Sri Lanka Highlights for Children

Elephant orphanage

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage is run by the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department for about 75 rescued elephants most of which would have died if it had not been for the Orphanage. You will watch the elephants playing in the river for about 2 hours. This is a great opportunity to see their natural behaviour as they frolic in the water with their friends, even down to the use of the odd branch that is floating by as a plaything. It is quite a moving experience knowing that these elephants have been given a second chance.

Elephant ride

The children (and adults) will just love this opportunity to get up this close to these gentle giants. You and your children will see despite their huge size, these animals are very careful. It is also interesting to see that they have very tough wiry hairs when one often thinks of an elephant being hairless. The relationship that they have with their mahouts (handlers) is very special. In fact, they will only respond to their particular mahout. You will see that these are actually highly intelligent animals and it is very clear they do have feelings! The elephant ride will take about an hour and will take you along the edge of the lake (bund) and will go into the river which as you can imagine, is quite an experience. The trekkers will spot some birds, lizards and if you are lucky, crocodiles, for you. At the end, the elephants will have a bath in the lake.

Sigiriya

It is the best-preserved city centre in Asia from the first millennium and is a simply stunning site which covers a 200m high rock. It was the capital of Sri Lanka in the 5th century AD. There is so much to explore here which your children will just love from the water gardens, up through the boulder gardens, to the Cobra Hood Cave and on upwards to the staircase emerging from the mouth of a huge lion (all that remains here are the 2 vast lion paws). The frescoes of the damsels halfway up are world famous. It is one of Sri Lanka’s most famous attractions with stupendous views from the top looking out over the plains of the Cultural Triangle. It will certainly capture your child’s imagination and will at the same time, give them a chance to run off a little steam.

Uda Walawe National Park

  • Firstly, you will visit the Elephant Transit Camp run by the Born Free Foundation in Sri Lanka. There are over 35 little orphan elephants that will be fed with milk while you watch. It’s a really touching sight but can also be really funny to watch especially as there are several that have learnt that if they go round twice, they can have another jug full of milk! Eventually, these elephants will be released into Uda Walawe National Park, next door.

  • You would then take a jeep safari with open tops into the National Park to see over 50 elephants. Apart from elephants, you get to see crocodiles, water buffalo, deer, lizards to name but a few, and lots of birds. It’s a fantastic experience to see the animals in the wild and often get up very close. The scenery is amazing here too as you can look across the grassland, over the lake towards the misty mountains and Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) in the distance.

All in all it was an amazing first adventure holiday for our family

Turtle hatchery

This is situated on the west coast of Sri Lanka, south of Bentota. You would see one, two and three day old turtles in different tanks. These turtles will be released in the sea at night. You will see that these baby turtles are much smaller than the palm of your hand and therefore just how vulnerable they are, especially just when they are born and have to make their way down the beach into the sea. There are only 7 species of marine turtle in the world, 5 of which are found in Sri Lanka – Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Loggerhead Turtle so you would see a variety of Turtles at the Hatchery.

White Water rafting in Kithulgala

There is an opportunity to do white water rafting on the Keleni River at Kithulgala doing either Grade 1 or 3 rapids. Grade 1 rapids are very safe and easy. (This is an optional excursion in our tours). Kithulgala itself nestles down in the valley beside the river. You will travel down the river with virgin rainforest on either side which is an incredible experience for children and parents alike! Children really like doing this as it is a little bit adventurous. Kithulgala is actually where they filmed “The Bridge over the River Kwai” and you can see the spot where they built the bridge and then blew it up.

Tea plantations

The scenery in the tea plantations is staggeringly beautiful. They are often to be found in the highlands of the country and swathe the hillsides in a green carpet that often has intricate swirls in it. The tea pickers are often dressed in brightly coloured clothes so you can clearly pick them out moving on the hillsides between the tea bushes. A visit to a tea factory is a fascinating insight into the production of tea which after all, is the UK’s favourite drink. It is also a step back into colonial times as the production process and the equipment used hasn't changed much since it was started in the late 1800s.

Galle

The Dutch fort in Galle (on the south coast of Sri Lanka) was originally built by the Portuguese in 1589 to house spices. You can walk around the fort within an hour and a half visiting the New Oriental Hotel, National Museum, the Dutch church, the clock tower, the lighthouse and some old colonial buildings. The ramparts and the bastions still bring the old world to life and children just love exploring places like this. It is also a really good opportunity for the children to let off steam.

Waterfalls

There are some magnificent waterfalls in Sri Lanka such as Bakers Falls, St Clairs Falls and the Devon Waterfall to name but a few. There is something fantastic about the power of water. There are a number that are close to the road and therefore there is the opportunity to get out of your vehicle and marvel at their beauty (and also for the kids to stretch their legs – always an important consideration!)

Ella Gap

This is a chance for your child to let off steam on a walk up Small Adams Peak through the tea plantations which in itself is fascinating. The walk itself takes about an hour and a half. The views from the top are simply amazing – you can see cars the size of ants winding their way down the mountain road to the south and away in the distance are the plains of the southern part of the Sri Lanka. You can clearly see the lakes glittering in the sunshine and the monolithic hills that erupt abruptly from the plains. It’s a very special place and well worth the walk.


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