Some of the wildlife that can be spotted on a Sri Lanka holiday...
The teardrop island is particularly proud of its natural bounty, and rightly so. For thousands of years, vast swathes of land have been protected by Sri Lankan royalty, preserved as sanctuaries for nature to thrive and even today, countless areas of protected land exist on the island. Despite its small size, its diverse landscapes, contrasting seasons, unique climate and incredible biodiversity confirm it as an exceptional place for wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy year round.
Whether you’re a culture vulture keen to explore the impressive temples and UNESCO sites of the Cultural Triangle, a wildlife fanatic who hopes to spot the elusive leopard in Yala National Park, or a fervent foodie whose mouth waters at the tantalizing aromas of cardamom and coriander, here's our pick of the top Sri Lankan experiences that are not to be missed...
Here’s a guide to our favourite local street-food delicacies to sample during your stay…
Mirissa is the gateway to Dondra Point. This is one of the best spots to witness the whale migrations in Sri Lanka from the Bay of Bengal - Sri Lanka’s southern sea is calm offering up the perfect conditions.
On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, Ellis was bowled over by this unique and calm country which is worlds apart from nearby India. From the fascinating culture of the north, to the scenic rolling hills of Tea Country and the beautiful golden beaches on the coast, there is no end to the country's beauty.
In Sri Lanka, festivals are an integral part of life and culture; with a population composed of many races and religions and given its long, ancient history – they are never short of celebrations. Here are a few of the significant festivals:
Tea is part of Sri Lanka’s unique cultural heritage and some of the world’s finest teas are produced here. Due to Sri Lanka’s diverse climate each tea variety is uniquely different. The country is particularly famous for Ceylon tea, recognised over the world for its high quality and distinct aroma (crisp and citrus).
The best of Sri Lanka and The Maldives in this luxurious journey that takes in Sri Lanka's ancient cities and tea plantations before flying off to one of the finest islands in The Maldives. It combines culture with some of the world's finest beaches.
Spotting the Big Five in Africa is often hailed as the holy grail of wildlife holidays, but plenty of other places around the world offer animal sightings impressive enough to rival Africa's, and Sri Lanka is certainly one of them. Here, we introduce you to Sri Lanka's own Big Five and give you all the information you need to go in search of these wild beasts...
Here’s a guide to our favourite things to do in Galle…
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Best for: Culture History, Wildlife, Highlights
Set among wildlife-rich wetlands in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle near Sigiriya’s famous rock fortress, Vil Uyana is an award-winning and uniquely beautiful hotel whose attention to detail ensures a serene and luxurious stay.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Vil Uyana is located on a large area of wetland in Sigiriya, in view of Sigiriya Rock and is the ideal hotel if you are looking to be pampered and be at one with nature. Being at the heart of the Cultural Triangle, Vil Uyana is perfectly situated to explore many of the area’s heritage sites from Sigiriya itself to Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. A bicycle trail runs through local villages to provide an insight into rural life, and morning walks along the Sigiriya bird trail take you to the foothills of the Sigiriya rock and the Sigiriya tank. Minneriya National Park, famed for its huge summer elephant gathering, is also easily accessible.
There is a choice of restaurants on offer at Vil Uyana, from the grand ‘Aspara’ restaurant with its magnificent views across the lake towards Sigiriya to the more relaxed ‘Sulang’ restaurant. All the restaurants offer a mixture of excellent international and Sri Lankan dishes. The ‘Graffiti Bar’ has an abundant selection of cocktails on offer and guests are also welcome to dine on their own private balconies or in the wine cellar.
Guests in search of total relaxation and serenity can find it at the Vil Uyana Spa. The spa offers an extensive range of indulgent treatments, mostly using traditional Ayurveda techniques. The hotel also has a fitness centre, library and outdoor swimming pool.
Guests at Vil Uyana can enjoy a choice of four luxury villa styles, all set on stilts and situated in different habitats: in the lush green paddy fields, on a beautiful lake, bordering the forest or among the wetlands. Each gorgeous thatched villa comes with modern amenities and plunge pools, and it is easy to spend the whole day relaxing and taking in the beautiful surroundings.
When to go
Sri Lanka is considered a sunny year round destination; there is always somewhere experiencing good weather on the island. However, there are huge regional differences. The Southwest ‘Yala’ Monsoons brings rain to the west and southwest coast, as well as the hill country, from April/May to September. During this time the north and east coasts are good. The northeast ‘Mahe’ monsoon is less extreme and brings rain to the east and north during October and November. This monsoon can bring a bit of rain to the south as well. Put simply; head to the south, central, hill country and western areas between December and March and ideally head to the north and eastern areas between April and September. We can never guarantee good weather but believe this is a good guide to follow.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
Explore the immaculately preserved remnants of Buddhism’s second city. Polonnaruwa is grouped in clumps between enticing forests so that you can walk and cycle your way around giant Buddhas and impressive temples that are over 1,000 years old.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 'fortress in the sky' is one of Sri Lanka's most iconic landmarks. This 370-meter-high monument has 1,202 steps, a 5th century palace and 2 giant stone lion paws, as well as spectacular views.
Jeep Safari - Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and largest national parks, with an area of over 130,000 hectares. Explore by jeep, driving past natural lakes, scrubland and dense jungle, possibly spotting sloth bear, leopard and wild elephant.
Visit Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism
Mihintale is an important landmark in Buddhist culture. Climb 1,840 steps in the morning, surrounded by the sights and sounds of traders and pilgrims, before heading to Anuradhapura for a guided tour.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Dating from the sixth century BC and one of Buddhism's holiest sites. A 2,200 year old tree, grown from a cutting of the branch beneath which Buddha found Enlightenment is a highlight. Ancient hospitals and baths add a sense of normality to it all.
Polonnaruwa by bicycle
Enjoy an easy ride through the sights and enchanting ruins of UNESCO protected Polonnaruwa, a highlight of the cultural triangle. It was first declared a capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country.
Millennium Elephant Foundation
Visit rescued and orphaned elephants at the Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF), established in August 1999 as a sanctuary of care, protection and medical services for elephants in Sri Lanka.
Dambulla Rock Cave Temple
The rich history of the huge rock temples involves Indian invaders being driven away through the strength of meditation in the first century BC. Its just as exciting today as you are guided through five intricately carved caves past giant stone statues.
Minneriya National Park
This afternoon experience takes you to Minneriya National Park, home to an enormous population of elephants. Enjoy a game drive with an experienced naturalist.
Aukana Buddha Statue
An architectural marvel of the ancient Sinhalese, the Aukana Buddha statue stands at an impressive 39 feet tall. Visit the statue today alongside a visit to the ancient city of Anuradhapura.
Ritigala Ancient Monastery
Not far from Anuradhapura, Ritigala is a unique nature reserve and an ancient Buddhist monastery dating back to the 1st century. Travel through tropical forest filled with monkeys, birds and butterflies until you reach the monastery.
Private Audience with a Monk in Dambulla
Achieve inner peace whilst listening to tales and teachings of Buddhism from one of the resident temple monks. Afterwards, enjoy ‘Dhamma’, 30 minutes of discussion, practices and customs.
Anuradhapura by bike
Explore the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura on a bicycle, riding past highlights such as stupas, bathing tanks, ancient hospitals, and allegedly the oldest tree in the world.
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Colombo, Sigiriya, Kandy, Tea Country
This captivating itinerary takes in the central heartland of Sri Lanka. From the ancient cities to the tea growing region and from Kandy to Colombo, this shorter itinerary is ideal for those limited on time.
Colombo, Kotugoda, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Yala, Galle
A classic and wonderful journey taking in colonial towns, wildlife and the tea country, a landscape that is quintessential to Sri Lanka and absolutely stunning. End with time on the beach to completely unwind before returning home.