Sensational Sri Lanka - Part 4
Variety of experiences
Don’t let Sri Lanka’s size fool you. This tropical island is packed with holiday activities and experiences.
We’ve spoken earlier of the 365 days a year beach weather. Choose between the tourist strips of Bentota, Hikkaduwa or Beruwela if you are water activity driven. Want a quieter beack then head to Mirrissa or Tangalle in the South or Upveli and Passekudah on the east.. Surfies can ride the waves at Hikka or the more remote Arugam Bay. Snorkelling sites are found around Nilaveli and Hikka Wildlife seekers have a multitude of parks to chose from.
Yala for the best chance of a leopard sighting, Uda walawe or Minneriya for its elephant herds, Sinharaja & Bundala for birdlife and that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reserves in Sri Lanka. Turtle hatcheries are found along some of the southern beaches For trekking and the great outdoors head to the central highlands around Nuwara Eliya, Hatton, Ella and Hortons Plains. The overnight trek to Adams Peak for the sunrise view is a challenging yet rewarding climb.
Railway buffs will enjoy the climb from Kandy to the Tea plantation hills of Nuwara Eliya or the ride along the coast from Colombo to Galle. Also opened up is the rife from Colombo to Trinco.
You can immerse yourself in Buddhist culture anywhere in Sri Lanka as 65% of the population is Buddhist but Kandy is at the heart. The Esala Perehara held during the August full moon is a procession of elephants decked in finery and lights, dancers, fire walkers and flame throwers. This is a spectacular event worth timing your trip for.
Buddhism came to Sri Lanka more than 2000 years ago and this ancient culture can be experienced in Sigiriya, Dambulla, Anuradhapura and Pollonaruwa.
The size of the country and the relaxed locals make Sri Lanka an easy trip and an enjoyable one. Outside of Colombo, the capital, there does not seem to be the hustle and bustle of city life which is perfect for holiday travel.
Quality of product
30 years of civil war has taken its toll on the tourism industry. However the quality of some of the hotels and the levels of service despite this is just amazing. This is where a good travel agents knowledge comes in handy. The last 3 years of peace has seen a frenzy of activity on the tourism and infrastructure front – new hotels and refurbishments, new roads and highways (Colombo-Galle can now be done in 2 hours. It used to take 5!). Some of the hotels in Sri Lanka can be compared with great hotels the world over. For me the Heritance Kandalama is one such property.
THE BENELUX BONANZA
The journey I was about to undertake would not only in geographical terms span vast distances over land and sea......it was an odyssey which would cover a period of over four hundred years and one in which I would try to establish a "connection" with my ancestors.