Green Getaways: Whale Watching in Sri Lanka

Imagine getting this close to a colossal whale. In Sri Lanka, you can do just that – not to mention gazing at jaw-dropping rock fortresses, Buddha statues and some of the richest biodiversity in the world. Located in the Indian Ocean, this small nation has 24 wildlife reserves, an amazing amount of endemic species and prime whale-watching.

(top and above image via: kwankwan)

Travel blogger Andrew Harper writes about Sri Lanka’s newly-gained reputation as the best place in the world to watch blue whales in the May 2012 edition of Hideaway Report. From the town of Mirissa, specialized boats head out into the ocean to let tourists catch a glimpse of both 65-foot-long sperm whales and blue whales, which are the world’s largest creatures at up to 100 feet long and 200 tons. To put that in perspective, Harper says, a blue whale weighs 6,000 pounds at birth, has a heart the size of a family car and a tongue the length of an elephant.

(image via: wikimedia commons)

Of course, when it comes to Sri Lanka wildlife, whales are just the beginning. Asian elephants, leopards, sloth bears, endangered wild boar, porcupines, anteaters and the purple-faced langur (pictured above) are just a few examples of the animals that are found here. Sri Lanka is also home to 3,210 species of flowering plants, and over 250 types of resident birds.

(images via: wikimedia commons)

Characterized by gently rolling hills in lush shades of green, Sri Lanka is home to a diverse range of cultures and has been a center of Buddhist religion since ancient times. One of its most important historical sites is Sigirya, a rock fortress full of ancient paintings that has been in use by humans since prehistoric times. It was used as a mountain monastery beginning in the 5th century BC. Sri Lanka also boasts the Avukana Buddha Statue, built in the 5th century AD, which stands nearly 40 feet high.

Interested in taking a green trip to Sri Lanka? The island has a number of eco-resorts to choose from. Check out Bandagiri Village, which offers a meditation center, agricultural farm growing papaya and dragon fruit, nature walks, trekking and bird watching. Other options include Tikiri Villa, Sigiriya Village Hotel, the Boulder Garden Resort and the Tree Tops Jungle Lodge. Get more info here.