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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern point of India, is a tropical island that comes close to being a paradise for wildlife and distant culture lovers.

Sri Lanka’s architectural history, which includes temples, towns, monasteries, and palaces, is among the most magnificent ever created by humankind, and thankfully, it has been meticulously repaired and conserved.

It’s a country of ‘never winter,’ where blue ocean waves wash gorgeous golden sandy beaches and where people welcome guests with open arms and huge smiles.

The country’s natural beauty and animals will take your breath away. You’ll be surprised that such a small geographic region can support such a diverse range of species, including not just Sri Lankan elephants but also leopards, sloth bears, and the uncommon slender loris.

The land-based wildlife is rounded out by many unique birds and exotic amphibians, while the ocean waters are teeming with dolphins and whales. Note that the leopard population in Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is the largest in the world!

One of the legendary Spice Islands, Sri Lanka, has been visited by Arab traders, Chinese merchants, and European explorers in quest of exotic spices throughout the ages. Sri Lankan cuisine is a feature of the trip and a great display of the country’s bounty. Ceylon tea will transport you back to colonial times and bring you into intimate touch with the local culture.

The New Paths Expeditions’ (NPE) journey to Sri Lanka will provide you with an adventure unlike any other; it will be well-paced, packed with content. Led by an NPE Senior Leader and Photography Coach and NPE’s Sri Lanka Head Naturalist, and will use excellent hotels (including several 5-star hotels) and first-rate transportation.

Contact us now at expeditionadvisor@npexpeditions.com to start arranging your journey to Sri Lanka.

SRI LANKA HIGHLIGHTS

  • Horton plains National Park 
  • Udawalawe National Park 
  • Yala National Park 
  • Bundala National Park 
  • Mirissa 
  • Whale Watching Excursion & Galle Fort
  • Colombo 
  • Sinharaja Reserve Birdwatching
  • Negombo 
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Polonnaruwa 
  • Anuradhapura (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Aukana Temple
  • Dambulla and the Golden Temple
  • Train to Nuwara Eliya 
  • Tea Country 

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Time and Weather

Like in other tropical nations, Rainfall in Sri Lanka falls mainly in the form of downpours or thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening.

The rainfall has two peaks: the first, in April and May, only impacts the southwest and interior, while the second, from October to December, hit the whole nation owing to the retreating monsoon.
The southwest monsoon persists from May to September. However, it delivers the majority of the precipitation to India, while it brings significant rains only to the southwest coast (Colombo) and the hilly interior of Sri Lanka. However, except for the beaches partly protected by a coral reef, the water is turbulent on the western side during this time, and there may be hazardous currents (the beaches of Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa).

There is a rise in temperature from March to May, before the entrance of the southwest monsoon, which is particularly apparent in the north-central portion of the nation.

During 1,000 and 1,300 millimeters (40 to 50 inches) of rain occurs each year in the northwest (Mannar and Jaffna), partly sheltered by neighboring India. The showers are only plentiful between October and December. Temperatures are high throughout the year, although there is a more significant contrast between the winter months and the pre-monsoon season, from March to May when compared to the south. All year long, the water is warm (see below).

From Negombo to Tangalle, the southwestern coast is noticeably rainier than the north-western coast, and there is no true dry season, even though rainfall drop from January to March and a minor degree from June to August. Beaches such as Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Mirissa you may be found along this stretch of coast.

The east coast gets the northeast monsoon that occurs towards the end of the year directly; thus, it rains a lot from October to December; the monsoon lingers, albeit weakened, into January and possibly February, and rainfall may be copious even in February in specific years. On the other hand, this shore is protected from the southwest monsoon that blows from May to September; thus, the sun shines, and it is also quite hot at this time. As a result, although overall rainfall is not insignificant, the terrain is semi-arid.

Every year, about 1,600 mm (63 in) of rainfalls.
Rainfall on the southeastern coast (see Hambantota, Kirinda), which is relatively sheltered even from the north-east monsoon blowing towards the end of the year, amounts to 1,000/1,200 mm (40/47 in) each year, with a relative high in April and May and a more noticeable peak from October to December.

The heat is especially severe at low altitudes in the interior.

Even though most tropical cyclones pass to the north, impacting India and the Bay of Bengal, Sri Lanka is in its path. Storms, which may bring torrential rains and powerful gusts, are active from April to December, with two peaks in May and November.
Tropical depressions (i.e., less powerful tropical cyclones) may develop even in winter, since at such a low latitude, as previously said, the water stays warm all year round, allowing it to supply energy for their creation.

The best time to visit

The best time to visit Sri Lanka varies on where you want to travel in the nation. It’s a year-round location with a constant warmth and plenty of sunlight, with average temperatures ranging from 31°C to 22°C. It is usually hotter at the shore and in the lowlands than it is further up. Rainfall may occur at any time of day or night.

The southwest coast is ideal between December and April before the monsoon season begins. In contrast, the east and north are less humid between May and September, after the monsoon season.

The central highlands are cooler all year and should only be avoided in October and November when the rainfall is less dependable.

Wildlife

Sri Lanka’s natural marvels are often hidden beneath a bushel. They don’t even have a national animal, despite being similar to the Ark in many ways. Fortunately, our knowledgeable tour guides are well-versed in the island’s many natural wonders. You have the most excellent chance of seeing leopards in Yala National Park, and if they don’t show up, you may still see bears, buffalo, and a variety of birds. Elephants you may be seen almost everywhere in Sri Lanka; for whales, go to Mirissa for the motherships.

Whale Watching
Although not as well-known as other whale-watching locations, Sri Lanka is now rightly claiming its cetacean throne. From November to mid-April, you may view up to ten distinct kinds of whales, including fin, Bryde’s, minkes, humpback whales, and numerous different dolphins, primarily of Mirissa and Galle, as well as blue whales from late February to mid-March. Use a responsible operator at all times. More information is available here.

Birdwatching
Yala National Park is home to approximately 200 bird species and is one of 70 Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka. Horton Plains National Park is the most recommended since it is home to hundreds of species, including the endangered Sri Lankan whistling thrush and blue magpie. Kitulgala Rainforest and Sinharaja Reserve are other excellent birdwatching destinations.

Minneriya National Park
Minneriya lies on the route of cultural vultures through the ‘Golden Triangle.’ The elephant is the most renowned inhabitant, and the park creates a corridor with Wasgomuwa, Maduru Oya, and Gal Oya National Parks. The best time to visit is between August and October when everyone gathers at Minneriya Lake, also known as The Gathering. You may also encounter macaques, langurs, sloth bears, sambar, and a leopard if you’re fortunate.

Sinharaja National Forest Reserve
Thankfully, logging halted here in the 1970s as environmentalists battled to protect the country’s last significant tract of rainforest. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it covers almost three-quarters of the island’s biodiversity, including unique birds, butterflies, uncommon amphibians, and unusual plants. Leopards are elusive, but you may observe sambar and wild boar roaming through the jungle on a guided walk.

Wilpattu National Park
The country’s biggest national park, Wilpattu, means «Land of the Lakes,» and the hint is in the name of the fauna that can be seen here. Aside from water buffalo, crocodiles, and birds such as the painted stork, there are also a few elusive leopards, sloth bears in the trees, and elephants wandering through the open scrub. The gates were closed for years during the conflict and reopened in 2010.

Yala National Park
The second-largest but most-visited national park, renowned for its resident leopards, with officials claiming one cat for every square kilometer in certain areas, but sightings are relatively uncommon. There are also elephants, sloth bears, sambar deer, langur monkeys, and wild buffalo so that you won’t be disappointed. Mangroves, coastal wetlands, grasslands, and lowland scrub provide breeding habitats for over 200 bird species.

Our Sri Lanka Expeditions

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Guest Comments

“After 20 years of traveling, we never learned so much and had as much fun as with you guys!” 

– Jack N. Douglas, CO

“Patagonia and Morocco were spectacular! We’ve just never had such wonderful travel experiences as with New Paths. We will get around praising you!” 

– Harriet T. Saugerties, NY

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