For us one of the biggest draw cards for a perfect vacation is a beautiful beach. We choose island holidays as a rule because, if nothing else, you know you can always rely on a good beach and a laid back island lifestyle.
The world is rediscovering the island utopia that Sri Lanka offers, rich in archaeological wonders of temples and ancient kingdoms, rainforests and national parks. It is also a surfers paradise and honeymooners dream destination. Sri Lanka is no longer just a place to tag onto the end of a trip to India. It is a magical destination in its own right. Proud and colourful, rich and fragrant, auspicious and fun!
When we first booked our Sri Lankan adventure, we knew we did not want to be juts tourists, we wanted to immerse ourselves in the culture, when we told a colleague who has been to Sri Lanka that we were going for a month, she looked surprised and asked, What are you going to do in Sri Lanka for a whole month At that point I had a rough schedule of what we wanted to do, so we were surprised by her response.
There is so much to do in Sri Lanka; honestly where do we start There is trekking, biking, white water rafting, herb garden tours, safari parks, turtle sanctuaries, Ayurvedic retreats, archaeological visits, tea plantation tours, Buddha temples, train adventures, surf safaris and of course, let us not omit the golden sands of their paradise beaches.
Whichever activity you choose, you will absolutely love this very rich travel destination. Each part of the island has plenty offer and to inspire. You can find all sorts of accommodation from R50 per night to R15 000. Each experience is steeped in authenticity, offering quality service and welcoming people, each with their own distinct style.
Sri Lanka really packs an amazing range of experiences into such a small island. Some history goes back 2,500 years and tells of a prince, exiled from a Kingdom in northern India, who made his way to Sri Lanka and established the first civilization there. On our train ride, we stood in the open door of the train and marvelled at the steep mountains covered in thick forests. We could see why he stayed.
Sri Lanka was formerly known as Serendib which means wondrous surprise . This beautiful island was once referred to as the fairest isle! by Marco Polo and guess what The country has a 90% literacy rate and a very friendly local population.
Sri Lanka has two other names that it s also known by. The first is, Pearl of the Indian Ocean , because of its incredible beauty, the highest biodiversity in Asia, and more to the point a thriving trade in precious gemstones. The second name is cute, Teardrop of India , because of its perfect teardrop shape and it looks like it just fell off of the coast of India.
Everyone we met was pleasantly surprised to see South Africans and they all relate to the cricket, apartheid and Mandela, these three things are what Sri Lankans think of when they hear South African . Daily we encountered travellers from all over the world trekking through their itinerary.
Everyone shares their experiences and most people love it, but some like Linda from Australia, whom we met in an Irish Pub in Kandy, was so incensed by the rude treatment she received on the overloaded train trip from Ella to Kandy. She was ready to pack her bags and leave back to Brisbane. Her experience was unique and maybe slightly out of context, but the peak season, over stuffed public transport was a challenge, even for toughies like us. It was an adventure.
The other couple we met were Russian Marina and her Aussie boyfriend Wayne. I met them outside our beachside cottage one fine morning, they had just completed a seven day trip to the Yala National Park, which is a huge area of forest, grassland and lagoons bordering the Indian Ocean, in southeast Sri Lanka. Filled with elephant and leopard. They loved the experience but poor Marina, who sat on the back of the scooter for up to seven hours a day, was fed up, in fact she was close to strangling her long distance boyfriend, who could not stop raving about the nearby caves, which contain centuries-old rock paintings and ancient Buddhist ruins.
For us Sri Lanka was an adventure from the moment we landed until the day of our departure. There are so many aspects that set Sri Lanka apart from the rest of the world but most importantly, it is totally affordable. If you travel and live like a local, you can live on R200 per day, which will include your accommodation and your food, maybe some transport.
Next week we continue with our Sri Lankan adventure when we take you on a spiritual journey, join us.