Lying in-land from the coastal plain and South of Nuwara Eliya, UVA is the largest province in Sri Lanka.
Badulla is considered to have the best climate in Sri Lanka (apart from its NE monsoon over Christmas) and from here you can travel to Dunhinda Falls, the longest in Sri Lanka, though viewing is via a steep rough path.
If you want to escape to tranquility, explore the natural plants and orchards or a mahogany and pepper estate, or embark upon your first novel.
Just 20 minutes further South is the picturesque market town of Bandarawela, known as the centre of the “flavoury” district and produces some of the finest tea. The climate also promotes wonderful strawberries and pears.
The town is lively and the heart of the community- admiring market traders, the schools' sports ground and many churches/temples of every denomination can while away hours. Nearby is the Uva Herbarium, a garden dedicated to growing herbs and re-establishing indigenous forest.
Here, you can enjoy the most picturesque views and easy walks in the town of Ella with neighbouring waterfalls.
Take time at Heputale, of Lipton tea Fame, and spend a night or two enjoying the scenery. Then onto visit the Benedictine monestry of Adisham. Appreciate the contemplative life of the community of monks and novices there in an atmosphere of peace, solitude and beauty. If you feel you have walked off enough calories sample their delicious home-made products of jams, cordials etc. The natural bird sanctuary there- Tangamalai- will delight the ornathologist and photographer alike with brilliantly plumed blue magpies, Paradise fly catchers and golden Oreoles vying for attention. November to January can be very chilly.
Wellawaya is a town steeped in History with Portuguese influences from before 1630 when Constantine de Saa and his army were decimated by the army of the Kandyan King. The invading Portuguese destroyed the ancient temple of Badulla and attacked the Kandyan forces who fought back bravely. The monsoons swelled the river, cutting off Constantine’s retreat and most of the Portuguese were killed. The Kandyan army regarded this as retribution form the Gods for the desecration of the temple.
Today, Wellawaya is the landing strip for many paragliders. Close by is Ella Adventure Park where you can take part in every sport imaginable eg, abseiling, mountain biking etc. However, the hotel tends to fill with Conferences and outward bound teams.
Follow the winding river to enjoy the calm and the surrounding Millennium Point Falls. The Elephant Corridor hiking is an all day pursuit, whilst tea time can be spent counting the wondrous varieties of birds – all 58, including Kingfishers, barbets, commorant, robins and flycatchers.
These stone-age hunter gatherer people are the earliest known inhabitants of Sri Lanka, and physically have more in common with Australian aborigines than the Asian races. Their traditional hunting grounds are now the Madurn Oya Park which has led to considerable friction with authority as hunting is expressly forbidden in the National parks.
In modern times the tribal ways are disappearing and many have become Buddhists. The last two remaining pockets of settlement are in Dambana and Nilgala.
Lifestyles and housing which has not moved forward hugely can be seen in Buttala and along the Kataragama Road. If you would like to experience living with nature, Eco villages lie safely in the middle of this wilderness.
Uda Walawe National Park
Centred around a large river fed reservoir, Uda Walawe park is in our opinion an “elephant lovers” dream. Of all the Parks, it is most like the savannas of Africa, with herds of elephants, deer, wild buffalo and wild boar. Take a 4WD safari and get close to the elephants as they go in search for water. In the dry months of February – April, it is best to visit at dawn and dusk and trail the watering holes.
On the edge of Yala West, this is one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka. This probably explains why it has the best roads from North and South. During Esala Perahera, Kandy in July / August, devotees from the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim religions make a pilgrimage here, subjecting themselves to many varieties of self-mutilation eg. Spikes through the tongue and cheeks, carrying an arched yoke for 160km without putting it down. The less devoted simply visit this place of worship during times of need and often December, to pray.
The most important shrine for the Hindus is the maha Devale and neighbouring shrines are dedicated to Buddha and Ganesh. The festival officially ends with “water-cutting” ceremony to evoke rain for the harvest.
Yala National Park
In the South east corner of Sri Lanka and the home of the World’s largest leopard population. The best all round safari park for ½ to 2 day trips. There are a number of entrances, enter via Okanda to view large numbers of water birds, particularly in the Kumana swamp. A majestic leopard basking on a rock was our first sighting at Yala, but many visitors are disappointed by their lack of presence. The elephants, crocodiles, eagles and deer etc never make up for it. Chena Huts Yala by the jeep safari gates is a luxurious resort sympathetic to its surroundings and allows night viewing of the wild animals - don’t be brave and venture out late at night, as you are unlikely to return !
Just 20 mins away you hit the South Coast, stunning beach resorts and Bundala Bird Sancturary.