SRI LANKA’S MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE LOCATIONS
Given its relatively small size, the island presents an astounding range of scenes to capture – from pristine nature to vibrant culture, and seascapes to landscapes, Sri Lanka has it all!
Words by Nicola Jayasundera
Home to a staggering 26 national parks, Sri Lanka has much to offer wildlife enthusiasts. The fauna and flora in these protected sanctuaries attract lovers of photography, wildlife and travel from across the world. The parks are popular for elephants, leopard, bears, deer and various species of birds.
Minneriya National Park has gained prominence because of the elephant gatherings in the dry season from July to October. Wilpattu National Park is home to the majestic leopard and bears of Sri Lanka; it is also a bird lovers’ paradise. An-other area where leopards roam proudly is Yala National Park. And Bundala and Kumana National Parks are famous for sightings of migratory birds.
Horton Plains, in the central highlands, offers an enchanting landscape for hiking in the shadows of Sri Lanka’s second and third highest mountains. The plateau lies at an altitude of over 2,000 metres. Another ‘must visit’ is Sri Lanka’s only rainforest: Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot that’s been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Being an island nation, Sri Lanka’s beaches offer mesmerising views of the Indian Ocean, coconut palms and golden sands – captivating scenes that both amateur and professional photographers relish.
Bask in the sun or immerse yourself in the waters of the south coast in Galle, Unawatuna, Bentota and Hikkaduwa, or go east to enjoy the pearly sand beaches off Trincomalee. Take a trip to the spectacular surfing hubs of Arugam Bay and Hiriketiya, to snap that perfect shot of rolling waves and surfers. Or explore the azure waters of Mirissa, Negombo and Trincomalee for photo ops of the majestic whales.
Sri Lanka’s hill country is a splendid travel destination – a mist wrapped land of emerald peaks and stupendous views, and hillsides carpeted with tea plantations and adorned by stunning waterfalls. The view from any mountain will be etched in your memory forever. A destination loved by both locals and foreigners alike is Ella while a must-see attraction is the iconic Nine Arches Bridge in Demodara.
Nuwara Eliya is the ‘Little England’ of Sri Lanka – a genteel highland with a rose-tinted and vaguely British country village feel. This is due to its climate, colonial era bungalows, Tudor style hotels, well-tended hedgerows and pretty gardens. A never-ending mountain landscape surrounds this picturesque city.
Located in a charming region of the southern hill country is the lofty Adam’s Peak, which has sparked the imagination of travellers for centuries and been a centre of pilgrimage for more than 1,000 years.
Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage has been duly recognised by UNESCO, which has declared six archaeological World Heritage Sites in and around the island. Experience the country’s culture in the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the rock fortress of Sigiriya, the sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, the Golden Temple of Dambulla and the old town of Galle, which is famed for its Dutch period architecture.
In the cultural heartland of Sri Lanka, you will encounter crumbling dagobas, lost cities and sacred Buddhist sites. On the central plains, the an-cient Sinhalese dynasties established their first capitals and instigated a number of architectural projects. These kingdoms eventually fell and were gradually reclaimed by the jungle.
With its vast mountainous landscape, the country is home to more than 100 waterfalls and rivers. The breathtaking Bambarakanda Falls is Sri Lanka’s tallest waterfall at 263 metres. One of the widest waterfalls in the country – St. Clair’s Falls, which derives its name from a nearby tea estate – is located in Talawakelle (in close proximity to Nuwara Eliya).
A bastion of Hindu tradition, art and creative culture, Jaffna welcomes visitors warmly. The northern capi-tal is an intriguing, unimposing and re-warding part of the world, to discover and experience the distinctive Tamil culture.
Ancient sites both in the centre of the town and towering kovils on the outskirts are compelling attractions. Visits to the idyllic islands just off the west, and trips along the coastline and lagoons of the surrounding peninsula, will complete a tour like no other.