Ella Sri Lanka

ella sri lanka trains arch bridge waterfalls 1

Ella is located in the Badulla district of “Up Country” Sri Lanka – very similar to the Scottish Highlands in Summer – without the midges!

Ella map 2

However you can enjoy exploring the beautiful countryside of Sri Lanka with tea plantations on the hill slopes, forests on the tops and incredible waterfalls.

You can hike the misty mountains and adore the stunning views of the valleys in Sri Lanka, then the next minute jump in the incredible natural pools right below the waterfalls. Explore the tea estates and savour tea from 100 years’ old tea factories in Ceylon (Sri Lanka was called Ceylon earlier).

Ella has a blend of both a relaxed vibe and a there is so much to discover!

Ella is not just a place for adventure tourists. With its mild climate, lush green hills and valleys and an abundance of bird life for the ornithologist, Ella has something for everyone from where forays can be made to nearby caves and waterfalls, trekking trails and mountaineering or unwinding with a chilled beer through the cold nights.

New feature for this season is the hideaway Flying Ravana Mega Zipline, said to be the longest and fastest zipper in South Asia covering a distance of nearly 600 metres, done in 30 seconds.

The Zipline is not for the faint-hearts and once done the craving can be for more swooping rides on the cable above a thick canopy of vegetation. Overseas tourists outnumber the local adventure seekers for whom there is no age restriction and is left entirely at the discretion of the rider or glider.

Extremely friendly staff help tourists with the safety harness and helmet at the visitor centre before they are taken to a high altitude platform from where two gates fling open and the ride begins.

There is a brilliant aviator’s view of the surrounding mountain massifs and what can be surveyed below for a stunning 30 seconds, while the end can be like a bird of prey swooping onto its target with a precision strike. Visitors can hit speeds of up to 80 kilometres an hour and are well taken care of from start to finish.

The famous and picturesque Nine Arch Bridge, the only one of its kind in the island where tourists wait for the train to pass providing them with photographic stuff that could find a place in any of the world’s top shelf traveller magazines. On some days foreign tourists outnumber the locals and king coconut vendors cash in to sell their watery delights.

Many foreign tourists stay for two weeks savouring Ella and the waterfalls, hiking through wooded hills or rock climbing and then return to their hotels or the many guest houses to spend the chilly nights unwinding with a beer or two. Visiting pubs after sunset is yet another night-time attraction with cricket World Cup fever catching on and hotel staff and waiters having to serve their customers as well as keep a close tab on match proceedings.

Some foreign tourists group together in the evenings for a session of music strumming their guitars playing Western or folk songs reminiscent of a bygone era, and still kept alive and even relished by the younger generation who find it irresistible.

Hotel keepers and restaurant caterers claim there is no specific season for tourists in Ella unlike in neighbouring Nuwara Eliya that blooms and blossoms in spring and has wonderful rainy seasons in the later spring.

Tourists want peace and relaxation and to feel at “home from home”, and they discover exactly that here in Ella.

Everyone likes the local food and drink, the walks and views, and it is not surprising that more hotels and guest houses are under construction in Ella and its surroundings.

Scooters can be hired for daytime excursions across Ella from where one-day sojourns by vehicle can be made to places like the world heritage site of Horton Plains where stag or sambhur deer roam in the distance and red rhododendrons bloom in the month of May and various other flora and fauna throughout the year.

The Ambewela dairy farm, famous for its special breed of black and white cows and stud bulls which is like a stolen piece of New Zealand and the nearby Catholic Adisham monastery in Haputale where Benedictine monks reside, are what distinguish Ella from the rest of the scenic spots in the country.

Ian Botham Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka 3

Cricket legend Ian Botham takes his grandchildren to Sri Lanka

  • England’s leading wicket taker first visited Sri Lanka to play cricket in 1982
  • This time, he took his grandchildren for a sunshine holiday of beach fishing
  • He has a particular fondness for Kandy, with its famous Buddhist temple

My initial impression of Sri Lanka?   Hot.

Stand Up Paddleboard "SUP"  Sri Lanka Jungle River Adventure

I first visited in 1982 – when England played their first test match against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

Then we went and played in Kandy, in the central province, and it has become one of my favourite places in the whole country. It’s home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), and is the most important spot for Sri Lanka’s Buddhist community.

The whole town is steeped in history. It’s always been one of the country’s major trading places, and there are beautiful temples and tea plantations. It must be part of your itinerary.

A family favourite: Ian Botham has spent time with his grandchildren in Sri Lanka – and has long found Kandy (right), where the Temple of the Tooth Relic is an important Buddhist landmark – to be one of its greatest cities

I only really started to fall in love with the country on coming back to commentate. As a player we were never in one place long enough.

I visited the south at the start of 2004, just after the tsunami. It was horrendous, with bodies still being pulled from the rubble. Since then, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation (I’m an ambassador for the organisation) has worked with the Sri Lanka-based Foundation of Goodness and built the Southern Project in Seenigama, an area which was devastated by the huge wave.

 

There’s a brand new school, a cricket oval and an Olympic-sized pool. The pool was paid for by rock singer Bryan Adams, who offered to help fund the sports complex after reading about the destruction wreaked by the tsunami, and locals have named it the Bryan Adams Pool in his honour.

It’s hard to believe that when I first visited, the railway line – and a train – were 400 yards away in a coconut tree.

It was this project which inspired me to undertake last year’s sponsored walk. I managed 160 miles, from the north to the south of the island, in eight days. The aim was to raise money and mirror what’s been done in the south – because the north was devastated by the civil war and has suffered terribly.

The north has so much to offer – it’s Sri Lanka’s next booming tourism centre. The main draw are the beaches – they’re sensational.

There are new hotels and railways being built and the airport at Jaffna, the capital city of the northern province, is being renovated. It should establish itself within five years. Anuradhapura – the capital of the north central province – and Mihintale, which is the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, have beautiful stupas and temples which put Angkor Wat to shame – well, almost.

They are within what’s known as Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.

Splendid: The south coast of Sri Lanka has glorious beaches – and has recovered from the tsunami of 2004

 

This area’s most spectacular landmark is the Sigiriya rock fortress – an enormous, 200-metre-high lump of stone. In 480 AD, a Sri Lankan king built his castle atop the rock. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and Sri Lankans call it the eighth wonder of the world.

I climbed it on my first cricket tour and was amazed. So much that, while taking a photo, I accidentally knocked over the bottle of water I’d diligently carried to the top. I remember watching in horror as it rolled over the edge and tumbled out of sight.

I’ve visited Sri Lanka with my family several times. Some of the most memorable trips have been with my wife and the grandchildren.

It’s incredibly child-friendly – as child-friendly as destinations like Spain or the Caribbean. We wanted to show the grandchildren that life isn’t easy, that terrible things happen but you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on.

The Sri Lankans are the best example of this – they’re always smiling and there’s no bitterness about the unfair hand they’ve been dealt, with the civil war and tsunami.

They are the reason my wife Kath and I keep returning.

We’ve spent a lot of time in the capital, Colombo, which is a fantastic, progressive city, with great hotels and restaurants. We like Lagoon, the restaurant at the Cinnamon Grand hotel, where you choose your seafood from a huge display and the chefs cook it however you want.

The grandchildren loved it – they would compete to find the biggest fish.

Other great restaurants in the capital are the Ministry of Crab, which is owned by Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, and the Park Street Mews restaurant, which blends Sri Lankan and European cuisine.

I’ve probably spent most time in the south, in coastal towns like Galle and Weligama. In Weligama, we rented a villa and just chill out – I love watching the stilt fishermen balancing on their poles.

Inviting: Kandy, at the very heart of this tropical island, is Sri Lanka at its most intriguing

I’ve spent hours walking around Galle fort, which is a walled city. The locals have incredible stories to tell about the day the tsunami hit – how they could see the wave coming and ran inside the fort, emerging hours later to find the rest of the city in ruins.

The fort was built by the Portuguese in the 14th century and it split the wave and saved thousands of lives. Nobody inside died – you can walk around inside and see these old shops and restaurants which weren’t even affected.

The grandchildren also adored Weligama, where they fished, rode in tuk-tuks, played on the beaches and spotted turtles.

One day was spent just fishing on the beach.

One of my grandchildren, James, is extremely competitive – he simply has to beat his younger sister at everything.

malu banna watersports sri lanka island toursGalle Fort Sri Lanka Jumper srilankaislandtours (3)

James had spent all day waiting for a bite. He put down the rod while he nipped to the loo and his sister Imani-Jayne picked up the rod and caught a fish within seconds. James was livid.

My advice for anyone considering a visit to Sri Lanka? Do it. It is all there to be explored.

Tourism on the south coast is well-established. The east and west coasts are becoming more established, and the north will soon be the next big tourism destination.

What’s more, you don’t have to walk everywhere – like I did.

Travel Facts: Plan your own tour of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Airlines (www.srilankan.com, 020 8538 2000) flies daily (apart from Saturdays and Sundays, when there are two flights a day) to Colombo from London Heathrow. Prices from £613.

Find more about the work of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation at www.laureus.com

Local waterfalls in Sri Lanka

Galboda Ella Nawalapitiya waterfalls sri lanka

Local waterfalls in Sri Lanka you must visit!

Sri Lanka is a cherished vacation spot all around the world. Whether you are looking for an adventure trip or a romantic get-away, this country gets you one of the best experiences. Along with the most sacred historic ruins and ancient monuments, Sri Lanka hosts the best of Nature. You could find rain-forests, jungles, wildlife, springs, waterfalls, beaches and much much more at this tiny, yet amazing island Paradise!

Waterfalls are one of the most precious gifts Nature has offered to Sri Lanka. If you are a tourist visiting Sri Lanka, or a local who loves to travel, do not forget to check out the Natural Pools, and the beautiful Waterfalls that Sri Lanka has to offer!

The waterfalls come along with amazing trekking trips. So when you are on a look-out for an adventurous, thrilling experience, break out the map and mark these beautiful locations;

  • Asupini Ella – Mawanella

A heart-pounding experience awaits you at the city of Mawanella in the form of the amazing ‘Asupini Ella’. This beauty is a 30m (98ft) fall, and could be sighted from the historic town of Aranayake.

In Sri Lanka, every historic location has its own fascinating story, and the Asupini Ella is no different.

The name ‘Asupini’ was derived from a story about ‘a king who had many queens’. Lore says that these queens committed suicide by jumping down the fall. The tale also says that one can sometimes hear a fearsome roar, which continues for around 15 minutes, signifying that it will claim a human life within a period of two months.

A plunge pool strewn with rocks is formed by the Asupini Ella, although, this beautiful pool draws the visitors towards it- people are restricted from bathing in it. This is because of the high risk of drowning. All these folktales and drowning risks are the reason this ella remains a secret!

Mawanella is also home to many other big and small Waterfalls, which could be visited within a single day trip:

  • Huluganga Ella
  • Jodu Ella
  • Saree Ella
  • Thaliya Wetuna Ella/ Alakola Ella
  • Galboda Ella- Nawalapitiya

A train trip to this amazing fall would be a great idea! Nestled at the Hatton Rail Track in an abandoned, but picturesque tea estate adjacent to the Galboda station at Nawalapitiya, lies the Galboda falls. The name ‘fall adjoining the stone’ (Galboda) is derived from a large boulder situated at its foot. Studies state that the water in this area gushes down with a velocity higher than anywhere else in the country.

A beautiful temple standing on the mountain right above the fall is the best view in all of the area. The mesmerizing fall is a good 30metres high and is categorized as a wet zone due to its high rate of rainfall. This nature’s beauty is an eye-catcher!

  • Gartmore Falls (Sri-Pada Falls)

Also identified as Sri-Pada falls, the 25m Gartmore Fall is often mistaken to the Moray Falls. The fall is of similar height and nestles a few hundred meters away from the Siri Pada falls. Both these waterfalls drop directly on the Maskeliya Reservoir.

The area hosts many other waterfalls, each of which offers a splendid view!

  • Diyaluma Falls- Koslanda, Badulla

If you are looking for a location for your trekking trip, the Badulla District is the place to go!

The area is surrounded by natural pools, waterfalls, and amazing trekking locations. The district is home to Diyaluma Falls -the second highest fall of Sri Lanka. The fall is a good 220m (720ft) high and is situated just 6 km away from Koslanda.

The Diyaluma Fall gives you the opportunity to enjoy many things in a single trip. Like every other fall, the Diyaluma Fall has its own historic tales. It is a great tourist destination for the travelers who enjoy visiting ancient ruins and historical sites.

  • Handapan Ella- Ratnapura

Travel along the Ratnapura- Deniyaya road, which falls at the end of Buluthota Pass. From there, walk along the 4 km long path. The path is bumpy and filled with rocks and slippery routes to the jungle. This trek will lead you to Rakwana, where you will get the most stunning view of the Handapan Falls.

The Handapan Ella is a 23m (height) fall which springs from the Handapan Ella Valley (1230m high). This is the starting point of the Rakwana River.

Waterfalls like Lover’s leap in Nuwara Eliya, and the Bambarakanda Ella in the Badulla District -which are also the highest falls of Sri Lanka- are the most visited and well-known waterfalls in the country. The ones listed above are the hidden treasures and some of the must see-waterfalls in Sri Lanka!

Stand Up Paddleboard “SUP”  Sri Lanka Jungle Adventure – 3 days

Stand Up Paddleboard "SUP"  Sri Lanka Jungle River Adventure

Stand Up Paddleboard “SUP”  Sri Lanka Jungle Adventure

Three days and two nights of awesome fun and exploration off the beaten track on a remote river in Sri Lanka.

This Stand Up Paddleboard “SUP”  Sri Lanka Jungle Adventure, meanders through the Sri Lankan Kanneliya Rainforest with river grade I/II rapids and jungle hills as the backdrop, the Gin Ganga is a true wild jungle river experience.

Stand Up Paddleboard "SUP"  Sri Lanka Jungle River Adventure

Adventurers Trip Information:

All equipment is provided including buoyancy aids and helmets for safety through the rapids.

For camping – hammocks with built in mosquito nets, tents are also available  for couples including sleeping bags and air mattress.

Stand Up Paddleboard "SUP"  Sri Lanka Jungle River Adventure

 

Food is provided as follows:

Day 1 – Lunch & dinner. Rice & Curry cooked by local village families

Day 2 – Breakfast, lunch & BBQ dinner

Day 3 – Breakfast & lunch stop on return road transfer.

 

Water provided, bring reusable bottle

All rapids are optional with easy portages (walk around) along the riverbank.

Some SUP paddling experience is necessary.

A training paddle session is available prior to the trip where our guide will ensure you have the necessary skills.

The campsites offer basic shower and toilet facilities.

What to wear and bring:

All of your personal belongings must fit into a 40 litre dry bag

Luggage storage is available at main base for you to collect on return

Our camp guides carry all other camping, cooking equipment and food.

Valuables, cameras, phones etc  are brought at your own risk.

For the Stand Up Paddleboard “SUP”  Sri Lanka Jungle Adventure  you will need:

  • Two/three sets of clothes. Swimwear and quick drying clothes for paddling.
  • Dry clothes x 2 to change into at the camp sites.
  • Small towel
  • Footwear for riverbank (trainers or flip-flops or thongs or slippers)
  • Socks in case of sunburn or insect bites.
  • Sunglasses (with straps / ties)
  • Sun hat
  • Small amount of money for tips and snacks.
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen. Odomos from a local pharmacy works well. DO NOT buy Nomos – it doesn’t work. If you are allergic to insect bites, we suggest bringing the strongest DEET possible.
  • Soap for bodywash – biodegradable if possible.
  • Optional – Bottle of wine or liquor.

Stand Up Paddleboard “SUP”  Sri Lanka Jungle Adventure Itinerary

 

Day 1:

  • 6am. Meet for coffee and debrief at Camp Poe, Ahangama. Secure storage is available.
  • Two hour mini-bus transfer.
  • 730am Local breakfast in Udugama.
  • 9am. Unload van, pump up and load boards.
  • 9.30am. Whitewater safety brief.
  • 10am Launch. The morning paddle has the highest concentration of rapids throughout the whole trip. All are optional with riverbank portages available and none exceed Grade II.
  • 12.30pm Lunch stop.
  • 2pm. Arrival at Campsite 1 – Uncle Sumith’s Tea Plantation. Tea, Coffee and snacks.
  • Optional hill climb.
  • 7pm. Rice and curry dinner with campfire stories and song.

 

Day 2:

  • 6.30am. Tea, Coffee & Breakfast.
  • 8am. 1 hour paddle to a small tributary river where we stop for a swim in crystal clear waters. Short walk through tea plantation.
  • 2-3 hours paddling with multiple rapids. Plenty of opportunities to stop and swim.
  • 2pm. arrival at Campsite 2. Coffee and snacks. Swim, play in the rapids and firewood collection.
  • 5pm. Prepare dinner and cook over campfire.
  • 7pm. BBQ around campfire.

 

Day 3:

  • Optional wake up at 5am for sunrise mountain hike and photo opportunities.
  • 5.30am Start walk.
  • 7.30am. Reach viewpoint.
  • 830am campfire cooked breakfast.
  • 10am. start final 7km paddle.
  • 1pm. Finish at Mapalagama for rice & curry lunch.
  • 3pm. Arrive back to Camp Poe.

FAQ:

  • Are there crocodiles? None have ever been spotted nor an attack ever reported.
  • Are there venomous animals? Yes, we will be in the jungle so it is possible we could see snakes & scorpions. Although they are extremely rare.
  • Do I need experience? Some paddling experience is necessary. A training paddle session is available prior to the trip where our guide will ensure you have the necessary skills.
  • Are there vegetarian food options? Vegetarian options are always available, for further dietary requirements please enquire.

How deep is the river? Water levels can vary depending on rainfall. The main river channel is generally 8ft deep or more.

Our guide will always assess the rapids beforehand and point out any shallows, rocks or hazards

This is a great river adventure, not 5 star hotel, a real adventure that you will remember for a lifetime.

 

 

 

Snorkel Safari Adventures Come Snorkelling Sri Lanka Style Madiha Polhena South Coast

Snorkelling Polhena Madiha Coral Reef Turtle Coloursish Sri Lanka

Explore the underwater beauty in the tropical lagoons between Polhena and Madiha coral reefs and the secluded beaches on the South Coast of Sri Lanka.

Admire the colour fish, the octopus and the turtles as you glide on the surface looking at the beauty on the sea bed.

 

 

Snorkel Safari Adventures Come Snorkelling Sri Lanka Style Madiha Polhena South Coast

 

Snorkel Safari Adventures Come Snorkelling Sri Lanka Style Madiha Polhena South Coast

Discover the Gods of Sri Lanka – 5 Days Sri Lanka Island Tours

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This is our Discover the Gods of Sri Lanka – 5 Days Sri Lanka Island Tours which gives you an opportunity to discover and see how the gods have been worshiped in Sri Lanka over the years.

This is a multi faith tour embracing “one people” of the world.

The tour includes

  • Hindu and Buddhist Temples
  • Islamic Mosques
  • Christian Churches and Chapels

The tour provides you with Sri Lankan exploration, local understanding and relaxation on some quiet and “off the beaten track” places.

Ancient towns and relaxing local beaches with saltwater lagoons between coral reefs and sandy beaches.

In this interest packed tour you have time to experience:

  • Ancient Kandy
  • Vacation hill town of Nuwara Eliya the “Little England” of Sri Lanka
  • Up country Ella and the Nine Arch Bridge
  • Jungle Worship Settlement of Kataragama
  • Coral Reef Lagoon of Madiha Beach
  • Historical Seaport of Galle
  • Watersports Energy and excitement 

There is an option to extend this tour with additional days to relax more on the beaches or under take Ayurveda treatments.

On this tour you visit the “Temple of the Tooth” in ancient Kandy, the site of a Hindu temple dating back to the 1600’s and also the site where Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims worship in the same jungle area in harmony and understanding in the deep south of Sri Lanka.

Relaxing evening and morning at Madiha Beach for snorkelling and beach walks. Sri Lankan Seafood BBQ.

A visit to the southern seaport of Galle allows you to explore amazing history as you wander the ancient fort town where our guide explains how the various influences of Portuguese, Dutch and British have created a “time capsule” of architecture and culinary wonder.

All the major religions are found in the town of Galle and each have a variety of places of worship including some simple churches and temples that have stood the test of time and passing of many peoples in the old and important historical sea port.

 

Sri Lanka Island Tours Itinerary 

Temple-Sacred-Tooth-Relic-kandy-sri-lanka

Day 1 – Sri Lanka Island Tours – Kandy & Nuwara Eliya

Your guide “meets and greets” you at the airport. After introductions and washroom break, we escort you to Kandy to visit the Temple of the Tooth.

Sri Lankan Lunch with western choices

Temple of the Tooth tour in Kandy

Road trip to the highlands of Nuwara Eliya

Dinner and hotel night in Nuwara Eliya


 

Nuwara eliya sri lanka upcountry island tours good hotels (5)

Day 2 – Sri Lanka Island Tours – Nuwara Eliya & Ella

Breakfast in hotel

Victoria Park Gardens tour

Mackwoods Tea Museum

Road trip the hill town of Ella

Lunch in Ella

Waterfall visit with great photo oppertunities 

Night stay with dinner in Hotel in Ella


 

Day 3 – Sri Lanka Island Tours – Kataragama

Breakfast in hotel

Road trip to Kataragama – photo opportunities enroute

Lunch

Visit to Kataragama Religious Site

Three religion tour ( Hindu – Buddhism – Muslim)

Evening temple visit to experience religious or local ceremony 

Dinner and hotel night in Kataragama


Day 4 – Sri Lanka Island Tours – Dondra & Madiha

Hotel Breakfast in Kataragama

Scenic road trip through upcountry to the coastal lowlands of Matara

Lunch

Visit to Dondra Point  Hindu temple tour

Afternoon relaxing on Madiha Beach.

Snorkelling or beach walk options – weather dependant

Seafood BBQ with vegetarian options

Hotel stay in Madiha

 


 

Galle Lighthouse sri_lanka_5_day_gods_tour_sri_lanka_island_tours

Day 5 – Sri Lanka Island Tours – Galle & Bentota

Breakfast in Madiha hotel

Morning relax and enjoy Madiha Beach.

Snorkeling Safari and beach walk options – weather dependant

Lunch

Coastal road trip to Galle Seaport

Sea view walk on Galle Fortification Promenade 

Visit Galle Fort Jumpers

Coastal road trip to Bentota Malubanna Water Sports Centre

Watersports Options (chargable)

Early dinner buffet at Malu Banna Restaurant

Transport to airport

Malu Banna Watersports – Bentota – Sri Lanka

www.malubannawatersports.com

 

 

NB – Group bookings can modify this tour to their particular likes and desires – including extra days / activities

 

Australians Delicious Sri Lanka

Sri_Lankan_Crab_Curry

Welcome to Food Delicious Sri Lanka

Australia’s new favourite adventure food destination

Sri_Lankan_Crab_Curry

Starting with he crab curry with the rich, spicy sauce that ended up covering the hands and splattering the clothes.
The sweet, salty crab meat that we had to work for, wrenching from the shell, twisting and snapping and slurping.
The rice, piled high, mixed through with that fiery red sauce, shovelled towards your  face with maniacal glee.
Sri_Lankan_Crab_Curry

 

You haven’t had a curry until you’ve had a crab curry in  Sri Lanka. This is a thing of beauty, a sauce made with cumin, peppercorns, mustard seeds, fennel, coriander, fenugreek, chilli and more, cooked with fresh sand crabs straight from the ocean. It’s hot, it’s sweet, and it’s umami-rich.

Of all the delicious food we’ve eaten in Sri Lanka, of all the streetside snacks, the standard rice-and-curry combos and the high-end dinners, this was the best, and it was served in a no-frills restaurant called Cosy on a dusty backstreet in the north of the country.

Sri Lanka. We really liked the whole country, from the high country of Kandy to the beaches of Unawatuna, from the bustle of Colombo to the history of Galle.

But that curry? We still think about that curry. We would return just for that curry.

We are not alone – at least,  not alone in the desire to return. Australians are loving Sri Lanka right now.

Sri Lanka has experienced a phenomenal boost in visitor numbers, particularly from Australia.

In the last year, the number of Australians visiting this sub-continental island nation has surged 15 per cent, up to 91,500. There’s been a 400 per cent increase in the last decade.

Sri Lanka is a small, and wonderful tropical island with touch history from British and Dutch influence , and yet it’s the sixth most-searched destination worldwide.

So what’s the attraction? It’s not just the crab curries, though you could be excused for travelling there just to get your hands on one.

The truth is that there’s a whole range of factors that have come together to attract people to this sultry island nation.

One is definitely the food, and Australians’ increased interest in cuisine. Sri Lankan food is seriously good.

Every budget restaurant in every small town there seems to serve absolutely delicious, banquet style “rice and curry” combos cooked in the local style, heaped with sambals and sauces and trimmings.

Then you have places doing kothu roti, the stir-fry of chopped roti, meat, egg and sauce. You have hoppers, the sour pancakes served sweet or savoury.

You have “short eats”, the peppery deep-fried goodies peddled on every street corner.

Sri Lanka is also safe for tourists and approachable, a far more laidback version of the insanity of India, a destination you can choose to make as wild or as relaxing as you really please.

There are plenty of affordable, high-end resorts in Sri Lanka if that’s your thing.

You can lounge around by a beach, or relax in the cool surrounds of a tea plantation, or stay in a historic old building in a major city.

You can hang out in a cheap, friendly hostel in a backpacker-friendly town such as mountainous Ella, or beachside Unawatuna.

Sri Lanka is also attractive as a diverse and yet self-contained destination, the sort of country you can tour in a few weeks and feel like you’ve hit all of the highlights.

You can be hanging out in Kandy one day, soaking up the colonial charm, and then hit the beach the day after. You can check out an emerging destination such as the formerly war-torn Jaffna, or stroll the tourist-friendly promenades of the Galle Fort and see the young guys jumping in to the water.

There’s wildlife viewing in Sri Lanka too, national parks filled with elephants and leopards and the like..

Go to Sri Lanka for the food, go for the beaches, go for the beautiful high country, go for the adventure and go for the charm.

Go for the people, who will inevitably give you a warm welcome, who will want to know where you’re from, what you’re doing there, and where you’re planning to go.

And, if you’re lucky, they might just steer you towards their favourite crab curry.

Here are a couple of simple Sri Lankan Crab Curry Recipes

Reduce the heat and stir in the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, fenugreek, curry leaves and cinnamon

Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Pour the coconut milk into the pan and stir in the salt, lime juice and 500ml/18fl oz of water.

Leave to settle and rest for 30 minutes.

Heat up really hot and serve with fresh white rice cooked with 6 pieces of cardamon.


SRI LANKAN MUD CRAB CURRY

INGREDIENTS

2 live mud crabs, about 1.2kg (2lb 12 oz) each

400 ml (14 fl oz) coconut milk

1 ball of tamarind golf ball size

1 tablespoon Jaffna curry powder

1 table spoon chilli powder

2 teaspoons cumin seeds,

½ cup fresh grated coconut

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

50 g (1 ¾ oz) ghee

1 Spanish onion sliced

1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked

3 small green chillies, finely chopped

½ litre water

1 sprig of drumstick leaves

Juice of ½ limes

PROCEDURE

Put the crabs in the freezer for 1 hour to immobilise them. Pull off the top shells, pull out the spongy grey gills and remove the guts. Chop the crab into 6 pieces, then crack the large claws but leave them attached.

Roast the cumin seeds, coconut and pepper till the coconut is golden brown. Grind to a smooth past and put aside

Heat the ghee in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat, add the mustard seeds till they start to pop, then add the fennel seeds till they brown, add onions, curry leaves, chillies and cook for a few minutes or until the onions are golden

Add the curry powder, chilli powder and turmeric mix in and add the crab and cook for another 3 minutes, at this stage you need to stir it a lot so the spices don’t burn.

Then add the coconut mixture, stir and add the water. If the curry is too dry add more water.

Cover and simmer for 12 minutes or until crab is just cooked through and sauce has thickened. Stir in the drumstick leaves, lime juice and season to taste with salt.