Escape for the Weekend

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Sri Lanka

Wildlife in Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park; Adam’s Peak; Sigiriya Rock Fortress; Dambulla Cave Temples; Derana Gala reef; Goda Gala Diyamba; wrecks the Conch,

Sri Lanka, the official name is the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, until 1972 known as Ceylon, is a country in South Asia, on the same-name island off the southeastern coast of India. Sri Lanka is washed by the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. The Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait separate the island from the Indian subcontinent. The territory of Sri Lanka comprises 65.6 thousand square kilometers; the population is more than 20 million people. Sri Lanka has two capitals – administrative in Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte and commercial in Colombo. The official languages are Sinhala and Tamil.

Most of the territory is occupied by the coastal lowlands. The central part of the country is covered with mountains. Sri Lanka has a subequatorial climate with northeast monsoons from October to March, and southwest ones from June to October.

The national currency is the Sri Lankan rupee. Money can be changed at authorised exchanges, hotels and banks, which work from 9.00 to 13.00. Credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs can be found in all major cities. Sri Lanka is an amazing country, where you will find amazing nature, golden beaches and hundreds of Buddhists temples. Having visited this small island once, you will want to return.

Nature lovers will be happy to watch blue and sperm whales in Mirissa, Southern Sri Lanka; to see leopards, elephants, monkeys and lots of birds in Yala National Park or in Udawalawe National Park; to feed newborn elephants in Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and to enjoy the local wildlife in the Arugam Bay.

Those who like outdoor activities can climb Adam’s Peak, the highest mountain of the island; go surfing in Talalla; play cricket – a very popular kind of sport in Sri Lanka – or watch it in Premadasa Stadium; and go kayaking, rainforest trekking and mountain biking in Kitulgala, which is called Sri Lanka’s adventure capital.

Connoisseurs of architecture will be charmed by the amazing Sigiriya Rock Fortress, built in the 5th century; the colonial Dutch fort of Galle; Dambulla Cave Temples, containing lots of fabulous Buddha statues; the ancient Polonnaruwa, where you can see the 12th-century stone sculptures; and the majestic ruins of Anuradhapura, founded thousands of years ago.

Being in Sri Lanka, do not miss the chance to visit its tea plantations, taste spicy local cuisine and restore your well-being with the help of ancient Ayurveda.

Airports

Bandaranaike International Airport (also called Katunayake International Airport and Colombo International Airport (CMB), the main international airport of Sri Lanka

Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (HRI) an international airport of Hambantota

Ratmalana Airport (RML), Colombo

Diving in Sri Lanka

Washed by the warm Indian Ocean and possessing around 1600 kilometers of coastline Sri Lanka is a perfect destination both for experienced divers and for beginners. The underwater world boasts fancy landscapes and abundant marine life from huge blue whales to tiny nudibranches.

Off the coast of Negombo there is Derana Gala, a reef inhabited by great number of marine critters, including barracuda, lionfish and trevallies.

Taprobane Reefs are said to be one of the most untouched diving places in Sri Lanka. Here you will find big patch reefs with massive coral domes, teeming with various fish.

10 minutes by boat from Unawatuna there is Goda Gala Diyamba, an underwater rock formation, where you can see interesting reef systems inhabited by large fish.

For those who are fond of wreck-diving Sri Lanka has some interesting wrecks, for example: the Conch, a steam oil tanker sunk in 1903, located at a depth of 12-21m and inhabited by groupers, queen angelfish and napoleons; the Earl of Shaftesbury, a steel 4-mast sailing ship sunk in the 1820s; the Rangoon, a 1776-ton steam ship built in 1863; the Arcturus, a British steam ship built in 1870; the HMS Hermes, an aircraft carrier sunk in 1942; and the Norsa, a steam ship built in 1889.

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