Sri Lanka: Your Must Visit Destination for 2021
After many trips to Asia, Adventure World Traveller, Jerry, was under the mistaken belief that he knew what to expect from his 12-day trip to Sri Lanka in November. If you're expecting the hot curries, tropical landscapes, mopeds and twisty roads found throughout Asia, you'll be surprised at how much more the Pearl of the Indian Ocean has to offer visitors. Jerry gives us his own account of a tailor-made tour of Sri Lanka.
Take a cooking class to learn about Sri Lanka's Cuisine
As soon as I arrived in modern Negombo I realised how much I had underestimated this tidy, polite and very manageable sized country. I march on my stomach so first things first – Food! The local produce displayed in markets and hotels were an array of fresh locally caught fish, tropical fruits and a vast range of curries, king of which is the must-try jackfruit curry. To truly get to the heart of Sri Lankan cuisine, I highly recommend pre-booking a cookery class to demonstrate the flavours that made Sri Lanka a world renowned spice island; coriander, cumin, turmeric, black pepper, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. I soon became a fan of 'Hoppers'. The dish is composed of a thin, crepe-like batter that's infused with coconut milk and spices and crisped into a bowl shape to hold fried eggs using a special hopper pan. It's versatile enough to serve as a breakfast dish, quick snack or hangover cure dependent on your needs.
If you love active, wildlife-rich holidays, Sri Lanka is ideal
I like a more active holiday and this is where Sri Lanka shines. Sri Lanka can be compared to a microcosm of Africa in its abundance of wildlife. If you wish to get wild you can dive with blue whales in season or watch spinner dolphins leap about in Kalpitiya. Sri Lanka also has 5,800 wild elephants ambling about in well-kept national parks such as Kadulla, and the biggest concentration of leopards in the world can be found here. See them in Yala National Park, along with sloth bears and buffalo. Our 3-hour guided 4WD-safari through Yala National Park delivered three leopard sightings and a cornucopia of birds and mammals all in a spectacularly beautiful wilderness setting lapped by the ocean.
Scenic railways, Tea Plantations, Colonial architecture and cooler temperatures in the highlands around Kandy and Nuwara Eliya provide a welcome relief from the more humid coastal climes. Here you will be able to take tea at one of the many tea plantations and play golf in a comparative garden of Eden. The land is so fecund I swear if you threw down a leaf tomorrow it’s a bush.
Sri Lanka offers many Cultural Highlights
The region known as the Cultural Triangle is a must-visit and is worth at least three days alone to explore the area’s abundant highlights. Located 200kms north of Colombo, Anuradhapura, Dambulla and Sigiriya showcase caves, temples and archaeological sites each with their own unique and fascinating stories dating back 2,500 years and boast no less than 8 UNESCO World Heritage Listed Sites for travellers to explore. Burn off those hoppers by taking a 2-3 hour morning climb of Sigiriya Rock. A climb of 1,200 steps later you will find yourself at the summit of a giant rock atop which nestles the remains of an ancient royal palace. The afternoon can be spent in the temple complex housed within the five Dambulla Caves, which are filled with Buddhist statues and paintings all intricately daubed on the cave walls. This sacred site is thought to have been a place of worship since the 1st century BC and is still in use today, with many locals visiting the caves to pray and give offerings.
There are plenty of reminders of Sri Lanka's cultural past on display all around the island. Dutch colonial Galle boasts a wonderful old-world town centre perfect for wandering the boutiques, laneways and historical buildings in search of gifts, textiles and tea. In Colombo, you can also stay, dine and tour the classic colonial gem, the Galle Face Hotel, which boasts a fascinating picture gallery of past guests. Popes, Presidents (Nixon and Clinton), musicians (Sting, Robbie Williams), actors (Sir Lawrence Olivier) and even revolutionaries (Che Guevara) grace the walls.
Location, Location, Location
The proximity of the island to India makes it easy to compare Sri Lanka with its northern neighbour. Being a seasoned traveler to India, I must conclude that Sri Lanka is a wonderful introduction to the Sub-Continent, with comfortable, modern accommodation, extraordinary experiences, value for money and a warm welcome to visitors. Sri Lanka, my new favorite Asian country – a must-see.
How to plan a trip to Sri Lanka
Our destination experts can assist by designing your ultimate private tour of Sri Lanka. Most of our trips include a private car and driver/guide to transport you from place to place, plus you can design your own tour to suit your interests. Click the button below for a selection of suggested itineraries you can customise with the help of our dedicated team.