immersion in oneself, is practiced extensively in Sri Lanka.
contact Body contact is a matter of course in Sri Lanka. Walking hand in hand is a sign of friendship.
But physical contact between women and men is taboo in public.
It is considered improper to show feelings between men and women.
It is forbidden to photograph dams, airports, military installations and uniformed persons.
If in doubt, ask the people or get advice from the police.
The idea of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depends on various factors. Pure cultural travelers certainly see the climate differently than people planning a beach holiday.
The state of health and age also play a role in experiencing the climate.
Sri Lanka is between the 6th and 10th degrees of north latitude, so fully in the tropics. Therefore the climate there is of course tropical, but due to the monsoons with different rainfall conditions.
The island has a warm climate with mild sea breezes and high humidity.
Average temperatures range from 16 degrees Celsius in Nuwara Eliya in the central highlands – where there can even be snow and frost in winter – to 32 degrees Celsius in Trincomalee on the northeast coast of the country.
The average annual temperature for the entire country is between 28 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius. The coldest month is January and May is the warmest.
In the period from mid-May to October, the southwest winds bring moisture from the Indian Ocean. When these winds hit the central highlands, heavy rain showers occur on the mountains and in the south-west of the country, while the east and north-east receive little rain during this time.
Periodic gusts of wind and sometimes cyclones occur in the period from October to November, bringing cloudy weather to the island, while from December to March the northeast monsoon brings some moisture from the Bay of Bengal to the north and northeast of the country.
In the period from March to mid-May there is generally little rainfall.
It is not surprising that depending on the rainfall, the vegetation changes significantly from west to east. Tropical rainforests or mountain forests are found in the area with the highest rainfall, while xerophytic (=) bush vegetation is predominant in the north and east.
In addition to the plants that are only native to Sri Lanka (endemic), North Indian, Southeast Asian and Malay plant species also grow here.
Sri Lanka: sightseeing
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that SL stands for the nation of Sri Lanka as a two-letter acronym.
Important cities worth seeing
Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka. It was founded in the 14th century. In the 16th century, the Portuguese ruled sea trade from Colombo. In 1656 the Dutch took control of Sri Lanka and occupied the city. Around 140 years later, the British finally took power, under which Colombo got its current appearance. In the last few years there have been repeated bombings and assassinations by the LTTE in the 2 million metropolis.
You can find a detailed description of Colombo at goruma here >>>.
Anuradhapura was Sri Lanka’s first royal residence and was the country’s political and religious center for over 1,300 years. The oldest settlement finds go to the 8./7. Century BC BC back. The city was founded in the 5th/ 4th Century BC BC as a royal residence. The first Buddhist monasteries were built there in the 3rd century. In 1017 Anuradhapura went under due to attacks from southern India. The royal seat was then moved to Polonnaruwa. In 1871 the British established an administrative center in Anuradhapura. Since then, the ruins of the old royal and monastery town have been restored.
Polonnaruwa is the second capital of the ancient Kingdom of Sri Lanka. In 1017 the royal residence was moved to the city on Mahaweli Ganga. Polonnaruwa experienced its heyday in the 12th century. Many of the ruins date back to this time. In 1293 the then king moved to Kurunegala and the city fell apart. In the 19th century, the British began excavating and restoring the old city.
The former royal city of Kandy only became the residence of kings in the 15th century. In 1803, the last Sri Lankan king was overthrown and Kandy was taken over by the British. In the following time the city played a role mainly in the economic area. Today Kandy is an important center for administration and education.
The President’s House in Colombo is a neo-classical building from 1856. It was once built as the residence of the Dutch governor. Today it is used by the President for official receptions.
Main post office
The former main post office of Colombo is a representative colonial building from 1895.
Grand Oriental Hotel
The magnificent Grand Oriental Hotel in Colombo was built in 1875. Among other things, Karl May and Hermann Hesse resided there.
Towers of the World Trade Center
With the construction of the towers of the World Trade Center in 1995, these two towers overtook the Bank of Ceylon Tower as the symbol of the city of Colombo. They are the tallest buildings in the city and dominate its skyline.
Colombo clock tower In
1857 the British built the massive Colombo clock tower. Just 10 years later they converted it into a lighthouse; a function he held until 1952. The clock, which turns the tower into a clock tower, was added in 1914. The tower is located on Janadhipathi Mawatha, the former Queen’s Street.
The approx. 300 year old Bogoda Bridge near Badulla is roofed over and built entirely from wood and without the use of a single nail.
It is about 15 km long and was part of an old trade and pilgrimage route.
Independence Memorial Hall
In the Independence Memorial Hall in Colombo, Sri Lanka was released from British colonial rule into independence in a solemn ceremony on February 4, 1948.
New Parliament Building
The New Parliament Building shows how harmoniously the tradition of Sri Lanka and modern architecture go together.
The parliament building is the seat of government and is located about 10 km from the fort in Sri Lanka’s actual administrative capital Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.
Richmond Castle in Kalutara, which once belonged to the local governor and was later used as a school, is now open to visitors. The building combines the English with the Indian architecture.
The elephant orphanage near Kegalle opened in 1975 and is a popular tourist attraction. Over 65 animals live on the former coconut plantation and can be viewed at feeding times around 9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Museums and other cultural assets
National Museum in Colombo
The National Museum in Colombo is Sri Lanka’s most important museum. The history, art and culture of the country are presented in detail in the impressive building.
In the Maritime Museum in Colombo you can admire numerous ship models. The museum was opened in 2003 and shows numerous replicas from the 5th century.
Dutch Period Museum
The Dutch Period Museum in Colombo provides information about the Dutch colonial rule from 1658 to 1796.
Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall
The Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo has been home to events, gatherings and exhibitions since 1973.
Gramodaya Folk Arts Center
The Gramodaya Folk Arts Center is the center for traditional arts. It is located in the actual capital of Sri Lanka: in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. Countless shops offer products from the most varied of handicrafts. For those interested, this gives an insight into the products of Ceylon craftsmanship. Gold works, silversmiths, pottery, silk products, leather products and much more can be seen in this regard. The center also includes a Herbal Health Drink Shop and an aquarium full of tropical fish.
The Jetavana Museum in Anuradhapura displays objects that were found during the renovation work on the Jetavana Vihara monastery complex. There are pieces of jewelry, gold ornaments, smaller statues as well as coins and ceramics from the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
Ruins of the Royal Palace
The ruins of the Royal Palace in Anuradhapura date back to the 11th century. Today only the base of the 66 x 39 m throne hall can be visited.
In the Abhanyagiri Museum in Anuradhapura you can see archaeological finds, including a bronze Buddha figure from the 4th century, pieces of jewelry, ceramics and inscriptions.
The Archaeological Museum in Anuradhapura displays an important collection of Buddha images, steles, tools and weapons.
Municipal Museum in Polonnaruwa
The municipal museum in Polonnaruwa shows original finds as well as building models of the city, the royal palace as well as pieces of jewelery, reliquaries and statues.
Palace district in Polonnaruwa
In the palace district in Polonnaruwa you can visit the ruins of the palace complex from the 12th century. The most important buildings include an audience hall, the former royal council hall, a bath and the cool pavilion. The citadel of the old royal city of Polonnaruwa was the residence of kings during the 12th and 13th centuries. To the north of the citadel is a walled terrace on which the most important religious buildings were located.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
The Sigiriya rock fortress in the Polonnaruwa area is one of the most spectacular places on the island. It was built on a 200 m high granite rock in the 5th century. It has been abandoned since the 17th century and was only rediscovered and restored by the English in the 19th century. The oldest preserved palace complex in Sri Lanka is surrounded by terraced gardens and an extensive park.
Alut Maligawa Museum
The Alut Maligawa Museum in Kandy was founded in 1956 to commemorate the 2,500. Buddha’s birthday and houses numerous Buddha statues and paintings. The Sri Dalada Museum, located in the same building, displays photos documenting the journey of the Buddha’s tooth relic in Sri Lanka.
The National Museum of Kandy is located right next to the sacred Temple of the Tooth in the premises of the former royal palace.
The main exhibition is shown in the Palle Vahala building, which once housed the royal harem. A second collection belongs to the main building. Exhibits include weapons, jewelry, tools, and other items from the royal and British colonial periods.
The tea museum in Hantane near Kandy is housed in a multi-storey factory building from 1925. Visitors can find out about the extensive history of tea cultivation in Sri Lanka.
The old Dutch fort in Jaffna was built in the 17th century on the foundations of a Portuguese fortress. The Sri Lankan Army is located inside the fort.
Bahirawakanda Temple in Kandy
This temple includes the gigantic seated Buddha, which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.
For an entrance fee, you can visit the temple and even climb the Buddha, which of course you have to do barefoot.
Hindu temples Ganesha Kovil, New Kathiresan Kovil, Old Kathiresan Kovil
From the three Hindu temples Ganesha Kovil, New Kathiresan Kovil and Old Kathiresan Kovil in Colombo, a huge procession in honor of the deities starts every July/August for the Vel festival.
Jami Ul Alfar
This mosque is one of Colombo’s most important sights.
It is one of the landmarks of the city and in earlier times served sailors and fishermen as a guide, for example when assessing their position.
It is located in the Pettah neighborhood.
The Wolfendhal Church in Colombo was built in 1749 based on the Greek model. There is a service in English every Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
The largest church in Colombo is St. Lucia, the seat of the Catholic bishop. It was built between 1873 and 1910 in neo-Romanesque style. The building holds around 5,000 people.
Gangaramaya Monastery Gangaramaya
Monastery is Colombo’s oldest Buddhist monastery and dates back to 1885.
Devatagaha Mosque The Devatagaha
Mosque in Colombo was built in 1905. It is located behind the town hall and can be easily identified through the four slender minarets.
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara
The Buddhist shrine Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara east of Colombo is considered the most important on the west coast. According to legend, Buddha stayed there on his third trip to Sri Lanka.
The buildings of the Angarakaramulla Temple in Negombo are mainly of recent date. The statue of the enlightened in the temple is about 6 m high and is located in a room that is decorated with frescoes describing the life of the Buddha.
One of the five most important Shiva shrines in the country is located in Chilaw. The Hindu temple was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1578, but rebuilt in the 18th century. It is the setting for a four-week main festival of the Hindus, for which thousands of pilgrims come to the city.
Kalutara Dagoba domed hall The Kalutara Dagoba
domed hall in Kalutara is 40 m high and shines in dazzling white. It was built in the 1960s as a modern construction. The inner wall of the dome is painted with scenes from the life of the Buddha. There is also a reliquary inside.
The oldest monastery of Anuradhapura, Maha Vihara (Great Monastery), was a gift from a former king to Mahinda, who lived in the 3rd century BC. Brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka.
Stupa Ruvanveli Seya Dagoba
The Stupa Ruvanveli Seya Dagoba in Anuradhapura dates back to the 2nd century. It has been extensively rebuilt, redesigned and repeatedly restored over the centuries. Today it has a height of approx. 107 m and a diameter of 91.5 m. The stupa rests on a platform with a side length of 145 m, which is supported by 344 stone elephants.
Jetavana Vihara Monastery Complex
The Jetavana Vihara Monastery Complex in Anuradhapura dates back to the 3rd century and is currently being restored under the supervision of UNESCO. The stupa in the middle of the complex is 71 m high and rests on a platform with sides of 176 m.
The Thuparama is said to be the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka and is located in Anuradhapura. He is said to be in the 3rd century BC. To have been donated to the storage of a sternum of the Buddha. However, it was robbed and destroyed in the 9th century. The current dome-shaped stupa dates back to 1862. It has a height of 19 m, a diameter of 18 m and rests on a 3.5 m high platform.
Abhayagiri Vihara Monastery Complex
The Abhayagiri Vihara Monastery Complex in Anuradhapura was founded in the 2nd century BC. Built in BC. In the 5th century around 5,000 monks lived in the complex, but the monastery was abandoned when the monastery town fell in the 11th century. It was only possible to restore it in the last two centuries.
The Abhayagiri Stupa in Anuradhapura was built in the 1st century BC. Built in BC, however, it has been restored and changed many times over the centuries. Today the stupa is 75 m high and has a diameter of 95 m.
One of the most beautiful Buddha statues in Sri Lanka is located in Anuradhapura. The Samadhi Buddha comes from the 3rd/4th centuries. Century and is today completely intact except for the missing nose and the two gemstones that once represented the pupils.
Mihintale mountain range The Mihintale
mountain range, which is divided into three sections, was a stronghold of monastic life in Sri Lanka until the fall of Anuradhapura in the 11th century. On the lower level of the mountain are the ruins of an infirmary and a ruined monastery. In addition, excavation objects are shown there in a small museum. On the middle level are the ruins of important monastery buildings, including a meeting hall, a reliquary house, a bathhouse and a dining room. The main sanctuary is on the highest plateau. It is the remains of a huge stupa that dates back to the 1st century BC. Goes back.
Mandalagirika Vihara Monastery
The ruins of the Mandalagirika Vihara Monastery near Polonnaruwa, which was built in the 2nd century, are well worth seeing. Four Buddha figures surrounded by tall octagonal columns have been preserved on a round platform.
Cave Temple of Dambulla Raja Maha Vihara
The cave temple of Dambulla Raja Maha Vihara in Dambulla is about 2,000 years old. Over the centuries, the caves, which were first used as a monastery in the 1st century, were repeatedly decorated and provided with Buddha images. They have been extensively restored over the past few decades. Today the monastery includes a school, a training center for monks and a museum.
Sri Dalada Maligawa
The Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth in Kandy was built in the 16th century. The temple complex was badly damaged in 1998 when the LTTE bombed the building. However, the damage has been repaired today. The U-shaped building is two-story and surrounded by a moat. The roof of the temple is painted a bright yellow.
The Dehiwala Zoo in Colombo is a must-see facility and includes a beautiful bird house and aquarium.
An elephant show is held every day at around 5 p.m. and should not be missed.
More natural beauties
Adam’s Peak northeast of Ratnapura is Sri Lanka’s most important pilgrimage destination. Adam, who was expelled from paradise, is said to have been on the 2,243 m high, conical mountain. In addition, Buddha, the god Shiva, Alexander the Great, Marco Polo and the Arab world traveler Abu Abdullah Mohammed ibn Batutta are said to have climbed the mountain. Today tens of thousands of people make a pilgrimage to the 1.56 m long and 70 cm wide “footprint” on the top of the mountain in the local monastery. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians claim the footprint for themselves. So it is either the image of Buddha, the apostle Paul, the god Shiva or, for the Muslims, Adam. The climb to the top from Dalhousie village takes about 6 hours.
The Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura is an offshoot of the Bodhi tree under which Buddha achieved his enlightenment.
The mother tree was destroyed in the 6th century, so that the one in Sri Lanka is considered the oldest tree in the world.
It is protected by a wall and, since 1969, by a gold-colored fence.
Peradeniya Botanical Garden The Peradeniya
Botanical Garden, southwest of Kandy, is the second largest botanical garden in Asia.
A small pleasure garden was laid out there as early as the 14th century and the Brits set up their botanical research station there in the 19th century.
The large and beautifully laid out Brief Garden in Beruwela was laid out in 1929. It is adorned with numerous sculptures by the landscape architect and sculptor Bevis Bawa.
The Diyaluma waterfall near Wellawaya is one of the highest waterfalls in Sri Lanka with a height of 200 m.
The Gordons Garden in Colombo was laid out in honor of Queen Victoria and has a lush flora.
Kanniyai Hot Springs
The Kanniyai hot springs are a popular excursion and swimming destination.
Royal Goldfish Park
The Royal Goldfish Park in the south of Anuradhapura has probably existed since the 2nd century. Numerous water basins and canals are decorated with beautiful reliefs and elephant motifs. Numerous old buildings adjoin the park, including a former monastery complex.
The 2,534 m high mountain Pidurutalagala is the highest mountain in the country and is located near the city of Nuwara Eliya. However, the mountain cannot be climbed on foot, as this would mean crossing a restricted military area.
But it is possible to take a taxi to the top, for example. The personal details including the passport number are given at the control post. On the top of the mountain there is a radio and radar station and you have a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
City Lake in Kandy
The City Lake in Kandy was created between 1810 and 1812. In the middle of the lake there is an artificial island with a small pleasure pavilion.
After the city was taken by the British, they used the pavilion as an ammunition store.
The Talangama Wewa near Kotte is an artificially dammed lake that is home to up to 100 species of birds. The area is considered a paradise for ornithologists.
Udawattakele Conservation Area
The Udawattakele Conservation Area near Kandy is a dense jungle that has been under protection since 1938. The ancient trees and different species of birds are particularly beautiful.
The Vihara-Maha-Devi-Park in Colombo was named after the mother of a monarch who was one of the most important kings of Sri Lanka.
The VMDP is particularly popular because of its flowering trees. The latter are especially magical between March and early May.
Wace Park, Royal Palace Park, Kandy
Also known as Royal Palace Park, Wace Park is a small garden that offers wonderful views over Kandy Lake and large parts of the city
A special experience is the journey by train from Colombo to Badulla, which is around 300 km away by train. The journey, which takes around eleven hours, passes palm forests, rice fields and tea plantations.
The train crosses 44 tunnels and stops in around 80 towns.
A stop that is particularly popular with tourists is the town of Hatton, near the famous 2,243 m high pilgrim mountain Adam`s Peak (see above) with the famous footprint
Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, Gulf of Mannar
Sri Lanka borders the Indian Ocean. With an area of km², the Indian Ocean is the third largest sea after the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
You can find a detailed description of this ocean at Goruma here >>>
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Old town and fortifications of Gallé
The old town and fortifications of Gallé were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1988
Golden Rock Temple of Dambulla
The Golden Rock Temple of Dambulla was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.
Holy City of Anuradhapura
The Holy City of Anuradhapura is the former residence of 119 Sinhalese kings. The evidence of the first capital of Sri Lanka are spread over an area of around 20 km². Today it is a Buddhist place of pilgrimage. In the centers of the monastery complexes rise stupas and sacred buildings in which relics are kept. The bright white reliquary from the 2nd century BC belonged to the Mahavihara monastery. BC, which is almost 100 meters high.
The Buddhist building is surrounded by a wall that is adorned with hundreds of elephant sculptures. The Thuparama reliquary, which can be recognized from a distance by the golden tip while the rest is completely white. A clavicle bone of Buddha is said to rest here. In Anuradhapura, a descendant of the tree under which Buddha was enlightened is also venerated. In Anuradhapura, ancient and modern are closely interwoven.
The Holy City was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1982
Holy City of Kandy
Kanda-uda-pas-rata is located in the mountainous jungle. In 1815 the city was conquered by the British.
The most important building in the city is the Dalada Maligawa Temple. Here you can find relics of Buddhism – a tooth of Buddha. Once a year there is a procession (perahera) dedicated to the sacred tooth. Decorated elephants, dancers, musicians and fakirs give the procession a festive setting.
On the bank of an artificial lake there is an old bathhouse used by former kings. Near the sacred tooth is the king’s palace and the audience hall from which the declaration of Sri Lanka’s independence from the British colonial empire was signed.
The Holy City of Kandy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988
Sinharaja Forest Nature Reserve The Sinharaja Forest
Nature Reserve was included in the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites in 1988
Polonnaruva Ruined City
The ruined city of Polonnaruva was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1982.
The ruined city of Sigirija The ruined city of Sigirija was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1982
Central Highlands (Horton Plains National Park)
The national park was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on July 31, 2010
Sri Lanka: national parks
Sri Lanka is the oldest nature reserve in the world, which was established in Sri Lanka by King Devanampiya Tissa in the third century in what is now the “cultural triangle”.
The king was influenced in his actions by the Buddhist ideal of respect for every kind of life.
In Sri Lanka there are a total of 77 nature reserves, which take up about 10% of the country’s area.
Bundala National Park
The park covers an area of around 3,700 ha = 37 km² and is located on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka between Hambantota and Tissamaharama and is the most important wetland on the island.
The flat terrain consists mainly of bushland and lagoons. From mid-August, birds from northern India, Siberia, Western Europe and Scandinavia fly to Sri Lanka to overwinter on the coast.
Therefore, around 200 different species of birds can be found here, around half of which are migratory birds. The park is home to 32 different species of mammals, including monkeys, elephants, langurs, mongooses, giant squirrels, wild boars and civets.
Turtles, crocodiles and monitor lizards also live here. The local sea turtles lay their eggs between October and January.
In addition, around 385 different plant species grow here.
The best time to visit is from September to March.
Flood Plains National Park
The park was founded in 1984 and covers an area of 17,350 ha = 173.5 km². The park borders Wasgamuwa Park to the south and Somawathie Chaitiya Sanctuary to the north and therefore forms a corridor for the animals of the two parks.
The longest river in Sri Lanka, the Mahaweli, flows through the area, the Mahaweli, the longest river in the country with a length of km.
Large parts of the national park are characterized by swamps and meadows – while trees are rather rare.
Numerous mammals, such as axis deer, Ceylon squirrel, otters, gray lory, sambar deer, monitor lizards and water buffalo have their home in the park
. Many different bird species live in the alluvial plain, including 75 species that overwinter here.
On the banks of the river lie the ruins of an old cave monastery from the period between the 2nd and 7th centuries BC.
Gal Oya National Park
The Gal Oya National Park covers an area of around 62,940 ha = 629.4 km² was established in 1954 by the then Prime Minister – Sir John Lionel Kotalawela (1895-1980).
The approximately 7800 ha = 78 km² reservoir is a meeting place for numerous water birds. Visitors can take boat trips to the various islands of the lake here.
About 45% of the park is covered with evergreen forests.
Among the mammals you can find Ceylon hat monkeys, elephants, leopards, sloth bears and water buffalo.
The park is a haven for birds, home to over 150 species, including a number that are critically endangered.
Large numbers of birds also live on the islands of Kurulu Dupatha or Bird Island, including red spurge, red-faced malkohas, cormorants, gray-headed fish eagles, gray pelicans and white-bellied sea eagles.
Among the reptiles you can find marsh crocodiles, pythons, spectacled snakes and water monitors. The best time to visit the national park is from March to July.
Hikkaduwa National Park
The national park is one of the two marine national parks in the country. It is located in the southwest of the country near Hikkaduwa. The park was opened in September 2006 and covers an area of 101.6 ha = 1.016 km².
The reef of the park extends over a length of around 4 km along the coast. Here you can go diving and snorkeling, among other things.
Hortons Plain National Park
The national park covers an area of 3,160 ha = 31.60 km² and is covered by cloud forest and humid grassland. It lies at an altitude of over 2,000 m.
The park can be explored without a guide on laid out hiking trails, with the circular hiking trail from the visitor center being around 9 km long.
In the area lie the 2,389 m high Kirigalpota and the 2,357 m high Thotupola Kande (2357 m). The country’s three largest rivers, the Mahaweli, the Kelani and the Walawe have their source here
You can find red langurs, sambar deer, slender loris, monitor lizards or white-bearded langurs here. In addition, around 90 different bird species live here, including Ceylon brills, Ceylon whistling thrushes, Ceylonese earth thrushes and the national bird of Sri Lanka – the Lafayette chicken.
A highlight of the park are the 20 m high Baker Waterfalls, which are named after the British hunter, writer and explorer Sir Samuel White Baker (1821-1893).
The national park was added to the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites on July 31, 2010.
The best time to visit the park is from October to March. Because of the rainy season from May to July, a visit is not recommended.
Kaudulla National Park
The 6,660 ha = 66.6 km² Kaudulla National Park was opened in 2002.
The reservoir in the middle of the park is used by the elephant herds as a drinking water point, it is possible to observe up to 200 elephants here.
In addition to numerous bird species, axial deer, sloth bears, rust and fish cats and monitor lizards live here.
The best time to visit the park is from August to December. Outside of this time, parts of the park are under water.
Minneriya National Park
The national park near Habarana was declared a nature reserve in 1938 and a national park in 1997.
It covers an area of 8,890 ha = 88.9 km² around the reservoir Minneriya-Wewa.
The national park consists of evergreen forest and bush, in which monkeys, bears, elephants, leopards and sambar deer live.
The best time to visit is the dry months from June to September.
Pigeon Island National Park
The park is located in the north-east of the country near Trincomalee and, along with the Hikkaduwa National Park, is one of the two marine national parks on the island. In 1963 it was declared a bird sanctuary and in 2003 a national park.
The park consists of the two islands Groß-Pigeon and Klein-Pigeon, each of which is surrounded by coral reefs. The park takes its name from the rock pigeon, which is native to the rocks of these islands and is considered endangered.
Something special are the local hawksbill turtles, olive mongrel turtles and green sea turtles. The national park is ideal for diving and snorkeling because of its coral reefs.
Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve
The Sinharaja Forest nature reserve was added to the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites in 1988.
You can find more information here >>>
Somawathie Chaitiya National Park
The park was established in 1986 and covers an area of 37,645 ha = 376.45 km². It is located in the floodplains of the Mahawel River.
The park was named after the sister of King Kavan Tissa and wife of the ruler Prince Abhaja – the princess Somawathie.
Kavan Tissa had between 205 and 1661 BC. ruled the kingdom of Ruhuna in the southern part of the island.
On the banks of the Mahaweli, Prince Abhaja had built a stupa to house a relic of the Buddha.
Mammals such as elephants, fish cats, golden jackals, leopards, sambar deer, jackals, black-necked hares, porcupines, water buffaloes and wild boars live in the park. In addition, around 75 species of birds winter here.
Uda Walawe National Park
The Uda Walawe National Park was founded in 1972 and covers an area of 31,000 ha = 310 km². The park is about 60 km north of Hambantota.
The park is known for its large numbers of elephants or water buffalo, foxes, mongooses, crocodiles and monitor lizards.
A total of 45 species of mammals and 35 types of reptiles live here. In addition, 95 different plant species grow in the park.
Numerous bird species live here, including endemic bird species such as Lafayette chickens, red-faced malkohas and brown-capped terrestrial animals.
It is interesting that you can find 135 different species of butterflies here.
The park can be visited all year round
The “Elephant Transit Home” has been located a few kilometers west of the park since 1995. This is a large open-air enclosure in which injured and orphaned elephants are looked after and prepared for freedom.
Wasgamuwa National Park
The 36,900 ha = 369 km² park was founded in 1984. It borders the Flood Plains National Park, a few kilometers south of the city of Polonnaruwa.
The national park is also home to 23 different species of mammals, including axis deer, Ceylon hat monkeys, elephants, gold musangs, sloth bears, monitor lizards, water buffalo and whitebeared langurs.
145 different species of birds and 50 species of butterflies have been observed in the park.
In addition, 150 different types of plants grow here.
Wilpattu National Park
The Wilpattu National Park is the largest national park in Sri Lanka with an area of around 110,000 ha = 1,100 km. It extends along the east coast of the country – around 50 km west of Anuradhapura.
Because of its around 60 natural lakes, there is a great diversity of flora and fauna.
Since the Tamil rebels holed up here during the civil war, it was closed in 1985 and reopened in 2010.
Axis deer, elephants, leopard sloth bears, leopards, wild boars, turtles, monitor lizards and crocodiles live in the national park. Because of its large number of leopard and elephants, it is one of the most popular national parks in the country. The park is also particularly known for its numerous peacocks.
But the diversity of plants in the national park is also remarkable.
The best travel time is from January to March, but the weather is often pleasant in December, April and May as well.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park was founded in 1938 and covers an area of around 100,000 ha = 1,000 km². This makes it the second largest national park in the country and also the most visited.
It is located in the south-east of the country and consists of five different districts, of which only “Yala-West” can be visited by tourists.
One of the densest leopard populations in the world lives in the park.
In addition, there are over 30 mammals here, including, in addition to leopards, Asian elephants, Ceylon hat monkeys, golden jackals, necked mongooses, Hanuman langurs, slender lorises, sloth bears and sambar deer.
Tiger pythons, Bengal monitors and marsh crocodiles also live here.
Bird lovers will find more than 130 different species here, including green-faced peacocks, blue-faced malkohas, red-faced malkohas, colored storks and hornbills.
In addition to nature, plants and animals, there are several temple ruins in the park, which dates back to the 2nd century BC. were inhabited by Buddhist monks.
Since the King of Ruhuna ruled here at the time, the park was further named “Ruhuna National Park”.
The best time to travel is from February to July. The park is closed from August to mid-October.