Vankalai Sanctuary, Mannar
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A birders paradise among Palmyrah treesIf you are a keen 'birder' and plan to head towards Sri Lanka anytime between December and January, I suggest you visit the Northern city of Mannar. At this time of year, the land of the Palmyrah trees becomes lush after rains and home to hundreds of winter birds that migrate to escape the harsh northern winters. Curlews, Terns, Grebes, Plovers, Pintails and many winter migrant waders, ...and if you're lucky, you may even get close to the beautiful Greater Flamingo flocks that forage the salt plans and sanctuaries around Mannar.
Reminiscent of an African landscape Baobab Trees dot the landscape and are believed to have been introduced centuries ago by Arab traders.If there's time to spare take a boat ride to the spit of land made up of a chain-like reefs and islets called 'Adams Bridge' - best done early morning before the sun become a little too hot.
Mannar is generally not part of the usual tourist trail but we found it to be a fascinating location, steeped in myth and legend, with very friendly people, great sea-food and vegetarian cuisine.