1638_hambatoaThis economically backward region is divided into three districts: Galle, Hambantota and Matara. The wildlife sanctuaries of the Yala and Uda Walawe National Parks are important sites here, with the holy city of Kata Ragama and the ancient cities of Tissamaharama, Kirinda and Galle. The province was severely affected by the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, and it is still going through a process of recovery and reconstruction.

Galle District

The Benthara River in the north flows through this district, which is bordered in the north and south by the Indian Ocean. It was hard-hit by the tsunami in 2004, and the recovery process for the district and its people continues to this day.

Galle’s Sinharaja rainforest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the last viable area of primary tropical rainforest on the island. More than 60% of the flora and fauna are rare and endemic to the area. The wildlife includes birds and over 50% of the country’s mammals, butterflies, insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. Visitors to the park have to get a permit from the Wildlife Department first. Numerous streams and rivers cover much of the park. Wildlife species sheltered here include the spotted leopard, the purple-faced langur, barking deer, and wild boar.

Galle City

Galle is an old fortified city, and one of the largest in Sri Lanka. It was devastated by the 2004 tsunami, which killed thousands of residents and tourists and destroyed buildings. Today, Galle City is still recovering from the catastrophe.

The coastline all the way up to Bentota is still popular with tourists. The coast is very attractive, and lined with plantations and estates producing cinnamon, rubber, and tea. Koggala Beach is a peaceful luxury retreat. Mirissa is a thriving resort area with a beautiful beach and many guest houses and hotels.

Galle Fort

Galle Fort was built by the Portuguese and modified by the Dutch in the 17th century. Thanks to the reconstruction efforts of the government’s Archaeological Department, the 400-year-old fort is in good condition today.

The Sri Lankan government and the citizens of the fort are devising ways to making it a modern-day wonder, trying to have it declared a free port and a free trade zone. Various types of houses are available inside it.

One needs an hour to get around the fort by foot. Bastions on the corners of the fort glare forbiddingly over the peninsula. A modern lighthouse looks out over the ocean. The Galle Fort Hotel occupies a prime site on the edge of the fort. It has perfect views of the sunset, and serves some of the best curry tiffins in Sri Lanka.

Sunset Ocean Views

This two-storey property was renovated four years ago. It has panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and a large, high-ceilinged entrance with a snooker table leading to a patio with a pool. It includes four very large double bedrooms with high ceilings and en-suite bathrooms, living and dining rooms, kitchen and staff quarters.

Benzoate

Benzoate is popular for water sports, including wind surfing and water skiing, and the Yala Wild Life Park. Benzoate also has a handful of good hotels. An open-air theatre here regularly stages folk and mask dancing performances.

Polhena

Polhena in the town of Matara is an ideal place for swimming and snorkelling, as it has a natural swimming pool formed out of a coral reef.

Tangalle

Tangalle is a regionally important fishing port and a centre of tourism. The climate here is milder than in the rest of the district. The place is dotted with white sandy beaches, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and swimming. Medilla, Goyambokke, Pallikaduwe, Mawella, Kudawella and Seenimodera are some of the quiet fishing villages in the area.


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