Sri Lanka on the Rise: Ramping up for Travel After a Tricky Period

9 March 2023

Falling like a tear from India’s flank, Sri Lanka’s beauty has moved many visitors down the centuries - and the island nation is ready to strut its stuff on a wider stage again following a difficult period.

Sri Lanka on the Rise: Ramping up for Travel After a Tricky Period View this email in your browser Call us: +1-212-518-1618


Falling like a tear from India’s flank, Sri Lanka’s beauty has moved many visitors down the centuries - and the island nation is ready to strut its stuff on a wider stage again following a difficult period. First, the pandemic, then a period of economic unrest, hampered the country. But these troubles are firmly in the rear-view mirror and the charming people are keen to welcome back travelers. Known to Arab traders as Serendib – fitting source material for the word ‘serendipity’ – Sri Lanka, with its tropical bounty of paradise beaches, ancient ruins, verdant highlands, and world-class wildlife parks is as stunning as any place on earth. The country’s compact size makes it easy to travel between highlights and have a wide variety of experiences during a two week trip. All of which is to say: Sri Lanka is one of Asia's most rare and precious unpolished gemstones.



Some of the many forms of the Buddha found in the ancient Dambulla Cave Temple

Sri Lanka’s so-called Cultural Triangle is a treasure trove of fascinating ruins, astonishing rock formations and important Buddhist relics. It is one of Asia's most outstanding archeological areas, home to five of Sri Lanka's eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, within a short drive of each other. Stretching between Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla, it offers historic and religious sites, cave temples, and the iconic Sigiriya Rock which rises almost 1000 feet above the northern plain. Archeological, literary, religious, and cultural evidence holds that it was a long-standing Buddhist monastery occupied by monks and ascetics as early as the 3rd Century BC. The same plains from which Sigiriya rises also play host to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa — crucibles of early Sinhalese civilization — whose grandiose monuments continue to inspire awe. Further south, the delightful old fort town of Galle, founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century, features a combination of historic architectural sites, boutiques, cafes, galleries and lovingly restored historic hotels.


A leopard photographed at Yala National Park

Although visitor numbers to Sri Lanka are bafflingly low at the moment, most who visit here, come for the astoundingly diverse wildlife. Elephants, monkeys, leopards, and sloth bears are the stars of the show on land, while whales and dolphins vie for attention offshore. Often cited as Sri Lanka’s best national park, Uda Walawe rarely disappoints. Thanks mainly to the landscape of low forest and grassland, animals are easy to spot, especially elephants, with between 600 to 700 animals inside the park boundaries, often seen in herds of up to 100. Other prime spotting areas include Yala National Park, which offers opportunities to see leopards, langur monkeys, and crocodiles, while Wilpattu is known for its sloth bears. In the flatlands of north-central Sri Lanka, the national parks of Minneriya and Kaudulla form a giant corridor for elephants to move freely across a large area.


The beach at Amanwella, Tangalle

Sri Lanka has a veritable array of ridiculously perfect beaches scattered around its coastline. The south remains the headline act, with a harmony of great weather, restrained development, and lush tropicality making it hard to refuse. Here, prime destinations include the phenomenally pristine Tangalle Beach and popular Weligama, which has one of the longest beaches in the south. The latter is especially famed among beginner surfers due to its gentle but consistent swell. The southern beaches' proximity to top wildlife parks is also a boon for visitors. More adventurous travelers might want to opt for northeast Sri Lanka. Trincomalee, popularly referred to as “Trinco”, is home to an uninterrupted stretch of beautiful beach with unspoiled white sand and clear blue waters, that run for almost 20 miles, known as Uppuveli, Nilaveli, and Kuchchaveli beaches.


A scenic train journey through the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya

Sri Lanka’s revered tea country is an area ripe with golden shower trees, banana palms, and powdery angel trumpet flowers, complemented by a perpetual mist that only adds to the country’s mystique. First brought to Sri Lanka in the 1800s during British colonization and only increasing in reverence after a country-wide coffee blight, Ceylon silver tip tea is now world-renowned. Equally vaunted is the scenery in the areas the crop is produced. The countryside around the 6,000 foot high hill station of Nuwara Eliya is a vivid patchwork of tea plantations, emerald mountains, and crystalline waterfalls and lakes. A fun experience in this part of Sri Lanka is hopping on the train that runs through tea country. You can also save time while seeing the island from a new perspective by taking a spectacular seaplane journey. From the middle of the country amongst rolling mountains, touch down near the white sands of the southern coast in less than an hour.


Tub with a view: Ceylon Tea Trails

Sri Lanka has various truly world-class accommodations scattered around the nation, ranging from modern beach resorts to English bungalows to tented jungle camps. Our favorites include the secluded and stylish Amanwella, on the golden reaches of Tangalle, and stately Amangalla, a historic and well-preserved residence within the fort walls of Galle. Ceylon Tea Trails, Cape Weligama, and Wild Coast Tented Lodge form an enchanting 'route de bonheur' from tea fields to clifftop beach and safari lodge. The Tintagel makes a great base for exploration of Colombo. The Jetwing Vil Uyana stands out near Sigiriya.

Both Sri Lankan Aman properties feature in September's Aman Jet Expedition: A Mindful & Cultural Journey


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