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Ampara

Often overshadowed by nearby Arugam Bay due to its pristine surfing beaches, Ampara too has a few tricks up its sleeve to compete with its beachside counterpart, as it bears a number of wildlife sanctuaries, along with ancient history that can still be seen today. The 8 hour or so drive from the commercial capital of Colombo will not disappoint, as the town is a perfect escape for nature lovers and history buffs.

Top Reason to Visit

Unlike its beachside counterpart, Ampara is known for its countryside dappled with lakes, paddy fields and palm groves. Couple that with frequent sightings of the Asian elephant walking about in the nearby wilderness, what more reason to not visit? Moreover, the place is famed for possessing ancient history that goes all the way back to the 3rd Century BC, back to the times of the Digamadulla Kingdom and is best signified by the ancient tanks, monasteries and stupas that still stand.

While You’re There

Base camp to all things nature:

Just 20-kilometres south west of Ampara town lies some of the more notable national parks of the country. The Gal Oya National Park teems with abundant flora and fauna, a lot of them endemic to the Paradise Island. Almost a hop, step and jump away from the town, the nature lover can delve into the exquisite wildlife of Sri Lanka, especially when it comes to the herds of migrating Asian elephants. A safari to the national park to witness the sentient beings is always a treat for many a traveller that takes the opportunity.

Remnants of an old kingdom:

Very close to the town lies some of the best preserved ruins of the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka, in particular the Digamadulla Kingdom that was part of the Ruhuna region. Here it is possible to witness ancient tanks, monasteries and stupas, namely the Jayanthi Wewa (lake), the Deegawapi stupa, the Buddangala Raja Maha Viharaya and the Hindu site of Sri Manika Pillaiyar that never cease to amaze. Strolling along the paddy fields that lead to these ancient monuments certainly does impress all travellers who explore the place.

Adventure is closer than you think:

Although Ampara is landlocked with lush greenery, adventure buffs have the luxury of travelling to nearby Arugam Bay to partake in a range of exhilarating water sports, such as surfing, snorkeling and diving. Arugam Bay being host to international surfing competitions, certainly does not disappoint the adventure buff looking to explore the deep blue in style.

Insider Advice

Travel: Getting about Ampara is relatively easy as there are a number of options to choose for transportation, such as buses and tuk-tuks. However, do research the distance to the destination and negotiate a price before you get in, should you opt for a tuk-tuk.

Weather: Ampara experiences typical tropical climate throughout the year, however, the months from November to March have shown to be ideal months to travel in, as the temperatures average around 28°C with a stable humidity.

Money: It is important that you carry cash in hand with small notes like LKR 20s, 50s and 100s, so as to make those small transactions all the more easier. Credit and debit cards are accepted in certain establishments such as supermarkets, restaurants and hotels.

Clothing: Light, comfortable clothing is the way to get about the town and beat the heat. However, modest attire should be followed when visiting sacred places of worship.

Safety: Ampara is generally a very safe and friendly town, however, it is important that you keep a watchful eye on your belongings at all times.

Meals and refreshments: It is most likely that your accommodation provider will be able to fill in this gap. However, you could opt to try out some of the small places scattered around the town.

Ampara then, is a treasure trove of history and nature combined in an eclectic manner waiting to be explored.

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