Whilst in Sri Lanka, the bombings of Easter Sunday took place. We were very fortunate to have left the area of this horrendous act by this time but it felt really weird to be continuing our holiday at this time. The reason I want to write this blog post is because it was still one of the best places I have ever been and such a wonderful country. I hope that you enjoy the blog post and that are able to visit Sri Lanka one day.
What a country. Such diverse landscape. From rolling green hills that remind me of Scotland to sandy, tropical beaches. This is the itinerary we took around the country. The only thing I would have changed is to have stayed in Dambulla for one night instead of two, and I feel like we managed to see a lot of the country lot without being overly exhausted or travelling too much.
- Population: 21 million
- Language: Sinhala, Tamil and English
- Capital: Columbo (commercial) & Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte,
What to pack (aside from the usual):
- Take at least 2 clean t-shirts per day. Sri Lanka is a very hot very humid place and I have never sweated as much as I have during my time there, particularly if you are planning to do any trekking (which you should)
- A warm jumper. I know it sounds crazy for a country that reaches 40 degrees celsius most year round, but we were actually really cold in the mountainous area and our guesthouse even lit a fire in the evening
- A couple of pairs of leggings/ and comfortable trainers and a sports bra (ladies) for the trekking
- A thin waterproof. This country can be pretty rainy and when it rains, it pours but it is still warm
- A more conservative swimsuit as well as a bikini (just incase you go swimming in a public area)
Flight time: Roughly 10 hours from Schipol airport. You do need a visa which can be purchased online.
Our first stop was Negombo. We wanted to relax for a couple of nights after the long flight. There are beaches here and whilst not as beautiful as in the South, they are worth a visit. We stayed in a small guesthouse called Villa Dominikku which I would highly recommend. The owner Dulshan is wonderful and helped us to relax and properly plan our holiday. He also organised the local prices for tuktuks for us as opposed to the tourist price, which saved us a lot of money. For food try rice and curry at Sea View restaurant, samosas, coconut rotti and all the tropical fruit juices. Sonny’s restaurant was also VERY good for fresh and local fish and seafood. I heard great things about Mr Burger (not a burger joint but much more local fried snacks) but unfortunately it was not open when we were there due to the holidays.
We then moved onto Dambulla for two nights. I do not recommend the hotel we stayed in, so I will not include it here and I also think you could spend one night in Dambulla as opposed to two if you wanted more time somewhere else. This area is close to Sigiriya which has a very famous rock that people climb. Try to go in the morning because it gets very hot and it is quite a tough climb. Wear trainers and take plenty of water. Our tuktuk driver actually took us to another rock opposite Sigiriya rock which was a quarter of the price, and was not nearly as crowded and meant we could still see Sigiriya. For food here we went for Sri Lankan curry buffet called Athula restaurant.
We then spent 2 nights in Nuwara Eliya. One of my favourite places during the trip. The verdant landscape is full of tea plantations. The town itself is a bit odd, the temperature is a lot cooler so during colonial times this was where the British liked to escape the heat. This is evident in the tudor-style housing, the British style parks and the post office that looks like it is straight out of a village from the English countryside. We stayed in Misty Mountain hotel, the Sri Lankan owner lives half the year in Australia and was a total dude. From here we hiked to the nearby mountain called leopard rock, and were told only afterwards that leopards still reside here, I tried to act casual about it. You can also do the Horton Plains trek from here but takes an hour in the car to get there. We decided against it as we had had a long car journey the day before. Take a long walk around Pedro’s tea plantations, and head up to Lover’s Leap waterfall. Afterwards, get a tour of the factory and a free cup of tea. For food here you have to try Indian Summer restaurant, a bit more pricey than the average food in Sri Lanka, but the food was DELICIOUS, like Dishoom delicious.
We took a wonderful (but cramped ) train journey to Ella that cost us about 70p each. The train goes through the tea plantations and you get the best views as you go through the mountains.
Ella is a strange one. I recommend staying outside of the town, to avoid the backpackers delight that seems to have taken over the town. If you ignore the touristy town centre, there are some of the most amazing hikes here. We stayed at Lucky Star guesthouse and really enjoyed ourselves. From here you should definitely do the railway walk (it is a tough one so start early) and see the famous Nine Arches Bridge. Truly incredible. For food head to Rotti Hut for some delicious stuffed rotti.
We then went to Udawalawe national park for a safari. We opted for this safari as opposed to Yala national park as we read that this safari was a bit smaller and less busy. We stayed at Sri Lanka has the highest number of wild elephants in the world as well as a number of other animals; mongoose, water buffalo, alligator and monkeys were all spotted on our safari trip (thanks to my incredible eye by the way). There is nothing like seeing an elephant in the wild tucking away a good bit of branch for lunch.
Finally, we headed to the beaches to Tangalle. We spent four glorious nights here, doing almost nothing except swimming, eating, drinking margaritas and the occasional spa treatment. It was wonderful.