Sri Lanka is starting to look like its old self. Now recovering from the 2004 tsunami and resolving a decades-long conflict, the country is welcoming record numbers of visitors.
The latest generation of savvy travellers have been quick to pick up on Sri Lanka’s affordable beach and culture combination. Last month alone, tourism arrivals surged to a record high of 48 per cent* ahead of the previous year . The British are have voted with their feet; with a hike of 68 per cent during Feb 2010 compared to Feb 2009. Even the Colombo stock market responded to the new mood of anticipated hotel bed sell out, last week ending with a record high of shares.
Not slow to bolster their hotel sector, Sri Lanka is awash with a range of accommodation, from new luxury beachfront resorts to authentic wellness retreats buried deep in the jungle. Pricewise, Sri Lanka can’t be beaten; with packages starting at £499 for a week, half board including flights. Hoteliers are keeping up the pound stretching offers; but get them while they last at an incredible £30 per night beachfront bungalows, on full board basis with ayurvedic treatments.
Three wildlife parks have opened up providing the traveller with bite sized safaris. Wilpattu - the largest nature reserve in Sri Lanka - has reopened to the public, located 176 km north of the capital Colombo.
Preserved for three decades (no tourists) this is the crowd free moment to spot leopards, shy Ceylon sloth bears, crocodiles and cobras at a fraction of the cost of other destinations - less than £20 per day entry or £60 for a family of four.
In the southeast, Yala national park is on the nature and bird lovers hotlist as the place to encounter leopards in a morning drive. Rich in wildlife, Yala is teeming with elephants, deer, monkeys, wild boar and python. Based in revamped eco lodges within the park, visitors are blanketed in Sri Lanka’s rare and colourful birdlife. Parrots, kingfisher and painted storks, to name a few.
Also in the southeast, Uda Walawe Park has great grassland drives, to get up close and personal with elephants, water buffalo and jackals. What are you waiting for?