Welcome to my Sri Lanka Trip Report, being honest Sri Lanka wasn’t really a country that was on my top 10 to visit, up until my parents visited in 2016, – and they came back raving about what a great time they had. Roll forward to 2017 and they were keen on visiting Sri Lanka again before they moved on to India, for their annual visit, this time round I was keen to join them for the Sri Lanka portion of their trip, as were both my sisters. We were set for our first family holiday together since August 2002, the summer I received by GCSE results – some of the clever ones amongst you might be able to guess my age!
Our arrival at Colombo Airport, was in the early hours of the morning, the first thing that hits you is the sheer humidity, it could be likened to walking into the sauna at David Lloyds after a quick swim in the cool outdoor pool. After picking up our bags, we had approximately a 45-minute wait for our parents who had arrived on Jet Airways, my sisters and I flew on Emirates due to our plans to head to Dubai post Sri Lanka.
We had organised a driver for our 7-day trip around Sri Lanka, who my parents used the previous year after a recommendation from a friend (thanks Ash!). Our plan over this week, was to head towards Dambulla to visit Sigriya, a few days in the hills around Nuwara Eliya, a couple of days relaxing by the beach in Bentota and a short 12 hours to explore the sights of Colombo.
The journey from Colombo International Airport to our hotel the Thilanka Resort and Spa, just outside of Dambulla took approximately three and a half hours, during which time we all were dozing in and out of sleep due to the time difference between Sri Lanka and the UK. I did try and stay awake, but in a big comfortable vehicle it’s difficult to do so! One thing I did notice during the rare moments I was awake during this journey was how clean the country was, when compared to their neighbours in the North, India.
Upon arrival to the Thilanka Resort and Spa, we were granted early check-in and took this as an opportunity to get refreshed before heading out for a spot of lunch. We then headed to the Dambulla Cave Temple, locally known as “The Golden Temple”. It’s quite a steep walk up to the temples from the Golden Buddha statue but sure is worth it. Inside the numerous caves there are paintings and statues relating to Buddha, alongside statues of Kings and Hindu statues too (Vishnu/Ganesha). The rest of the day was spent milling around the hotel, reading a book and trying to get used to the humidity and time zone.
Day two started off with a quick breakfast, followed by the short drive from the hotel to Sigiriya Rock, which is an ancient fortress built approx. 500ce. Entrance is approx. $40 for tourists to the site, which is a quite steep –but the funds are used to maintain the site as well as subsidise for locals, particularly schools and monks who visit the tourist spot. Walking towards the site you come across some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world; the water gardens, the boulder gardens and the terraced gardens. If you take your time to explore the gardens it should take you approximately 30-40 minutes per gardens to take everything in.
Before we set off for Sigiriya everyone mentioned how difficult/tough the climb was, I’ll be honest here, – it simply isn’t, if you are moderately fit this will be fine. Due to the number of people visiting the site every day walking up the stairs to the top is at a slow/gradual pace. It was quite easy for me to do it on 3 hours sleep, so most of you should be fine! Two-thirds of the way up you will reach an area, with a medical facility and restrooms, after this point it should be another 10-12 minute climb up, walking through the Lions Gate. On reaching the top the view is breath-taking, with a 360 degree view of the surrounding area all you can see is miles and miles of greenery. It’s somewhere I’d have loved to have spent the entire day admiring the view, and just people watching but we had other plans.
After the quick descent down Sigiriya Rock, we then met our driver and headed back to the hotel to pick up our luggage (and parents) and check out ahead of a long-ride from Dambulla to Nuwra Eliya. The route involved slow, winding roads into the hills – so not one for those that get car sick, on the way we stopped off at several locations including an Aruvedic centre for my parents, a tea plantation and a Hanuman temple in the hills just outside Nuwara Eliya.
We opted to stay at The Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya and arrived at our accommodation for the next two nights around 7pm, with the temperature certainly a lot colder than it was in Dambulla, we all opted for a quick dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, rather than exploring the town followed by an early night due to the plans the next day…. Sri Lanka Trip Report