The resplendent sylvan beauty of Sri Lanka has long passed into legend in the global annals of travel and tourism. For the Nature lover it is a veritable treasure trove of experiential delights as they explore its gorgeous beaches and other coastal diversions, its mountain enclaves, hillside plantations–and those fabulous rainforests and wildlife parks and game sanctuaries.

As you travel the lengths and breadth of this island nation, you are bound to make your own additions to the 4 Sri Lankan Travel Hotspots That Should Be On a Nature Lovers Wish List.

Sand in Your Feet and Salt in Your Hair

Lose yourself in the magical coastal beauty of Mirissa Beach a one hour drive out of historic Galle on the southern coast. Let the salt-laden breezes tangle your hair and the fine sand of this vibrant tropical beach with swaying palms wrap around your feet as you abandon yourself to its limitless charms. Take a break from toasting your body to indulge your taste buds at the food stalls along the beach. Mirissa Beach is also the jump-off point for whale-watching tours which run from December to April. There are places here for scuba dives and snorkeling with whales and calmer seas for swimming. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of cavorting dolphins and nesting turtles.

When The Love Of Tea And Racehorses Stop You In Your Tracks

The breath-taking vistas of splendour in the hilly expanses of Nuwara Eliya have captured the taste buds of the luxury vagabond with its globally fabled ‘Champagne of Ceylon teas’. A far cry from the tropical nuances of Kandy, Colombo and Galle the temperate climes and luscious verdure of Nuwara Eliya offer a host of lovely back-to-nature opportunities. While tea plantations here offer a rapturous re-wind to the island’s colonial heritage, but the mountain trail here showcases Sri Lanka’s indigenous botanical wealth, avifaunal diversity and exuberant waterfalls and hidden water bodies. Unexpected curiosities keep this gorgeous hill station always on the tourist map and amongst these is an encounter with some of the finest racehorses. Not only does Nuwara Eliya serve up the best of the best in teas, its stables offer you some unique encounters with racehorses. Nuwara Eliya Racecourse and Racetrack are the last of the race courses on the island. Sri Lanka’s world renowned Nuwara Eliya Racecourse, offers equestrian sports events in the Easter and Summer holidays, and opportunities for horse riding and horse racing and attending the most prestigious race in the Sri Lankan racing calendar–The Governor’s Cup. While it has captured some of the tourist flow to the hills, the race course also provides economic support, directly and indirectly, to the local people. A lovely fall-out of this is the delight of horseback tracking in the Nuwara Eliya area for mature riders and novices as well. On your way back to Kandy, why not opt for that iconic Sri Lankan train ride from Ella, which is just two hours away from Nuwara Eliya?

Get Up-Close And Personal With Knuckles

Join the ranks of scientist and anthropologists who can’t get enough of the trekking trails of this very special place, the home of many denizens that can be found nowhere else in the world. Known in the vernacular as ‘Dumbara Kanduvetiya’ or the ‘mist-laden mountain range’ Knuckles gets its name from its unique structure, the combination of 34 peaks which resemble a clenched fist.The mountain range is a UNESCO-acclaimed World Heritage Site. Scientists and anthropologists are riveted by the possibilities of new discoveries as they peel away the many-layered veils of its astonishing biodiversity and native mountain communities. Its mighty expanse of 18,500 ha spreads across the districts of Kandy and Matale. The stunning Rathna Ella waterfall in Hasalaka is a huge tourist attraction and even more importantly, a precious asset for the local villagers. Efforts have been stepped up by Friends of Dumbara (Dumbara Mithuro) a passionate environmentalist group, to help preserve the centuries old ancestral practices of the village of Ranamure. Mendis Wickremasinghe, one of the Sri Lanka’s leading zoologists, has been credited for discovering over 25 new species of reptiles and amphibians, and the rediscovery of several species believed to be extinct for more than a century. Who knows, you could unearth your own little gems about why it’s such a popular trekking hot spot in Sri Lanka?

Musings in Leopard Haven Yala National Park

Epic sightings of the elusive leopard hold visitors in thrall at Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park, considered the world’s hot spot for the highest concentration of leopards. Panthera pardus kotiya, the apex predator of the Sri Lankan jungles, is a majestic leopard endemic to Sri Lanka. Visitors veer to Yala Block 1 for guaranteed leopard viewings. Unmissable at Yala sightings of the Sri Lankan elephant, declared an endangered species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Birders love Yala too as its home to over 200 avifaunal species, including seven of which are endemic to Sri Lanka.

While you are here, you might want to also visit Sithulpauwwa or ‘ the hill of the quiet mind’ which is home to an ancient rock temple which, it is believed housed 12,000 monks. South of this ancient site lies Magul Maha Viharaya said to have been the venue for the wedding of King Kavantissa (205-161 BCE) of the Ruhunu Kingdom, to Vihara Maha Devi, revered daughter of the ruler of the Kingdom of Kelaniya. King KavanTissa was the great-grandnephew of King Devanampiyatissa, the mighty monarch of the Anuradhapura Kingdom.

Many intoxicating experiences await the nature lover in Sri Lanka’s exotic locales. You just need to find the time to visit as many as you can on each trip to this gorgeous ‘spice island’.