Things to do in Sri Lanka with kids

Our top family activities in Sri Lanka

Wildlife parks like no others

Yala National Park in southern Sri Lanka is home to leopard and many other wildlife wonders. It is also the countryís most popular national park and can feel a bit like Longleat on a Bank Vacation if you time it badly. However, it is still one of the finest wildlife reserves in Asia, with elephants, sloth bear, wild buffalo, sambar and deer.
There are other spectacular and much quieter places to see wildlife, however, such as Wilpattu National Park in the north. Wilpattu means ďLand of the LakesĒ, and has 60 waterholes for all the usual greats. Safari camps here are very popular with families, as are their walking safaris. Minneriya National Park is for elephant lovers, with an annual event known The Gathering when hundreds come out to drink at Minneriya Lake between end July and September.

Ride bikes not elephants

Sri Lanka is famous, now sadly infamous, for being a place to ride elephants. Stick to vehicles designed to be ridden and cycle your way around tropical backroads, up through tea plantations around Ella or through cultural highlights such as Polonnaruwu or Sigirya. If you are on a tailor made trip, getting hold of a bike is always easy.

Creating a wild and wonderful mix

Few families want to spend their whole time seeing the ancient, archaeological sites of Sri Lanka, extraordinary though they are. It is good to pick a healthy mix from the wonders that make up the countryís Cultural Triangle. Hit the heights of Sigiryaís Lionís Rock for a climb of a lifetime, but get those kids out of bed really early to do this one to avoid the crowds. The 80 or so Dambulla Caves, packed with Buddhist statues and other ancient gems, are like something out of Indiana Jones. The 10th century ruins of temples and palaces at Polonnaruwa, meanwhile, are a popular site to cycle around. And for a pretty mind blowing family day out in northern Sri Lanka, combine the great Sinhalese Kingdom of Anuradhapura with Wilpattu National Park, just 30km away.

Immerse yourself in Ayurveda

Just because you are on a family vacation, doesnít mean you canít indulge now and again. Book into a hotel with a real Ayurveda practitioner either for some therapeutic treatments or, if you have a family member with an ailment, to consult an Ayurvedic consultant. You can get medicines to take home with you too.
Photo credits: [Wildlife parks: Josť Ozorio] [Ride bikes not elephants: Amila Tennakoon] [Creating a wild & wonderful mix: rufus.kahler] [Immerse yourself in Ayurveda: Amila Tennakoon]
Written by Catherine Mack
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