We flew Sri Lankan Airlines from Melbourne at 5.30pm. Fo rme this meant an 8.30am train from Newcastle to Sydney, and a flight to Melbourne to connect so it made for a very long days travel! Once finally onboard Sri Lankan Airlines I found the seats were quite small, food was good, entertainment selection average and a lot of the screens on the way over were not working. The direct flight was good though not having to stop on your way to your destination.
Arriving Colombo at 10.30pm their time, (4.00am our time). We were transferred to the Ozo Colombo which is around 40-minute drive from the airport. The Ozo is a great hotel, very comfortable with a nice rooftop pool and bar but a little bit out from the city. The pillows and beds in the Ozo Hotels are amazing!
I woke to a beautiful view of the ocean from my 12th floor room, lovely breakfast and then hit the road to the elephant orphanage.
It was a 3-hour drive through pineapple, tea, rice, cashew nut and rice plantations. Sri Lanka is a very lush country with an interesting heritage. The island nation was always a Kingdom until the British invaded in 1884. The Portuguese were the first to discover, then the Dutch and then finally the British bringing with them town planning, education, tea, coffee and the railways. (The coffee didn’t seem to last). Colombo reminded me of Penang in Malaysia with its colonial style buildings. Colombo is set in sections by numbers up to 10 with areas such as tourists, the wealthy, even an automobile area. Sri Lanka itself has 9 provinces and 22 districts.
Driving 3 hours east to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, the landscape is similar to Northern Thailand, green grass, mountains and very clean. The orphanage is a very nice place for the elephants, and they are treated well. The orphanage was established in 1975 with 7 orphans and has now a very scientific captive-breeding programme for elephants, it is a major tourist spot.
Tonight, we stayed at the Paradise Resort and Spa in Dambulla. The main religion in Sri Lanka is Buddhism and each full moon is day of Buddha, so no alcohol is served even in resorts.
Today we woke at 5.30am to climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress. This is a world heritage site, considered the eighth natural wonder of the world! In 477 – 495 AD King Kashyapa decided to construct a royal residence here. The Lion Rock is amazing and is around 1500 steps up to the top, (although a few of the girls Fitbits stated 7000 steps from start to finish)! It is well worth the trip to the top; the view is amazing, and you can see where the King lived on top of the rock. He even had built in swimming pools!
After the climb we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for our drive to Kandy. On route to Kandy we visited the Ranwell Spice Garden. Sri Lanka is a strong believer of Ayurveda medicine, the trip to the Spice Garden is fascinating learning all about the herbal remedies.
After lunch we travelled through to Kandy, we were taken to the Gem museum. Sri Lanka is known for its sapphires and other gems; we then enjoyed a Cultural Show.
After a massive day we arrived at the OZO Kandy which was another comfortable stay in the mountainous town. Kandy was the last capital when Sri Lanka was a Kingdom and still holds many beliefs of the legends, traditions, of past time. Shamans and auspicious days are still kept alive. Kandy had a really nice feel about it, one of peace and tranquillity although it is crazy at the same time.
Another nice breakfast at the OZO Kandy and off to the Temple of the Tooth Relic this morning. This temple is beautiful with people worshipping each day. We then drove down to Galle which is a beach destination set around a fort built by the Dutch. We stayed at the Amari Galle which is Galle’s newest resort, it was amazing with a great roof top bar and beautiful beach. The Fort itself is full of restaurants, shopping, markets etc. A must stop.
Relax at the Amari, had a beautiful massage, swim in the ocean, a lovely breakfast and lunch all at the resort before heading back to the airport for our flight home!
I found Sri Lanka to be one of my favourite destinations I have ever been to. Totally not what I expected. To do this beautiful country justice I think you really need at least 2 weeks, there was so much we didn’t see. As it was a work trip we squeezed an 8 to 10-day itinerary into 5 days to see as much as we could. The seasons determine where you should go to in Sri Lanka- being East or West coast if you want a beach holiday. The National Parks are a must as they have the BIG 5 animals and it is the next best place to do a Safari after Africa. There is diving, snorkelling, beautiful beaches, the food is amazing and so are the people. Another place that everyone raved about was Ella which we also missed. I will definitely go back to Sri Lanka in a heartbeat!