http://www.virgin.com/travel, Reviews by Greg Rose
The island of Sri Lanka is blessed with incredibly rich wildlife, with national parks teeming with elephants – plus an elephant sanctuary where you can meet these amazing creatures up close – and the opportunity to see the region’s beautiful birds in the Sinharajan rainforest. Afterwards, relax at one of the hill stations throughout the area.
For pure spectacle, the 10-day Kandy Perahera Pageant, with its troupes of artistes, acrobats and bejewelled elephants provides a stunning experience. Alternatively, the unique romantic atmosphere of Sri Lanka – ideal for honeymooners – provides a memorable start to married life.
The food is also a delight, with a typical Sri Lankan curry packed with delicious coconut, chilli and cinnamon, and the choice of Indian, Malaysian, Chinese and Western foods as well. For the local brew, try the punchy Arrack. The famous Sri Lankan tea is not to be missed, however, and can be brought home, alongside exquisite silver jewellery, ceramics and batik.
With many beautiful beaches to choose from, visitors can stay at one of the many beachside resorts, such as Mount Lavinia, which is only 12 km from the capital, Colombo. There are regular cricket matches with the locals and surfing every Sunday – or you can just unwind on the beach. The fishing town of Negombo is surrounded by coconut groves and celebrated for its spicy seafood. For the real beach fanatic, visit Beruwela, just south of Colombo. There you will find the start of 130 km of gorgeous sand and surf.
Sri Lanka boasts seven UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites and they tell the story of the country’s varied history; beginning in 830BC and continuing through the colonial eras of the Portuguese, Dutch and British empires. Areas of lush natural beauty compete with historical wonders including ruined cities, religious sites, colonial forts and temples set within atmospheric caves, such as the ones in Dambulla.
One particularly fabulous site is the sacred city of Anuradhapura, where kings used to inhabit nine-storey palaces. The beautiful city also features ornate domes, called dagobas, and stunning statues. Other examples of beauty can be found at the temples and palaces in Kandy, the royal city.
Sri Lanka’s elephant population can be found throughout the country, although the greatest population lives around Uda Walawe. Visitors who want to get up close can feed baby elephants at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela. For more exotic creatures, take a trip to the Yala National Park, where leopards roam, with sloths and crocodiles, or try a spot of bird watching in Sinhara – the country’s last remaining untouched rainforest. Encounter beautiful fish snorkelling and diving, and stroll through the gorgeous Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, or marvel at Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall in Bambarakande.
Weddings and Honeymoons
With so many romantic sights, it is no wonder that many people choose to spend their honeymoons in Sri Lanka – or even get married there. Beachside ceremonies are common, while some tie the knot in a lush, tropical garden, in the jungle, or amid the picturesque ruins of an ancient city.
Honeymooners can chill on the beach, pamper themselves with Ayurvedic spa treatments or tour the hill stations, rainforests and tea plantations, while staying in a romantic hotel or at a private villa.
What To Do
The unspoilt beaches of Bentota are the perfect place to unwind on your Virgin break, while traditional Ayurvedic medicine promises to alleviate all your aches and pains. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, don’t miss Sri Lanka’s breathtaking scenery and wildlife – go whale-spotting, visit the elephant sanctuary, or take in the spectacular view from the World’s End cliff.
Where To Eat
Try the Thambapani Restaurant in the capital, Colombo: specialising in seafood, the establishment also boasts a mini-waterfall and attached art gallery. Saffron, and the Palmyrah Restaurant at Hotel Renuka, are also worth a visit on your Virgin travel trip.
Where To Stay
Visit Virgin Holidays to find out more about Sri Lanka holidays.
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