Let’s ditch the road more travelled and let your spirits embrace the roads of other exotic offerings of joyful living on the ‘Island of the Marigold Sun’. This ‘Granny’s Parcel’ opens up layers of magical delights of culture and wildlife encounters, adventure amongst new communities and chill-out time in languid environs of incredible beauty.

Negombo offers many pleasurable moments on sunny beaches and restful tours of its canals, which are connected to a 19th century canal system linking Colombo to Negombo and further ahead to Puttalam up north. Marvel at the daily unveiling of a fabulous sunset on Negombo Lagoon, then wait for those magical moments when the stars come out and fill up the inky darkness of the night sky. On a pearly dawn head to the string of hamlets of the fishing community as they bring home the night catch. Have your camera ready to catch the beauty of these timeless scenes played out against a restless ocean at the fish market. Take a boat tour of the mangrove-littered waters of Muthurajawela Marsh, and enjoy some rewarding bird-watching experiences.


Back on terra firma linger amidst the colonial days’ remnants of the Dutch Fort dating to the 1600s. At the serene St Mary’s Church, gaze upon the painting of Christ, quite unusually painted by a Buddhist artist. An artisanal feast, the church inevitably draws your gaze to the superb stained-glass windows and the beautiful organ.


Another banquet of artisanal delights is the Angurukaramulla Temple, a Buddhist shrine, where one enters through the massive mouth of the dragon head which serves as the entry gate. Legend has it this act alone gets rid of any evil spirits hovering around you and the temple. Over three centuries old, the temple is notable for its colossal Buddha statue and ancient library. Unmissable is the gallery of beautiful murals and sculptures dotting the interiors of the temple.

The wilderness spaces of Gal Oya National Park, wrapped around Senanayake Samudraya, the island's largest reservoir, offer opportunities for jeep and boat safaris. Keep your eyes peeled for families of elephants having a leisurely bath in the cooling waters. On land, spend rewarding moments looking out for the game park’s favoured residents such as wild boar, sloth bear, water buffalo, axis deer, and even the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Accompanied by a naturalist you can also look forward to thrilling birding tours in these lush environs. A bonus of travelling in the area is visits to the village settlements where one can enjoy up-close interactions with the local indigenous Veddha people.

Adventure buffs can plan for an early morning hike up to Monkey Mountain and savour the fabulous panoramic views of the verdant valley stretching deep into the horizon, where the morning sun finally makes a dramatic appearance. Guests will also learn all about the Gal Oya Lodge Animal Monitoring Program, which aims to record and monitor the lodge’s resident species of animals. You can join the team of naturalists who set off on evening walks around the lodge to set up camera traps as part of this wonderful project.


The tiny seaside resort of Pasikudah, 35 km away from Batticaloa, is very big on the delights of its golden bay which is believed to have one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline in the world; the beauty of it is that you can actually wade into almost 50m of the ocean waters. The sea resort offers a slew of watersports and snorkelling adventures amongst the corals and scuba dives around the wreckage of a naval ship, the HMS Hermes from World War II. For the more timid of heart, there’s water skiing, banana boat rides and, deep-sea fishing trips. Sunset cruises and whale-watching tours are really popular here.  Back on land, you can enjoy leisurely explorations of verdant trekking trails in the nature reserves and animal-spotting jeep safaris.

Stick a pin on a tourist map of Sri Lanka, and depending on the season you can go exploring a slew of exciting destinations which harbour many unique experiences to enjoy. These trips can be totally customized for your individual needs or if you are travelling in a close group of family and friends.

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