93 Kms from Hikkaduwa
Explore the art scene in the city of ColomboThe charming capital is brimming with city lights. Situated on the shore, Colombo’s beaches are its greatest asset. One of the most happening cities in Sri Lanka, Colombo’s local art scene, nightlife, food culture and sights stand uncontested.Read More
Explore the art scene in the city of ColomboThe charming capital is brimming with city lights. Situated on the shore, Colombo’s beaches are its greatest asset. One of the most happening cities in Sri Lanka, Colombo’s local art scene, nightlife, food culture and sights stand uncontested.
Spend a day out at beachesKosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project lies an hour away from the Colombo city and makes for a perfect escape on the second day. A few kilometres away is Hikkaduwa, the surfing beach where you can indulge in other seaside activities.
Got up early today. The driver arrived on time around eight in the morning. I had my trip planned by the staff at the Regent Hotel. It is an eight-day road journey around the coast and northern area of Sri Lanka covering more than a dozen cities like Kandy, Trichnapali and many others. The road trip to Jaffna started smoothly. My driver, Joseph, spoke good English and was alert all the way. We stopped over at a few ancient Hindu temples on the way. The most remarkable thing I found was how distinctly different these temples and deities were from the ones I had seen in south Indian cities like Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. The colours were very bright and vibrant. The sculptures of the various Gods, Devis and Divas also varied from the ones I had seen in, say, Kanyakumari and other south Indian cities. The domes of the temples carried the images of Devis and Divas in itself. Blue, pink and gold were the predominate colours used.
Day 1 - ColomboOur journey started with a late night flight from Mumbai. There are many options available in flights, to make the travel as economical as it can go consider travelling from Chennai and if money isn’t the concern then go for direct flights which ply 2 a day from Mumbai.For VISA, it is suggested you apply online @(http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/) as the on arrival VISA facility has been terminated.The VISA (ETA) is issued in 24 hours post you fill in the required details and make a payment of 20 USD.We reached at around 4.30 a.m, and just FYI the airport is in Negombo and buses for Colombo ply every half an hour from in front of the airport starting 5.30 a.m.The bus ride is approximately of 45mins and it would leave you at the Pettah bus depot. We reached Pettah at around 7 and took a Tuk Tuk to our Hostel at Galle Face, Colombo.Word of Advice - ~ You should try and book your stay near Galle Face in Colombo for it’s the most happening part of the city and positions you among the posh and main highlights the city has to offer~ Ensure you take a Tuk Tuk (autorickshaw in common language) that runs by meter and not otherwise We started on our mission of discovering the city only post grabbing some sleep at the hostel. Our first destination was a local mall - ‘Crescat’ for we were famished. The mall is small and boasts of many unseen Sri Lankan local brands, the food court is at the ground floor. Do not forget to feast on some Sri Lankan delicacies which a variety of stores there offer.Our next destination was the famous ‘Gangaramaya Temple’ of Colombo which boasts of a huge Buddha inside and a small floating monastery on the lake. Post grabbing some quick pictures, National Museum of Colombo became our next stop.
We were then outside our hotel and were busy negotiating with an Tuk-Tuk guy and I tried my luck talking in Tamil. To my surprise, the auto driver agreed to guide us the city tour with half the cost - just because I am from India and I spoke in Tamil. I was little hesitant with the generous offer and was not comfortable riding a Tuk-Tuk in an unfamiliar city fear of getting ransacked popping in my mind, after all we are all biased with prejudice and took an Uber ride (who took 200 LKR) to the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple patting myself on my back having taken a safer option.
After breakfast, proceed to ColomboEnjoy the drive through the city taking you to the busy commercial areas as well as the tree-lined residential, Cinnamon Gardens. On arrival, check-in to your hotel. In the afternoon, proceed on a city tour of Colombo. It is a bustling metropolis that considerably generates 50% of nation's economy. Driving along the sweeping streets bordered by the race courses and World War II airstrip, Colombo is a tourist magnet. City's historical locales are transformed into modern day metropolitan area by lavish clothing, food and tea boutiques. Pettah is known for its floating market and the offbeat shopping experience it has on offer. It is worth strolling in the upcoming offshore city of Colombo Port featuring parks, commercial complexes and an F1 track. On your way to Bauddhaloka Mawatha, it is a must to witness the Independence Square Overnight in Colombo. (B)You can stay at-
After breakfast, proceed to Colombo. Enjoy the drive through the city taking you to the busy commercial areas as well as the tree-lined residential, Cinnamon Gardens. On arrival, check-in to your hotel.In the afternoon, proceed on a city tour of Colombo. It is a bustling metropolis that considerably generates 50% of nation's economy. Driving along the sweeping streets bordered by the race courses and World War II airstrip, Colombo is a tourist magnet. City's historical locales are transformed into modern day metropolitan area by lavish clothing, food and tea boutiques. Pettah is known for its floating market and the offbeat shopping experience it has on offer. It is worth strolling in the upcoming offshore city of Colombo Port featuring parks, commercial complexes and an F1 track. On your way to Bauddhaloka Mawatha, it is a must to witness the Independence Square. Overnight in Colombo. (B, L, D)Request A Call Back
After spending a few hours on the beach, and having some sea food for lunch, I went back to Colombo for my train to Ella. Unlike India, you are not allowed to stay in the Railway Station. So for the first time, I slept on a bench near the beach with my bag as my pillow. I had good sleep with air from the beach. I had dinner at the Galle Face. It is the cheapest you can get in SriLanka. You can also get breads usually as breakfast or snacks.Day 3At 5 in the morning, I woke up, freshened in the Railway Station and took a beautiful train ride to Ella. It is in the Central part of SriLanka and is a hilly ride. I met a couple in the train. They taught me their own kind of "Poker", we played, took snaps of the train ride. Slept, Enjoyed the entire trip.
Day 1As the Airport is far away from the Colombo city and I reached very early. So, I took a shared mini van to Fort Railway Station. After around 1 hour of scenic travel through Negambo, I came out of the van. It was freaking hot. I never sweat like that before ever in my life, (damn humidity) though I live in the hottest part of the country. I poured some liters of cold water on me (literally on me) to ward off that sweat. I had to book a train ticket in advance to Ella. So i went there and asked a Window seat. And they gave it to me.
120 Kms from Hikkaduwa
Explore the wildlife around Nuwara EliyaTravel to the central highland of Sri Lanka to the Horton Plains National Park that lies an hour away from the city of Nuwara Eliya. Another great outdoor adventure could be visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on the fourth day that is also a breeding ground for Asian Elephants.Read More
Explore the wildlife around Nuwara EliyaTravel to the central highland of Sri Lanka to the Horton Plains National Park that lies an hour away from the city of Nuwara Eliya. Another great outdoor adventure could be visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on the fourth day that is also a breeding ground for Asian Elephants.
Explore the best of Sri Lankan landscapes at Nuwara EliyaNuwara Eliya lies at a five hour distance from Colombo and makes for the next stunning destination on this trip. The misty hills here are covered in tea plantations was once a favourite destination of the British colonizers, who escaped to its cool shadows in the harsh summer. The small country houses, left behind by the British pop up in its green landscape, giving it a parallel identity of “Little England,” as it is popularly called. Nuwara Eliya is where the natural beauty of Sri Lanka Tourism is highlighted and celebrated.
To reach Nuwara Eliya: take LONG Distance# 1126 from Kandy – Nanu Oya
After breakfast, proceed on an excursion to Nuwara Eliya. Situated at around 2000m above sea level and surrounded by lush tea plantations, Nuwara Eliya is the main hill resort of Sri Lanka and the heart of the tea industry. Once a pleasure retreat of the European planters, the town is still very much an English town with many English style bungalows and buildings. Nuwara Eliya is a good escape for those who miss cool breeze in tropical Sri Lanka at any time of the year. Local tourists flock to this town from March to May when it is the hottest duration for the town, April being the busiest. Nuwara Eliya offers many activities for tourists like tea plantations, golfing, horse riding, boating, hiking and of course exploring the beauty of the landscaped gardens, waterfalls and plateaus. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city. Overnight in Kandy. (B)You can stay at-
After breakfast, proceed on an excursion to Nuwara Eliya. Situated at around 2000m above sea level and surrounded by lush tea plantations, Nuwara Eliya is the main hill resort of Sri Lanka and the heart of the tea industry. Once a pleasure retreat of the European planters, the town is still very much an English town with many English style bungalows and buildings. The distance from Kandy is 75km, approx 2 hour drive.Nuwara Eliya is a good escape for those who miss cool breeze in tropical Sri Lanka at any time of the year. Local tourists flock to this town from March to May when it is the hottest duration for the town, April being the busiest. Nuwara Eliya offers many activities for tourists like tea plantations, golfing, horse riding, boating, hiking and of course exploring the beauty of the landscaped gardens, waterfalls and plateaus. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city. Overnight in Kandy. (B, L, D)
Our first day in Nuwara Eliya was spent at the Tea factory and Tea plantations, including tea tasting at the Bluefield Tea Estate (100-yr old). We then interviewed people who saw Krishna grow from a Tuk Tuk (auto) driver to a certified tour guide, apart from winning Trip Advisor's certificate of excellence for 4 consecutive years. Stories of how the British exported tea from these Tea Estates and visit of Prince Charles were described to us on our way. We also did a couple of interviews of Krishna's mentor, brother and others who supported him. Hortons Plains - The fantasy land (Must Visit)
Being a hard core travel addict, i am game for any place that's new. In Dec 2016, i decided to travel to Sri Lanka. Like always, i had my homework right. Few places that was shortlisted as part of my journey includes Nuwara Eliya, Dambulla, Sigriya, Anuradhapura, Kandy & finally the capital Colombo to spend Christmas in town.I was mesmerised by the beauty of N/Eliya and decided to pen down a few words on this beautiful place that has the fresh breeze which touches every tea leaf, fresh veggies that is grown in abundance, trickling waterfall in every corner of the mountain. Wow, it was heavenly. It was hard for me to believe such a beautiful place still exist for someone who lives amidst concrete buildings and carbon mixed air.2 days is sufficient to cover the main attractions. The place is well connected from different parts of the city in lanka. It has gained its popularity through subtle tea plantation which attracts thousands of visitors, it has many water falls spread across different area, water from Lover's leap fall is used as the main source of drinking water by the locals.Temperature in December is typically between 12 -22* C, naturally it gets very chill by night, hence its advised to take warm clothing.Few places that i covered as part of this journey includes Seetha Temple, Hakgala Botanical Garden(entry fee is expensive), Mac wood tea plantation(got to taste the best tea in town here for free) Lover's leap waterfall(requires trekking of 2 kms up and down) Pedro tea estate( Entry fee is 200 LKR).I covered these places through local city bus which plies up and down with a frequency of 30 mins and decided to take leave from few other attractions which were difficult to reach as all the cabs and tuk tuk's knowingly comes with an expensive deal.If you are planning to visit Sri lanka, my advice is not to miss this beautiful place, not to forget, the locals ends their day within 8.00 PM, so remember to get back to base if you are dependent on local transport.
120 Kms from Hikkaduwa
Things to do: Negombo is a popular spot for vacationers owing to its close proximity to the airport. The town lies 10km south to the airport. Resorts towards the south side of this town provide various commercial water sports activities such as jet skiing and banana boat rides. Between Jetwing Beach and Jetwing Blue Hotels, lies the water sports and diving centre. It offers equipment for hire and guided day tours for diving, sailing, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.Best time to visit: Negombo is ideal for windsurfing throughout the year. For experienced windsurfers, January to March is the best time to challenge the waves here.Read More
Things to do: Negombo is a popular spot for vacationers owing to its close proximity to the airport. The town lies 10km south to the airport. Resorts towards the south side of this town provide various commercial water sports activities such as jet skiing and banana boat rides. Between Jetwing Beach and Jetwing Blue Hotels, lies the water sports and diving centre. It offers equipment for hire and guided day tours for diving, sailing, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.Best time to visit: Negombo is ideal for windsurfing throughout the year. For experienced windsurfers, January to March is the best time to challenge the waves here.
So we landed in Colombo around afternoon and we decided to relax that day in Negombo itself and we had booked a bful Home Stay called Henderson Lake view residence. It was away from the main city therefore was a very quite place. We met the host family , had lunch and left to see Negombo beach which was around 5 kms from there. It was a nice beach and luckily the sky was extraordinarily stunning and we could capture that in out pictures. We took a speed boat ride, ate some snacks and went to the nearby market. When we came back, we met a lot of tourists from various countries who were staying in the same home stay and we decided to spend the evening listening to their travel stories . Below are few pictures of Henderson Home stay and Negombo beach
Day 1/31st December, 2015:Land at Bandarnaike Airport at about 9:30 P.M. and transfer to hotel in Negombo. Sea Drift, Negombo is a small house stay which is convenient to locate and is 100m from the main beach. The room was clean with mosquitoes net in place and clean bedding but the bathroom was a little cramped up. Considering the fact that the stay cost us only INR 2k (USD 30), it was not a bad deal at all. You may reach Negombo with a 20-30 min drive(pvt. taxi) from the airport or if you are travelling in the day time finding a Tuk Tuk or a local bus would not be a problem at all. Airport Taxis will charge you anywhere close to 1200-1300 LKR (600 INR/ 10 USD), a bus ticket would be way cheaper at 100 LKR (40 INR/<1 USD).We had bought 4 bottles (Malibu, Baileys, Smirnoff and Sheridan’s) for INR 6700 (100 USD) from the Airport because of which our pre-new year bash started in our room. We enjoyed new year’s party at a nearby hotel which over-looked the sea and we gate-crashed to the party, consequently paying zilch!
Day 1 -Negombo: Bandaranaike International Airport is the main international airport serving Sri Lanka and one of the most back packer friendly airports even at 2:00 am. You could land at this airport without a plan and within a few hours get everything done right from a local sim and connection to meeting people planning the same leg and to mapping your next few days with ease.
Others | 35kms north of Colombo lies Negombo, famed for its lagoon of the same name and a beach road stretch dotted with bars, cafés and many a lost hippy. Drop in to Dolce Vita (27, Poruthota Road, Ettukala.) for some tasty, hugely-sized Italian and European favourites; back in Colombo, Green Cabin (453 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3) is an institution, with its outdoor garden leading to fronds of swaying palms.It’s a lovely spot for some home-style Sri Lankan food, including the ever-present white hoppers and devilishly hot curries and concoctions, including Achchi’s Chicken; staying in Colombo, 41 Sugar (41 Maitland Crescent, Colombo 7 | +94 11 268 2122) is a hip rooftop café that opens in the evening, and walks fashionably towards the night with a fine cocktail selection, lovely views, reasonable tapas collection, and a grown-up vibe; finally, Curve (1 Park Street, Colombo 2) serves up some mean cocktails, a sufficient variety of tapas, and memorable ice cream liqueur shots.THE DIGS
Colombo to negombo and airportWe have flight in early morning so we kept our luggage at airport and went to negombo beach. Which is near to international airport. You have to exchange 2 buses to reach beach from airport. We spent last evening of our srilanka travel at negombo beach. After that we spent our night at airport to avoid room charges.
Negombo is a Major city in Sri Lanka, on the West Coast of the Island and at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon. With a stash of decent hotels and restaurants to suit all pockets, a friendly local community, an interesting old quarter and a reasonable beach.Its beaches, an old favourite with local and foreign visitors and lagoon famed for lobster harvesting. Negombo’s beach is very wide in places, but rather shabby compared to the more pristine resorts further south, although the surrounding resort area is often one of the liveliest places around the coast if you’re in search of cheap beer and late nights. A couple of miles south of the beach, Negombo Town offers an interesting introduction to coastal Sri Lankan life, with a lively fish market, a dash of old-world colonial charm of Dutch-Portuguese and hundreds of colourful wooden boats. Sprawling Negombo, is of interest mainly thanks to its proximity to the Bhandaranaike International Airport, just 10km down the road – many visitors stagger off long-haul flights straight into one of the beach hotels here, or stay here as a last stop before flying home.
201 Kms from Hikkaduwa
Welcome to your 'Srilanka Tropical Paradise' tour! On arrival at the airport in Colombo you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Dambulla. The rest of the day is at leisure for independent activities. Overnight in Dambulla.You can stay at-Read More
Welcome to your 'Srilanka Tropical Paradise' tour! On arrival at the airport in Colombo you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Dambulla. The rest of the day is at leisure for independent activities. Overnight in Dambulla.You can stay at-
Welcome to your 'Super Saver Sri Lanka Summer' tour! On arrival at the airport in Colombo, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Dambulla. The rest of the day is at leisure for independent activities. Overnight in Dambulla. (L, D) On to Dambulla- Distance, 129km approx 4 hours drive.
But keep in mind, if you travel from Dambulla, you have to take one of the buses which are going from Colombo to Malee. No bus service was available originating from Dambulla when I travelled. And most likely, you'll not get a place to sit immediately after boarding the bus. For Solo Women backpackers - I travelled in shorts and it was comfortable in the bus. I didn't face any incident where people teased me or anything. By the time I reached Malee town, it was 1 pm (I started at 8 from Dambulla and this includes a bus repair on the mid way) and I saw the small harbours with pristine blue water. They were picture perfect. I was almost thinking this is it, nothing can beat this in such a place. I took a public bus from Malee bus station to Upuveli (Neelaveli is further and apparently more expensive). It took me a while to look for the hotels but I found few. It's a cluster of 8-9 shacks/hotels/resorts in Upuveli or may be a bit more. And you'll find all options starting from $7 (for a private room with bathroom No AC) to $$$ in big resorts, along with mid ranged hotels with pool and decorated bar in $40-$50. I chose the $7 one and that place happened to be the best bar at nights! French Hostel is what I remember the name was. Now you got there, there are plenty of things to do. Long bike rides, in empty roads, drenching in short and quick rains, the mountain temples, feeding the monkeys, trip to Nilaveli, morning breakfasts in near by villages are possible with a rented bike. I paid 250 SL Rupee, I had to keep my passport with the lady as deposit. I did both scuba and snorkelling, rate varies based on time. Dolphin watching and fishing is also possible. No whale watching in Malee, it happens in Merissa. Food is amazing, in all the restaurants, I chose typical SL food, with fish costing around $1.5 every meal. I also went to Nilaveli, for one evening. It is beautiful but expensive than Upuveli. And somewhere I found Upuveli more serene, calm and less crowded. There are also small beaches here and there in the city. Take your bike and just ride. Dip in the ocean and come back. On the way get into some temple, pose with kids, get fruits as blessings and ride on.
Dambulla:From the city bus stand at Trincomalee, I took a bus to Dambulla which is around 3 hours away.#Stay:Dambulla city hostel: Very nice and comfortable hostel with many guests to talk to and share information, though the hostel is expensive with 2 nights at 3600 LKR with breakfast which is mostly bread jam and butter. You can cook your own food as well. Very nice and friendly Mario who would in every possible way, help you to plan your day.
248 Kms from Hikkaduwa
Anuradhapura is historically rich and is a UNESCO heritage site and is in fact one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.Read More
The tourism industry in Sri Lanka is good and Sri Lanka offers amazing destinations for travelers and tourists alike. The Sri Lanka tour itinerary could be customized in line with your interests. Sri Lanka has more to offer on Diving, Cultural tourism in Anuradhapura, pristine coastal lines along Matara (a fishing hamlet), Arugam Bay and much more on eco-tourism. Experience the "Wonder of Asia".
While in Anuradhapura. I cycle around with a rented bicycle to visit the archaeological sites under the wonderful sun. I would say Anuradhapura is one of my favourite places to visit in Sri Lanka. The city is well organized. Tourist friendly place. You can clearly see and feel the city, it has its own charm without much effort put into it. I wish we stayed longer here..... oh well, travel must go on !
299 Kms from Hikkaduwa
I visited Sri Lanka in June end (pretty hot) but almost a very good season to travel across. Starting from Colombo --> Dambulla --> Sigiriya --> Polandua, we reached Trincomalee at the end of our trip. It takes almost 8 hours (a bit more or less) from Colombo, 4 hours from Dambulla. I travelled by public, non-luxury buses (definitely not with chickens) with local people, no AC and it was not horrible. They charged me almost $2 for the trip. Read More
I visited Sri Lanka in June end (pretty hot) but almost a very good season to travel across. Starting from Colombo --> Dambulla --> Sigiriya --> Polandua, we reached Trincomalee at the end of our trip. It takes almost 8 hours (a bit more or less) from Colombo, 4 hours from Dambulla. I travelled by public, non-luxury buses (definitely not with chickens) with local people, no AC and it was not horrible. They charged me almost $2 for the trip.
The next day we took another really early morning bus and headed to the Eastern province of Trincomalee, known for its pristine beaches, coral reefs, colourful ocean life and a multitude of water activities. Once you reach Trinco, you need to take another bus (or tuk-tuk if you may please) and head to Nelavelli. From Nelavelli you take a ferry to reach the Pigeon Island and that’s where all the action happens! We managed to sync up with a couple (from Turkey – United States – France – Portugal) and shared the costs of spending the day at Pigeon Island. Since I am a hydrophobe I pretty much spent the entire time there lying on the beach and soaking up the sun, but the others went snorkelling and even saw baby sharks!Shila and I came back to the mainland to look for food and as luck would have it, we got invited by one of the locals to have food at their home! So we ate our hearts’ full of some amazing Sri Lankan fare and headed back to Trino from where we were supposed to travel through the night to Nuwara Eliya for our last leg of the trip.
From Colombo to Trincomalee I took a train for which 2nd class ticket was booked by my friend in advance for 550 LKR. This is a chair car and only 1st class has an option to sleep. There are multiple buses available too. As one of my to do things was scuba diving which during October happens on the east coast, I chose to travel to Trincomalee. I booked my dive for 75$ with Feli (0094 777648459 locally 0777 648459). For PADI course they charge 335$ with course spread across 3-4 days. http://www.srilanka-divingtours.com/. In the morning Sanju (the talking tuk tuk driver sent by Feli) picked me and dropped me at hotel aqua.For scuba diving, first I had a pool practice and then immediately actual dive at the sea. The depth was 10 meters. There were beautiful fishes , corals. Initially for the first time ear pain can be the only issue otherwise if you learn at the pool, the diving is an amazing thing. Into the world of other creatures who give a damn about you being there and on the other side you are breathing hard for your survival. Sometimes there can be gaps between your practice sessions and the actual dive so plan your next destination accordingly#Stay:I took a room for 2000 LKR next to Feli. But interestingly Feli has concrete tubes in which you can stay for 1000 LKR per night. More expensive n luxurious rooms are also available at Feli's hotel.#Food:English breakfast at Fernendo's.The hotels are spread across the beach, you can pick your choices!#Places to Visit:
Trincomalee is a natural harbour on the eastern coast of the country. And, it probably is also one of the most picturesque places in the world. Devotees make a beeline for the Koneswaran temple in Trincomalee. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and situated on a hill, it offers breath-taking views of the Indian Ocean.
134 Kms from Hikkaduwa
Day 4Woke up early, and went to Ravana Falls and Ravana Cave. You have pay some money to get to the Ravana Cave, temple. The cave is tough to walk, so go only if you have good shoes. It will be tiring but turn around your thirst will sway away by the Greenery. A Bottle is recommended though. At Noon, I went to a small trek to Mini Adam's Peak, this is a smaller version of Adam's Peak which is in NuwaraEllya. I met an Indian and Maldova couple. She met him in Rajasthan, and got married. They were nice couple and We reached the top, took some snaps enjoyed the cloudy chilly weather, and came back. For others, who want bit extreme, you can go to Ella Rock from the Railway Station. Then the next day, I left to Kandy. It is a long Journey with great scenic beauty. It passes through Nuwara Ellya, and by Evening, I went to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.Read More
Day 4Woke up early, and went to Ravana Falls and Ravana Cave. You have pay some money to get to the Ravana Cave, temple. The cave is tough to walk, so go only if you have good shoes. It will be tiring but turn around your thirst will sway away by the Greenery. A Bottle is recommended though. At Noon, I went to a small trek to Mini Adam's Peak, this is a smaller version of Adam's Peak which is in NuwaraEllya. I met an Indian and Maldova couple. She met him in Rajasthan, and got married. They were nice couple and We reached the top, took some snaps enjoyed the cloudy chilly weather, and came back. For others, who want bit extreme, you can go to Ella Rock from the Railway Station. Then the next day, I left to Kandy. It is a long Journey with great scenic beauty. It passes through Nuwara Ellya, and by Evening, I went to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
A key stop over on this roadtrip was the hike into the Ravana caves. According to legend based on the Ramayana, it is said that Ravana (who was the king of Sri Lanka at the time) had kidnapped princess Sita, and had hidden her in the caves behind this waterfall, now simply known as the Ravana Ella Cave. Maithili (me) has been named after Princess Sita so we all felt like I owed this unplanned climb in my flipflops to my name .Quick Tip: Talk to the locals and discover the hidden local spots, cafes and experiencesAs you approach the coast the greens change to shades of blue, you are welcomed by the breath of fresh air and the whiff of the salty sea breeze. As you hit Matara you drive by an expanse of powdery sand and crystal-clear water glitters in the sun. Driving is a pleasure in the country and I am definitey heading back for a full coast road trip
Ella, is a small town in the Badulla District of Uva Province, Sri Lanka governed by an Urban Council. It is approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) east of Colombo and is situated at an elevation of 1,041 metres (3,415 ft) above sea level. The area has a rich bio-diversity, dense with numerous varieties of flora and fauna. Ella is surrounded by hills covered with cloud forests and tea plantations. The town has a cooler climate than surrounding lowlands, due to its elevation. The Ella Gap allows views across the southern plains of Sri Lanka
We sat on the edge of the mountain and talked for so long about England and Sri Lanka. It was peaceful, undisturbed and there was no one around except for an old uncle who served tea at a small set up under a tree. He said that people like Ella, as it is not crowded and had the best view ever from the top. All we could see, was green color everywhere, hills covered with trees and nature at its best. It was so mesmerizing, that we lost track of time and couldn't come down to catch the train at 11 am from the station back to Colombo. We had to take a bus and the journey was quite tiring by road.
54 Kms from Hikkaduwa
Nothing paints a prettier picture of the paradise island than coconut palms glinting in the sun. The tall palms along the beach are the embodiment of enjoyment—it truly is a tropical heaven. Yet, the copses of coconut that we glimpsed en route to Matara represent the economical importance of this unassuming palm. From its fruit to its root, this tree serves as cooking ingredients, medicine, roof material, and lumber for furniture. The estates of the coconut triangle that leans on the E01 span out in acres, catering to a never-ceasing demand.Read More
Nothing paints a prettier picture of the paradise island than coconut palms glinting in the sun. The tall palms along the beach are the embodiment of enjoyment—it truly is a tropical heaven. Yet, the copses of coconut that we glimpsed en route to Matara represent the economical importance of this unassuming palm. From its fruit to its root, this tree serves as cooking ingredients, medicine, roof material, and lumber for furniture. The estates of the coconut triangle that leans on the E01 span out in acres, catering to a never-ceasing demand.
Another option is to take a train to Matra and a bus or taxi to your beach. There are wide choices of accommodation available from the pricey ones to dorm rooms. On our visit in February we found you can easily get a room after reaching the beach.2. The Tea plantationsSri Lanka produces some really good tea. The hill country is covered with tea plantations and they open their doors to visitors. You can expect a tour of the estate covering the plantations, tea processing techniques along with tea tasting. Most of these are free though you might be offered some paid refreshments. You can take a train or bus to get to one of the towns. Most of these plantations will be around if you are in the hills. A few plantations can also be found near the coast. These produce spices, coconut and rubber along with tea. Most of the visits are usually day tours but you can ask for accommodation in the estate. These are quite expensive and may defeat the free purpose.3. The Alternate Sigiriya
Then came the fun point, beaches :) We started our journey from Nuwara Eliya to Matara beach in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. An awesome town and beach. We reached there around the sunset time and that would definitely be one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.
Taste the Blue Waters of HikkaduwaGo scuba diving, snorkeling or surfing in the ocean and enjoy a good tan on the beach afterwards.
As we start our journey from Colombo Fort railway station to Hikkadua, the happening beach destination in Sri Lanka, we could not but blame our luck for not being able to take the train which was unbearably late and as it arrived there was hardly any space to put our foot onto it. Taking a taxi to Hikkadua although not as beautiful option as train but was the best option in this situation.One might confuse Hikkadua for Goa as it seemed to be a mini-version of it.. Narrow lane with both sides dotted with shops selling souvenior and swim-suits, roads filled with foriegn tourists and road-side eateries, Beautiful clean beaches and beach-shacks with trance music playing in the back-ground.
Hikkaduwa is another tiny beach town on the way to Galle from Colombo/Bentota. There are two routes to Galle, while one is through the expressway, the other one takes you right along the coast through tiny villages and towns on the west coast. I would suggest you take the 'road not taken'.
After we checked out, it was time for some sightseeing. So we headed to the Buddha temple at the center of the city. The statue was huge and they had a lot of antique items along. A nice peaceful time. We then headed towards the southern city of Galle to go to Hikkaduwa beach. Mr. Sisira said that the expressway would take about an hour to reach Hikkaduwa, just in time for sunset. So we were on our way. At Hikkaduwa we could do water sports and that was the plan. Around 4:30, we reached Hikkaduwa and straightaway decided to go for snorkelling. There were scores of diving shops there and we chose the one who had a trusted diver. So we took our masks and onto the water.Snorkeling in Hikkaduwa
After relaxing by the sea, we headed out to Hikkaduwa by rail (30 minutes by an express non-stop train), a town famous for it's beach, shopping and water sports! Snorkelling was pretty cheap and was fabulous, given the fact that it was right by the shore. Beautiful corals, fishes and sea turtles make it absolutely must-do. Go shopping into the streets and visit mask shops that are sprawling over the place. We took the bus back to our hotel, giving us the benefit of stopping by various beach towns, viewing the amazing picturesque locations and talking to the locals. The Bentota Sea Turtles Project is a Govt. aided protection project run by private groups who work towards saving these endangered animals. The Kasgoda Sea Turtles Centre is a must visit, to see the only living Albino Turtle. The Bentota River Safari is a must-do, where you get to go by motorboats and see the sights and views of the beautiful lagoons, including the wildlife. The place where the sea meets the river is absolutely stunning. Go visit this beautiful place to enjoy it's culture, the beaches, the amazing sea food or just to be lazy. Headed back on 3rd to the airport to fly back home.
A day trip to the lively Hikkaduwa beach is a must. Hikkaduwa was famous for its coral reef which was destroyed thanks to the 2004 tsunami. Its calm and turquoise waters make it an absolute delight to swim in. Hikkaduwa boasts of a lively nightlife with many beach shacks/ pubs playing live music and serving good seafood.
As I bought my ticket to Hikkaduwa all I could understand was 25 minutes. ‘oh great’ I thought, ‘that’s no time to wait for a train’ so I made my way in to the station. ‘Your train is not until 2.25′ the ticket man said. ‘you get bus instead’ and proceeded to place my ticket in the bin! It was hard to believe that there wasn’t another train for over three hours! I decided to take the train and explore Colombo, my nerves couldn’t take another bus ride and I wouldn’t know where to get off anyway. The man grudgingly picked my ticket out of the bin for me.If I may be so clichéd, Sri Lanka is a pearl in the Indian Ocean. This is not just a reference to its shape, but its culture and its landscape. Sri Lanka, as a travel gem, has been very recently discovered by backpackers, travelers and adventurists alike. It has been explored by enthusiastic tourists who have slowly made this place more and more popular amongst the travel group. This has opened up various avenues for a country which was this recently gripped by political instability and civil war. From a conflict strewn country, Sri Lanka has grown to become one of the popular Asian destinations on the travelers' list and each year more and more people flock here to discover and wonder at the hidden beauty of this island country. Being so close to men felt weird after the slight segregation of Dubai and I was a little scared by the open train door. Vendors squeezed their way through the train selling various spicy snacks and drinks. I was too busy clinging on to even consider buying one! . Once I reached, I walked down the road I was surprised by the thick foliage. Everywhere you looked was thick with palm leaves. I felt like I was in the jungle book!As soon as I woke up on that first day in Sri Lanka I was nervous to actually go and explore. I was in Sri Lanka for goodness sake and I didn’t know what to expect! Here are a few towns and spots that I found interesting!https://www.facebook.com/PearlsandPassports/?ref=hl
Post our night of fun and my new friends Jose, Sergio and Inma saving me from drunk Sri Lankans and an extreeemely friendly Russian woman, we all got on scooters and made our way home. I held on to Belinda for dear life cause I was on a two wheeler after many many years. We crossed a railway line and then entered a forest feel place.. and shortly reached the Dragon Fly house. My room was the first room with red walls and a simple four poster bed with a white net on it and my bath area was in the open. Yes!! My shower and facilities were under the open skies and on pebbles. Five of us; Jose, Inma, Sergio, Belinda and I sat up for a while around the dining. Jose, Inma and Sergio are best friends and were travelling together through all of Sri Lanka. While in Hikkaduwa; Jose and Inma were helping a friend, Eva with the construction of her house and Sergio was taking a diving course. Too tired to think or talk I crashed in moments after being guided by Belinda to cover Hikkaduwa and Galle the next day and she promptly organised for Kumara, the tuktuk guy to take me around. It was the 24th of December; Kumara and I were on our way by 10, it was not raining thankfully. We started with the sand Buddha, a Tsunami Memorial site. It was located facing the sea in the middle of a lotus pond. I soaked in the calm while Kumara started telling me about the devastation the Tsunami had brought to Sri Lanka and Hikkaduwa in specific. I recall just sitting at the back of the tuktuk with my hand on my mouth in complete disbelief. We paused at another Monument site where they had made a brass painting of sorts on what the Tsunami had done and how people had hung on to trees; dead or alive; thousands died inside a train... oh the tragedy of it had my heart sinking already. But the last stop broke me; it was the Tsunami Photo Museum.A shabby shack with hand-written charts wrapped in plastic giving details, prayers, numbers... stats... stories... events... blow by blow description. Hundreds of photos from all over the world donated by so many people. Ohhhh the story each picture told... thousands of lives destroyed by death and devastation... by nature's fury. None of us had even known a term or word like Tsunami before that day.. 10 years ago... Children being the worst hit cause they could not outrun the waves. They never stood a chance! I stood still in front of all those walls with pictures... and photos and news articles... I stood still and stared... for hours.. and even though I didn't know any of them... my eyes had welled up. I sat down on the floor for a moment with my head in my hands with the room full of photos spinning in my mind and the pain I was surrounded in. Yes there was hope that so many had come to this country as volunteers and tried to rehabilitate this beautiful and peace-loving place. Belinda was one of them. She had been invited by Joy; a social worker in 2006 and now both of them were living here ever since.My heart was too heavy as I hugged the woman who ran the place and also had lost someone to the Tsunami. I just could not ask her who it was and what her story was. I requested Kumara to just stop somewhere by the beach so I could collect myself. I just stood there watching hundreds of tourist and people by the beach and then I stared at the sea... the sea they had come to enjoy... It must have been a day like this 10 years ago I thought. As I kept sulking, Kumara came to join me and said... I know just the place for you... I quietly walked behind him and sat in the tuktuk.
I had thought I'd leave by 7 in the evening to reach my next stop at Galle but was on my way already by 3:30! Belinda, my host in Hikkaduwa, Galle had kept constantly in touch with me and before I even met her or saw her home I had the warmest feeling of being welcomed and like she was waiting for me. And she waited and waited and kept calling to check on me as my one and a half hour journey became over four hours long due to the rains. She had some friends who had also been waiting for my arrival from Spain. Finally she suggested I get off at the bus-stop and her tuktuk guy Kumara would be waiting for me and would bring me to the bar they were heading for and then would safely drop my baggage at her place. Now under normal circumstances I would have been sceptical, but Belinda's voice was so warm and worried that without a thought I had agreed to the entire plan; not caring about me or my baggage's safety after the disappointing day at Colombo and the laboriously long journey in the bus. What a good decision! Belinda is a gorgeous, confident red head with a smile that could light up the skies. She waiting for me outside the restaurant in the slight drizzle and came across the road to welcome me and without any hesitation we were already holding hands as she protectively made me cross the road. It was like we were never strangers! At the bar I met all her Spanish friends and within 15 minutes flat we all felt we were meant to be sitting at that table together.. like it was the plan all along. The bar had a karaoke night and the beach was right next to it. The sea was calm, the weather was damp, the music was full of energy and our group of 7 was connected! Within moments Belinda and I had taken to the stage and were hollering the songs we sang with all our emotions poured in...