Solo travel is a joy. Fact. The sense of space, solitude and freedom received from (deliberately) leaving your watch at home to go on a day-long hike through Knuckles Mountain Range or spending all day sunbathing on Passikudah’s sun dappled surf – just because you can – is simply unparalleled. Fortunately, Sri Lanka understands. Unlike its older, larger and more trodden Indian neighbour, Sri Lanka operates at a much slower pace. Much like its 7,500-strong herd of elephants, the focus of ‘The Teardrop Isle’ is to relax, wander without a care in the world and eat very well. Learn from a local how to make ambul thiyal (fish curry),
meander through mellow villages on the outskirts of Galle and marvel at the ancient charms of Naguleswaram Temple. Sri Lanka solo travel doesn’t scrimp when it comes to culture either. Boasting eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, countless colonial forts, and hundreds of hilltop shrines, it provides a perfect couple of days of exploration (should you attempt to beat the country’s intoxicating and quite frankly infective languor). Fear not though – its pearly beaches will be waiting with open arms on your return.
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It has been proven that everything can be solved with a good cup of tea. If you find yourself in need of a bit of R&R during your Sri Lanka solo travel adventure, there is no better place to visit than the island’s Tea Country, right in the heart of the island. Famed for its delectable offerings of nature and nurture, precipitous hills and tea plantations, spend your days holed up with a title off our recommended reading list in a hilltop bungalow, unwinding in jasmine tea-infused baths, and learning about tea harvesting on a tea tasting day with a resident planter. You can even venture into the clouds on a six-mile guided trek in Horton Plains National Park. Just make sure you take a flask of Ceylon tea up with you to enjoy on the top of the vertigo-inducing World’s End. It’s thirsty work.
Sri Lanka’s beaches are a secret we’re more than happy to share. From the secluded shoreline of Manalkadu Beach, where the only footsteps you’ll come across are your own, to Uppuveli’s intimate enclave just north of Koddiyar Bay, where cyan seas swell over colourful coral reefs, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Relax on its shores under a swaying parasol or, if you’re after a more energetic afternoon, dive into the island’s underwater utopia and spot schooling fish and spinner dolphins on a guided diving expedition. With a whopping 26 national parks, Sri Lanka solo travel boasts myriad wildlife watching opportunities too. Join an afternoon safari into Yala National Park to meet its prowling leopard population (currently around 40) and ogle at crafty crocodiles as they eye their prey among the tangled thickets.
Solo travel is essentially shorthand for being able to do what you want when you want. It also means you can do things a little differently – if you want. Practice our concept of Philantourism (directing your tourist spending to people and places in need of some TLC) in community-run lodges near the ancient Tonigala rock inscriptions. Visit a local skills development school to learn how they train and educate remote villagers and explore the ways Sri Lankan’s use their littoral land to farm (organically) and conserve the extraordinary natural environment. While we suggest heading out on a leisurely sunset boat ride to appreciate this small but mighty island, a fresh seafood dinner in a seafront restaurant sounds equally appealing. That’s the beauty of Sri Lanka solo travel. You can do it entirely your own way.