10 Great Outdoor Activities in Sri Lanka

10 Great Outdoor Activities in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka still posses a large tract of pristine forests and untamed Sri Lanka is simply spectacular: wildlife sanctuaries and reef, mountain and rainforest, waterfalls and rivers. Few countries in southern Asia or anywhere – match the range of outdoor activities in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka available in many facets

Sri Lanka is home to a large number of modern, well-ordered cities with high rise building at every nook, in between these modern skyscrapers sitting the colonial building with its signature architecture denoting its relationship to colonial rulers such as Dutch and British.

Sri Lanka is a cultural melting pot, where a large number of ethnic and religious groups live freely, ethnic and culinary mélange into which Sinhalese, burghers, Tamil, Muslims and numerous other indigenous groups contribute cuisines and customs.  

Sri Lanka still posses a large tract of pristine forests and untamed Sri Lanka is simply spectacular: wildlife sanctuaries and reef, mountain and rainforest, waterfalls and rivers. Few countries in southern Asia or anywhere – match the range of opportunities for getting adventurous outdoors.

What are the 10 best outdoor activities in Sri Lanka

  • Dive the pigeon island marine sanctuary
  • Surf the breaks of Aru Gam Bay
  • Go to the rainforest of Sinharaja
  • Hike through the jungle of Horton plains
  • Raft the Kitulgala River
  • Trekking through the tea plantations
  • Spot elephants at Udawalawe elephant transit camp
  • Visit Vannila atto
  • Snorkel the reefs of Hikkaduwa
  • Adams peak Hike

1. Pigeon island & marine sanctuary: Outdoor Activities in Sri Lanka

Pigeon island marine sanctuary is located on the east coast of Sri Lanka. There are 2 protected areas in the ocean around Sri Lanka, pigeon island marine sanctuary and Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary. The pigeon island marine sanctuary occupies a large area of the sea around pigeon island on the east coast. Besides its large size, pigeon island marine sanctuary is home to a large array of marine life, hosting mammal species, nesting bird species and endangered sea turtle species, including the endangered green turtle. The ocean floor of pigeon island marine sanctuary is illuminated with a large number of coral reefs and the waters around pigeon island provide many tons of fish to the people on the east coast.

2. Surf the breaks of Aru Gam Bay: Outdoor Activities in Sri Lanka

There 2 major areas that are popular for surfing in Sri Lanka, south coast and east coast. However, the swells of Sri Lanka’s east coast grab the headlines, but Sri Lanka’s southern coast and west coast also offers options for surfing. April to October is the best time of the year for surfing in Aru Gam Bay and, world surfing competition, which is an annual event, is hosted the Arugam Bay. The breaks around Arugam Bay and the eastern coast sea waves hold five or six feet – plenty for both beginners and more-ambitious surfers.

3. Go to the rainforest of Sinharaja: Outdoor Activities in Sri Lanka

It is a fine one-day Sri Lanka trip from Colombo and most beach resorts on the western and southern Sri Lanka, through the gloomy and mist-shrouded rainforest. Sinharaja is the largest tract of primaeval of the rainforest of Sri Lanka, which harbours many hundreds of fauna and flora. Bird watching is one of the best-known activities of the visitors of the rain forest and Sinharaja is home to a large number of bird species including dozens of endemic avian fauna specie.

4. Hike through the jungle of Horton plains

Leopards, endangered Slender loris, Sambar deer – they are all here – though admittedly it is a tricky business to spot animals species such as leopard and slender loris, among the 3160 hectares of the lush cloud forest. A hike through the Horton plains is not about ticking off species but, rather, exploring the rich flora and witnessing a large number of birds, fish and primordial woodland, ducking under remote waterfalls, and watching for monkeys.

5. Raft the Kitulgala River

The Class I-III rapids of the Kelaniya River, in Kitulgala, are a mere nursery for the big adrenalin-pumper, with whitewater rushing over the 5km course. The River flows through lush green vegetation, providing ample opportunities to gaze into the rainforest lining the river.

6. Trekking through the tea plantations

Sri Lanka hill country and tea are going in hand-in-hand and every nook of the hill country is hidden with tea bush. Tea is the most popular export agricultural product on the island with its roots going back to the early 18’s.

For a very English adventure – tea and strawberries, it could almost be Wimbledon – take to the trails around the hill station of Nuwara Eliya. Amid the well maintained, pleasingly geometric forms of the bushes of the tea plantations, stretch your legs in the cool high-level air for views of peaks and waterfalls.

7. Spot elephants at Udawalawe elephant transit camp

The elephant is already declared as an endangered animal in the world, and its population is plummeting very fast across Africa and Asia. Poaching and deforestation are mainly to be blamed for the reduction of wild elephant in the jungle over the last few centuries. Sri Lankan jungles are home to more than 5000 wild elephants and they are confined to 2 dozen of wildlife reserves.

The elephant transit camp was an ambitious project of the government to rehabilitate the orphan baby elephant found in the jungle. Here you can witness many dozens of baby elephant which are reporting to the feeding hut to grab their portion of milk during the feeding hour. And afterwards returning to the herd living in the jungle.    

But there is nothing like delving into the jungle for some real wildlife-watching. Take an early morning or evening wildlife safari in the Udawalawe national park for the chance of spotting large gathering of elephants, monkeys, crocodiles and vivid birdlife.

8. Visit Vannilaatto

The opportunity to meet the indigenous people of Sri Lanka, believed to be the descendants of stone age human lived on the island and learn about the nature-friendly lifestyle of the small and dwindling ethnic group in Sri Lanka. Exploring their lifestyle, dancing, music and customs and traditions are key reasons for visiting this remote village known as Dambana. This is a perfect opportunity to meet with Sri Lanka’s tribespeople still offer unique insights into fast-eroding cultures.

9. Snorkel the reefs of Hikkaduwa

Snorkel without getting wet in the sea off Hikkaduwa. This almost stereotypically tropical marine sanctuary lies in the western province of Sri Lanka between Galle and Colombo, tempt with sand and snorkelling. However, most snorkelers here are not jumping into the sea, but they use a glass-bottom boat to explore the sea bed, which is full of seagrass, exotic fish species, corals and endangered sea turtles. The Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary is also a great place to learn to scuba dive, with varied sites and reasonable prices.

10. Adams peak Hike

This huge grey lump is the third highest mountain on the island, which suppose to host the Buddha’s footprint. The moonlight hike of Adams peak is very popular among the local travellers as well as foreign tourist. However, it does not reflect in most leisure holiday packages of Sri Lanka. If you book and Sri Lanka adventure trip or a nature trips Such as Sri Lanka 5 days nature tour, then it may include Adams peak.

Adams peak is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka with hundreds of thousands of Buddhists take the arduous 5 hours trek to worship the footprint of Buddha and take a glimpse into the very first rays emitted by the sun. Soaring to a sharp 2243m peak looms large over the western flank of Sri Lanka’s hill country; the moonlight hike requires steely determination to tackle hours of solid uphill – but dawn views across the peak wilderness and surrounding hills on a clear morning offset even the most burning thighs.

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