An exciting air taxi experience in Sri Lanka

The island of Sri Lanka is genuinely blessed by nature. There is so much to see on this beautiful island and while a land view of this beauty is extravagant in its own ways, an air view is undoubtedly breathtaking. During your holiday in Sri Lanka, choose an exclusive air taxi experience with one of the many sea plane service providers.

The initial launch of Sri Lanka’s seaplane service was back in 2004, but it did not continue for long due to the prevailing civil war in the country. In 2012, the service was re-launched and was very much under the radar but is now quickly gaining popularity. Sri Lankan Airlines was the first company to come up with an air taxi service and was soon followed by other companies such as Cinnamon Air, Expo Air, Deccan Aviation, Helitours, Cosmos Aviation, Air Senok and a few others.

With an air taxi experience in Sri Lanka, you can enjoy a quick and stunning journey across the entire island, with stops at many popular destinations such as Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya, Bentota, Koggala, Dickwella, Batticaloa and Trincomalee. Air taxi services are also available at the International Airport so you can make use of this service as a connecting flight to your next local holiday destination once you land in Sri Lanka. Since these planes are small in size, if you have a group of about 15-20 people, it is possible to charter an entire flight and enjoy a private trip flying across the pearl of the Indian Ocean.

The Air Taxi service in Sri Lanka is truly a one-of-a-kind magical experience. You have a splendid view over the lands and clouds, through the misty hills, over the exotic coastlines and national parks to present you with astonishing sceneries. A flight from Colombo-Koggala for example would show you aerial views of the southern expressway, paddy fields, palm oil plantations, Temples, Mosques, cricket pitches and a stunning view of the south-western coastline. When flying towards Kandy, you can capture beautiful photographs of waterfalls, plantation houses, more temples and cricket pitches.

Each seaplane has two pilots at the front who are very friendly and more than willing to answer all your questions. The number of seats available on the flight varies depending on which seaplane service provider you are travelling with. It is more fun to get together with a group of family and friends and book a charter flight so you can enjoy this experience with your loved ones.

Once you are comfortably seated on the flight and have accurately put your seatbelts on, the pilots will begin to takeoff. There is no cabin separating the cockpit on a seaplane so you can see how the pilots are manipulating the flight. Within just a quarter of a mile, you are up and into the air. If you are on a scenic flight, the journey usually lasts for about an hour and goes approximately 7500ft into the sky. Landing a seaplane depends on the water levels, currents and visibility. For this reason, the schedules and bases of air taxis are flexible.

Explore the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s famous Cultural Triangle is derived from a collection of royal cities, Buddhist Temples and ancient monuments that was once the early Sinhalese civilization. Kandy, Anuradhapura, and Polonnaruwa are the 3 main historic capitals which make up the cultural triangle. Within this triangle there is also the astounding Sigiriya rock, the cave temples in Dambulla and the heart of Buddhism in Mihintale. A cultural tour of Sri Lanka arranged by our skilled consultants at Blue Lanka Tours will include all these attractions to allow visitors to absorb the unique culture and history of Sri Lanka.

Not to Miss

  • Observe the wonderful ruins of Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa
  • Climb and explore the giant rock fortress of Sigirya
  • Be amazed at the beautiful cave paintings and Buddha statues in Dambulla
  • Be in Mihintale during Wesak (festival to celebrate birth and death of Lord Buddha)
  • Take a bicycle stroll on peaceful minor roads by lakes and paddy fields

 

Major Cities

Anuradhapura

The ancient city of Anuradhapura is known as the Buddhist capital of the country and is home to a collection of popular religious sites.

  • Monasteries built during the city’s height of prominence. Popular ones are Mahavihara, Jetavana and Abhayagiri.
  • The sacred Bo Tree at the heart of Anuradhapura. Sri Maha Bodhi is believed to be the oldest living tree in the world. This tree is also the site where Lord Buddha received Enlightenment.
  • Remains of the Brazen Palace. 1600 stone columns are neatly spaced out, the highest being the red-brick dagoba of Jetavana; supposedly the highest in the world.

 

Polonnaruwa

From the 11th to 13th century, Polonnaruwa was the capital of the country and because of this long period of prominence, we see several great ruins here. Today, the city represents medieval Sri Lanka at its best.

  • The shallow reservoir of Parakrama Samudra.
  • The royal palace complex at the center of the city. Walls have been restored to protect the Council Chamber and Royal Baths.
  • North of this complex is the Monastery of Cremation Grounds (Alahana Pirivena). Many of the city’s finest ruins are found here.
  • Amongst other ruins, the most popular one here is the Lankatilaka Temple. The brick walls of this temple are 17 meters high.
  • A group of stone shrines with beautiful rock carvings of Lord Buddha.
  • A collection of four Sinhalese rock carvings of Buddhas in various positions: 14m long reclining, 7m tall standing and two seated postures of Lord Buddha. These carving are laid out against a backdrop or astonishing artwork.

 

Kandy

After Colombo, Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second biggest city, beautifully set surrounding a man-mad lake. Kandy has a rich and long history because this city was able to resist colonial forces for longer than the rest of the island. Hence it has retained some unique traditions and is considered the cultural capital of Sri Lanka.

  • Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic houses Buddha’s Tooth, which was brought in during the 16th century. A two storied shrine topped with a golden roof canopy protects this Tooth.
  • An awe-inspiring, colorful, bright and vibrant Esala Perahera takes place every year to honor the Sacred Tooth Relic. Costumed elephants, dancers, drummers, whippers, fire dancers, stilt walkers and more talents are exhibited in the grand procession.

 

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a town situated in the dry-zone of central Sri Lanka. Many centuries ago, one of the Kings of Sigiriya built his palace complex at the top of the rock and the remnants of this is kept intact till today. Known as the “Lion’s Rock”, tourists consider it an exciting activity to climb to the top. On the way, you will come across beautiful frescoes carved into the insides of the rock. The entrance of the fortress is passing a Lion’s Paw, which is a spectacular sight today. At the top you will find remnants of the Royal Palace and a beautiful view of Sri Lanka’s nature.

Dambulla

At the heart of the cultural triangle is the town of Dambulla, which boasts well preserved cave temples dating back to the 1st century BC. A large rock covers the cave temples and partition walls are built to separate every individual temple. Although the site has been remodeled and repainted many times over the years, the style and appearance of the art has been consistent.

  1. Cave 1 – 15m long resting Buddha carved from solid rock.
  2. Cave 2 – largest cave with more than 150 life size statues and images of Lord Buddha. Ceilings and walls are covered with fantastic murals depicting historical events.
  3. Cave 3 – meditating Buddha carved from solid rock and interesting murals.
  4. Cave 4 – noted for the Dagoba at the centre.
  5. Cave 5 – smallest cave with brick and plaster statues of Buddha.

When visiting the cave temples, start in reverse order so you can end with the most impressive one.

Mihintale

Mihintale is a mountain peak, where Buddhism was born. The Temple complex here consists of shrines and rock dwellings as old as the 2nd century. While climbing to the summit, you can see:

  • Kantaka Chetiya Dagoba – unique stonework and friezes
  • A stone aqueduct with two granite troughs
  • Two large stone tablets with engravings of monastery rules and regulations
  • Ambasthala Dagoba – Mihintale’s sacred centre
  • A large white painting of Buddha, raised from a platform
  • Mahaseya Dagoba – the largest of them all
  • Naga Pokuna – ‘Snake Pond’: a five headed cobra carving

WHEN to go WHERE in SRI LANKA!

Being a tropical country located on the equator line, Sri Lanka is a very holiday-friendly destination throughout the year. All you need to know is which side of the country you should focus on during the period which you are planning your holiday in Sri Lanka.

There are two main monsoons that you should keep in mind:

South-western monsoon: rains in the southern and western regions of the island, particularly the coastline, between the months of May and September. In these regions, the dry months are from December to March.

North-east monsoon: affects the north and east coastal regions of Sri Lanka between October and January. The dry season here is from May to September.

Since the island boasts several beach destinations, it is always best to get in touch with a local travel agent for most accurate information. Blue Lanka Tours will be glad to assist you on when is the best time you should visit Sri Lanka for beach tours or for exploring other regions of the country.

When planning your holidays, always understand the ever-changing global weather conditions. Just like in any other country, weather predictions based on monsoons in Sri Lanka can vary from what the met department says. There will be many days when rainy seasons have clear blue skies and dry seasons have random days of torrential rain. Hence don’t just depend on the weather when making your holiday plans. Consider other seasonal offers, school holidays for children, etc, when deciding when to visit Sri Lanka.

Just to give you an idea of what the rain is really like in Sri Lanka:

  • Downpours are sharp, yet short
  • The rain will rarely last all day
  • In extreme but very rare cases, severe rain will cause flooding and may require you to change plans.

 

Colombo & West Coast
(Bentota, Colombo, Negombo, Kalpitiya)

The best weather in this region is expected from the latter part of November to April the next year. The southwestern monsoon controls the rain here and if heavy rainfall and storm like conditions are predicted, it is best to avoid this coastline. June and September are the months with most rainfall and less rainfall is expected in August. The average temperature throughout the year rarely goes below 30 °C,

East Coast
(Passikuda, Trincomalee, Arugam Bay, Batticaloa)

While the rest of the island is experiencing rains, (south-west monsoon) the east coast of Sri Lanka boasts the best weather conditions (April to September). Rainfall here is experienced from October to January (northeast monsoon). With several new hotels recently launched on this lesser developed coastline, you have an exceptional opportunity to take advantage of some of the best beaches in Asia.

South
(Galle, Mirissa, Tangalle, Yala)

The beaches inclined towards the southern coastline of the island have similar weather patterns to that of the west coast. Galle, Mirissa and Tangalle have perfect weather from November to April. Moving east towards Yala, the weather may be influenced by the northeast monsoon, with more rainfall from October to January and dry weather from May to September.

The Cultural Triangle
(Sigiriya, Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa)

The locations of most of the country’s cultural attractions are more towards the center of the island and are categorized under the ‘dry zone’. These regions experience rainfall only in November and December, apart from which the weather remains dry throughout. June and July brings in more heat and strong winds compared to other months.

Hill Country
(Kandy, Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Hatton)

Kandy is situated at a much lower altitude than the other hill country destinations and hence you can enjoy lesser rainfall and higher temperatures. Climbing further up to Nuwara Eliya and Ella, there will be a drop in average temperature and this region is cooler than the rest of the island all year round. Rainfall is expected almost throughout the year but will be lesser from December to May, which is the pilgrimage season for climbing Adam’s Peak.

 

December to April is the peak season for good weather conditions in most of South-East Asia, and the same applies for a holiday in Sri Lanka. However, the other months also have great weather and guests can take the advantage of low visitors and tour Sri Lanka during those months. Sri Lanka is a year-round holiday destination because the sun will always be shining somewhere on this beautiful island.

Sri Lanka’s most happening events/holidays in 2017

Pilgrimage Season: December 2016 – May 2017

Thousands of visitors and pilgrims climb up to Adam’s Peak from December to May every year. The peak of the mountain is Sri Lanka’s highest point and a string of twinkling lights guides pilgrims to this peak. Dalhousie is the base from which the trek begins for most visitors and it’s a 3-4 hour climb (one way) to the top.

Hot Air Balloon Festival – March 2017

This one week long flying festival, is when Sri Lanka celebrates its burgeoning ballooning scene. You will see a colorful collection of balloons floating across the towns of Hambantota, Sigiriya and the city of Colombo. This festival is an ideal opportunity to enjoy a scenic aerial tour of the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.

Galle/Jaffna Music Festival – March 2017

This music festival alternates between Galle (South) and Jaffna (North) every year. This is a diverse music festival exhibiting all sorts of music from classical pieces to folk and fusion music. Alongside the main line of events, there are also workshops that take place pertaining to themes such as sound, arts and crafts, and engineering. More information: www.gallemusicfestival.org

Sinhalese New Year – April 2017

In April every year, the Sinhalese and Tamil celebrate their New Year when the sun transitions from Pisces to Aries. 13th and 14th of April are the dates fixed for this cultural celebration. Rituals across countrywide Sinhalese and Tamil folk include family dinners, colorful street parties, fireworks, exchanging presents and cooking traditional sweetmeats.

Vesak Poya – May 2017

The full moon Poya holiday in May is when Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. Vesak is similar to a festival of lights where the entire country is decorated with vesak lanterns and other amazing works of art and craft that tells a story of Buddhist history. Don’t be surprised if you find free food distributed at roadside stalls.

Hikkaduwa Beach Festival – July/August 2017

The beach town of Hikkaduwa devotes itself for five days to a popular beach fest. Live music, Sri Lankan dancers, international DJ’s, kite festivals, kids corner, fireworks and much more is what you will find here.

Kataragama Festival – July/August 2017

An annual festival is held in the religious town of Kataragama, during which devoted Hindus engage in some extremely fascinating self-mutilation rituals. The evening procession is another highlight here as it is conducted in absolute silence.

Kandy Perahera – August 2017

The residents of Kandy and talented citizens from all over the country partake in a colorful and vibrant annual parade that carries around the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha on an elegantly decorated elephant. Blue Lanka Tours and other travel agents often include this festival in the itineraries of guests visiting Sri Lanka during this period.

Colombo Fashion Week – August 2017

This is an event that is celebrated to showcase the talents of Sri Lanka’s high profile designers. This three day long festival in Colombo will include a variety of catwalk shows, workshops and other fashion-focused events. More information at – http://www.colombofashionweek.com

Top Five West Coast Tourist Hotspots in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s west coast is very well developed, westernized and finely customized for tourists. A string of fine golden sandy beaches are lined up in cities like Beruwala, Negombo, Chilaw and Kalpitiya backed by hotels and guesthouses equipped with tourist amenities of every imaginable standard. While there is a lot of tourism development in other parts of Sri Lanka, the luxury resort hotels in these cities play a major role in providing long stay Sri Lanka holiday packages to tourists looking to get away from the Northern Winter.

What to expect

Observation will bring to your notice that the island’s West Coast has sort of a multiple personality. If you move north of the capital city of Colombo, you come to Negombo, which is a fisherman’s paradise. Crowded beaches, fishing boats strolling from one end to the other, a friendly and cheerful town, and the close proximity to the International Airport is what makes Negombo a staple stop for tourists in Sri Lanka. Moving further up to Kalpitiya, you will see a landscape of wilderness with coconut plantations, lagoons and dolphins.

When travelling south of Colombo, you will find a collection of chic boutique hotels, traditional Sri Lankan culture in Ambalangoda, uncluttered golden sands in Bentota and the backpacker party town of Hikkaduwa.

There are several articles guiding tourists on making the most of the south-western coast of Sri Lanka (towns south of Colombo). Blue Lanka Tours organizes several Sri Lanka holiday packages catered specifically to beach holidays. These itineraries include towns in the western, southern and eastern coast of Sri Lanka. In this article, we will discuss what the best hotspots on the west coast are, moving north of Colombo.

Jetwing Lagoon – Negombo

Located close to the calm beach in Negombo, Jetwing Lagoon is an elegant and chic hotel that is meant to create unique and memorable experiences for guests. This is the first resort in Sri Lanka to be built by the legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa and hence holds an aesthetically significant environment. White and brown are the prominent colors used to decorate the resort and the rooms are lined up on either side, meeting at a central garden, where there is a 100 meter long infinity pool. Along with the massive pool, another highlight of the hotel is the amazing view of the Negombo Lagoon from its main restaurant. The hotel is also popularly known for its Ayurvedic treatment facilities.

Heritance Negombo

Heritance Negombo is designed to give you a charming experience of the west coast paradise in Sri Lanka. This recently built property has 139 rooms brilliantly designed by a group of foreign architects. As a family friendly hotel, it has a large children’s swimming pool, an interactive adult swimming pool and a fitness center. From chic living spaces to pampered spa therapies, Heritance Negombo has it all.

Anantaya Chilaw

The segregated waters of Chilaw can be treasured at this tremendous luxury resort – Anantaya Chilaw. The atmosphere here includes the warm sky blue waters of the sea along with the soothing waters of a tidal pond surrounded by a mangrove to wrap you up in a peaceful trance. One can either relax on the sleeping chairs at the edge of the pool or get a peaceful massage at their exclusive spa facilities. With soft sandy beaches on one side and a lagoon on the other, this hotel is the perfect enchanting getaway that one would dream of for a holiday in Sri Lanka.

Dolphin Beach Resort – Kalpitiya

The peninsula of Kalpitiya boasts of exotic beaches ideal for jet skiing, snorkeling, kite-surfing, dolphin watching and simply relaxing and indulging the breathtaking view of sun, sand and sea. Taking advantage of this picture-perfect backdrop, Dolphin Beach Resort was constructed to provide tourists with top notch accommodation in Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka. Rooms are in the form of luxury, spacious tents with attached chic bathrooms to offer guests a unique camping experience on paradise island.

Bar Reef Resort – Alankuda

Bar Reef Resort in Alankuda, Kalpitiya is deigned to let you enjoy the natural beauty around you. Romantic evenings, peaceful nature trails, kite-surfing experiences, and simply relaxing and unwinding is what this hotel is all about. Spacious, attractive and luxury villas are designed, each featuring two bedrooms, large verandahs, fenced gardens and open air showers under coconut palms. The eco-friendly saltwater infinity swimming pool is an essence of ultimate relaxation. A cozy little restaurant is located right on the beach for guests to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings with a delicious tropical cocktail in hand.

Experiencing Sri Lankan nature in true luxury fashion

If you are in Sri Lanka for a holiday, choose to stay in one of the nature focused resorts that let you devour the blessed mother nature in extreme luxury style. The ecological diversity in Sri Lanka is definitely worth discussing and that is exactly what we are going to brief you on in this article. Blue Lanka Tours can arrange for you to experience a variety of natural landscapes at amazingly luxurious resorts located amidst Mother Nature.

Hill Country Resorts

 

  1. 98 Acres Resort and Spa

This hotel is a widely popular spot for enjoying the stunning beauty of Sri Lanka’s hill country. As its name says, the resort is located on a 98 acres tea estate featuring several individual chalets overlooking panoramic views. The chalets are made out of up-cycled material such as straws and old railway sleepers. Based in the small town of Ella, you are not going to run out of things to do if you ever feel like leaving the comfort of your chalet.

  1. Ceylon Tea Trails

Known as one of the island’s most outstanding hotels, Ceylon Tea Trails is no doubt a drop dead gorgeous resort! Each colonial style bungalow has a private butler service and scenery to die for. Popular as a honeymoon hotspot, the hotel caters to bespoke luxury at a high end price range.

  1. Langdale By Amaya

This is a colonial style Sri Lankan bungalow with each room having a cozy and antique feel to it. You could enjoy personalized service such as breakfast in bed, a privately guided nature excursion or a pampered evening at the Spa. Take a dip in the pool and absorb the view of lush greenery overlooking the pool. A beautiful garden and tennis lawn is well placed beside the small hotel for guests looking for outdoor activity.

Eco Friendly Resorts

 

  1. Jetwing Vil Uyana

Nestled over a man-made lake in Sigiriya, Vil Uyana is one of the best properties owned by the Jetwing group. Inspired by rural traditions, this luxury nature reserve blends well into the landscape. Private two story chalets are available with plunge pools, luxurious bathrooms and large, open-air shower areas. The wetland system is man-made, allowing chalets to be built over the water, paddy fields, forests and marshes, giving guests an opportunity to witness a magnificent environment.

  1. Ulpotha

Ulpotha is a different concept to that of a traditional hotel but offers guests a tailor-made retreat experience. It is an eco-village offering yoga, spa and Ayurvedic treatments on a non-profit basis. Situated in Empogama (central Sri Lanka), this paradise village offers peace, beauty and simple luxury, along with a two weeks course in yoga. This 22 acre organic farm offers guests a one bedroom adobe hut amidst flowers and fruit trees, and an opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with nature. Ulpotha is a seasonal retreat and is open only 20 weeks of the year, mostly for guests interested in yoga and meditation.

  1. The Paradise Resort & Spa

Enveloped in charming greenery, embedded in the city of Dambulla, The Paradise Resort & Spa is a luxurious eco resort with 67 modern designed rooms and suites. Sports and recreation opportunities along with a spa, swimming pool and fitness center are available for guests.

 

Wildlife Resorts

 

  1. Cinnamon Wild

A unique honeymoon destination – Cinnamon Wild Yala – is a sprawling property located on the edge of the Yala National Park. During your stay here, you can peacefully co-exist with local fauna and wildlife such as crocodiles, wild boars and elephants gallivanting near the lake. The 68 rooms and suites at this hotel offer ultimate luxury amidst one-of-a-kind wildlife environments. Cinnamon Wild is partnered with Nature Trails to allow guests to explore the diverse wildlife by way of jeep safaris during the day and night time.

  1. Grand Udawalawe

Located close to the Udawalawe National Park, the Grand Udawalawe Safari resort is the only luxury hotel in the area. The 53 rooms and 4 suites are designed for a perfectly cozy getaway, keeping in mind all the modern amenities. The Elephant Orphanage is just half a kilometer away from the hotel.

  1. Saraii Village

Explore tree top accommodation in the rustic paradise island of Sri Lanka. At Saraii Village, allow yourself to be hushed into nature, for an experience like no other. Located in the Hambantota District, this resort offers mud chalets and a charming set of tree houses. Those looking for an authentic rustic holiday with some wild adventures, this is the place to be.

Six innovative ideas for a holiday in Sri Lanka

With the diverse landscape that can be enjoyed in a small country like Sri Lanka, we compiled a list of unique holiday bungalows / hotels that you can stay in and make your holiday an unforgettable one. Our team at Blue Lanka Tours can arrange an interesting itinerary to take you to all the popular tourist attractions around Sri Lanka and also give you an experience at one or more of these interesting locations.

Amidst Tea Plantations

Dining Verandah, Ceylon Tea Bungalows is the name of the place, located in the hills of Bandarawela. Opened in July 2016, this luxury property offers elegant style, ultimate comfort and personalized service. The bungalow has five cozy double rooms that are named after neighboring villages in the area. Each room has a dedicated butler to cater to every requirement of the guest. The property is located on a tea estate hence guests can wander around the plantations, enjoy a tea plucking session or even hike up to popular viewpoint such as the Lipton’s Seat – favorite spot of British tea supplier Thomas Lipton.

www.ceylonteabungalows.com

Farm Stay at Amba Valley

This is a factory and bungalow in the midst of an organic farm in the beautiful hills of Amba Estate. Just a 30 minute drive from Ella, this family-friendly guesthouse started out as a century old four bedroom bungalow in 2013. A little later, two more cottages were added, bringing the total number of rooms in the guesthouse to 11. Eligible workers from neighboring villages are employed as staff at this community based guesthouse, and the staff are given a 10% share of the total revenue. Activities at this farm include tours of the farm, hiking, mountain biking and tea rolling. The estate manufactures artisanal teas and spices which you can take back home as gifts or memorabilia.

www.ambaestate.com

Family Bungalow with pool (near Galle)

If you are visiting Sri Lanka with your family, or friends and families, then this is an ideal alternative to an expensive hotel or villa booking. Thalpe Bungalows, south east of Galle, is a collection of three one bedroom cottages, each with a lounge, fold-able beds for children, a kitchen area, and a beautiful long veranda beside a leafy walled garden. A common pool is available for use of residents of all three cottages. Murray, Seema and their daughter are friendly owners of this bungalow who live on site and keep the property well maintained. If you need any additional equipment for children, they will be glad to help. Just 25 minutes walking distance is a swimmable lagoon at the Dalawella beach.

www.thalpebungalows.com

Coffee shop with Chic Rooms

Looking for out-of-the-box accommodation in Colombo? Bedroom at Black Cat is a vintage café that has rooms with an atmosphere of a 1920s house. Located in Colombo’s Cinnamon Gardens district, there are plenty of galleries, cafes and shops around this area. The concept was created by a young team of husband and wife, who upgraded the existing rooms in luxury style. They invested in air conditioners, king size beds, bathrooms and rain showers to create a modern minimalist living style. All the basic luxuries they deemed as necessary, based on their past travels, have been assembled here. The café is popular for its excellent coffee and deep-filled sandwiches.

www.blackcatcolombo.com

Lakeside living off-the-grid

This property is a recycled champagne bottle chalet near the pristine setting of Lake Hambegamuwa (close to the Udawalawe national park). Known as Banyan Camp, this magical off-grid living style is combined with a carbon-neutral lodge. The main chalet has a palmed roof and can accommodate up to six persons on mattresses protected with mosquito nets. A smaller lodge has been recently built from 22000 recycled champagne and wine bottles, an ideal dream room for a couple. In 2016, the owners introduced a range of festival-style bell tents as well as some tentsile tree tents. This type of accommodation is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. Included in your package is freshly cooked local food, drinks, activities such as canoeing and trekking, and also a safari at the National Park.

www.banyancamp.com

Beach Hostel with surfing and sushi

Hangtime Hostel in the southern coast of Weligama is the best destination for those wanting to indulge in a surf holiday in Sri Lanka. This nautical-themed three storey building has both female and mixed dorm rooms bang opposite the beach. Each dorm has a balcony with brightly colored chair hammocks to observe surfers. A few private double rooms are available on the ground floor with beds made from old fishing boats. There is a café at the rooftop with amazing views of the Weligama bay. The café also serves exclusive sushi food and a wide range of burgers. The rooftop is always lively, particularly during weekly beer pong sessions and when open mike nights are held.

www.hangtimehostel.com

Five adventurous things to do in Ella

Ella is a beautiful and charming hill side town located on the southern edge of Sri Lanka’s hill country. Surrounded by green mountains, tea plantations, vegetable plots and a range of flora and fauna, the small town of Ella has marvelous views and many interesting things to do. Being a recently revealed tourist destination, it is fast gaining popularity among local and foreign visitors. The weather in Ella resembles that of a typical hill country: hot sunshine in the morning hours, about an hour of rain in the afternoon and then chilly weather towards the evening and night.

Getting there:

Province: Uva Province

Distance from Colombo: 232 Km

Approximate driving time: 5 hours

Accessible by bus and train

Where to stay:

98 Acres Resort & Spa is undeniably the best place to stay in Ella. Set amidst breathtaking mountains, this hotel offers an exclusive living experience to its guests. Our consultants at Blue Lanka Tours will be more than glad to arrange for your accommodation at this luxury resort. We can also plan an itinerary and arrange transport to take you to other popular tourist attractions in Ella and around Sri Lanka.

Because Ella is a small town in itself with just a few neighboring shops, bars and restaurants, it serves as a good base for exploring the surrounding area. Here are a few things you can do during your stay in Ella:

  1. Little Adam’s Peak

This is the most popular tourist attraction that Ella is known for. The Little Adam’s Peak, a 1141 meter high mountain named after a holy mountain in Sri Lanka because of the similarity in shape is what you have to climb here. It is an enjoyable half hour trek to its peak with an amazing view of tea plantations, the Ella Rock, Ravana Falls and an endless valley below you. If you are lucky enough to be trekking on a clear sunny day, you can see the south coast of beautiful Sri Lanka while on your trail.

  1. Ella Rock

Ella Rock is another trekking adventure but is a little more challenging than that of Little Adam’s Peak. Those who are interested in hiking will love this trail which is best climbed with a guide. There is no visible track along the trail so if you try to climb it without a guide it will take you much longer. Set out on your hike at the crack of dawn because the best views from the top are available in the morning hours. It is a 1.5-2 hour climb to the top during which you will hike through peaceful woodlands and tea plantations.

  1. Halpewatte Tea Factory

You most certainly can’t leave Sri Lanka without visiting a tea factory. In Ella, you can go to the Halpewatte Tea Factory and learn about the step-by-step manufacturing process of the world famous Ceylon Tea. You can ask the staff any questions and also request to taste their freshly brewed tea. Visitors can also purchase factory fresh tea from here.

  1. Ella Spice Garden

Visiting the Ella Spice Garden is quite a fun activity because you get to learn about where some of your favorite cooking ingredients come from. The garden tour is quite short but you can choose to enroll yourself in a lunch time cooking class. This is an informative, fun and personal class from which you can obtain a great insight on the recipes of authentic Sri Lankan food. If you wish to attend these cooking classes, please inform us in advance so we can notify them because these classes tend to get quite full.

  1. Demodara Nine Arch Bridge

This popular attraction was built by the British in the early 20th century and is located 2km away from Ella town. It has nine sky bridges built completely from solid bricks, cement and rock; no steel is used in the construction. It is indeed a splendid sight.

Not to miss in Ella…

  • A tiny hole-in-the-wall curd shop close to the bus stand offers some delicious and cheap breakfast before or after your early morning trek to Little Adam’s Peak.
  • T-Sips is a fair-trade tea shop that sells tea leaves, not fresh cups of tea. 5% of their revenue is donated to community projects in Ella.
  • Grab a quick lunch at the down town rotti hut and try their mouth-watering rottis available in a wide range of delicious flavors.
  • Garden view restaurant – a tree-house style wooden restaurant with friendly staff and delectable local meals.
  • Café Chill is the most popular roadside café cum bar considered as the coolest place to hang out. Minty mojitos, good food, cool tunes and easy conversation is what you will find here.
  • A nice cup of tea at the Little Folly Restaurant along with a slice of gourmet chocolate or lemon cake.
  • A picturesque train ride from Ella to Nanu Oya (approximately 2 hours one way)

Quick guide to Jaffna Tourism

Jaffna is located on the northern tip of Sri Lanka and is home to a dominant Tamil population. The city is often referred to as the Tamil cultural capital in Sri Lanka. Citizens of Jaffna are very friendly and wonderful people, which mean visiting this part of the island, should be a priority on your list of places to visit in Sri Lanka.

You are probably wondering why Jaffna tourism was never spoken about for decades? Well it has only been a few years since the end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, after which locals and foreigners were allowed to visit Jaffna. The peace is back now and there is absolutely no danger in travelling to Jaffna. Blue Lanka Tours can help you get there and have an enjoyable stay.

Places to visit

Once in Jaffna, here’s a list of places you should visit:

  • Library

The Jaffna Library was known as one of the best in Asia before it was burnt down during the civil war. Today, most of it is restored and is open for the public. This building is one of the monuments of Jaffna, located very close to the town.

  • Fort

Located on the southern end of the Jaffna peninsula, the ancient fort is the second largest and well preserved fort in the country. In 1619, the Potuguese built this fort, which was then expanded and re-built by the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries respectively. The reason of expansion was to facilitate trading activities in the northern region of Sri Lanka. The Jaffna fort was of significant importance throughout Sri Lankan history, particularly to the Europeans.

  • Nallur Temple

Known as Jaffna’s premier Hindu worship place, the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil is distinguished by a golden arch and a sophisticated gopuram. Hundreds of worshippers and pilgrims are attracted to this Kovil which was built during the 18th century. The original temple was built during the reign of Tamil Kings but was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1620 and was located on the site which is currently where the St. James Church is built. A 26 day long Temil religious festival in Jaffna’s peninsula takes place at the Nallur Temple. This festival begins 26 days before the full moon day in the month of August.

  • Nainativu Island

This is one of the holiest sites for Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka. Get into any local bus heading towards Nagdeepa from Jaffna town. Boat services are available in Nagdeepa as an enjoyable means of visiting this island. You will need approximately 2-3 hours to get there because it is a little far from the Jaffna Peninsula and sometimes the availability of boats are scarce.

  • Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil

This Temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenkashi (wife of Lord Shiva). Many Tamil parents bring new born babies to this temple to seek the blessings of their Goddess. The original temple was uprooted by a rich foreign trader who was once blessed by Goddess Ambal Devi. The Portuguese demolished the original temple in the 16th century but locals managed to hide the Ambal statue and then rebuilt the temple in the 18th century. The gopuram was then added in 1933.

  • Nagadipa Purana Vihara

This temple is an important attraction for Buddhist pilgrims because it was one of the three places in Sri Lanka that have been visited by Lord Buddha. During Lord Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka, He settled a dispute regarding the ownership of a gem-studded throne. At that time, two warring Naga kings known an Mahodara and Chulodara constructed the Purana Vihara.

  • Casuarina Beach

With shallow waters and gentle waves, the Casuarina beach is one of the best in the Jaffna Peninsula.

  • Charty Beach

Located about 23kms north of Jaffna town, Charty Beach is a clean and prestigious beach that one must visit.

  • Keerimalai

Keerimalai is where a natural water spring emerges which is popular for miraculously curing illnesses after one bathes in it. There is only a wall that separates the pool from the sea but that water that comes in the spring is absolutely fresh.

The neighboring Naguleeswaram Temple is also a popular one amongst the Hindu’s.

  • Catholic Cathedrals

Although Jaffna is mostly a Hindu town, there are many Roman Catholic Churches in the town. Some of these include St. John’s, St. Mary’s, St. James’, and John the Baptist Church.

Things to do

  • Enjoy a ‘cool rickshaw’ ride
  • Try the famous ice cream shop – Lingam Cool Bar, located near the Nallur Kovil
  • Catch some live fish at the fish market on the beach road.
  • Observe the fascinating life and community in Jaffna as you walk on beach road.
  • Be a part of one of the daily Hindu ceremonies at the Nallur Temple (recommended timings: 4.00-5.00pm)
  • Eat a local meal at Hotel Relax Restaurant
  • Take a walk around the town to check out some ruins from the civil war (bombed buildings, empty fields, decaying ruins, etc).
  • Eat mangoes in Jaffna!