Best Places in Sri Lanka for Nature Lovers
Looks like a big tropical rainforest amidst the blue ocean, the teardrop island of Sri Lanka is brimming with natural wonders and astounding attractions. From stirring mountains to golden beaches, lush green tea gardens to herds of wild elephants, Sri Lanka has plenty to offer that make your nature escape a memorable one. Here’s a look at the list of best natural places to visit in this serene country which have thoroughly picked by our experts.
1. Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Of international significance with a UNESCO World Heritage Site status, Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a botanical treasure trove of more than 830 endemic species, including trees, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. Located in south-west Sri Lanka with an area of 8,864 ha, this reserve is also the country's last tract of undisturbed tropical humid evergreen forest, where you can always soak in Amazonian exuberance with soaring tropical hardwoods, ferns and lianas tangled together, and nonstop chirrupings of birdlife. Unlike anywhere else on the island, Sinharaja is truly a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts to Sri Lanka.
• Best things to do: Take a walk under the thick canopy of trees, Get to see some wildlife, Visit some waterfalls inside the jungle, Experience the tranquil lifestyle of the nearby villagers
• Best time to visit: January to March and August to September when rain is least expected
• Insider’s tip: Expect torrential rain and leeches. Travel with an experienced guide who will assist you in preparations with leech socks, rain courts and binoculars
• Recommended duration: 1 - 2 days
2. Yala National Park
The wildlife is abundant in Sri Lanka with a multitude of national parks and reserves, and for many, the most famous place for wildlife lovers in the country is Yala National Park. What makes this park special is that it offers the highest chances of spotting leopards in the world, and also many opportunities to see Sri Lankan elephants, aquatic birds, buffalos, monkeys and crocodiles playing around in their natural habitat. When exploring this wildlife sanctuary on the southeast coast of the island, animals and nature lovers can stay at an eco-lodge or a treehouse as well, and join plenty of outdoor activities like jeep safaris and evening game drives.
• Best things to do: Experience a safari to watch closely Yala’s exotic flora and fauna, Go fishing with a local fisherman, Witness villages of Yala and experience their culture, Visit the second-century Sithulpawwa Buddhist Monastery atop a rocky outcrop, Participate beach activities and water sports in the wild coastline
• Best time to visit: The dry season from February to June when animals come out in open in search for water
• Insider’s tip: As it’s hot and the air is full of dust, you should bring enough water, sunscreen, a hat and a scarf to breath through. The park is normally closed during September for maintenance.
• Recommended duration: 2 - 3 days
3. Adam’s Peak
Locally known as Sri Pada, meaning the Sacred Footprint, Adam’s Peak is not only the classic pilgrimage route but also one of the major natural landmarks in the hill country of Sri Lanka. While most locals climb to the summit to see the curious depression that Buddhists believe is the footprint of Lord Buddha (Lord Shiva’s for Hindus or Adam’s step in the Muslim version), travellers often make the journey at night for a chance to watch a breathtaking sunrise from the peak. The 2,243-meter ascent to the top of Adam’s Peak is quite challenging, and from the far end of Dalhousie village, it takes 2-4 hours to the summit. But the amazing top views and surrounding vivid greenery make the climb definitely worthwhile.
• Best things to do: Start the ascent at night for a magical sunrise, Explore superb nature trails through tropical rainforests of the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, Visit the large Peace Pagoda
• Best time to visit: It’s best to visit the place during the pilgrimage season, between December and May when the weather is at its best and the route is illuminated
• Insider’s tip: If you want a quieter climb, travel out of season or go midweek. Do wear warm clothes as it gets cold at the summit. Check the weather forecast in advance.
• Recommended duration: 2 - 3 days
4. Mirissa Beach
There are many reasons why people fall in love with the small laid-back village of Mirissa, but most will agree those are its beautiful hideaway beaches and fantastic areas for whale and dolphin watching. Located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, about 150 kilometres south of Colombo, this town boasts an appealing coastline with golden and secluded beaches, where you can lie back in a hammock and let the days slip by slowly, partake in many watersports activities or enjoy a thriving nightlife scene with local people. Mirissa also has a wonderful marine life and offers many sea tours that take you out on the Indian Ocean to see several types of whales and dolphins.
• Best things to do: Relax on Mirissa Beach, Enjoy an incredible sunset from Secret Beach, Visit Parrot Rock, Climb Coconut Tree Hill, Visit a sea turtle hatchery, Go whale and dolphin watching, Join many beach activities
• Best time to visit: November to March when the climate is relatively warm with fewer chances of raining
• Insider’s tip: March and April are the best months for blue whale sightings. Avoid trips between May and July due to the southwest monsoon.
• Recommended duration: 3 - 5 days
5. Nuwara Eliya
Better known as the Little England of Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya is one of the most beautiful destinations on the island with a pleasant climate, old British colonial buildings, and vast lush greenery. The plateau town in the hill country hosts plenty of natural beauties, like the imposing Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, pristine waterfalls, and verdant montane forests, but it’s most famous for rolling hills of tea plantations spreading for miles and miles. Nuwara Eliya is also the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka, where you can visit some tea factories, learn about the process of tea-making, sample a cup of tea or purchase their products.
• Best things to do: Take a boat ride on Gregory Lake, Enjoy a stroll in Victoria Park, Visit the beautifully manicured botanical gardens of Hakgala, Go on a train journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, Explore some waterfalls (e.g., St. Clair's Falls, Lovers' Leap waterfall, Devon Falls)
• Best time to visit: February to May when the weather is mild with low chances of rainfall
• Insider’s tip: As Nuwara Eliya is very busy in April due to the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year, you should book all services months in advance
• Recommended duration: 2 - 3 days
There are plenty more amazing natural places to visit and check out in Sri Lanka that will definitely capture your heart, but we hope this list has inspired you and given some nice suggestions for your next Sri Lanka trip. If you need any help in planning a tour in Sri Lanka/Asia, our Asia Tailor-made Tours experts are always ready and happy to help you create a perfect itinerary.