This is a retrospective post from the beginning of year 2014,
when we bought some summer in January!
About 2 years ago we decided to go to Sri Lanka for a New Year. Honestly… I do not remember why we decided so. But I remember that we had to shift dates a little bit, because tickets for specific New Year dates were about 50-75% more expensive than those that we got.
We’ve planned our itinerary in advance. However after first 2-3 days we had to pretty much rewrite. Mostly because estimated timing was not accurate. Now you can find our final itinerary at the end of this post.
So our final route looked like: Colombo – Anuradhapura – Sigiriya – Kandy – Adam’s Peak – Nuwara Eliya – Yala National Park – Tangalle – Unawatuna – Colombo.
Anuradhapura was the first point in the Golden Triangle of Sri Lanka. This ancient city is a collection of different temples and sacred sites. You can buy one day pass to access all sites for 25 USD. First we got a tuk-tuk to reach Mihintale Temple which is 12 km from the town. After spending some hours there we returned back to Anuradhapura and paid attention to rest of the sites.
On the next day we got a bus to Dambulla and tuk-tuk from there to Sigiriya. I recommend to get to Sigiriya as early as possible, because of people crowds. Sigiriya itself is a huge rock, so when you get up there it is pretty much limited in space.
From Sigiriya we took a bus to Kandy – another point of the Golden Triangle. And on the next day after arrival took a trip to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Each tuk-tuk tries to get you to some other place. First they bring you to some other place saying it is Pinnawala. Then they tell you that it is not possible to ride elephants in Pinnawala. And then… in maybe 10-15 minutes of discussions they will bring you to Pinnawala. So be prepared.
Pinnawala has two time slots for elephant feeding and then bathing. We came in time for the first time slot, then took a look at bathing and stayed there for some more hours enjoying company of little ones ;)
Our next point on the route was Dalhousie, small village near to Adam’s Peak. It is a mountain 2243m high in the south of the central highlands. The mountain features a rock formation that is considered as the footprint of Buddha for Buddhist, Shiva, for Hindu and Adam for Muslims and Christians.
The mountain has a path to the top consisting of several thousands steps, many of different heights and uneven. The ascent takes on average 2-3.5 hours and is particularly steep towards the top, although is quite safe as there are hand rails to hold on. Many Sri Lankans make the climb several times in their lives.
As many pilgrims we started early in the night to be at the top for the sunset. The scenery was really beautiful with all the clouds, valleys and lakes around.
And of course the trip to Sri Lanka can not be complete without visit to the famous tea plantations. And the best region to do this is around Nuwara Eliya. We took a train to Nanu Oya and bus to Nuwara Eliya. There we found a driver with minibus and travelled with him to nearby plantations and factories. Half a day was enough to see two big places and some small in between.
Yala National Park
Finally we left central Sri Lanka and moved to the south. Next stop – Yala National Park. And safari. We took a half-day safari. It wasn’t Kenya of course, but still was nice. There were no tons of buffalos or cheetahs, but still the park was pretty nice and worth a visit.
And finally the most boring part of the trip – beaches. We decided to stay two nights in Tangalle and then one night in Unawatuna. It is completely nothing to do there. And you wouldn’t love the place unless you like to do nothing ;)
Its not a place but rather a way. A way to get around Sri Lanka, but more important a way to feel Sri Lankan spirit. Trains were built by the Brits. It looks like that there were no or very little improvements from that time. And the spirit is all around – on the stations, in the trains, at timetables, etc.
We rented a tuk-tuk and did a trip around: Ruwanwelisaya, Lovamahapaya, Isurumuniya Vihara
There are many options, you can rent a taxi, we took local bus, then tuk-tuk to Sigiriya
Get as early as possible there, crowds of people
Another local bus, now to Kandy
The best time to visit is the feeding time from 09:30-10:00 and 13:30-14:00, and the bathing time from 10:00-10:30 and 14:00-14:30 when all the elephants are taken to the river close by.
Train Name is Udarata Menike, it is chinese Blue Express
Sunrise around 6:18
There are multiple options around to see tea plantations of the region
45 USD for a half day tour, bargain hard