Why Sri Lanka Is Your Next Adventure Sport Destination
Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or just love to be active on holiday, Sri Lanka has something to offer you! So let’s dull those lock down blues with a list of reasons why Sri Lanka should be on your post-pandemic, adventure bucket list.
Top Adventures On Land
There are a variety of landscapes perfectly suited to hikers of all levels in Sri Lanka. The country has spent the last few years further developing trails in order to attract more keen ramblers. The cooler climes of the hill country in the centre of the country attract the most hikers, the most popular being Adam’s Peak, offering commanding views of the surrounding landscape and an important pilgrimage site for local Hindu’s, Buddhist’s and Muslim’s. The view from ‘The World’s End’ at Horton’s Plain National Park or the famous Nine Arches Railway Bridge in Ella are also not worth missing. Further North, where the climate is drier and hotter, you will find stunning walks through paddy fields and traditional villages, but the most iconic climb is to the top of Pidurangala Rock. Best enjoyed at sunset, the hike provides views of the iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress, with mountains, grasslands and forest as the backdrop.
Sri Lanka is part of one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, meaning it has an impressive abundance of biodiversity, including many endemic species. Discover the island's plethora of native and non-native species on an adventurous safari. You are in with a good chance of seeing blue whales, gray langur monkeys, Asian elephants, Indian Ocean bottle-nose dolphins, leopards or sloth bears, to name a few!
Make sure to try a boat safari on the less visited North-East coast between May and October for the opportunity to spot blue whales, the world's largest animal!
For the most adventurous land safari, stray away from the smaller, more touristy national parks of Yala and Minneriya in the South. Instead head further north to Wilpattu National Park, the most densely forested and biggest park in the country, for a truly wild experience.
One of the top destinations for cyclists, you can spend a day to a whole week cycling through the country. The varied landscapes from rolling tea hills to dry forest plains, sprawling rice paddy fields and sublime coastal pathways make Sri Lanka ideal for cycling.
Cycling is possible most of the year, but it is best to avoid the rainy weather of November. The central hill country is the most popular riding destination as it’s rural, winding roads through tea plantations make for stunning scenery and it is generally cooler than the rest of the country. Don’t let the idea of the hills put you off, as the old roads are less designed for modern vehicles so generally have a slow gradient. If you want flatter terrain, then the Cultural Triangle in the central North is your best bet, with the added benefit of ancient sites and monuments dotted around.
Getting a guide is recommended as you don’t want to end up on the main roads filled with impatient Sri Lankan’s on tuk tuks, mopeds, cars and buses, which will stress out even the most experienced cyclist, or bring a thrill to the most adventurous pedaller.
Cycling has so many benefits; it’s low emission, good for your health and allows you to take in the country at a much slower pace, increasing your chances of spotting local wildlife!
On the Water
White Water Rafting
More and more visitors to Sri Lanka are now taking on it’s natural rapids. The best rapids can be found falling from Adam’s Peak, on the Kelani River in Kitulgala. Total novice’s to experienced rafters can travel down the rapids from one hour and up to two days on a full on expedition! The heaviest rain is from May to December, so make sure to visit during those months for the best white water. For an even bigger sense of adventure, take on ‘Black Rafting’, where you can explore the forest rapids under the moonlight of a full moon, a truly magical experience.
The waters surrounding Sri Lanka are teeming with wildlife hidden in coral reefs, mangrove forests and shipwreck sites. There are two main monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka, so it is best to avoid them. Visit the East coast from May to September, while the West and South coasts are best explored from December to March.
If you want to gain a PADI Qualification, then there are plenty of schools to choose from. The most well known diving site is Pigeon Island National Marine Park, from the city of Trincomalee on the North-eastern coast, where you are in with a good chance of swimming with sea turtles. Head further south to the eastern shores of Passikudah to scuba dive at the famous British Sergeant wreck. Diving in the south from Mirissa and Weligama will provide you with some stunning rock formations and coral reefs. Being closer to the capital and international airport, Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna are very popular diving spots on the South-western coast, so are great for those who are limited on time.
Sri Lanka’s enviable location within the Indian Ocean, directly between the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, blesses it with clear, warm waters and fantastic surf. The predictable and reliable monsoon seasons mean you can easily plan a surfing trip to suit any level. November to April you will find perfect waves on the South-west coast, with the East coast offering the same during May to October. Perfect to combine with a scuba diving excursion, head to Mirissa and Hikkaduwa in the south. The east also has some awesome breaks at the southerly points of Aragum Bay or Okanda.
Adventure Tours in Sri Lanka
About the Author
Meike Simms, otherwise known as ‘Wholesome Travel Girl’, wants to explore the positive impact travellers can have on the wildlife and communities they visit, what she has coined as ‘Wholesome Travel’. Her zoological background and travel career have given her the opportunity to explore the big questions behind these issues through blogs and vlogs.