Sigiriya Rock Fortress
[ 22.1 km | 37 min | Open in maps ]
Sigiriya is one of the most valuable historical monuments of Sri Lanka.
Referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World this ancient palace and fortress complex has significant archaeological importance and attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is probably the most visited tourist destination of Sri Lanka.
The fortress complex includes remnants of a ruined palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys and fountains.
The palace and fortress complex is recognized as one of the finest examples of ancient urban planning. Considering the uniqueness of Sigiriya UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 1982. Sigiriya is an unmatched combination of urban planning, water engineering, horticulture and arts.
Dambulla Cave Temple
[ 2.8 km | 5 min | Open in maps ]
The Dambulla Cave Temples are the largest and best-preserved rock cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, towering 160 m over the surrounding plains with more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. The site is of particular interest for anyone that loves historic art, as five of the caves contain ancient statues and paintings related to and depicting Lord Buddha and his life.
Minneriya National Park
[ 39.6 km | 59 min | Open in maps ]
Minneriya national park is located 182 kms away from Colombo, in the North Central Plains of Sri Lanka. The major city closest to Minneriya National Park is Polonnaruwa. The recently renovated, the ancient Minneriya Rainwater Reservoir irrigates a considerable area of the district of Polonnaruwa and is the focal point of the Minneriya National Park. May to October is the best period to visit Minneriya National Park in view of the famous Gathering of the wild elephant herds. The gathering is documented as the largest known meeting place of Asian Elephants in the world. During the dry season of August to September each year, herds up to 300 elephants are seen within a few square kilometers of the vast Minneriya Reservoir. This Elephant Gathering is a thrilling spectacle that would be remembered for rest of the life of all those who were fortunate enough to witness it. 24 species of mammals and over 170 species of birds have been recorded here and out Of the 25 species of reptiles recorded in the park 8 are endemic.
Wasgamuwa National Park
[ 78.9 km | 1 h 31 min | Open in maps ]
Go on an adventurous safari and luxuriate majestic beauty of Sri Lanka’s wildlife that attracts local and international wildlife enthusiasts alike in great numbers.
Located neighbouring to the historic city of Polonnaruwa the park is one of the precious national treasures of the island.
Discover the opulence of the flora and fauna in the dry tropical forest setting, overlooking the stunning landscape of the park. Enjoy a Wasgamuwa safari ride filling your lungs with the refreshing air of the pristine wild and listening to the symphony of crickets and birds. Rest assuring you the sights of mighty elephants in a Wasgamuwa safari ride, the national park is also a home for a diverse of mammals including leopard, sloth bear, purple-faced langur monkey, wild boar, sambar, spotted deer, buffalo, and endemic yellow fronted barbet.
Small water pools scattered, throughout the national park are rich habitats for a diversity of aquatic life including water monitor, crocodile, python and various beautiful aquatic birds. This provide the wildlife-lovers with clear sights of wildlife around the pools, offering them a world of opportunities to snap your cameras for clear shots to take home.
Galoya National Park
[ 203 km | 3 h 52 min | Open in maps ]
Gal Oya National Park lies in the southeast of Sri Lanka and to the west of Ampara. It was established in 1954 by the Gal Oya Development Board mainly to protect the catchment area of the "Senanayake Samudra" Reservoir, and then handed over to the department of Wildlife Conservation in 1965.
Considered as a major eco tourism venue, Gal Oya National Park is rich in flora and fauna. About 45% of the park is covered by evergreen forest and a further 33% is taken up by savanna areas. The 25,900 hectare park has about 32 species of mammals including Common Langur, endemic Toque macaque, Leopard, Sloth Bear, Elephant, Wild Boar, Water Buffalo and 3 species of deer. For birding enthusiasts, approximately 150 of Sri Lanka's 430 species of birds have been observed in this region.
Gal Oya National Park is famous for it's boat safaris operated by Wildlife department and the most practical way of going to boat safari starting point is from Siyabalanduwa, that is halfway through on Monaragala - Arugam Bay road. The best time to go on the boar safari is at 6 AM or at 3 PM when the sunlight is not too harsh. The highlight in Gal Oya National Park boat Safari in Senanayake Reservoir is the swimming Elephants who swim across the Senanayake Reservoir to the islands in the lake in search of food.
Vedda Village in Mahiyanganaya
[ 96.1 km | 1 h 54 min | Open in maps ]
The Vedda people are the last indigenous tribe still in existence on the island of Sri Lanka. Dating back to the 6th century BC, the Veddas inhabited the forests of Sri Lanka long before the Buddhists arrived. The Vedda ‘Forest People’ are unfortunately slowly becoming extinct but there are some reservations that can be visited and where Veddas show tourists their way of life
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
[ 73.2 km | 1 h 30 min | Open in maps ]
The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I in the 11th century AD and maintained its status until the 13th century. In 1982 the ancient city of Polonnaruwa was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The history of Polonnaruwa is available at this link
What's nice about Polonnaruwa is that the ruins are in one compact area so you can visit them quite easily. Just one three wheeler ride from where you're staying to the entrance and you can walk about them all day long.
Ancient City of Anuradhapura
[ 69 km | 1 hr 21 min | Open in maps ]
The city of Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been the center of Theravada Buddhism for several centuries. It is located 205 km north of Colombo (current capital city of Sri Lanka) in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province. Standing on the banks of the historic Malvathu Oya, this city is an ancient city in the world. It has been continuously colonized by different rulers. Plus, it is a famous city for its storied remnants of ancient Sri Lankan civilization.
Furthermore, these remnants of the city continuously draw millions of tourists and the sights of this city are considered to be most evocative sights in the entire South Asia. Besides, the city is rich in archaeological and architectural wonders with elevated brick towers, ancient pools, mammoth dagobas, and crumbling temples. All of these wonderful establishments were created during the ruling period of different dynasties
Anuradhapura is a major part of the cultural triangle, which is significant to the Buddhist devotees in particular.