A lone elephant lumbers into the water in Gal Oya National Park and slowly submerges his frame like a submarine. When he resurfaces, his trunk swoops into the air and splish-splashes water approximately.
From a ship, floating within the center of the park’s reservoir and armed with binoculars, I’m watching—with awe—as this mind-blowing creature appears to be going via his morning ordinary.
It’s the first safari on my nicely-rounded REI Adventure itinerary, “Discover Sri Lanka: Temples, Tea Trails and Safari.” The journey clothes shop’s travel branch gives more than a hundred seventy-five journeys worldwide, with various tiers of bodily activity starting from one to 5. Sri Lanka is a newcomer at the roster and clocks in at a level with safaris that, sure, get your coronary heart racing. But, the hikes and motorcycle rides will deliver the real aerobic workout routines.
While Africa is an apparent draw for safari-seekers—and, I suspect, maybe getting renewed vacationer interest after the discharge of Disney’s “The Lion King”—the island of Sri Lanka is a lesser-known destination ripe for safari fans. In addition to flora and fauna treks, journey-seekers right here can stability out their holidays with trekking, temple tours, and culinary stories.
A few days after the boat safari, my small institution becomes prepared for an extra interesting safari. This time, we had been in Yala National Park and loaded into an off-road vehicle at dusk and, more than one hour in hit the safari jackpot: We spotted a leopard graciously sauntering into the forested location. This grew to become out to be a multi-sensory experience, with the soundtrack furnished through monkeys howling and scuttling in the treetop, alerting one another of the predator’s method.
The animal state became just waking up all through our next safari, one at sunrise in Yala, which included water buffalo and elephant sightings further to colorful birds flitting approximately.
But beyond these deliberate safaris (and there are three wonderful ones in this particular REI itinerary), there’s enough possibility actually to recognize wildlife. An elephant instructions a roadway, trying an apple as a toll as we’re en route to a countrywide park. Near the region in which Disney’s “Monkey Kingdom” changed into filmed, monkeys are as a gift as squirrels are in an American park, and that they nearly seem to be putting on improv comedy indicates. Are they conspiring to ride away on this bike?
Beyond safari, the journey gives a spotlight reel of the varied geography of Sri Lanka, with probabilities to swim inside the Indian Ocean and bike inside the jungle.
The itinerary consists of an early-morning hike to the top of Sigiriya, a historic rock citadel that could be a solid contender for the countrywide postcard of Sri Lanka if this type of aspect existed.
Another hike meanders via the luxurious tea fields and consists of a single day remain in nearby glamping-fashion tents at a mountaintop hotel. The infinity pool here is a perfect perch to take inside the sweeping views, and, yes, you need to ebook a rubdown in the serene open-air spa.
The ride additionally reserves an afternoon devoted to Kandy to sample the hustle and bustle of metropolis lifestyles in Sri Lanka (in addition to avenue meals and markets) and visit the Temple of the Tooth, which homes Buddha’s sacred teeth relic.
The grand finale is a stay at a beachfront motel in Galle. For one final journey, head to the Dream Cabana on Dalawella Beach. There, 5 rupees (that is less than an American dollar) will get you three epic swings on a rope that launches from a palm tree and over the ocean, Tarzan-style.