Uda Walawe Is Dying!

Thoughts for World Wildlife Day

Today is World Wildlife Day

On World Wildlife Day, it is important to remember both the triumphs and the tragedies of conservation in Sri Lanka. One of these is the Uda Walawe National Park, which was established on June 30, 1972 after consistent lobbying by members of the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS), led by its president, Thilo Hoffmann. They had noticed the large number of elephants that visited this place and who needed protection. The Director of Wildlife, the legendary Lyn de Alwis, had come to the same conclusion and strongly supported their cause. Yet, in the 1980s, hardly any wildlife enthusiast would visit the Park. Ease of access was, perhaps, one reason for its lack of popularity; it could take four to five hours of travel from Colombo on roads that were a far cry from the carpeted highways which take you there today.  There was also a dearth of facilities. Unless the two bungalows in the park could be booked or that of the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society on its border, there was just a small, five bedroom guest house and the nearest other accommodation was in Embilipitiya, about 20 kilometres away. Vehicles had to be fueled up at Godakawela or Embilipitiya and the very few shops there were then did not have much except for the most basic of needs.

Then there were the varied descriptions of the place of degraded forests, teak plantations and plains with grasses so high that not even an elephant could be seen above the towering stalks. To cap it all, the elephants were supposed to be either so aggressive or so afraid that the few who would appear in an open space would either fiercely charge on sight or fearfully flee out of it.

As it was: a delightful reality

Hardly a hundred metres in from Park Gate, which was then just by the main road, the track crossed a much frequented elephant trail preferred by groups of young males who had left their natal herds and banded together for safety and company. It was not uncommon to see several of them either feeding on the grasses by the road or jousting in friendly combat to establish their future hierarchy.

Further on the road entered a forest of teak that stretched for a few kilometres along it, and a considerable way into the interior; their bark providing roughage for the elephants. Nothing substantial grows under teak except for grass. During times of drought, these areas provided shade and food for the hundreds of elephants who would seek refuge in the national park; the only substantial area in the region that still had food and water.

“It was late afternoon, in the 1980s, and driving around the edge of the now parched “Wewa Pitta” (Reservoir Bed)…the forest of teak trembled with the sounds and movements of a mammoth throng. The day cooled, out they tumbled, of varying age and size; they either grazed their way, or as with the younger, ran, for the cooling waters of the shrinking reservoir. These were my first sightings of the large herds of elephants for which Uda Walawe is now famous. We counted around 250 of them on that special evening. We stayed noiseless and still. Ours was the only vehicle there. The animals went around us doing what they had done for millennia in that place, just being elephants.” (Extract from Nature, 2012 by the author).

Life from the flames

The magnet for elephants was Uda Walawe’s grasslands; acres and acres of guinea grass that they feasted on at most times of the year and they were generally round and replete. In addition, the retreating waters of the reservoir left behind vast meadows of grasslands so that even in the harshest of droughts, there always was food and water for these beautiful creatures. It was not unusual to see two to three hundred of an evening, grazing in groups along the edge of the waters and then, as the shadows lengthened, cooling off in or slaking their thirst from this vital source of water. There were also far less feral buffalo in the park then.

An unexpected aid to the maintenance of these grasslands came from fire. When the grasses were at their driest at the height of the drought, lightning and other natural factors would set them alight. After the resulting burn, which could cover several acres, any moisture of even a heavy dew and the grasses would regenerate. Poachers would also intentionally set fire to the dry grass. The emerging sprouts attracted deer and other grazers who would be easy prey on the now clear plains. Once patrolling and law enforcement improved, however, the activities of poachers reduced but the necessity for fires, especially if controlled, had become an integral part of the health of the park.

As it is now: an ecological disaster

Most, if not all, of the grasslands have now gone, a legacy of almost two decades of mis-management and neglect. It also shows a lack of understanding that wildlife habitats have to be actively managed. It is now overrun by scrub with the remaining few small herds of elephants eking out a meagre existence from the scarce sprouts that spring between the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) that dominate the park. While the lone males are forced into nighttime raids into neighbouring cultivations, even defying the electric fences in search of adequate sustenance, the females and young suffer much worse. Many are nothing more than walking shadows of wrinkled skin draped over protruding bones as infant mortality rises with mothers not having the necessary nutrition to suckle their babies. What was once a haven for elephants, where a sight of them could be guaranteed at any time of the day, it is now a place of stark existence and possible extinction from this once elephant Eden.

There was a time when the herds of Uda Walawe could move out to adjacent habitats or even further, in search of food, allowing the park’s resources to regenerate and provide for the next season. Alas, many of these elephant ranges have now been encroached into, or blocked, and there is no escape without running the gauntlet of shotguns, trap guns, jaw bombs and thunder flashes.

Unheeded warnings

As far back as 2007 the authorities were warned of an impending disaster if the invasive species were not removed before they spread further, of the importance of reducing the feral buffalo and, most importantly, the significance of having controlled fires for the regeneration of the grasslands. Prior to this, a decision had been made to allow the Forest Department to remove the teak which had been knocked over by elephants when feeding off the bark; an adaptation to living in this unique habitat. Miraculously, most of the teak fell when the clearing was taking place and there are no longer teak forests in Uda Walawe, just invasive scrubland.

At that time, offers were even made to assist the authorities, with no cost to them, to aid with the manual removal of these invasive species as the mechanical methods only encourage their further dispersal. This was refused and the results are now there to be seen.

Instead, especially after someone with power expresses an opinion, they resort to mechanical removal using earth moving equipment, eliminating both the good and the bad, with the roots of the aliens still active in the ground to sprout back up again, sometimes within weeks of clearing. It is a well-known scientific fact that areas that are mechanically cleared of IAS and exposed to direct sunlight creates ideal conditions for them to dominate the aftergrowth as native species find it difficult to compete. Huge amounts of money are spent on this, funds that could be used for essential conservation rather than pandering to the needs of the ignorant, which has destroyed this park.

Of course a committee of researchers and scientists was formed to advise on what to do. However, while it takes an electric saw or a bulldozer just a matter of hours to destroy a natural habitat, nature does not recover as quickly. It may take decades or even centuries to repair even with informed human intervention. Those in authority and their subordinates cannot wait that long. Of course, nothing came of the learned proposals of science. As with many other such they lie on an official shelf gathering dust while the natural world disintegrates in those places the officials are supposed to guard.

As it could be again: There are no quick fixes

If a comprehensive programme of restoration is commenced today, it would take a minimum of 10 years to restore the park, even partially, to what it was before but such a programme is a vital necessity if not only the park, its wildlife and elephants are to be saved but also the local economy of the surrounding communities who are deeply dependent on its healthy existence. In the nearby Lunugamvehera National Park, the Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO) have been undertaking an IAS removal programme for the past couple of years. FEO engaged in the manual removal of only the invasive species, roots and all, and immediately burnt them. In addition, they would follow this up a few months later and any seedlings that had germinated were treated in the same way. With the rains came the miracle of resurrection as grasses and native species re-colonized these areas attracting not just elephants back to them but deer and other grazers and, in their wake, leopards.

FEO’s efforts were self-funded, by corporate sponsors and concerned citizens. Contrast this with the Department of Wildlife’s (DWC) efforts in the same park, with the aid of World Bank funding. Despite everything they persisted with the mechanical removal of these species and, in a short while, even more of them grew back. It remains a wasteland of alien scrub while indebting the nation to pay back the funds spent on this futile exercise.

The stark reality

The complete lack of positive intervention by the concerned authorities seem to indicate that they have given up on their role as guardians of the wildlife of Sri Lanka and are just letting them be killed or starve to death. Elephant deaths have soared to record levels; an embarrassment to a country that hosts a unique sub-species of the endangered Asian Elephant and leads most of its tourism advertising with pictures of them. Preservation of position and protection of pensions seems to dominate reasoning. There is but one way to do this; pander to the whims and fancies of your political masters.

Rather than the plump, contented herds of elephants that once filled this park with life and purpose, the following is the most likely sight for a discerning visitor to behold:

“A squawking, squabbling murder of crows, accompanied by a less vocal but slavering pack of village curs were all that she had for her funeral wake. However, theirs was not a grieving gathering of those whom she loved, and who loved her in return, but a clamouring throng who had already begun to celebrate her death in an orgy of feasting. Emaciated and starving, wrinkled skin draped over skeletal frame, she still had sufficient meat on her to feed the gluttony of these scavengers, at least for a day or two.  For she was just a few months old!”

If this is not to be re-written for the last elephant of Uda Walawe too, something must be done, and now, or a similar epitaph will have to be penned for the local economy and communities.

Sri Lanka’s Visa….

……Crackdown on Russian and Ukrainian Tourists Sparks Controversy and Investigation

Discover the growing controversy in Sri Lanka as the government takes action against Russian and Ukrainian tourists involved in illegal businesses. President Wickremesinghe orders an investigation into the directive, balancing law enforcement with diplomatic considerations.

In an unexpected move that has stirred both national and international attention, the Sri Lankan government finds itself at the center of a growing controversy. Following a report by the Daily Mirror on the burgeoning involvement of Russian and Ukrainian tourists in unregistered and illegal businesses, the Department of Immigration and Emigration acted swiftly, issuing a directive for all long-term visitors from these countries to exit Sri Lanka by March 7, 2024. This directive, aimed at curbing the alleged exploitation of tourist visas for illicit activities, particularly in popular tourist destinations such as Weligama and Arugam Bay, has prompted President Ranil Wickremesinghe to order an immediate and thorough investigation into its issuance without cabinet approval.

The Heart of the Matter: Visa Extensions and Unregistered Businesses

The core issue stems from allegations that some Russian and Ukrainian tourists have been abusing the hospitality of Sri Lanka by engaging in unregistered businesses, bypassing tax obligations, and excluding local stakeholders from economic opportunities. Initially, in a gesture of goodwill amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Sri Lanka had extended visas to affected tourists free of charge. However, with the normalization of travel and the resumption of direct flights, the government reevaluated the necessity of these extended visas, only to uncover a web of illegal activities that necessitated a retraction of this leniency.

A Delicate Balance: Tourism and Diplomacy

The decision to revoke visa extensions and demand the departure of long-staying tourists from these two nations is not without its complications. Russia remains a significant market for Sri Lankan tourism, a sector that the island nation heavily relies on for economic recovery and growth. The government is now faced with the delicate task of addressing illegal activities and ensuring compliance with local laws, without alienating a key demographic of tourists or straining diplomatic relations with Russia. The investigation ordered by President Wickremesinghe into the unilateral action taken by the Immigration Department underscores the careful approach the government intends to take, seeking solutions that balance law enforcement with economic and diplomatic considerations.

Looking Ahead: Implications and Expectations

As the investigation unfolds, stakeholders from various sectors are keenly watching to see how Sri Lanka navigates this complex issue. The outcome could set precedents for how the country manages its visa policies and deals with illegal businesses run by foreigners, all while maintaining its appeal as a tourist destination and its relationships with other nations. The Sri Lankan government’s response to this challenge will likely influence future policy decisions and the country’s reputation on the global stage.

The controversy surrounding the directive and the subsequent investigation highlights a broader challenge facing many tourist-dependent economies: how to welcome visitors and their economic contributions without compromising on legal and ethical standards. As Sri Lanka works through this quandary, the lessons learned could provide valuable insights for other nations grappling with similar issues.


Skate Boarding – in AbaY?

Manu Dharmaraja: the Skate for Sri Lanka story

Words: Jonathan Frank

Surfing is the most popular form of extreme sport in Sri Lanka. Thanks to the country’s ideal, year-round waves, small fishing hamlets like Ahangama, Midigama, Weligama, Mirissa, Polhena and Arugam Bay have transformed into tourist hotspots frequented by surfers from all parts of the globe.

And just like skateboarding’s genesis in California surf scene in the late 1950s, skating in Sri Lanka is slowly emerging out of the Down South surfing community. If you visit Ahangama, Midigma and Polhena today, you’d find skatebowls and half-pipes at hotels, hostels and restaurants.

Although skating had a local presence before its advent Down South, most skateboarding happened around Colombo and skaters didn’t have proper infrastructure like ramps and half-pipes etc. Given the lack of space and proper equipment, the few loose skating communities in and around Colombo faded out as quickly as they came.

Manu Dharmaraja is an extreme sportsman, model and master of ceremonies who have been a part of the Colombo skate scene during its tiny emergence in the 2010s and the Down South surfing and skating scenes. Manu started Skate for Sri Lanka right before Covid as a mission to popularise skating among local youth, especially those from underprivileged communities.

For instance, in Arugam Bay, this cop was like, “Oh, but if you’re skating on the road, if something happens to you, like a car hit you. What do I do about it?” Maybe they’re concerned in that manner. But like at the end of the day, it’s my decision, you know. If I choose to do this and because there’s no actual safe place for us to skate, you know, we’ll keep doing it here. Skateboarders are adrenaline seekers at the end of the day

Read more – follow the link below:

26th. December

Today we remember events dating back 19 years.
When the 2004 Tsunami hit Arugam Bay very hard.

Arugam Bay (the Movie)

The international premiere of the inspiring film Arugam Bay, which explores the unbreakable bond among a group of IDF veterans healing through the sport of surfing.
Takes place in Miami / USA.
The Movie was filmed in Arugam Bay.
(before the current crisis & war!)

The major event will take place at The Miami Jewish Film Festival (MJFF) proudly presents the program for its upcoming 27th edition, a dynamic hybrid of virtual and live events featuring 120 films. Running from January 11-25, 2024, the festival will showcase 94 feature films and 26 shorts from 25 countries, including 10 world premieres, 10 international premieres, 12 North American premieres, and 7 US premieres.

Notably, 41 films (34% of the total program) are directed by women, with 40 first-time feature filmmakers.


AbaY = Open All-Year- Round !

Arugam Bay.
The weather Wonder of Asia

Our remote, South/South Eastern Resort is a true All Year Round Destination.

The weather is unique,
Swimming is fine at all times; there are no dangerous currents.
In the Winter our wild Life is amazing, Kumana National Park is nearby
The population mainly speaks TAMIL (& English).
Indian/ Tamil Nadu Visitors will feel specially welcome!
Below are some of our areas most loyal Establishments, pledged to remain open 12 months / year:

Establishments who remain open all year:

1.) Way of the Bay
2.) AZURE Swim Store
3.) Riva de Sole
5.) Paddyway Resort & Restaurant
6.) Hideaway Resort
7.) Oasis Bay
8.) Wateredge Hotel
9.) Beach Wave
10.) Whisky Point Resort
11.) Atteriya Chill
12.) Sand Dune Beach Villa
13.) East Surf Cabanas
14.) Spice Trail (incl. Kaffi, LBK)
15.) Sandy Beach
16.) Hakuna Matata
17.) Popoyo Surf Resort
18.) Bay Vista Hotel & Restaurant
19.) Cresent Bay
20.) Oruwa Boutique Villa
21.) Surf & Sand Hotel
22.) Rams Resort
23.) Oceano Beach Villa
24.) Another World
25.) Surfers Park
26.) Star Rest Beach Hotel
27.) Flymoon Hotel
28.) Lazy Bay Surf Camp
29.) Sweet Home Villa
30.) Hotel Alaskabay
31.) The Surf Access Guest House
32.) Mermaids Village Restaurant
33.) Dream Garden Resort
34.) Shim Beach Resort
35.) Comfort Beach Hotel
36.) Cili Pizza and Room
37.) Sunset View Beach Hotel
38.)Beach Cab Resort
39.) Surf Beach Hotel
40.) Happy Bay Guest House
41.) Zimbay Guest House
42.) Family House
43.) Tropicana Home Stay
44.) PIZZA Hub & Dosa Station!
45.) Clear Point Super Market
46.) Arne’s Place
47.) Blue Wave Hotel
48.) SVH Thai Restaurant
49.) Arugam Bay Hostel
50.) Siam View Brew Pub

Plus some of the additions we received after the initial deadline:
51.) Danish Villa
52.) Artist Village
53.) m. Meena local Bar

Use Google Maps to look up and locate any of the above Places
Prices, Photos and Reviews are shown and will assist you to chose the Best for you.

Exploring Arugam Bay: A Paradise for Beach Lovers

Arugam Bay, a beautiful coastal town located on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, has gained popularity as one of the most sought-after beach destinations in recent years. With its pristine golden beaches, excellent surfing conditions, and rich cultural heritage, Arugam Bay is a traveler’s paradise. This article delves into the allure of Arugam Bay, highlighting its natural beauty, exciting activities, and vibrant local culture.

Unspoiled Beaches and Crystal Clear Waters

Arugam Bay is known for its breathtaking beaches that stretch for miles. The main beach in the town offers a lively atmosphere with beachside bars, restaurants, and surf schools. If you prefer a more tranquil setting, head to Crocodile Rock or Peanut Farm beach, where you can relax in the shade of the swaying palm trees.

One of the main attractions of Arugam Bay is its crystal clear waters, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The underwater world is teeming with colorful corals, tropical fish, and even turtles. Whether you’re an experienced diver or a novice, there are numerous diving centers that offer lessons and guided tours for all levels.

A Surfer’s Mecca

Arugam Bay is renowned for its world-class surfing conditions, attracting surfers from all over the globe. With consistent waves that can reach up to 10 feet high, it’s no wonder that this destination has become a mecca for avid surfers.

The main surf point, known as Main Point, offers challenging waves suitable for experienced surfers. If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools around the area that provide lessons and equipment rental. Whiskey Point and Elephant Rock are also popular surf spots that cater to surfers of all levels.

Discovering Local Culture

While Arugam Bay is primarily known for its natural beauty and water sports, the town also offers a rich cultural experience. Take a trip to nearby Pottuvil, where you can explore ancient Buddhist temples, witness traditional ceremonies, or even try your hand at traditional handicrafts.

Additionally, don’t miss out on the delicious local cuisine. From spicy curries to fresh seafood, Arugam Bay offers a wide variety of culinary delights that will tantalize your taste buds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is the best time to visit Arugam Bay?
  2. Is Arugam Bay suitable for families?
  3. Are there accommodations available in Arugam Bay?
  4. Can I rent surfing equipment in Arugam Bay?
  5. What other activities can I do besides surfing?

Arugam Bay offers a magical experience for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Its unspoiled beaches, thrilling waves, and rich cultural heritage make it a destination worth exploring. So pack your bags and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of Arugam Bay.

– [Sri Lanka Tourism](https://www.srilanka.travel/)
– [Arugam Bay Tourism](https://www.arugambay.lk/)

www.arugam.info (file photo)


Property/ Investments

Real estate is alive and well on Sri Lanka……….

Friday, 24th November 2023
Source : Bill Barnett
Last week, I made my first post-pandemic trip back to Sri Lanka, the trip was to look at the latest trends in the property and tourism sectors.
The country remains a personal favorite, despite its many up and downs over the past 30 or so years.
There is little doubt the prolonged political crisis has spurred an outbound migration of many talented hospitality professionals and entrepreneurs.
With elections coming next year, the path forward is unknown. But there is a mounting return of tourists especially to the Southern Coast.
I met up with longtime tourism personality Jack Eden who runs the respected Eden Villas out of Galle. For luxury rentals, 2023 has seen sustained demand in the South. Some of the notable markets are Europe, Russia, and the Middle East.
While viewing the upcoming winter season through March, many properties are booked out.
While Russians have yet to be major property developers, they are renting and becoming a strong long-stay market. Sri Lanka now has pushed out the 30-day visas for Russians to 180 days (6 months). Another option is a one-year business visa.
The South Beach areas are becoming popular for small-scale investment for Eastern Europeans especially Hikkaduwa and emerging areas past Galle.
Walking around Galle Fort, the vibe has continued to improve, and even some new boutique hotels such as The Charleston. Some old icons such as Sun House in the hills above Galle are just reopening under new management.
A new band of part-time and full-time overseas residents is now growing from Unawatuna through Ahangama to Welligama. These are not only Russians but a wide variety of nationalities. Heading further to Hiriketiya and beyond is seeing new investors in the area.
I was able to meet up with Lanka Real Estate’s Buddhima Perera to talk about luxury villa sales. There have been a few notable trades along the coast at the USD5 million dollar level.

Some investors are now looking past the South to the
East Coast to Arugam Bay and more remote areas.
These are no longer just about seasonal surf but about nature and long endless beaches.

While Sri Lanka’s risk profile for investment has some uncertainty, where in the world does not these days? The visa regime of business and retirement visas is positive, despite high bank interest rates.
For those looking for an amazing place under the sun in Asia, Sri Lanka’s South Coast remains a strong contender. If you haven’t visited lately, my advice is to get there soon.
Bill Barnett, Hospitality & Real Estate Advisor / Tech Entrepreneur / Sustainability Advocate / Writer & Managing Director, C9 Hotelworks Company Limited 9 Lagoon Road, Cherngtalay, Thalang, Phuket, 83110, Thailand (Office located at the entrance of Laguna Phuket) T: +66 (0)76 271 535 / F: +66 (0)76 271 536

SLTB Pottuvil Depot upgraded

Masses appreciate Minister’s endeavour

New Direct to / from Airport Luxury Bus service (Arugam Bay) promised!

The upgrading of the SLTB Pottuvil sub-depot, which has been operating under the Akkaraipattu Depot since 2005, into a main depot was initiated by Transport, Highways and Mass Media Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana yesterday.

A large crowd was present to witness the occasion and appreciate the Ministers’ initiative to upgrade the SLTB Pottuvil sub-depot to a main depot, which was a long felt need.

The aim of this project is to further streamline and expand public passenger transport services by coordinating the Pottuvil and Arugambay tourism zones.

At a cost of Rs. 60 million, the construction work is to be done by the State Development and Construction Corporation operating under the Ministry of Transport and Highways.


Beautiful Places To Visit In Sri Lanka

From pristine beaches to rich cultural and archaeological wonders, these are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka.


Arugam Bay

Prime surfer territory Arugam Bay is enticed with its laid-back vibe and magnificent surf.
It’s no surprise that during the surfing season, it transforms into a party town.
During the low-season, the town is a lot more mellow but is still lovely to explore.
Head to the southern end of the beach overrun with colourful wooden fishing boats and watch the fisher folk bring in their catch.
For the best view of the palm-fringed coastline climb up Elephant Rock.

Above is an extract from a larger Article:

5 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Published on November 12, 2023

Sri Lanka, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” is a mesmerizing island nation that boasts a rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. From ancient temples to pristine beaches, Sri Lanka offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. Here are five must-try activities that will make your visit to Sri Lanka, especially if you are considering Sri Lanka Tour Packages From Ahmedabad, an unforgettable journey.

Explore the Cultural Triangle:

As you embark on your Sri Lanka tour packages from Ahmedabad or Bangalore, the Cultural Triangle beckons with its historical treasures. Discover ancient cities like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress. Anuradhapura boasts well-preserved ruins, including ancient monasteries and a sacred Bodhi tree. Polonnaruwa, with its Gal Vihara and intricately carved Buddha statues, showcases the island’s rich heritage. Don’t miss the ascent to the top of Sigiriya for panoramic views and captivating frescoes.

Safari in Yala National Park:

Nature enthusiasts will find Yala National Park to be a highlight of their Sri Lanka tour. Whether you’re starting a  Bangalore to Sri Lanka trip , a safari in Yala promises encounters with Sri Lanka’s diverse wildlife, including the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Witness elephants, sloth bears, crocodiles, and an array of bird species in their natural habitat. Both morning and evening safaris offer unique perspectives on the park’s vibrant ecosystems.

Relax on Unspoiled Beaches:

No Sri Lanka tour is complete without indulging in the serenity of its pristine beaches. Whether you’re arriving from Bangalore or Ahmedabad, the golden shores of Bentota and the laid-back atmosphere of Mirissa await. Tangalle and
Arugam Bay offer secluded escapes, providing the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.
Arugam Bay, a surfer’s paradise on the eastern coast, invites travelers to experience its vibrant surf culture

Tea Plantation Tour in Nuwara Eliya:

Transitioning from the tropical climate of Sri Lanka to the cool hills of Nuwara Eliya is a unique aspect of your journey, especially if you’re starting from Bangalore or Ahmedabad. Take a guided tour of a tea estate to learn about the art of tea production, surrounded by the picturesque landscapes of “Little England.” The misty weather, manicured tea gardens, and the chance to savor freshly brewed Ceylon tea make this experience truly special.

Visit the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy:

Your Sri Lanka tour packages from Ahmedabad or Bangalore should include a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. Nestled amidst hills and tea plantations, this temple houses a revered relic believed to be the tooth of Lord Buddha. Attend the evening ‘Puja’ ritual, where the relic is adorned with flowers and offerings, and immerse yourself in the cultural significance of this spiritual site.

In conclusion, as you plan your journey from Bangalore to Sri Lanka or opt for Sri Lanka tour packages from Ahmedabad, the island nation unfolds a tapestry of experiences. Whether exploring ancient ruins, encountering wildlife, lounging on pristine beaches, sipping tea in the highlands, or partaking in spiritual rituals, Sri Lanka promises a diverse and enriching adventure for every traveler.


Sri Lanka waives visa fees

By XU WEIWEI in Hong Kong and ARUNAVA DAS in Kolkata, India | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-11-02 10:23

Tourists walk on the beach at sunset in Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, on June 8. THILINA KALUTHOTAGE/GETTY IMAGES

Sri Lanka is set on the path of recovery by attracting more tourists, especially from Asia and Europe, after the authorities announced that visa-free entry will be issued to nationals from seven countries, said officials and industry insiders.

Currently, many Asian tourist destinations are vying with each other to revive their tourism industries, which had been battered by COVID-19, said Sumit Batabyal, director of the Kolkata-based Wandervogel Tours and Travels.

He said policy measures such as the visa-free entry “will certainly go a long way in bringing more revenue” for Sri Lanka, which is grappling with an “acute financial crisis”.

This year, its tourism industry aims to attract 2 million visitors, up from the previous target of 1.5 million.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet last week also approved a proposal to offer free visas for nationals from seven countries, according to Minister for Tourism and Lands Harin Fernando.

The plan, which will benefit tourists from India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand, is a pilot project that will end on March 31 next year, he said on X, formerly Twitter.

Priantha Fernando, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, said the nation had just exceeded 1.1 million tourist arrivals in the first 10 months of 2023.

For Europe, the traditional markets have been the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

Priantha Fernando said the visa-free exemption plan is expected to increase arrivals from the three major markets “by 12 to 15 percent”.

“What we are trying to do is to start to experiment … to see how best we can increase the numbers from those markets,” he said.

‘Great stimulus’

He expressed his wish to see more Chinese tourists. “With Sri Lanka being listed among the 20 countries for Chinese travel, we plan to take advantage and increase the operations of air services between the countries.”

Rajiv Mehra, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, or IATO, described the timely move as “fantastic”.

“The waiver of visa fees will certainly serve as a great stimulus for tourists from India to Sri Lanka,” he said.

Priantha Fernando said Sri Lanka has it all within 65,000 square kilometers — sea, sun and sand, nature, wildlife, heritage, culture, wellness, marine tourism and friendly people.

“Sri Lanka is also a great place for adventure lovers, not only from India but also from around the world,” said Mehra, who is also the director of New Delhi-headquartered Uday Tours& Travel.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Arunava Das is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

Israel Visitors depart

Arugam Bay has always been very popular with Visitors, surfers and party people from Israel.
As soon as news of the Middle Eastern Conflict were received almost every single affected person packed up.
And made arrangements to return home, With Immediate Effect.
In an amazing show of solidarity, for the support of their Nation and family hundreds left towards the airport in chartered buses.
All of a sudden the resort is quiet. And only a few are out to catch the still existing waves.
Below is an extract from a local newspaper on this matter:

In Sri Lanka, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana Wickramaratne has issued instructions to all police stations and to the Tourist Police Division to identify hotels, guest houses and other accommodation where Israeli citizens are lodged and provide necessary security for them. There are currently about 12, 000 Israelis in Sri Lanka according to information provided by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), an officer from the Tourist Police Division said.

So far, there has only been one incident of harassment of Israeli tourists directly linked to the hostile environment created by the conflict. In Arugam Bay, two female Israeli tourists had allegedly been verbally abused by a man who had threatened them and demanded they leave Sri Lanka. He was arrested and produced in court following a complaint lodged by the tourists. Police said the Sri Lankan man had been under the influence of liquor.

Such incidents and a prolonged conflict could have terrible consequences for those who rely on tourism from Israel. Manjula Prasad, who has been working with Israeli tourists visiting Sri Lanka for 14 years, said the incident at Arugam Bay was posted on a Facebook and WhatsApp group for Israelis in Sri Lanka that had over 28, 000 members. The group consists of those who have visited Sri Lanka or are already here. “Israelis in Arugam Bay were advised to leave immediately after the incident and we know that many packed up and moved to the southern coast,” he claimed. Mr Prasad said it was essential that authorities treat such incidents seriously and take action to assure the safety of Israeli tourists.

He said the war could not have come at a worse time for tourism from Israel given that it has increased significantly in recent times. “I wasn’t home most of this year because I was taking Israeli tourists around the country. But since last Saturday, I have had seven upcoming tours cancelled. The situation is the same for everyone else taking Israeli tourists.”

According to the SLTDA, 9326 Israelis visited the country last year. By September this year however, that number had already doubled to 18, 449. There was potential for an increase in numbers due to the start of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Colombo this year.
Israel’s Arkia Airlines is due to start direct flights between Israel and Sri Lanka from October 31. “The airline told me that they had over 8000 bookings from Israelis from October 31 up to March. Most of them likely won’t come now as they would be on the battlefield,” said Ambassador Nimal Bandara.

Urgent Need for Arugam Bay Tourism Development Strategy

 A meeting was convened at the Presidential Secretariat to discuss the Arugam Bay Tourism Development Plan, which has the potential to significantly contribute to Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of the Presidential Staff, chaired the meeting.

During the discussion, the issues identified in the initial meeting led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and the steps taken to address them were thoroughly examined.

The focus was on the challenges related to infrastructure development in the area and the obstacles hindering the growth of the tourism sector. Participants from various organizations also discussed how each institution could contribute to finding solutions to these challenges.

Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka presented the main tourism plan for Arugam Bay, prepared by the Urban Development Authority (UDA). Additionally, a three-year tourism development plan will be presented to the president for consideration.

It was agreed that a follow-up meeting would be held in a month to assess the progress of these initiatives. Those in attendance included Member of Parliament D. Weerasinghe, IGP C. D. Wickramaratne, Ampara District Secretary Chinthaka Abeywickrama, and heads of relevant organizations.


The Best to work as a digital nomad

Globally is Sri Lanka!

This is the cheapest country to work as a digital nomad

Photo taken in front of the AbaY Digital Nomads High Speeds Co-working Center (Est. 2001)

While working on serene beaches or by tranquil pools was once a dream for many, it’s now very much a reality.

Working remotely is surging in popularity and, as a result, a growing number of countries are now offering digital nomad visas to entice people over.

For those not clued-up, these particular visas allow remote workers to live and work in that country for a specified period, while being employed and earning an income from a business based outside of that country.

And new research has analysed the cost of living in the countries offering these visas, to reveal the best for remote workers to get the most out of their earnings.

So, if you’re considering packing up and working elsewhere, there are certain cheaper spots that should be on your radar.

According to the Digital Nomad Rich List created by Flamingo App, Sri Lanka is the country where your money will go furthest.

Based on the average UK salary, the data found that cost of living in Sri Lanka comes to just £492 per month (on rent, food, transport and utility bills), so the average Brit is expected to pocket around £2,282 of disposable income.

Argentina, Colombia & North Macedonia, Indonesia and Malaysia also ranked within the top five cheapest countries for digital nomads – according to this report.

Cheapest places to live as digital nomad, according to Flamingo App:

  1. Sri Lanka
  2. Argentina
  3. Colombia & North Macedonia
  4. Indonesia
  5. Malaysia

High speeds (200Mbps), UPS, Generators, Air Conditioning, attached Bathrooms, Membership options:
All at the Old, Original AbaY Nomads Nonworking Centre (WhatsApp +94702042271)

However, the most expensive countries to work remotely in were also named, with Bermuda scooping the top spot, followed by the Cayman Islands and Iceland. The UK also placed eighth on the most expensive list.

David Hehenberger, the founder of Flamingo App, said: ‘The findings of our Digital Nomad Rich List are eye-opening, highlighting that the average Brit can increase their disposable income by choosing to work remotely from over 40 countries, freeing up financial and mental space to explore and enjoy life. If you can work from anywhere, why not pick a place that enhances your life?

‘Whether it’s the warm beaches of Indonesia, the cultural hubs of Argentina, or the natural beauty of Sri Lanka.

‘Remote work doesn’t have to be confined to our familiar surroundings; it can be the gateway to global experiences, cultural immersion, and financial empowerment. The world is your office.’

Most expensive place to work as digital nomad, according to Flamingo App:

  1. Bermuda
  2. Cayman Islands
  3. Iceland
  4. The Bahamas
  5. Norway

The photos in the original article are copy sadly protected.
And have been replaced with our own freeware.


Sun directly overhead of AbaY & PottuVille at 12.09 noon today (05)

On the apparent southward relative motion of the sun, it is going to be directly over the latitudes of Sri Lanka during 28th of August to 07th of September in this year (2023).

The nearest towns of Sri Lanka over which the sun is overhead tomorrow are Bambalapitiya, Maliboda, Keppetipola, Badalkumbura and Pottuvil about 12.09 noon.