The Sri Lanka Story
Sri Lanka is a diverse destination with an amazing range of experiences for such a small island. The recorded history of the Island dates back 2500 years when an exiled prince from northern India drifted onto the shores of Sri Lanka to establish the first known civilization here. It boasts a varied range of landscapes from golden beaches to rolling hills, forests and lush tea plantations.
Many great nations in the past have been attracted by the many natural resources of this tropical island along with its natural harbors and strategic location. As early as the 5th century, ships from Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and China docked at the ports to barter their goods for treasures from this island such as precious gems, pearls, spices, and scented woods. The Portuguese colonized the island in the 17th century followed by the Dutch and the British, changing the course of history.
Formerly known as Ceylon, Sri Lanka declared independence from Great Britain in 1948. Today, the country is a mixture of religions and ethnicities with deeply rooted traditions influenced by its past history. The majority of the population is Sinhalese, but there are also significant communities of Tamils, Muslims, Burghers (descendants of the Dutch), and Malays, all of whom contribute to make this a colorful and vibrant society.
Sri Lanka is justifiably famous for its beaches. Palm fringed, an inviting warm ocean, a huge variety of established resorts on the south and west coasts, intermingled with sleepy fishing villages and untouched havens of paradise in the recently liberated north and east.
There is a huge variety of accommodation. Big resort hotels, award winning boutique hotels, friendly guesthouses all the way down to isolated beach shacks. Whatever your budget, the Lankan coast will have something just for you.
The Cultural Triangle is a geographic area comprising a succession of ancient capitals and Buddhist sites where intricate carvings and towering stone monuments are scattered throughout the forests. Huge man-made lakes, or water tanks, have kept the area irrigated for millennia and continue to provide water for paddy fields and thirsty elephants that regularly leave the shelter of the jungle to come and drink.
The busy lakeside city of Kandy attracts thousands of religious devotees to the Temple of the Tooth. The island’s rich colonial legacy can be seen in Nuwara Eliya – the hill country where tea is cultivated. It is also home to a stunning golf course that has been challenging players for over a century. Meanwhile the fortified town of Galle is where the Portuguese walls defended Dutch churches and the former homes of British merchants.
Diverse flora and fauna thrive in the plains, wetlands and rainforests, often protected in the national parks scattered throughout the island. Elephants are frequently sighted in the parks while the forests and scrub of Yala National Park provide a habitat for one of the world’s densest populations of leopards.
Can you imagine a world where travelers reject the wastefulness of using disposable plastic water bottles? Khiri Travel endorses this simple but powerful attitude promoted by Travelers Against Plastic (TAP), a worldwide non-profit organization. TAP’s goal is to educate travelers about using reusable containers instead of buying and disposing of plastic bottles. The following link is a list of hotels Khiri Travel recommends in Sri Lanka that use glass water bottles.
Depending on the season, observe magnificent whales and dolphins in the wild. From November to March, there is a chance to spot pods of three or four different dolphin species. From November to December and March to April is the best time to spot several different types of whales.
Wildlife highlights: This part of coastal Sri Lanka has an awesome collection of marine mammals including spinner, bottlenose, Risso and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins as well as sperm, blue, minke, melon-headed and dwarf sperm whales.
Excellent spot for blue and sperm whale watching, especially during the months of January to April. Over 26 species of whales can be found in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal.
Wildlife highlights: Excellent spot for blue and sperm whale watching, especially during the months of January to April.
Yala National Park
Explore the park by jeep safari with a local tour guide who knows all the ins and outs of the park and where to find animals. The park is famous for having the highest density of wild leopards in the world. Sleep in a luxury tented camp and take a morning, evening or night safari with night vision goggles that are effective to spot the wildlife but do not disturb them.
Wildlife highlights: Yala is famous for its large number of elephants, leopards, spotted deer, crocodiles, bears, mongoose, wild boar, and wild buffalo. More than 130 bird species are recorded including peacocks as well as many exotic butterfly species.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
The Sinharaja Rainforest is a treasure trove of nature and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This unexploited rainforest hosts diverse ecosystems inhabited by unique plants and animals including many of the endemic rainforest bird species in Sri Lanka. Our Khiri nature guide knows all 428 species of birds and will ensure an expert experience in the park.
Wildlife highlights: As many as 95% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds are found in Sinharaja such as the red-faced malkoha, Sri Lankan blue magpie, and the mountain hawk. There are also many butterflies, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
Udawalawe National Park
Explore the Udawalawe National park by jeep safari and discover a unique home to a rich population of about 500 wild elephants and other exotic wildlife.Stay in an ecolodge and explore the nature the park offers.
Wildlife highlights: There is potential to see wild elephants, buffalo, spotted deer, barking deer, wild boar, sambar deer, hare, mongoose, crocodiles and over 30 species of snakes. There are also many butterfly and bird species native to the park.
Bundala National Park
The park consists of lagoons and inter-tidal mud flats where wintering birds rest and feed; golden sandy beaches and sand dunes where sea turtles nest; and the thorny scrub-land where elephants and other large animals roam. Many species of resident and migrant birds can be seen in this park. Travel with a Khiri specialized nature guide whose expertise ensures travelers will see some amazing wildlife.
Wildlife highlights: There are elephants, spotted deer, wild buffalo, wild boar, crocodiles, sea turtles, and more than 150 species of birds including flamingoes, pied kingfisher, and the white-bellied sea eagle at Bundala National Park.
Kumana National Park
Kumana National Park is one of the most important bird breeding and nesting grounds in Sri Lanka. There are several marshes and lakes where large numbers of aquatic birds build their nests and visitors can see them at close range during the breeding season. Travelers will be paired with an expert bird guide who can distinguish the 255 bird species.
Wildlife highlights: The common birds are the black-necked stork, Indian moorhen, cotton pygmy goose, spot-billed pelican, and multiple types of eagles among others.
Experience a boat safari on Gal Oya Reservoir, the largest of its kind in Sri Lanka. This experience enables you to spot wildlife from the water and truly immerse yourself in the animals’ habitats. Experience the national park by jeep safari into the forgotten Nilgala section of the park, a unique ecosystem with an abundance of medicinal plants and endemic birdlife. More intrepid guests can also explore on foot with a Khiri expert naturalist and see wildlife up close while exploring hidden corners of the park. Enjoy a night safari with night vision goggles to observe nocturnal animals.
Wildlife highlights: Gal Oya National Park has crocodiles, deer, elephants, sloth bears, wild boar, and many rare and endemic species of birds. Travelers may be lucky to see elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake’s edge. At night, there are jackal, nightjars, elephants, Sri Lankan frogmouths and the stripe backed golden civet.
Minneriya National Park
Enjoy a jeep safari in the Minneriya National Park, which boasts an unusually wide range of habitat types, from dry tropical forest to wetlands, grasslands and terrain previously used for agriculture. It is renowned for the amazing phenomenon of herds of elephants gathering annually during August and September. Take a night safari to see unique nocturnal wildlife.
Wildlife highlights: The principal attraction is as many as 200 elephants at certain times of year. Other mammals include sambar deer, spotted deer, slow loris, sloth bears and leopards, macaques and purple-faced langurs. There is also bird watching for an enormous number of endemic bird species such as the Sri Lankan hanging parrot, the crimson-fronted barbet, little cormorants and painted storks. Nocturnal wildlife includes the Indian civet, fishing cat, mouse deer and bats.
Wasgamuwa National Park
Enjoy a jeep safari in the Wasgamuwa National Park, a designated nature reserve. This is a protected area where there are wild elephants in large herds. It is also one of the most important areas for bird watching.
Wildlife highlights: There are elephants in the park along with wild buffalo, spotted deer, wild boar, sambar deer, crocodiles, leopards, sloth bears and other animals of the 23 species of mammals recorded. There are also numerous species of birds, reptiles, fish and butterflies recorded in the park.
Udawattakele was declared a forest reserve and later a sanctuary because of its variety of flora and fauna. Explore the unique sanctuary by jeep safari or on foot and experience all the wildlife, especially all the birds it hosts. There is also a nature education center to learn about the biodiversity of the forest.
Wildlife highlights: There is a chance to locate many different species of trees, as well as birds and mammals including the mouse deer, Indian boar, civet, vampire bat and macaque monkeys.
Wilpattu National Park
Take a jeep safari through Wilpattu National Park, keeping an eye out for leopards, the most elusive and hard to spot wild cats. Luckily our local guide knows where to find these cats. Join a night safari along trails where elephants, leopards and bears are known to roam. Use night vision goggles that do not disturb the wildlife for a truly incredible experience. Stay in a luxury tented camp.
Wildlife highlights: Observe the spots where leopards, elephants and sloth bears are likely to be spotted drinking. A large variety of birds are also found in this park, and one can hear them chirping all around.