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Horton Plains was declared a National Park in 1988 and covers 3160 hectares of grasslands interspersed with forest and forms an undulating plateau more than 2000m (6,600ft) high. The best time to visit these strangely exotic moorlands above Nuwara Eliya is in the early morning.

You rise through the wooded countryside on winding lanes. If you are lucky you may get a glimpse of Adam’s Peak and reach the open uplands of Horton Plains. Arriving at the entrance gate, you start your walk. The trail is clear throughout, reaching 'Little World's End', walking through woodland, then the greater drop of World’s End shortly after. On a clear day, the view is incredible.

From this point, you can either return to the entrance the same way you came or continue on an open pathway (no more shade) around hillsides until a short climb brings you to the ridge just above Baker’s Falls, where a track leads down to the water. The falls are about 20 meters high, and are worth visiting if you are a keen walker and prepared to do the longer circuit.

Returning to the entrance gate is along another open path. The entire walk is around 8 km if you walk to World’s End and back, or around 9 km (5.6 miles) if you do the full circuit. The walking is rather easy.

ADAM’S PEAK (option 2)

Adam's Peak is a place of pilgrimage for 4 religions and therefore a unique place in the world. This mountain, one of the highest in Sri Lanka therefore attracts many pilgrims and hikers and ascension represents an achievement. Admire the sunrise strengthens the mythical character of the expedition and is a good motivation to arrive on time at the top. 4500 steps of different sizes and shapes, increasingly high, more and more close to reach 2,243 meters altitude. Normally, the ascent takes about 3 hours, 2 for most sports or 4-6 for the other. To be sure to see the sunrise, the departure is at 2:00 am. The path is lit by a wreath at night and small shops sell drinks and food. Once at the top, there is a crowd of pilgrims praying. The prayers begin in the speakers, people gathered around the temple and then little by little, they headed east to admire the sunrise. Splendid, everything happens very quickly, the colors change, the sky cleared, but not a minute to lose, this time, we must head west to hope to see the mysterious triangular shadow projected by the mountain. A few minutes later, 6 to 30 pm, it's time to back down.


Surrounded by hills and tea plantations, the town of Nuwara Eliya enjoys spring-like weather throughout the year. A favorite retreat of the British during colonial times, the town is dotted with English country style houses and half-timbered bungalows, with names like Sunhill Cottage or Windsor Hotel. No surprise it’s earned the name "Little England".

The Holy Trinity Church might have stepped out of any village in England, with its Gothic architecture and eclectic collection of memorials, while the “pink post office” features a clock tower.

The Grand Hotel, Hill Club and Golf Club also hark back to a previous era, where tea by a log fire, overlooking the lawns with topiary and roses, might be followed by a spot of billiards. The golf course is open to visitors.

For a picturesque stroll, stop by the well-maintained Victoria Park or head for Gregory’s Lake, which is located just south of the town. You can also hire boats here.

Alternatively, for a bit of local color, Bale Bazaar is where the locals head to stock up on warm clothing.


On the road, you could observe the tea-field as far as our eyes can see. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19the century Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. For many miles prior to reaching Nuwara Eliya from either direction you will find acres and acres of tea plantations, in fact, nothing but tea estates.



The ruins of Polonnaruwa are scattered over an extensive area of gently undulating woodland about 4km from north to south. You can see everything at Polonnaruwa in a half day, but you’ll have to start early to do the city justice.

Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka’s splendid medieval capital was established as the first city of the land in the 11th Century. The ruins of the ancient city stand on the east shore of a large artificial lake, the Topa Wewa Lake, built by King Parakramabahu I (1153-86), whose reign was Polonnaruwa‘s golden age. Within a rectangle of city walls stand palace buildings and clusters of dozens of dagobas, temples and various other religious buildings.

Polonnaruwa was originally enclosed by three concentric walls and filled with parks and gardens. At the heart of the city lies the royal palace complex, while immediately to the north are the city’s most important cluster of religious buildings, the so-called Quadrangle, containing the finest group of remains in the city – and, indeed, Sri Lanka. Polonnaruwa’s largest monuments are found in the northern part of the city, comprising the buildings of the Menik Vihara, Rankot Vihara, Alahana Pirivena and Jetavana monasteries, including the famous Buddha statues of the Gal Vihara and the soaring Lankatilaka shrine.

The city’s religious remains are still held sacred and signs outside many of the ruins ask you to remove your shoes as a token of respect – quite painful, unless you’re accustomed to walking barefoot over sharp gravel, while the ruins’ stone floors can often reach oven-like temperatures in the midday sun. Wimps wear socks.


This is an ideal eco-tourism location in Sri Lanka of 8890 hectares. The park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to Sri Lanka’s favorite’s animals.

Not close to being the largest tank in Sri Lanka, Minneriya Tank - with the woods that surround it forming the Minneriya-Giritale National Park - is nevertheless home to an extraordinary diversity of wildlife. If numbers interest you, there are nine species of amphibians, 24 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish (three of which are endangered), 75 species of butterflies and 160 species of birds.

During the dry season (June to September), this tank is an incredible place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze on the grasses as well as the huge flocks of birds that come to fish in the shallow waters.

Making your way through the park, you will see too Spotted Deer and also the Sambar. If you're lucky, a leopard looking for food might cross your path.

Less menacing but equally intriguing are the frogs and lizards with their tongues ready. Among the reptiles, the Red-lipped Lizard and Skink are both endemic to Sri Lanka as well as endangered. The frogs, on the other hand, are more abundantly present and have a tendency to jump over your feet or across your eyes between leaves.




Dating back to the First Century BC, the Golden Temple of Dambulla has been the center of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus alike for 22 centuries. It is Sri Lanka’s most popular historic site. The Cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks is covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15 meters long reclining Buddha and vividly colored frescoes on the walls and ceiling, making this the largest antique painted surface in the world.

To reach Dambulla’s rock temples, pilgrims and tourists alike must climb barefoot up the sloping ground and several series of stairs almost to the summit, 100 meters above the plain. From here, the strikingly distinctive rock fortress of Sigirya is visible, but the five caves or shrine rooms of Dambulla lie just ahead. All of these house multiple images of the Lord Buddha, either lying, standing or seated. The astonishing frescoes and the sheer size and antiquity of the caves convinced UNESCO that Dambulla should be preserved as a World Heritage Site.

The largest and most impressive of the caves, the Temple of the Great King, is 52 meters from one side to another, and 23 meters from the entrance to the back, with the sloping ceiling seven meters at its highest point. The entire surface of the cave is a mosaic of frescoes with so many themes and styles that it is easy to be overwhelmed. The paintings at Dambulla are representative of many different epochs of Sinhalese Buddhist art, although the classical school of Sinhalese painting (which ceased at the end of the 12th century) is not represented. The so-called New School supposedly influenced by the contemporary South Indian Deccan School — is less successful than the earlier indigenous art forms, using brilliant color schemes with red and yellow predominating. It is not possible to date the Dambulla paintings precisely, since they have been over-painted throughout the centuries. Some, however, were originally done by Kandyan artists during the 17th century.

Beyond the endless repetitions of seated Buddhas, and red, yellow and black geometric motifs, there are bands of sinuous tendrils and flowers; stories of the life of Lord Buddha including the Jataka tales relating his previous lives in the Temple of the Great King. There are also murals depicting battles, and others showing important events in the history of Sri Lanka. To fully appreciate this unique art, it is advisable to either go with a knowledgeable guide or to wander slowly; focusing on whatever seems to be most fascinating, remembering always that Buddhist art is not designed to be creative or original, but to impart the teachings of Lord Buddha, the Enlightened One.


Opened in 2002, KAUDULLA NATIONAL PARK is Sri Lanka's newest national park, wildlife reserve and eco-tourism attraction. Situated around the ancient Kaudulla tank, the national park provides a 6656 hectare elephant corridor. The best time to visit the park is between August and December.

With fantastic opportunities to see many elephants at close range, the park has become a popular destination for wildlife safaris that also take in leopards, sambar deer and the occasional sloth bear! As an additional novelty, you can go for catamaran rides on the tank.



Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka.

Referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World this ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.

The palace is located in the heart of the island between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane on a massive rocky plateau 370 meters above the sea level.

Sigiriya rock plateau, formed from magma of an extinct volcano, is 200 meters higher than the surrounding jungles. Its view astonishes the visitors with the unique harmony between the nature and human imagination.

The fortress complex includes remnants of a ruined palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys and fountains.

The main entrance is located in the northern side of the rock. It was designed in the form of a huge stone lion, whose feet have survived up to today but the upper parts of the body were destroyed.

Thanks to this lion the palace was named Sigiriya. The term Sigiriya originates from the word Sihagri, i.e. Lion Rock.

One of the most striking features of Sigiriya is its Mirror wall.The Mirror wall is painted with inscriptions and poems written by the visitors of Sigiriya. The most ancient inscriptions are dated from the 8th century.These inscriptions are proving that Sigiriya was a tourist destination more than a thousand years ago. Today, painting on the wall is strictly prohibited.The buildings and gardens of Sigiriya show that the creators of this amazing architectural monument used unique and creative technical skills and technologies.The construction of such a monument on a massive rock approximately 200 meters higher from the surrounding landscape required advanced architectural and engineering skills.The gardens of Sigiriya are among the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.Sigiriya has water gardens, cave and boulder gardens, and also terraced gardens.The palace and fortress complex is recognized as one of the finest examples of ancient urban planning. Considering the uniqueness of Sigiriya UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1982. Sigiriya is an unmatched combination of urban planning, water engineering, horticulture and arts.




Anuradhapura was the first capital of Sri Lanka established in the 4th century BC. It was the royal capital for 119 successive Singhalese Kings and lasted for about thousand five hundred years. Many historic monuments and buildings still remain in the acres of this sacred land.

The historic city of Anuradhapura is an essential stop on any tour of Sri Lanka. This city, located around 205 kms north of Colombo, is one of eight World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Anuradhapura currently serves as the capital city of the North Central Province, and is considered the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Its vast network of ancient Buddhist temples, monasteries and places of worship which cover over 40 sq kms has made it a sacred site to Buddhists around the world.

Located on the banks of a river, Anuradhapura is now a picturesque ruined city, filled with mystery and steeped in a rich Buddhist culture. Tour groups and pilgrims alike visit this city, and this diverse and versatile city caters to a locals and visitors alike. The ancient city lies adjacent to the modern, and ruined buildings, ancient temples, cobbled streets, and even crumbling fort walls are spread out and interspersed with all signs of modern life in this bustling and thriving city.

Few point of interest:

Sri Mahabodhi Tree, it's a small tree with limbs so slender that they must be supported on iron crutches, which is the oldest historically authenticated tree in the world (2,200 years).

SriThuparama Dagaba is the first Buddhist building at Anuradhapura. It was built by King Devanampiya Tissa to enshrine the Buddha’s collar bone. Originally of the “paddy heap” shape, its present “bell” shape dates to reconstruction in the 1840s. The graceful monolithic pillars surrounding it once upheld a circular roof making the shrine a Vata Dage (Circular—Relic—house) a characteristically Sinhala architectural feature.

-The Twin Ponds are a magnificent example of landscape architecture built on a grand scale. The ponds are in fact not twins at all, pond (b) being longer by 40 feet than pond (a). The stone molding of the baths and the flights of steps leading to the water are graceful and austere, but above all natural. Apart from their beauty, the twin ponds are very functional. Water which is fed through an inlet is cleaned and purified several times over; before the cool water gushes out into the pond through a lions-head spout.


This place is situated at 12km east of Anuradhapura, is famous as the place where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. It's an important pilgrimage site, especially during Poson Poya (June), which commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda, during which thousands of white-robed pilgrims descend on the place.

The ruins and dagobas at Mihintale are relatively ordinary compared to those at Anuradhapura, but the setting – with rocky hills linked by beautiful old flights of stone steps shaded by frangipani trees – is gorgeous. Mihintale can be tiring but not difficult, however: there are 1850 steps, and if you want to see all the sights you’ll have to climb almost every single one of them.

It’s a good idea to visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid having to tackle the steps in the heat of the day and takes one to two hours of visiting.




The KNUCKLES MOUNTAIN RANGE (so-called because its appearance resembles a set of knuckles in a closed fist) is a major eco-tourism venue of Sri Lanka and has been declared a conservation area, now known as the KNUCKLES NATIONAL HERITAGE AND WILDERNESS AREA.

The region stretches an impressive 155 sq. km that contains five major forest formations, a wide variety of rare and endemic flora and fauna and some breathtaking mountain scenery of Sri Lanka. It is a real paradise for those who love to hike or mountain bike , offering numerous mountainous trails that journey across clear rivers, through dense forests, past flowing waterfalls and lush tea plantations, and alongside terraced paddy fields and colorful Kandyan home gardens. The chance to visit traditional small mountain villages in the area gives an interesting insight into the close-knit atmosphere that such a local community fosters and provides a welcome departure from fast-paced modern day life.

KITULGALA (option 2)

Kitulgala is a top destination for adventure activities in Sri Lanka. Enjoy a variety of thrilling activities such as white water rafting down the majestic Kelani River rapids, in addition to cannoning, jungle treks and bird watching in Sri Lanka.

Hiking enthusiasts of all fitness levels will be delighted with what Kithulgala has to offer, with a variety of walks through stunning scenery. Enjoy guided hikes through the verdant forests around Kithulgala, where you can climb up and be spellbound by stunning views of the Kelani River valley, the jungle and the rocky hills of the Hill Country.

Walk through dense tea and rubber plantations and take a leisurely stroll through the communities to reach Beli Lena Caves, which is one of the largest prehistoric caves in Sri Lanka. Cool down under a refreshing stream under the waterfall here that drops over the mouth of the main cave, before heading to Sandun Ella Waterfall, which is a gorgeous 100 ft. waterfall, with an infinity pool that has stunning views of the valley and surrounding mountains.


At Pinnawala, about 90Km from Colombo towards Kandy there is the home to some 100 or more elephant orphans. A place you will really enjoy and never forget. Most orphans are accustomed to their curious human visitors are harmless.

Pinnawala is the most popular and accessible place to see large numbers of these lovable animals in a natural habitat. It is the most popular elephant ‘attraction’ with tourists because nowhere else, except at the splendid ‘pereheras’ will you see so many elephants at such close quarters. The government opened it in 1975 since many more baby elephants than usual had become separated from their herds that year. The persistent drought had dried up many village wells into which the young elephants had fallen, while attempting to get a drink. Even today elephants fall into quarry or gem-mining pits, and poachers or angry farmers who shoot the adults for destroying their crops, orphan some youngsters.

The Orphanage is open from 8.30am to 5.45pm and visitors can interact a little with the elephants during the regulated bathing and feeding times. The baby elephants gulp down several huge bottles of milk, fed to them by their mahouts, and then it’s off to the river for a bath. The inherent gentleness of the animals is most obvious during this time. Most of the elephants eventually become ‘working’ elephants, and some older females occasionally add a baby to the herd.