Great Britain has many things to love, among them the beautiful architecture, the lush greenery, the ONE MORE THING…but sadly (for anyone seeking a holiday tan) blissful sunshine and endless sandy beaches are not among them. Luckily, I found those things in Sri Lanka, which was dubbed “the little England” of Asia for good reason. The island, which was colonized by the English in the late 18th century, is the perfect escape when the ‘squeeze’ gets too tight in the city. A diary in Sri Lanka began.
Upon our arrival, we took the Colombo highway to drive south, near Galle, and reached our hotel in approximately 2 hours. The drive was lovely, with coconut trees blooming and wildlife easily within reach. We frequently found ourselves lost for words, as we discovered that every corner of this majestic island was precious and one of a kind.
We spent days on the road, exploring, hiking, whale chasing (only because we were desperate to find one and could not) experiencing new food, flavors, culture, homes and villages. Sri Lanka is a must visit at least once in your lifetime, any time of the year and don’t bother asking a local when the best time to visit is, he will smile and tell you ” We do not believe in the weather forecast here in Sri Lanka. It can rain one minute and the next sunshine for the rest of the day”. It’s true. October-November is named the slowest season, it was far from it. We enjoyed every corners of every city and the beautiful things they have to offer. Sri Lanka has just come out of a 30 year war in the North, so the island is picking up the pieces, fast. Travelers are discovering it once again and wanting to go back for more.
One of our favorite experience is the Galle Fort (more than 400Yrs old) and the most memorable way to experience it is by walking. A leisurely walk leads past the old Dutch Church, the Governor’s house, the spice warehouses, Court Square, the Kacheri (town hall), the lighthouse and on to the sea wall and ramparts.
We decided or thought we could cover Sri Lanka in one week. Little did we know. We could have possibly done every mistake in the book a traveler would do, but, it gives us a chance to write about it, nevertheless, it was an experience that made us want to return for more in December.
Here are a few things to consider.
1. Do not spend all your time on the road. The journey between Sri Lanka’s cities is not easy. When we were warned, we did not understand why. Picture this, one way lane around the whole cities. The only highway there is, is to get to Kandy and that, you must leave early to avoid traffic. Luckily, a new highway will open soon and smooth traffic. However, inland and beach road are a beautiful drive, but not if you are driving 4 hours. Do not calculate distance in KM, calculate in hours and always, always add an extra 30 minutes to any time you are given. Drive in the evenings after 8pm if you are traveling further than 2 hours. That way, you reach your next hotel in the evening, sleep and have the next full day to enjoy instead of spending it on the roads!
2. Do not attempt to cover everything in one trip. You will get exhausted. Stick to 2 areas if you have the time. Always stay 3 days in one place. You will need time to recover from the road trip
3. Do not attempt to drive to Nawara Ella and back the same day. No matter where your back road is. Just don’t. It is a difficult road up 2000meters +. However breathtaking and not to be missed. The little England of Sri lanka. Try not to miss this tea plantation haven if you are close bye
4. If you can, try traveling independently by railway. You will love the experience through inland and sea
5. Do not miss out on Ayurvedic Massage
6. Adam’s peak is breathtaking. If you are staying around that area, GO to it! 5:30am wake up call though is a must
7. Don’t try to hard to do sightseeing if the places are to far away. Enjoy the beaches and the food. It truly is relaxing
8. Do not change hotels every night. (Don’t even ask, this was a crazy trip!)
9. Watch the sunset at Galle Fort
10. Visit Tangalle, Mirissa (little bars around that area too), Unawatuna and Mount Lavinia Beach
11. Lunch at Tapribane Island
12. Go elephant trekking
13. Go fishing
14. Adapt the Travel Junkie Initiative and give back a little something to the land you are in
15. Don’t go looking for all the tea plantation factories. If you have seen one, you’ve seen them all, personally, it was not as interesting for us as we expected.
16. A good friend kept reminded us to EAT PASSION FRUIT. Take advantage of their fruits. We had fruits every minute of the day. Visit the markets and just keep tasting
17. Book ahead!!!
18. Galle could be your center-point of South
19. End your trip in Galle and do not spend so much time in Kandy
20. East has been said to have the most beautiful beaches, Trincomalee , Arugambe, Pasikudah, that does not mean south is any less
Hotels we explored
1. Galle Fort
2. Jetwing Lighthouse in Galle
3. Kahanda Kande
4. Cinnamon Wild Yala
5. Number One Mirissa
7. Heritance Nuwara Ella
8. Mount Havana Gampola
9. Michelle Boutique Hotel
10. Cocoon Resort & Villas Bentota
11. Serene Pavilions
12. Heritance Kandalama
Tour Guide used