This tropical jewel is something of a hidden gem; find a land that’s home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than anywhere else in the world, along with enough beaches, jungles and sunshine to make it feel like the island paradise of your dreams.
It’s no surprise that it’s a big planet out there. You could traverse the globe for years and still never explore all of it – which is why it’s so cool to go off the beaten path once in a while and check out the sights less seen. Take Sri Lanka, for example. This tropical jewel is something of a hidden gem; many people tend to think of it as being off-limits to travel due to threats of tsunamis and war. Both tend to put a damper on one’s vacation, to be sure, but you can rest assured that neither apocalyptic floods nor civil unrest are current risks. Instead, you’ll find a land that’s home to more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than anywhere else in the world, along with enough beaches, jungles and sunshine to make it feel like the island paradise of your dreams.
If you’ve already done India, consider taking Sri Lanka on. You’ll find a lot of cultural and environmental similarities between the two countries, but Sri Lanka is infinitely less crowded, which means you’ll have much of the place to yourself (including those UNESCO heritage sites I mentioned earlier – there’s eight of ‘em so try to see them all). But you won’t exactly be alone if you’re looking to soak up the deep culture of the country – history is writ large all over Sri Lanka, from the ancient temples to the fortresses to the artwork. As a largely Buddhist country, there are plenty of places to get your “om” on, which just adds to the very zen nature of the area.
Another bonus to visiting a country less travelled: Things are cheap in Sri Lanka. Like, really cheap. And when it’s delicious local food – think curries, fresh fish and barbecue – it’s a highlight in itself. (Sri Lanka is also home to many tea plantations, so if you’ve ever wanted to get some Ceylon tea from the source, this is where you want to be.)
Oh, and by the way, the ecosystems and wildlife? Unreal. If you’re looking for an authentic safari experience, Sri Lanka’s got just as many elephants as India, with additional species of primates, big cats and exotic birds besides. On our cultural Sri Lanka trip, there’s an included visit to an elephant sanctuary so you can come face to face with the pachyderms. Plus, following that visit is a trip to Hikkaduwa Beach where you might be able to spot dolphins and whales. And c’mon, it’s the beach – white sand as far as the eye can see. Perfect place to rest and relax after a long day of spotting the kind of animals you’ve only seen on television.
Enough reasons for you to consider visiting Sri Lanka? I definitely hope so – and hey, why not bring the family along? You can’t go wrong with an exotic landscape, tons of cool culture, and wild animals to see. Does some lame amusement park compare to that? I doubt it. Whether it’s the wild side or something tamer, get out and have an authentic Sri Lanka experience and make it a summer to remember.
Photos courtesy G Adventures Global Purpose Specialist (GPS) Tenille Hunt