Formerly a glorious citadel built by King Kashyapa in the 5 th century, today Sigiriya is an architectural marvel and an important part of the country’s cultural history. A full experience of Sigiriya, covering the main Lion Rock, the summit, the frescoes, the mirror wall, the terrace and boulder gardens will take you the best part of a day. Get there early in order to avoid the crowds. You can organize a guided tour, if you don’t feel like scaling the rock by yourself. The views at the summit are magnificent, so don’t skip that part. Head over to nearby Pidurangala if you like to engage in a slightly tougher hike up an ancient rock. The summit of Pidurangala is by no means easy to reach and should only be attempted by those who are fit and active. However, it does offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, with Sigiriya at the centre.
If you feel like experiencing more of Sri Lanka’s history and culture, head over to the splendid cave temple complex in Dambulla. Filled with grand sculptures of Lord Buddha, along with wall and ceiling murals dating back to ancient times, the well preserved Dambulla Cave Temple is certainly worth visiting.
Both the Minneriya National Park and the Kaudulla National Park are home to large numbers of Sri Lankan elephants. The annual ‘elephant gathering’ at Minneriya is truly a wonderful sight to behold. The parks are also home to many other mammals, birds and reptiles, some of which are endemic to Sri Lanka.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
Sail over the lush countryside of Sri Lanka in a hot air balloon and take in the glorious landscapes, ancient monuments and majestic elephant herds that roam about the plains. It is a wonderful way to view the beauty of this resplendent land.
Village Walk or Cycling Tour
Take a guided cycling trip or a village walk through rice paddy fields and vegetable farms to rural villages, where you will gain insight into the daily lives of Sri Lankans. Chat with the villagers, join them in their daily activities, share a simple meal in one of their homes and experience the hospitality Sri Lankans are famous for.