Traveller Review: Classic Sri Lanka
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka following Adventure World’s classic trip travelling through Sri Lanka on the popular Classic Sri Lanka itinerary.
Sri Lanka is considered a jewel in the Indian Ocean and it’s easy to see why as the country is jam-packed with ancient sites, fascinating culture, beautiful wilderness and idyllic beaches.
Something to bear in mind though is that Sri Lanka is a destination where you really need a driver/guide to get around, as there is a very limited train service which remains from the days of the British. It is a clean and safe destination which manages to surprise you every day. It has something for everybody, culture, wildlife, food, beaches and Ayurveda treatment. April and September are the better times to travel, although I went in May and found it to be pleasant and the one shower a day was actually quite refreshing.
Here are a few of my highlights:
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
The wildlife – along with the stunning coastline - was the main highlight of my Sri Lanka trip as I wasn’t aware that the county boasts the highest population of Asian elephants. We took a visit to the world famous Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where we got to observe the elephants taking a river bath.
Established to feed, nurse and house young elephants, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is truly an amazing place to visit. The young orphans are put together so they can form a bond and have a friend around the same age. The female and young elephants in the orphanage wander freely as a herd during the day in an area of a few acres. They are collected about twice a day to drink and be bathed in the river. Bathing elephants is actually such a fascinating sight to watch as you can observe the elephants play and interact socially with each other.
A UNESCO listed World Heritage Site; Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a definite highlight. The most visited historic site in Sri Lanka, the ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres above the jungle. You can either stand from a distance and view this incredible rock or make the 2 hour round trip to climb it. On this occasion we made the 2 hour trip up the rock and we were rewarded with an amazing view of the surroundings while marvelling at the ruins on top.
Train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
No train trip in Sri Lanka is as scenic as the journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (Tea plantations). The journey takes 4 hours and you can never get tired of the scenery, it’s like green carpet of tea bushes rolling by, with colourful sari-dressed tea pickers popping out of this sea of green. Not to mention the amazing waterfall that just pops up out of nowhere.
Each cabin is filled with sellers hustling treats like fresh pineapple, mango, to corn with salted butter, freshly made local Sri Lankan snacks. You can definitely feel the difference in the temperature as you climb higher and higher. No wonder this is where the locals go to escape the heat.
Sri Lanka is treated as an important marine turtle nesting ground. Among the eight marine turtle species in the world, five of the species can be seen in Sri Lanka. The sea turtles are threatened because of human activities such as poaching of eggs and disturbance of nesting grounds. To address this issue in Sri Lanka, the sea turtle conservation project has established several turtle hatcheries. The project buys eggs from locals or get from nesting grounds and hatch them. The newly hatched turtles are released to the sea during the night. This was such an amazing project and worth the visit. To see them from 1 day old to 15 years old to 100 years old and to have the opportunity to hold one was such a highlight.
The wildlife was a clearly key highlight for me! But the trip also featured several world heritage sights, a cycle tour of Polonnaruwa – the second of Sri Lanka’s most ancient kingdoms, a visit to Sri Lanka’s most impressive cave temple – Dambulla Rock Temple and a trip to some organic herb and vegetable gardens.
What I’ll take away…
The friendliness of the local people also helped make this an adventure to remember and a country which is definitely one to go back to.
Quite often as a travel consultant, I am asked the question, where is my favourite place. I also say that I don’t have one, as I like everywhere I go. However now I think I could say that Sri Lanka has to be one of my favourite destinations, as it has so much to offer.
Classic Sri Lanka
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