Post Cambodia we flew to Sri Lanka to meet two of our friends. Once we arrived in Colombo we did the standard check of “do they have uber?” Yes. We arrived at 1am so it was straight to bed once we got to the hotel. We had a rough itinerary for the trip so we could be fairly flexible. We decided to spend the following day in Colombo rather than at the end of our trip. If I am honest I really wasn’t that fussed about Colombo. We went to Gangaramaya Temple which felt like more of a gift shop within a temple then a place of worship. However the walls are covered in Buddha’s so it is still pretty cool to see. We mainly just wandered around aimlessly which may be the reason I wasn’t that fussed but during my trip I am not intending to spend too much time in cities.
Rather than using public transport or a driver we decided to rent a jeep and drive between us. A lot of people told us we were mad for doing so and yes four western women in an old jeep definitely caused some attention however it gave us a lot of freedom. If you do decide to drive expect a lot of beeping, it will be a completely different experience to driving in the UK. There will be far more over taking, beeping on your horn and in general a more aggressive feel behind the wheel. The roads physically aren’t that bad but central Sri Lanka is extremely hilly, so think cliff edges and hair pin bends.
We drove to Sigiriya that night which took about 3.30hr to our hotel Sigiri Maima. We had 2 nights there and woke up the next day to go to Sigiriya Rock aka Lions Rock. I would recommend going early as it gets busy and very hot. The views from the top are amazing and the place in general is quite impressive. The trek itself isn’t bad at all as it is mainly stairs going all the way up. The rock itself is an old Palace with huge lion’s feet carved into the rock. It cost 30usd to get in. In terms of money it’s Sri Lankan Rupee which is a closed currency so you can only get it in Sri Lanka, 200 rupees is roughly £1 so expect to be dealing with lots of money. After Lion’s Rock we went to a safari park and saw lots of elephants and birds of prey. There are plenty of safari parks, many people go to Yala which is south of Arugam Bay on the East Side of Sri Lanka.
From Sigiriya we drove to Kandy via Dambulla. In Dambulla we went to the Cave Temple which has lots of Buddha’s carved within the caves. Don’t forget that you need to cover up your shoulders and knees in places of worship otherwise you will need to rent cover ups although same places offer them free of charge. Sri Lanka is a majority Theravada Buddhist country at 70% which is why most of the temples in Sri Lanka will be Buddhist. There is also a huge Golden Buddha at the bottom of the temple so don’t miss that out either. It took just over 2 hours to get to Kandy, where it was my turn to drive the jeep! Once we were there we took a tuk tuk into town from our hotel and ate lots of different curries and bought cake. We took a walk around the huge man made lake where we saw a massive lizard and some turtles. After we went to see a cultural dance which I think is on at 5pm every day. Then we went to Tooth Temple where Buddha’s tooth is kept. It is only shown 3 times a day and you only see it from afar and I don’t think it’s actually displayed, you basically get whisked past it but still we saw it right? I would suggest going in the evening as it’s very pretty when it’s lit up. We only spent one night in Kandy and drove to the tea plantations on the way to Nuwara Eliya the following day.
The scenery through the plantations is amazing, it is so green and hilly. We went to Damro Tea Plantation where we had a very quick tour of the factory and then it was time for tea and cake which was delicious. From there we went on to Nuwara Eliya. We were at a lovely homestay Tea Garden Cottage but man it was cold. We shivered at dinner and at bedtime, none of us were expecting to be cold on our trip. However our hosts were super helpful and dinner was fantastic. Again not sure if I would stay in Nuwara for long, we basically used it as a stopping point between Kandy and Ella. The next day we got up super early to go for a trek in Horton Plains. The trek is roughly 10km and there’s a waterfall and it has some colossal views. If you’re scared of heights like me well basically good luck in most of Sri Lanka.
From Nuwara Eliya via Horton Plains to Ella took just over 3 hours. As soon as we left the park we had to wait for a tree to be cut down as it was blocking the whole road, as you do. In Ella we went straight to Ravana Falls to have a cool down. We stayed at a place called Sisila Ella which was out of the town which was a shame but has views of Nine Arch Bridge. We went into town via tuk tuk with all 4 of us in it and went to a place called cafe chill which has major Marley vibes. The food and cocktails were great, it is definitely very western but it was fun none the less. It also gets super busy so I would suggest getting there early. The next day we were off and out to hike Ella’s Rock with our guide, I don’t think a guide is absolutely necessary but one less thing to think about and he took us to a lovely waterfall on the way back which you may have missed. There’s also Little Adam’s Peak in Ella but we didn’t hike that.
From Ella we drove to Arugam Bay which I will have in my next installment on Sri Lanka.