Another beautifully lost dreamer with an incurable case of wanderlust.

Honeymoon Adventures in Sri Lanka

I’ve always wanted to visit Sri Lanka. It looks so beautiful in photos, the people have been dubbed some of the friendliest in the World and I’ve always imagined myself immersed in the culture, the food, the spectacular scenery and the beautiful wildlife. Tom and I visited in October for our honeymoon and it certainly did not disappoint.

We opted to hire a private driver/guide for the duration of our trip. His name’s Oshada and he is a contributing factor to why we loved this trip so much! Oshada was professional, yet relaxed and so passionate and knowledgeable. I’m not one for ‘touring’, but having a private driver takes away the stress of doing it yourself, and at the same time, allows you plenty of flexibility. We were given genuine experiences and learned way more on our private tour than we would have on our own.

So, a couple of my favourite facts from Sri Lanka… ‘Aya Bowen’ is the common greeting and means ‘May you live longer’ – which is nice! 75% of the country is Buddhist (I am so in love with their philosophy) and Sri Lanka translates to ‘Honor Island’. Although most people in Sri Lanka know everything there is to know about Cricket, you’ll be surprised to find out that the national sport is in fact Volleyball! And here’s my favourite one… every full moon is a public holiday! How good is that?

We tailor made our itinerary to fit in everything we wanted out of this trip (that could physically be done!). In hindsight, perhaps we should have visited less stops and spent a little more time in each place, as the driving times can be quite long, but we still feel we had long enough to experience each destination and see what we wanted to see. It’s a huge country and we will definitely have to go back to see more!

These were our stops…

Negombo

Negombo is a beach town close to the international airport. It was a nice place to start our trip and recover from the long flight. The Dutch Canal and bustling markets are a photographers dream! There’s a huge fish market too, but we opted not to visit as I thought I’d cry if I saw butchered Sharks or Manta Rays! The beach is laced with tall King Coconut palms, which are nicknamed the ‘Tree of Life’. We went for a Tuk Tuk ride (had to be done!), followed by walk where we came across this small cafe, serving the national dish of rice and curry. It was absolutely delicious, I may even go as far as saying it was the best dish of the trip, looking back! Negombo is a cool place to rejuvenate before heading off on your journey.

Sigiriya

Our transfer was so beautiful, driving through the countryside was a real treat. (Although the roads in Sri Lanka are a tad wild – I’m glad Oshada was driving and not me!) On the way to our accommodation, we stopped at an Ayurvedic wellness centre, where we booked in for a massage and traditional Indian Shirodhara treatment, which was blissful! I’d recommend the treatment to make all your worries fade away! We stayed in a low-key resort close to Lion Rock. It was so peaceful, we felt like we were in the plains of Africa. We ventured to Sigiriya early the next morning. It’s best to go early to avoid large crowds and blistering heat. The ruins are absolutely stunning and the history of the ancient palace is fascinating. The walk to the top (200m) is a nice holiday workout, with amazing views when you get to the top.

Kaudulla National Park

While near Sigiriya, we visited Kaudulla National Park with a local safari driver/school teacher. Our safari was better than I could have ever dreamed. I wanted to see Elephants in the wild… and I sure did! At one point, we drove around a corner and there was a herd of around 80 female Elephants, grazing on the grass and keeping themselves cool with dust. Big Ellies, little Ellies – I was in my Ellie-ment! They came so close to our jeep, it was the most incredible safari experience and my face hurt from the ridiculously huge grin I was wearing! We did see other animals too… but ELEPHANTS took the limelight!

Kandy

Kandy is a beautiful, old Colonial city. It has a really warm atmosphere and I felt like I had been transported back in time. The lake in the centre of the city brings peace to balance the chaos of the city. Masses of people roam the streets, ducking in and out of shops; purchasing food, clothing and cheap chinese household items. Oshada took us to this little cafe out of town for lunch, where we sat on the balcony and looked out to the river, surrounded by lush greenery. It was one of my favourite lunch views ever! I had also mentioned that I was a gem fanatic and wanted to purchase a genuine Sri Lankan blue moonstone, so he kindly took me to a jewellery shop that he had a good relationship with and I got to choose my stone and have it set that very same day. I’m totally in love with my Moonstone, it’s the best souvenir! In the evening, we visited the world famous, golden-roofed ‘Temple of the Tooth’. It’s one of the most important Buddhist relics and is visited by people from all over the World. We were lucky enough to witness puja (prayers & offerings), which was a quite a display. The complex includes a series of smaller temples, shrines and museums. It’s not to be missed.

Kandy – Ella Train

This rail journey is one of the most scenic in the World. I’m sure you’ve seen the videos, but they just cannot quite do it justice. It takes about 6 hours from Kandy to Ella, through Nuwara Eliya, through the clouds 1868m above sea level. The train passes through villages, cute little stations, over spectacular arched bridges and, of course, through the cool, lush tea plantations that Ceylon is famous for. Hang out the windows and feel the fresh air on your face. This train journey is backpacking at it’s finest.

Ella

High in the mountains, with breathtaking views, Ella is a charming little town with a relaxed hippie vibe. It kind of reminded me of Pai in Thailand, with less people. Our accommodation was quite basic, but the view made up for it! It was only a short walk along the train tracks to town. The town had a couple of shops, a handful of bars and restaurants. I really enjoyed the food in Ella – it was delicious! I had my first taste of Jack Fruit (YUM) and we ate local dishes Roti and Kottu – which were so scrumptious. (I have craved it many days since being back in Australia!) Ella is also the hiking capital, with an array of trails to explore. I’m not much of a hiker, so we stuck to a relatively easy walk to the iconic 9 arch bridge. It was pretty muddy, so I decided to take off my shoes and walk barefoot… thankfully I didn’t get eaten by leeches! The bridge, amongst the tropic greenery made for an excellent photo, and those crazy enough to not fear death, got some pretty hectic photos sitting off the edge! It’s safe to say, I’m too clumsy for that. Ella provides us with a chilled out mini- break in the middle of our Sri Lankan tour.

Udawalawe National Park

We splashed out a bit with our accommodation near the National Park and were lucky enough to get upgraded to the Luxury Super Grand Suite, with it’s own huge private balcony! We visited the Elephant Transit Centre, which is a part of the Born Free foundation. They rescue baby orphan Elephants, look after them and release them back into the wild when they’re ready to return. The babies were so cute and have such hilarious personalities! Some were so cheeky and others were very shy. On our full day the National Park, we jumped in our private jeep for our safari adventures! It was the only rainy day of the trip, but we still saw an array of birdlife and wildlife, plus lots more close encounters with Elephants. I am so in love with watching animals in their natural habitat. Their freedom is so important to me and I felt like the guides respected their space, which made me happy!

Unawatuna

Situated about 6 miles from Galle, Unawatuna is a small beach town on the South Coast. It was severely affected by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 and even though they’ve done a great job of rebuilding the area, you can still see chilling reminders of that heartbreaking day. The beaches of Unawatuna are beautiful, lined with palm trees and dotted with fishing boats. It was a lovely place to explore, dipping in and out of the local shops and cafes of the laneway that leads to the beach. The beach area was filled with tourists and locals alike, swimming and laughing; relaxing in the bars and enjoying the seafood BBQs. We really enjoyed this mini beach break. Unawatuna had a real backpacker vibe and sense of being on ‘holiday’.

Colombo

On the way to Colombo, our final stop in Sri Lanka, we were lucky enough to stop in and visit Oshada’s Family. They were so beautiful, kind and welcoming. We were invited into their home to drink tea and chat, which was so lovely. An experience we were so grateful for. Colombo itself is pretty big and a bustling Asian city with lots of history and character. We were staying in a hotel right opposite the ocean, where we could watch the packed trains pass by. We had a shopping spree at a store called ‘Barefoot’, which we had been recommended to visit. It was amazing and I would certainly recommend it for beautiful, well made, sustainable souvenirs. Saying goodbye to Oshada and Sri Lanka was a tough job, I honestly felt like I was leaving a little part of my heart behind! But I’m pretty sure we’ll be back again.

Thank you Sri Lanka. You’re incredible.

If you would like to hire Oshada as your driver, please contact him at oshada@visionasia.lk or add him on whatsapp +94 77 234 87 07.

My recommendation is 100% genuine and I have not been endorsed in any way.

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