Central and southern Sri Lanka have long been renowned for their versatility; beautiful coastlines draw sun-seekers from across the globe, while ancient cities and spiritual landmarks enthrall with their treasures, and nature-lovers enjoy the accessible and well-stocked national parks. Now, travel in Sri Lanka is truly, unequivocally coming into its own - with the Tamil Tigers finally at peace, the beautiful north has opened up, offering the chance for us to explore areas that have been off-limits for years.
Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka's largest, was closed for a decade because of the fighting, although thankfully the park's animal population thrived during this time. Now, although the creatures are still wary of humans, we can rediscover Wilpattu's unique habitat.
Further south, Sri Lanka's 'Cultural Triangle' offers some of the most remarkable ancient engineering you'll ever see. Buddhism is strong here, with many active pilgrimage sites, relics and temples, alongside the ruins of many more. The mountain city of Kandy sees Sri Lanka's biggest annual Buddhist festival every August, when beautifully decorated elephants carry Buddha's relics around the city.
Sri Lanka's climate is influenced by two separate monsoon cycles, with distinctly different weather on either side of the island. Thus there is always sunshine somewhere here - and many areas, like the lush emerald tea plantations that cover the hillsides, are none too shabby when it's raining, either...
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