The beauty of Sri Lanka lies in the diversity of its terrain and the richness of its culture. There are mountains, jungle, beaches and flatlands. Sri Lanka has no limits and neither does its beauty. It is truly an island paradise. There is so much to do from hiking, to surfing, to visiting waterfalls and elephant sanctuaries. I spent three weeks in Sri Lanka, but could’ve spent three months in this beautiful country!
We first visited Kandy, one of the larger cities in Sri Lanka, getting a taste for the culture. Kandy sits on a plateau and is surrounded by mountains. From my hotel window stared back at me a giant buddha built on the distant mountainside. We visited the Temple of the Tooth which was breathtakingly beautiful. The architecture was intricate and decadent, and was coupled with stunning interior decoration. The city was vibrant and bustling, the streets dotted with fruit and flower sellers, and people from all backgrounds.
Leaving Kandy, we headed deeper into the jagged mountains and jungle of the central province. Monkeys swung through the trees, picking at fruit and and clambering on parked cars and tuk tuks. We went to an elephant sanctuary and on an elephant safari, which I couldn’t recommend more! They are truly magnificent creatures. The next day we climbed the 1,200 steps up Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress often described as the eighth wonder of the world. The views from the top were astounding and more than worthy of the climb. Reaching the ruins on top of the rock and witnessing the endless panoramic view was definitely a bucket list moment.
After our short stay in the Central Province we embarked on a 7 hour drive through the heart of Sri Lanka to the East Coast. As we ventured deeper into the jungle the roads began to disappear and left dirt tracks in their place. We passed small settlements and communities completely cut off from wider society. The eye-opening, almost tribal feel, to these communities was incredible to see, and speaks to the diversity of Sri Lankan culture. Nature surrounded us as we drove through the dense jungle; we saw tortoises, lizards and all kinds of flora and fauna. It was a peaceful and therapeutic journey, despite the incredibly bumpy roads, which provided a reflection on nature and a more simple way of living. Exiting the jungle, we crossed plains and tiny villages before arriving at Arugam bay.
Arugam bay, was well worth the long drive across the island, and is hands-down my favourite place in Sri Lanka! Though it is popular with tourists, it retains its original charm and is fairly unscathed by western tourism – the new hotels sitting back from the village, undetectable from the beach. We stayed at the Blue Wave Hotel, a three-star hotel with a pool, great food and lovely rooms, that was just a short walk from the beach. The beach is crescent shaped with golden sand, and the turquoise waters stretch out indefintiely towards the horizon. Colourful, hand-crafted fishing boats line the shore where the waves crash and foam. Arugam Bay is a surfers paradise, with swells and point breaks suitable for all levels. The surrounding hidden beaches are idyllic tropical havens, my favourite being Elephant Rock. Surfing at sunrise is something I couldn’t recommend more, it is one of the most exhilarating and beautiful experiences. Whilst staying at Arugam bay we went on a lagoon safari and a crocodile safari, which were both incredible. We even saw an elephant washing itself as we were paddling through the lagoon!
After our amazing stay at Arugam bay we headed back to the West Coast. We went on a safari on the way at Yala National Park, where we were lucky enough to see a leopard among many other animals in their natural habitat. We also visited Galle, which is a coastal city known for its old town and world heritage site fort. As we continued along the coast we saw traditional Sri Lankan stilt fishermen, skilfully propped up in the shallow waters, waiting for swarms of fish to pass by. Eventually we reached our last stop, Hikkaduwa, where we stayed at Avenra Beach Hotel. The hotel had an amazing exterior, a great pool and friendly staff. It was also right on the beach! You could see incredible sunsets over the ocean out of your bedroom window. Whilst in Hikkaduwa we visited the Tsunami museum, which was an eye-opening and incredibly hard-hitting experience. Photos plastered the walls of the shack-like building, recounting the path of the tsunami and the devastation left in its wake. The museum’s aim is to educate people about tsunamis and preserve the memories of the lives that were lost. We also visited a turtle hatchery and rescue centre, where you could see turtles at various levels of development before their release. There were several different species, and we learnt about their differences as well as their unanimous struggle for survival.
It was hard to write this reflection of my trip, as I feel I can’t do it justice. Sri Lanka is a penny-sized paradise with a wonderfully pure proximity to nature. There is so much to see and do, the culture is incredible and so is the food! It was a truly amazing and inspiring experience. I could go back a thousand times over!
I hope you enjoyed my account of Sri Lanka!