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12 So what's so great about Sri Lanka?


This article is from the Sri Lanka FAQ, by Prasad Dharmasena dharma@eng.umd.edu with numerous contributions by others.

12 So what's so great about Sri Lanka?

Famous sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke, who resides in the island, once
wrote "It may well be that each of Sri Lanka's attractions is surpassed
somewhere on Earth; Cambodia may have more impressive ruins, Tahiti
lovelier beaches, Bali more beautiful landscapes (though I doubt it),
Thailand more charming people (ditto). But I find it hard to believe
that there is any country which scores so highly in all departments -
which has so many advantages and so few disadvantages, especially for
the western visitor."

For a country of that size (about the size of West Virginia or
Ireland) things one can do are amazing: surfing, wind surfing, scuba
diving, rock/mountain climbing, searching for ancient ruins, wildlife,
corral reefs, gemstones, spices, rituals, ...

read: trip reports archived on

National Parks in Sri Lanka: 10 % of Sri Lanka's land is protected
as national parks. The most important parks are:

* Bundala Bird Sanctuary (between Hambantota and Kataragama)
* Gal Oya National Park (north of Yala)
* Horton Plains Nature Reserve (in the southwestern mountains)
* Lahugala National Park (west of Pottuvil)
* Uda Walawe National Park (near Hambantota)
* Udawattakele Wildlife Sanctuary (northeast of Kandy)
* Peak Wilderness Man and Biosphere Reserve (at Adams Peak)
* Singharaja Rain Forest Reserve (between Ratnapura and Matara)
* Wilpattu National Park (northeast area of Sri Lanka)
* Wirawila Bird Sanctuary (near Tissamaharama)
* Yala National Park (near Tissamaharama)
* Kumana Bird Sanctuary (part of Yala)

Colombo: All the modern inconveniences such as fax machines, cellular
phones. Arguably, the largest city in the country and home to the
richest and the poorest. Most people speak a strange dialect of
English. Not being from the area, my advise is this: "Leave
Immediately." ;-)

Kandy: Still has good spots. But try and go see the country side.
Colombo-Kandy trip via the train is highly recommended. So is
Peradeniya Botanical gardens. Peradeniya campus, one of the best
looking campuses in the world, is nearby. Try not to get ragged. See

Kandy Parade: "Perahera" starts on Full Moon day of July and lasts for 11
days. Elephants , traditonal dancers, drummers, "Gini Keli" (fireworks-
no, not the July 4th stuff), etc.

Mt. Piduruthalagala: Because it's there. Highest mountain top. 8100+ft.
May need hiking pass from Colombo Tourist Info. (High Secutiry area
because radio/TV antennas at the top)

World's End: Near Horton Plains. "Yo dude, sky diving off of this
cliff's gonna be super cool, man." "A most excellent idea, dude."

Yala/Kumana: National Park/Bird Sanctuary. Can stay overnight. No Camping.
Guided tours on vehicles. Chances of seeing wild elephants, leopards
are good. (reservations: wildlife dept.)

Wilpatthu: Larger than Yala and has more leopards. However, maybe a
security risk due to the fightings between LTTE and govt forces.

Katharagama: Religious place Buddhist/Hindu. Crack a coconut on god's stone.
See fire walks, needles through the cheeks (face!).

Anuradhaputa, Polonnaruwa, etc: Religious/Cultural/Historical. See the ruins.
Excavate your own. Ancient artwork in temples.

Beaches: The beach is always less than 70 miles away. No crowds, even on
long weekends. Plenty of free parking.

Adam's Peak: Religious/Adventurous. Said to have a 6 feet long foot
print of Adam/Buddha/Allah/David Koresh. At sun rise, you can see the
sun jumping up and down taking a bow or is it a bath? Top is 7500+ feet. ??

Zoo: Dehiwala (suburb of Colombo) Zoo is one of the best in the world.

Pinnawala: Elephant orphanage. How to catch a wild elephant in ....

Dambulla: `gala uding "coming water" thamba ha^liyata ta~ng ta~ng.'
Ancient artwork on the walls of seven caves. Buddhist temple.

Sigiriya: See the ancient erotica. Gaffiti? We invented it.
("King Kashyapa slept here" "with ....?")


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