UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
Udawalawe National Park is located approximately 200 km south-east of Colombo city and is a major eco tourism destination in Sri Lanka . The 30,821 hectares dry zone game park has an annual rainfall of 1524 mm and an average temperature of 29.4°C.
It is most famous for the many elephants that live there (about 400 in total). During a visit, it is not unusual to see whole herds of adults and young elephants– feeding or bathing and playing in the water! In addition to this main attraction, the park is home to many water buffalo, water monitor lizards, sambar deer, monkeys and the occasional leopard, as well as being an exciting location for bird enthusiasts.
A 4WD open-top safari is the only way to see all the wonders that this protected reserve has to offer and our experienced and knowledgeable nature guides will make this an unforgettable experience
Wasgamuwa National Park
Wasgamuwa National Park was originally declared as strict nature reserve in 1938 and then change to a national park in 1984. The park lies within central and north- central provinces. The total park area is 39,322 ha.
Rainfall is mainly by northeast monsoon (December – February) and inter-monsoonal rains. Mean annual rainfall varies from 1750mm in dry zone area to 2250 in intermediate zone. Mean annual temperature is around 27C.
Park consists of riverine forest, dry mixed evergreen forest, grasslands and wetlands. As park is almost surrounded by Mahaweli & Amban Rivers, riverine forest area is fairly large.
Flora of the park consists of Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Satin (Chloroxylon swietenia), Wa (Cassia roxburghii), Gal Siyambala (Dialium ovoideum) and Ebony (Diospyros ebenum). The riverine forest dominated by Kumbuk (Terminalia arjuna), Mee (Madhuca longifoloa) and Thimbiri (Diospyros malabarica). Grasslands mainly consist of (Imperata cylindrica)
Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park is in the highlands of the country belonging to central province. This is the highest plateau in the country. This was declared as a National Park in 1988. The park area is 3160 hectare.
The second & third highest mountains of the country namely Kirigalpotta & Thotupola respectively are found within the borders of the park. Park receives rainfall from both northeast & southwest monsoons as well as inter-monsoonal rains. Frequently occurring mist and clouds are one main source of precipitation. With annual precipitation of about 5000mm Horton Plains is the most important catchments area of the country. Three major rivers of the country start from this area namely Kelani, Walawe & the Mahaweli the longest river of the country. There is a slight dry period between January to March. Due to altitude the area is comparatively cold. Mean annual temperature is around 15 C and during colder months it will go down further where it is cold enough to create ground frost.
Park consists of montane cloud forests embedded in wet montane grasslands. Horton Plains has rich biodiversity. Most of the fauna and flora found in the park are endemic and furthermore some of them are confined to highlands of the island.
Though this was one of the best elephant habitats in the country they are locally extinct due to poaching & sports hunting occurred during the British colonial era. Leopard and Sambhur & wild boar are the most common large mammals in Horton Plains. Endemic Bear Monkey, Rusty- Spotted and Fishing cats, Otter, Black napped hare and Giant Squirrel are among other mammals. Many species of endemic & threatened rats & shrews are also found in the park. Diversity & endemicity of reptiles (Lizards) and amphibians are remarkably high.
Though this is cold highland plateau the bird diversity is very high. More than 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds are found here.
Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park on 12 August 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. The reason for declaring the area as protected is to protect the catchment of Minneriya tank and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The tank is of historical importance, having been built by King Mahasen in third century AD. Large numbers of Sri Lankan elephants are attracted to grass fields on the edges of the reservoir during the dry season. The Minneriya tank contributes to sustain a large herd of elephants. Individuals of elephants gathered here is numbering around 150-200. Some reports account number of elephants to as high as 700. They migrate here from Wasgamuwa National Park and benefited from food and shelter of the park’s forest. Tourists visit Minneriya largely because of elephants, especially in dry season.
The park is also important habitat for the two endemic monkeys of Sri Lanka, Purple-faced Langur and Toque Macaque. Large herbivorous mammals such as Sri Lankan Sambar Deer and Sri Lankan Axis Deer also frequent the park. Rare and endangered species such as Sri Lankan Leopard and Sri Lankan Sloth Bear also inhabit in Minneriya. Minneriya is one of areas that the Gray Slender Loris is reportedly found in Sri Lanka.
Kumana Nataional Park (bird santuary)
Kumana National Park in Sri Lanka is renowned for its avifauna, particularly its large flocks of migratory waterfowl and wading birds. The park is 391 kilometres southeast of Colombo on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast. Kumana is contiguous with Yala National Park.
Kumana was formerly known as Yala East National Park, but changed to its present name in 5 September 2006
The Kumana area is part of an ancient civilization that goes back to the 3rd century BC. Rock inscriptions belonging to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC have also been found in the region. The Kumana National Park lies on the route of the traditional annual foot Pilgrimage to the Hindu temple at Kataragama. Both Tamil and Sinhalese communities take part in this pilgrimage
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is situated in the southeast region of the island in the dry zone boarding the Indian Ocean. Park area is belonging to two provinces namely South and Uva Provinces. The total area of the park (which is of 5 blocks) is 97,881 ha but only Block I and Block II are open for visitors.
The park was initially established in 1938 only with block I and other blocks were included later.Rainfall is highly seasonal. Main source of rainfall is Northeast monsoons (December – February) and inter monsoonal rains during March-April. Mean Annual Rainfall: 900 – 1300 mm. Area is experiencing drought during June –October. Mean annual Temperature 27o C. Daily temperature above 30oC is not uncommon.Vegetation is mainly consists of Secondary lowland dry monsoon forest & semi arid thorny scrublands. Small patches of riverine forest, mangroves, sand dunes and dry grasslands also presented.
Forest area is dominated by Palu (Manilkara hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Malitthan (Salvadora persica), Ehala (Cassia fistula), Divul (Limonia acidissima) and Kohomba (Azadirachta indica). Thorny scrubland is dominated by Eraminia (Ziziphus.sp) and Andara (Dichrostachys cinerea). Sonneratia, Acanthus, Rhizopora and Lumnitzera species dominate the mangrove vegetation.
All the big game mammals of the country are found within the park. Elephant, Leopard, sloth bear, Spotted Dear, Wild Boar and sambhur. Apart from them small mammals such as Black naped hare, Grey, Ruddy & Striped necked mongoose, Grey Langur & porcupine are common small mammals.
Park is also famous for its abundant bird life. Over140 species have recorded so far within the park. Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested serpent Eagle, Malabar pied Hornbill, Jungle fowl, painted Stork, White Ibis and Black necked Stork are commonly seen
Sinharaja Rain Forest
Sinharaja forest reserve is one of the least disturbed and biologically unique lowland rainforest in Sri Lanka. This forest covers an extent of about 11187 hectares from east to west. The length of the forest is about 21km and width from North to South is about 3.7km.
It was declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB) in 1978,as representative of tropical humid evergreen forest Eco system in Sri Lanka and has been recognized by UNESCO as part of it’s International Network of Biosphere reserves.
It was declared a National wilderness area in 1988 and lately a world heritage site in 1989.It is situated in the southwest lowland wet zone of the country in the districts of Ratnapura, Galle and Matara. The average annual temperature of Sinharaja is 23.6 C.
Annual rainfall is more than 2500mm.The rain fall is well distributed during two monsoons, May to July and October to December.
The Dunhinda Falls is one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful waterfalls located about 5 km off Badulla town. The waterfall, which is 210 feet (64 m) high gets its name from the smoky dew drops spray, (Dun in sinhala means mist or smoke) which surrounds the area at the foot of the waterfall. The water fall is created by the river called Badulu Oya which goes through the Badulla town.
To reach the water fall you have to walk more than 1 km distance along a foot path. Along this foot path you can see another small waterfall at a distance. However walking along this muddy foot path is really worth as the waterfall is so beautiful. Along this foot path there are many native venders selling herbal drinks to refresh and rest yourself. At the end of the path there is a secure stage constructed for viewers to see the waterfall. If you are brave enough you can reach the foot of the waterfall and cross the river and see the most beautiful view of the fall.
St. Clair’s Fall
St. Clair’s Fall is 80m in height and at 50m wide, and consists of two segments, known as ‘Big St. Clair’ and ‘Small St. Clair’. Created by the Kotmale River, a tributary of the Mahaweli River, it flows down a slope through an abandoned tea estate. In the Nuwara Eliya District, the fall is located 1.5km from Talawakele.
This is the third highest (171 M) water fall in Sri Lanka. The fall is located along the Koslande – Welawaya road in the Badulla District. Koslanda is the nearest town to the diyaluma fall.
Diyaluma is said Sri Lankan no 1 and most beautiful waterfall because its various qualities. This waterfall is very high and high capacity of water come from the top. Then water hits the rock millions of times and water way breaks many times. Mix with wind the waterfall like angel.
Visit Diyaluma is very easy because Diyaluma waterfall is at main road. Most tourists are like very much to visit this waterfall.
Just 15 kms from the Colombo- Ratnapura road, it falls from a height of 100ft into the Kurd gang river. The formation itself is a rare beauty with a perfectly heart shaped head, resembling the leaf of the sacred Bo tree, hence the name Bopath. Also a popular picnic spot, it is bound to take your breath away.
Between Pusselawa and Ramboda there are several waterfalls, all of which are less than 30m in height. It is located near the 28th mileposts at the Pusselawa
Ramboda Ella Falls
A gigantic waterfall (329 ft. ) having three parts and very close to the 53km post along the above A-5 trunk road. The first part is above the road in the jungle (100m), second part is close to the road (3m) and the third part (100m) is below the road.
Traveler should descend to the “Ramboda basin”, where the famous “Ramboda Inn” situated from where he can see the whole fall. When we were there the upper part was covered with a fog and what you see in the picture was the third part.
Laksapana Falls rise from the Laksapana estate and plunges into the Maskeliya Oya via Maoussakelle. Viewing this fall is easy if you camp down at Upper Glencairn, Dick oya.
Its – off the Nuwara Eliya – Kandapola Road. The Nuwara Eliya beer is brewed from the water of the stream
Peradeniya Royal Botanicle Garden
Approximately 68 miles or 110 kms away from Colombo and closer to Kandy is the Peradeniya Royal Botanical gardens. It is well known for sheer number and variety of plants that are indigenous as well introduced. The gardens contain over 4000 species and varieties making it one of the best and most valuable collections in the world.
Established in 1822, during the British rule, hence the “Royal”, the gardens are set in a horseshoe-shaped curve of the longest river in Sri Lanka, the Mahaweli. The gardens occupy about 150 acres, (60 hectares), with views of mountains to the south and jungle-covered hillside to the north. The garden complex is divided into several different zones, each specializing in one particular genre of flora.
Haggala Botanical Gardens
The Garden was first established in 1860 under the curatorship of three Britishers of the same name – William Nock, JK Nocl and JJ Nock. It lies under the Hakgala Peak, between 5000-6000 feet in elevation – the highest set Botanical Gardens in the world. It boasts 100 year old Monetary Cypress trees from California, Japanese Cedars, Himalayan Pines and English Oak.
The Botanical Garden is first as a cinchona plantation and then adapted to an experimental garden for the acclimatization of plants from temperate zones in the tropics. Here can be found all the flowers of an English cottage garden in spring and summer, and much else besides – such as the oldest tea-bush in the island, an ornamental pond and quaint summerhouse. Hakgala (Jaw Rock) rises a sheet 1500 ft/460 meters and offers one of the most stunning views ever. Legend says it was part of the Himalayas carried here by the Monkey God – Hanuman in his quest to help God-Rama rescue Goddess – Sita from the demon king – Ravana. Sita-Eliya, site of Sita’s imprisonment, stands a mere mile away, with the ‘Sita Amman Kovil’ close by.
Sri Lanka Gems
Sri Lanka’s gem industry has a very long and colorful history. Sri Lanka was affectionately known as Ratna-Dweepa which means Gem Island. The name is a reflection of its natural wealth. Marco Polo wrote that the island had the best sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems in the world. Ptolemy, the 2nd century astronomer recorded that beryl and sapphire were the mainstay of Sri Lanka’s gem industry. Records from sailors that visited the island states that they brought back “jewels of Serendib”. Serendib was the ancient name given to the island by middle – eastern and Persian traders that crossed the Indian Ocean to trade gems from Sri Lanka to the East during the 4th and 5th century.
Sri Lanka, geologically speaking is an extremely old country. Ninety percent of the rocks of the island are of Precambrian age, 560 million to 2,400 million years ago. The gems form in sedimentary residual gem deposits, eluvial deposits, metamorphic deposits, skarn and calcium-rich rocks. Other gems are of magmatic origin
Residual deposits are mainly found in flood plains of rivers and streams. The metamorphic types of gems constitute 90% of the gem deposits in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has the highest density of gem deposits compared to its landmass. Ratnapura contains the most gem deposits and derived its name from the gem industry. Ratnapura means “city of gems”.
The blue sapphires from Sri Lanka are known as Ceylon Sapphire. Ceylon Sapphires are reportedly unique in colour, clarity and lustre compared to the blue sapphires from other countries.
Read more about Sri Lankan gems
A Sri Lankan jewellers’ organisation claims to have solved an enduring secret surrounding the engagement ring of royal fiancee Kate Middleton.
The famous sapphire at the heart of the ring came from a mine in the centre of the country 35 years ago, the Sri Lanka Gem and Jewellery Association says.
Royal jewellers Garrard refused to comment on the claims………