SRI LANKA

Are you game for a spec­tac­u­lar seven-km hike, or per­haps a healing tea plan­ta­tion?

Friday - - Leisure Charts -

I want to ex­plore….

The trick to ex­plor­ing Sri Lanka is to select a re­gion and plan ahead. The coun­try’s most fa­mous at­trac­tions are sparsely linked and spend­ing hours on the road is far from ideal on a tight sched­ule. How­ever, with wildlife, water sports and unique na­ture across the is­land, ad­ven­ture is wait­ing to be found in every di­rec­tion.

Sri Lanka is home to di­verse flora and fauna, best show­cased in the coun­try’s botan­i­cal gar­dens, zoos and national parks; al­though more ‘off road’ ex­pe­ri­ences ex­ist in the form of jun­gle treks. For a real white-knuckle ex­pe­ri­ence, head to Unawatuna or Kithugala for la­goon ca­noe­ing and white water raft­ing.

For those who love to climb, Adam’s Peak and Si­giriya top the bucket list. At Adam’s Peak you climb by night, scal­ing a seven-kilo­me­tre stair­case to reach the sum­mit just be­fore sun­rise. It’s an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence for those who can keep the pace and don’t mind miss­ing some sleep, but can be phys­i­cally de­mand­ing.

At Si­giriya, the ac­tion hap­pens dur­ing day­light hours, when hun­dreds of tourists scale the 180-me­tre Lion’s Rock, which rises from the cen­tre of what was once an an­cient city. De­spite its sheer scale, the rock was for­merly a mere pedestal for the palace of King Kas­s­apa, who wanted a view of en­e­mies ap­proach­ing across the val­ley. Today his palace is al­most un­de­tectable as tourists mill for pic­tures atop the gran­ite mono­lith, be­fore head­ing to the nearby Dam­bulla Cave Tem­ple.

Stay at Colombo Court­yard in Colombo. Lo­cated in the heart of Sri Lanka’s cap­i­tal, this colo­nial-style lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel is an oa­sis of calm and tran­quil­lity in the busy city and a great start­ing point for many day trips and tours. Three nights from Dh1,190 in­clud­ing break­fast.

I want to un­wind….

Sri Lanka is known for its pic­turesque beaches, lush jun­gle and tea plan­ta­tions that reach to the hori­zon. It is also gain­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for bou­tique ho­tels and spas, mak­ing it the per­fect place to re­bal­ance.

In Sri Lanka, the science of living a long and healthy life is known as Ayurveda – an an­cient form of medicine us­ing reme­dies found in na­ture. The best place to learn about these is in the coun­try’s dozens of spice gar­dens, which spe­cialise in pro­mot­ing nat­u­ral ton­ics with many of­fer­ing tastes and treat­ments as part of the tour. In­land re­sorts, par­tic­u­larly those on tea plan­ta­tions, of­ten utilise the nat­u­ral power of Sri Lanka’s na­tive botan­i­cals in their treat­ments, pro­vid­ing some­thing for the body and the mind.

For beach­side bliss, the south west coast is the most peace­ful re­gion of this is­land na­tion. Head south from Colombo to the pic­turesque and colo­nial Galle, tak­ing in Beruwala and Ben­tota. To cut jour­ney times on Sri Lanka’s no­to­ri­ous roads, select one of the three towns as a base from which to ex­plore other com­mu­ni­ties – each of­fers lo­cally owned, bou­tique re­sorts that are the per­fect es­cape from the stress of daily life.

Cin­na­mon Bey in Beruwala has six restau­rants, a pool, pri­vate beach and spa, mak­ing it an ex­cel­lent base from which to ex­plore the coast – or just re­lax. The Green Globe cer­ti­fied ho­tel will have you feel­ing at one with na­ture – and your­self – in no time. Three nights from Dh933.

The en­er­getic can climb the is­land’s moun­tains, while those in need of re­pose should head to the break­tak­ing beaches

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