Sri Lanka was our dessert. After 2,5 weeks of India we were looking for relaxation. India is amazing, but also loud, chaotic and at some point exhausting. We wanted to combine this destination with a counterpart and tranquil Sri Lanka was the perfect match. This small island with its many beaches and Buddhist culture offered a peaceful resting point. We had one and a half week to explore the country and figuring out a short route was quite a challenge. Sri Lanka has a lot to offer. Eventually we managed to put together a compact route with culture, nature and beaches. Let me show you how we spent our 10 days in Sri Lanka.
Ella – 2 days
Our adventure in Sri Lanka began at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. We arrived late in the evening from Mumbai and went straight to our hotel in nearby Negombo. Negombo is actually closer to the airport than Colombo (12 kilometers versus 35 kilometers). Besides a quick peek at the beach in Negombo I didn’t had a chance to explore Negombo. Our journey went onwards to Ella. This mountain town attracts a lot of tourists. This is because of the many tea plantations that surround Ella. What struck us the most, was how green Ella is. Everwhere you look you see green hills, gorgeous! We spent our days in Ella with a visit to a tea factory and a hike to the top of Little Adam’s Peak. We also visited the view point with a splendid view over the old Demodara Bridge, built in 1921. This railroad bridge was my absolute highlight of Ella!
Read more: Ella, the green mountain town.
Yala National Park – 2 days
Sri Lanka has over 20 National Parks. This offers a great opportunity to incorporate a safari into a trip around the island. Normally, I am not a big fan of safaris, but in Sri Lanka I thought I give it a try. Yala National Park was the most obvious choice, because of our route. Yala is known for the large number of leopards. We hoped we to see this magnificent animal. We stayed at Big Game Camp Yala, a luxurious camping near the entrance of the park. I cannot say that I have camped, because our tent was equipped with a bathroom and a bed. After a short night we got up early to go on safari. Mornings and evenings are seen as the best moments to spot wild animals. Unfortunately, the morning we went on safari was an exception. Besides a couple of deer, peacocks, boars and crocodiles we did not see any big wild animals. No leopards, no elephants. What about the elephant in the header photo? Well, we saw that elephant along a road outside Yala NP.
And what did I think of the safari? Honestly I thought it was too touristy. Together with a lot of other jeeps with tourists we drove into the park in convoy mode. Together we waited for that one leopard that might show. All the drivers are in contact with each other over the walkie-talkie. When someone has seen an elephant or a leopard, they communicate it over the walkie-talkie and every jeep will race over the bumpy sandy paths to the spot. For me, this is not necessary. Not only did it make me feel nauseous, it felt forced and I think the speedy riding style is not really contributing to the living environment of the wild animals.
Tangalle – 2 days
After the safari it was time for the beach. We found this in Tangalle. We stayed in a beautiful wooden cabana directly at the Goyambokka beach (in Palm Paradise Beach Cabanas). The beach itself is not that big, but it is beautiful. The sea is rough, so a nice swim is not really possible. We also visited another beach: Tangalle Beach. This a beautiful wide beach with again rough sea water. Also nice to see: at the end of the day the local fishermen come onto the beach and start fishing. They do this standing in the sea water with a rod. Before coming to Sri Lanka, I thought there were only stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka. But it turns out most fishermen fish with a rod. The groups that still fish from a pole do this for the tourists. They ask money in return for a photo.
Ahangama & Weligama – 2 days
Tangalle was not our only beach destination. Our second beach destination was Ahangama, a small fisher town between Weligama and Koggala. Ahangama is the perfect spot to do absolutely nothing and relax, because there is not a lot to do and see. Just relax on the quiet beach and enjoy the calm sea water. Tip: from Ahangama you can visit Weligama Bay. This long beach is used a parking spot by the local fishermen for their colorful boats. What makes this beach extra special is the Taprobane island, a private island just before the coast of Weligama. On the island you see a luxurious hotel, built in the twenties by the Frenchmen. The loyal ‘The Mole’ fans (a Dutch programme) will recognize this beach from season 15, when a game was played on the island. You cannot actually visit the island, unless you stay there for a night. But the view from the swings on the beach is perfect.
Galle Fort – 1 day
From Ahangama you can take a day trip to Galle (20 minutes away). This city is the home of an old Dutch fort with old Dutch churches and Dutch street names. Galle Fort is a colonial legacy from the time Sri Lanka was a Dutch colony. The combination of colonial buildings, monuments and colorful alleys makes Galle an interesting day trip. Not only for Dutch people, but for every tourist. The old town of Galle is suprisingly multicultural with mosques, churches and temples. And though a lot of tourists visit Galle, it doesn’t feel too busy. Go for a walk over the long city walls or visit one of the museums or monuments. Personally, I really liked Galle Fort.
Read more: photogenic Galle Fort.
And that was it, our 10 days in Sri Lanka. It was good to get a first taste of Sri Lanka. Next time I would love to see more of the culture of the country. Kandy (cultural heart of Sri Lanka), holy buddhist Anuradhapura and lion rock Sigiriya are high on my list. But I also think the north of Sri Lanka (Jaffna and surroundings) is pretty interesting. There is still enough to explore for me during a second time in Sri Lanka.
Do you want to visit Sri Lanka?