A Guide to Sri Lanka's Finest Landscapes
Sri Lanka 05.02.2015 Transindus
Sri Lanka has some of the finest landscapes of anywhere in the world, so it is no surprise the country is a popular tourist destination among discerning travellers.
Located just off the coast of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka is one of the world's most diverse countries and the same is true for its incredible landscapes. While the pear-shaped island is home to about 20 million people it is far from a crowded place and there are plenty of quiet places to hunt out for some much-needed peace and rest.
Dagobas, temples and monasteries
Among the main attractions of a break in Sri Lanka are the many dagobas, temples and monasteries dotted around the island. Most of them are extremely well-preserved and are often located in the most surprising of locations. It is not uncommon to find yourself apparently in the middle of nowhere, enjoying a stunning Sri Lankan landscape, but with a beautiful temple very close by.
Dagobas are religious shrines and the biggest of them are all home to a part of the Buddha's body. They vary in size by a huge degree: some of them are a small mound of earth and others are as large as an Egyptian pyramid.
Sri Lanka is perhaps best known for its rainforests, which are cultivated by the island's close proximity to the equator. Kanneliya Forest Reserve is one of the most popular spots on the island for tourists and it is the largest part of the Kanneliya-Dediyagala-Nakiyadeniya forest complex. Not only is Kanneliya one of the most biodiverse locations in Sri Lanka, it is one of the most beautiful places to spend time during a break in the country.
Much of the north of Sri Lanka is plains and a large chunk of this part of the island is devoted to the Minneriya National Park, which is located close to Polonnaruwa. This is a fantastic spot for wildlife-spotting and elephants are among the animals you can expect to see if you choose to visit. Birdlife is very common in this part of the island too and cormorants, painted storks, open-bills and pelicans are among those regularly spotted in the Minneriya National Park.
Bambarakanda is the largest waterfall in Sri Lanka and it is one of the island's most stunning landscapes as well. Located in the hill town of Kalupahana, which is close to Haldumulla in the south-eastern slopes of central hills, the waterfall might not be the easiest place on the island to get to, but it is certainly worth the extra effort. Bambarakanda is worth exploring too as the area has much more to offer than just the waterfall. There is also a unique mix of rugged terrain and scenic beauty that makes it a wonderful place to while away a few hours.
Sri Lanka's tropical climate makes it one of the finest places in the world for spotting birdlife. Many of the national parks will be ideal for bird-spotting but the island is full of these animals so rare species can often be seen in the most unlikely of places. In total, there are around 450 different species of bird that call Sri Lanka their home.
Horton Plains will be right at the top of the list of must-see landscapes for most people visiting Sri Lanka and rightly so - this is one of the most stunning locations anywhere in the world. Known as Heaven on Earth, the plains are located a couple of thousand metres above sea level, the highest plateau on the island. There is a lot of rare plant and animal life in this part of Sri Lanka and the area is of huge biodiversity importance to the region as it is a catchment area for many major rivers.
The south-east of Sri Lanka is where you will find many savannahs that are home to some of the rarest wildlife in all of Asia. If you're lucky, you'll be able to spot bears, panthers, elephants, wild buffaloes, deer and crocodiles during your time in this part of the island. Various nature reserves have been set up in this scarcely-populated part of Sri Lanka and the flora in them is as rare and gorgeous as anywhere in the world.