Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) has been poetically described as “a teardrop off the southern tip of India.” Its diverse landscapes range from rainforest and arid plains to lush highlands and beaches. The country is famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th century citadel Sigiriya. For such a small country, it’s amazing that it boasts eight World Heritage sites!
This island nation has an amazing diversity of endemic birds and mammals, including 34 bird species and 16 mammal species! And Sri Lanka’s endangered elephants are one of three distinct subspecies of the Asian elephant.
It is a land of festivals, virtually all are religious in nature and following the lunar calendar. Many Buddhist festivals take place during the days of the full moon—poya days—which are official public holidays. These days are celebrated with enormous peraheras (parades) featuring elaborately clad elephants, drummers, traditionally costumed dancers, fire ball dancers, acrobats, and more.
—Photos and text by WT adventurer Susan Harris, Sri Lanka.