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Sri Lanka

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Extended Journeys to Sri Lanka

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Have more time, second trip to Sri Lanka, or looking for something specific? Here are some additional highlights when creating your custom Sri Lanka travel plan. If this is your first taste of Sri Lanka, visit our Essential Sri Lanka page to discover must-see sites, attractions and travel destinations.

Colombo

The capital city is the gateway to Sri Lanka, with the island's only international airport. We recommend going further afield during your Sri Lanka tour, but if you do spend time in the city visit the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Buddhist temple, take a walk in tranquil Viharamahadevi Park, and explore the ancient bazaar at Pettah. At sunset take a stroll along the beach, where a carnival-like atmosphere reigns, with families sitting at food stalls, soaking up the social scene.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

This UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for bird viewing, with nearly 150 bird species on record. Look out for hanging parrot, orange-billed babbler, laughing thrush, brown-capped babbler, yellow-fronted barbet, white-faced starling, blue magpie, red-faced malkoha, and spot-winged thrush.

Non-endemics include crested drongo, black-naped monarch, Malabar trogon, flame minivet, Oriental white-eye and velvet-fronted nuthatch. You may also encounter fauna such as purple-faced leaf monkey, torque monkey, giant squirrel, and dusky-striped jungle squirrel. The forest contains 700 species of flowering plants.

Yala West National Park

This park is considered Sri Lanka's best park for viewing wildlife, and is recognized as one of the finest places in the world to observe and photograph leopards in the wild. Visitors stand a decent chance of a leopard sighting. Explore by 4WD safari.

An interesting anecdote involves the park's resident elephants: while the ocean waters were receding just before the 2004 tsunami, curious locals ran out to scoop up stranded fish, but the elephants rightly headed for the hills en masse.

Aukana

Sri Lanka's finest undamaged Buddha statue is located here, and can be incorporated into a day trip from Dambulla to Anuradhapura. Standing almost 40 feet high, it was built during the reign of King Dhatusena in the 5th century.

Horton Plains National Park

Visit Horton Plains, located on a high, windswept plateau at about 7,000 feet elevation. The plains are an expanse of misty grassland with scraggy trees and ice-cold rivulets. Flora and fauna abound, and a variety of lovely walks along well marked trails can be made.

One such trail encounters World's End, a surreal experience: a massive, dramatic drop off terminates the huge plateau, plunging vertically for about 4,000 feet, hence the name. It affords one of the finest views on the island.

Adam's Peak

This is a mountain of great religious significance to the entire population of Sri Lanka and a sacred pilgrimage center for over 1,000 years. The "footprint" at the summit is believed to be Buddha's (Muslims believe is the mark of Adam; Hindus, Lord Shiva). A three-to four-hour hike up countless steps will take you to the summit.

Depending on the season you decide to visit Sri Lanka you may be virtually alone, or in sea of 10,000 pilgrims, which can seriously lengthen the time needed. The views from the summit are tremendous, weather permitting.

Ratnapura

In Ratnapura visit an operating gem mine. Learn about local prospecting techniques. Visit the museum and perhaps make a purchase at one of the shops.