The best memory for me of Sri Lanka will forever be the warm welcomes and broad smiles from the Sri Lankan people throughout our visit. The country has had its recent troubles but the people remain welcoming and friendly to visitors which warmed our hearts wherever we went.
2. Yala National Park
Sri Lanka is blessed with fantastic National Parks such as Horton’s Plains, Udawalawe and Bundala that cover vast areas of the country but it was Yala where we were lucky enough to spot many animals including Leopards, Elephants and many species of birdlife on our game drive. Only recently reopened to the public Yala provides visitors with a very relaxing and calm atmosphere to enjoy the animals roaming in natural surroundings.
This ancient capital close to Sigiriya and Dambulla is full of Buddhist remains such as temples, monasteries and statues that a single day trip will just not cover. It was amazing to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere practically undisturbed by other visitors and take in the peaceful surroundings.
The marvellous Lion Rock rising 200metres above a forested plain, the ascent although taxing was most definitely worth it with chances to appreciate the rock carvings along the way. The view from the top to the landscape below is just breathtaking. It was quite a surreal experience pausing up there in eerie silence listening out for distant sounds and imagining what the Palace was like in all its glory back in the 5th century with water gardens and swimming pools.
Being “the teardrop of India” as Rudyard Kipling described it, Sri Lanka has many similarities to Southern India and none more so than when it comes to the food. Although the love of fish is evident on the menus throughout the island you can also choose from delicious meat curries and vegetarian dishes to tantalise the palate. And all washed down with the best tea in the world of course!
Sri Lanka is abundant with all kinds of wildlife and it is not just in the national parks.All throughout our visits to Sri Lanka whether we were inland or along the coast we were constantly on the lookout for any animals in our midst. Our abiding memories will be in Dambulla and the naughty macaques begging for food on our hotel balcony and spotting a majestic blue whale mother and calf whilst whale watching from Mirissa. It truly is an animal lover’s haven.
7. Southern Beaches
No trip to Sri Lanka can be complete without a trip to the coastline to marvel at the sights and experience the importance of the ocean to the people. Whether it is a dawn visit to a fishing village to see fishermen trawl ashore their night’s catch or unwinding on a golden sand beach enjoying the sunset as another day comes to an end on this island paradise. The first day we arrived into Sri Lanka we spent walking the beach at Negombo and fell in love with the place straight away.
8. Kandy & The Tea Plantations
The heat in Sri Lanka can be hard going sometimes so a trip to the highlands of the interior is the perfect way to cool down and relax. Whether it is sipping Ceylon Tea on a veranda overlooking the sprawling tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya that or a visit to the Buddhist relic at the Temple to the Tooth in Kandy travellers will experience yet another facet of this extraordinary diverse country.
The Dutch fort at Galle on the southern tip is a wonderful example of the colonial legacy that still remains today. The fort is packed full of old Dutch and English style houses in the narrow streets, visitors will forget they are next to the sea as they wander the alleys admiring the architecture.
Not too far from Galle, Unawatuna is highly recommended for a visit. It has been voted one of the best beaches in the world. Enjoy relaxing beside the golden beaches with its clear, calm waters and an offshore reef. The perfect way to end a perfect trip.