Sri Lanka, an island of harmony and kind-heartedness

Sri Lanka, an island of harmony and kind-heartedness

Sri Lanka (called Ceylon before 1972) is the land of elephants and tea, heavy tropical rains and bright sun, high mountains with clouds clinging to their peaks, and the paradise of sandy beaches. Recently, it has become even easier for the Russians to visit this hospitable island as they don’t need now to worry about obtaining entry visas. It is enough to apply for a free e-visa on the website of the Sri Lanka’s
Immigration Department before the end of March 2024.

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The flow of the Russian tourists visiting this exotic island is increasing every year. Some resorts are more experienced in providing services exclusively to the Russians. Probably, loosening visa rules will attract even more tourists who would like to make a short trip by a colorfully painted train or pick up tea leaves on a tea plantation. The EcoTourism EXPERT correspondent’s visa was not a free e-visa, but she gained
her own experience that Ceylon has many attractions that can be of interest to travelers, first of all, for its amazing nature, kind people and diverse fauna.

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Getting to Sri Lanka today is not difficult at all. Several Russian airlines operate direct flights. With a transfer, travelers can also fly with a connecting flight, for example, via Doha, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi or Istanbul. I have chosen the Kuwait Airlines. The transfer was short, and the way to Sri Lanka was conveniently divided into two five-hour flights. In Kuwait, passengers could walk around the airport or stretch their legs, which was much nicer than sitting in an uncomfortable position for ten hours during a direct flight.

It was raining cats and dogs when we arrived in the capital of Sri Lanka. A real tropical downpour hit Colombo early in the morning. The Sri Lankans seemed got accustomed to such rainy weather. The city was full of people in raincoats and with umbrellas of bright vivid colors protecting scooter drivers and passers-by from the rain. After a week of traveling around the island, I realized that the best way is to bow to the reality - the rainy weather. You have to understand that you will get wet in this climate - that’s the way it is. When it’s raining, the air does not become cooler. Therefore, wearing a raincoat helps you understand better what a greenhouse effect is. An umbrella doesn’t help either. The rain in Sri Lanka is somewhat like the rain in St. Petersburg as water pours from every side.

The monsoon, a rainfall season, in Sri Lanka is a changeable and flexible concept. In the south and west of the country, it lasts from May to October, and at the end of September, it begins to flood the eastern part of the island, which makes Sri Lanka a year-round resort country. Many tourists travel around the island for months, stopping in one part or another depending on the raining season. In fact, this is the best way to get to know Ceylon.

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There are many interesting tourism anchors in Sri Lanka, but they are all scattered around the island. It can take a lot of time to travel around them on your own. Fortunately, there are many types of convenient public transport on the island. Travelers can take a bus or a taxi. Lovers of national flavor have a chance to travel by local trains. Tourists first enthusiastically  squeeze into’ a crowded railway car to be able to lean out of the door of the covered platform of a railway car and enjoy the views (or take a selfie). I should say that the locals are also fond of this fun. There was even ‘background music’ in my railway car. A group of guys from Africa with drums sang and danced for an hour, which added a special charm to my trip.

However, all these trips are tiring. Tourists have to spend from five to seven hours in the train to get from the south coast to the central part of the island. However, if you want to travel around the country within 10 days of your vacation, it is best to choose a guided tour made to your requirements. That’s what I did. There are many companies in Sri Lanka organizing tours and excursions - accompanied by Russian-speaking guides - to the most interesting tourism destinations.

There are not many historical attractions on the island, but the number of natural ones is great. I have never seen such a diverse fauna in any other country. More than 400 species of birds and almost 100 different species of mammals can be watched in Sri Lanka. Large lizards and monitor lizards walk in the streets, peacocks cry in the courtyards in the morning, and monkeys of all kinds jump on palm trees and hotel roofs. From time to time, an animal - the grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura) looking like a squirrel and a chipmunk - may cross the road. The locals call this agile animal ‘Lena’ (Dandu Lena). All animals seem to feel comfortable and coexist with people. At least, they don’t seem to be afraid of anyone.

I felt an amazing harmony between the wild nature and the people living there. Even the wild street dogs chasing ‘tuk-tuk’ (a motorized three-wheeler) carrying ‘samosas’ (local pies) look cheerful. After all, they know that the driver will stop and will definitely treat them to something tasty. 


If you want to immerse yourself in the natural world of Sri Lanka, you’d better go to one of the 12 national parks. I chose the Yala Park for a recreational safari. It is one of the island’s most visited national parks and the second largest one in the country. There are even several hotels and glamping sites nearby where tourists can stay overnight. So, eco-tourism is developing quite successfully in the country.

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You cannot just walk around the Yala Park. Tourists travel by special safari jeeps and are accompanied by a guide and driver who carefully look for animals sitting among the trees and walking near the lakes, and then tell the tourists where they can see the animals. My group was lucky enough to see a family of elephants with a baby-elephant who was very funny and begging his mother for breakfast. In addition, we met several monitor lizards soaking up sunshine in the morning, marabou strolling slowly along the lake, buffalos taking mud baths, fussy wild boars and a herd of deer. We enjoyed the safari for several hours. It started early in the morning, until the scorching sun forced the animals to move into the shade. A jeep safari is an amazing and unusual experience. You imagine yourself as a researcher looking into the dense green trees and bushes and listening to the sounds around you. At some point, you allow your imagination to run wild and you hear the roar of a leopard, but then it turns out that it was an elephant. 

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By the way, meeting a leopard in Yala is considered a great luck. This secretive predator rarely comes out to people. At some point, I noticed that the guides were communicating with each other on their mobile phones. Having seen a leopard in one or another part of the National Park, an employee calls his colleagues and tells them where to look for this wild animal. A jeep race immediately begins in an attempt to see the leopard at that place. To be honest, if I were a leopard, I would also prefer to keep my head down sitting somewhere in the shade of a palm tree and mocking at the people driving to and fro.

From November to April, tourists can go on another ‘safari’ - a sea one, this is a whale migration season in Sri Lanka. Those who are very lucky, can watched 26 species of sea giants there. Early in the morning, boats with tourists go out to the ocean with the first signs of dawn in search of whales. The most popular departure point is the town of Mirissa. In my opinion, this type of ‘safari’ is more exhausting than the ‘land’ one. The ocean is rough, so those suffering seasickness may not have the time to ‘scan’ the water surface in search of a whale’s tail. These sea safari tours can last up to five hours. Unfortunately, no guide can guarantee that your trip can be a success. Sometimes, companies even refund half the cost of the sea safari tour if the group was not lucky and did not see a whale.

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It is worth mentioning that some companies offer so-called ‘snorkeling with whales’. Enthusiasts of extreme water activities are usually interested in this service. However, swimming with whales is prohibited in Sri Lanka. Such tours can be dangerous for both humans and animals. Therefore, you should not believe those tempting advertising brochures. It’s better to contact a trusted company having a good reputation and admire the sea giants from a distance. And if you are not lucky, you can just enjoy a regular boat trip, which is also a good experience.

Another place on the island where you can feel closer to nature is Dalawella Beach on the south coast, where big sea turtles come. The lagoon is protected from large waves by a reef, which attracts marine animals and also the people. As expected, early morning is the best time to come to the Dalawella Beach.

It should be noted that in general, the routine rhythm of life in Sri Lanka is better for Morning Larks (early risers) than for Night Owls (late riser). As soon as the sun rises, life is in full swing in Sri Lanka. At the sunset, the island falls asleep and plunges into silence.

Anyway, back to the turtles. Travelers can swim with them in the lagoon. It’s an incredible and amazing experience. Local entrepreneurially-inclined Sri Lankans usually offer the tourists to buy seaweed for a small sum of money to feed the turtles. There is no point in agreeing as the reptiles can get used to people constantly feeding them and lose instincts that are important for their survival in the wild. In general, the turtles in the Dalawella Beach are very peaceful and melancholic. They don’t seem to care whether there are tourists swimming around or not. They are busy doing their things.


On the island, travelers can watch five species of sea turtles coming to the coast to lay their eggs. The attitude towards these animals is very special. Local residents collect eggs at night and take them to special turtle farms so that dogs or monitor lizards do not eat the baby-turtles before they are born. On the farm, the eggs are stored in special incubators. The newborn turtles are then kept in small pools and prepared for their journey into the ocean, and after that ‘training’, they are released into the wild.

Some adult turtles that need human help also live at the turtle centers. For example, people take care of the turtles with injuries and wounds and treat them. However, some turtles may live the rest of their lives at these centers because their physical condition cannot allow them to survive in the wild. 

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In conclusion, I would like to say one thing: the Sri Lanka’s nature is truly stunning. There is a special harmony on the island, people love animals, and animals love them back. In Thailand, monkeys in tourist areas are very aggressive and ‘unfriendly’. The monkeys in Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are very delicate and attentive; they don’t snatch bananas from your hands or try to steal your sunglasses. During my trip, I met two wonderful Sri Lankans. One was a guide and he said that he had 12 cats at home, because he cannot but help the homeless ‘tailed creatures’. My second friend is a ‘tuk-tuk’ driver. It was very telling that he stopped driving when he saw a small puppy running across a busy road. The Sri Lankan made sure that the puppy was safe, and only then returned to his ‘tuk-tuk’. This is the real Sri Lanka for me - an island of goodness, kind-heartedness and harmony.