When I was planning my Sri Lanka trip I was aware that this small island is famous for being one of the most beautiful places on Earth but still, I never thought I will live so many breathtaking experiences. Sri Lanka was everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s a very diverse country with everything you could want from a destination.
This is a country that can be difficult to explore for first time visitors. Sri Lanka is small in size, but travelling around by yourself can be both frustrating and time consuming. If you are short of time in Sri Lanka, one option is to hire a driver. This is a great way of travelling around in comfort and seeing the major highlights without having to worry.
Ella is a charming village surrounded by tea plantations, rolling green hills and mountains where passes on the famous Kandy to Ella train. The weather is considerably cooler than that of the west and south coast making it a perfect destination for hiking.
The Nine Arch Bridge, also known as The Bridge in the Sky, is a famous bridge located between the stations of Ella and Demodara. I highly recommend you to stop here and if you’re lucky you might even see the train passing by. We waited around 50 minutes for it to pass. Don’t worry because it’s hard to get bored with such beautiful surroundings.
A beautiful hike that we did in Sri Lanka it was Adam’s Peak. The walk is relatively easy and takes less than 2 hours from top to bottom. Once you are on the top of the mountain you’ll be amazed with breathtaking views. And on a clear day you can see very far in the distance. It’s totally worth it!
SAFARI IN UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination for wildlife . We visited Udawalawe National Park where we saw for the first time elephants in their natural habitat! Sri Lanka is one of the few places in Asia where you can see elephants in the wild. And this park it’s home to so many elephants. I even saw a month old baby that was hiding with his mama..it was so adorable! Also, don’t forget to bring with you a light jacket, because here the temperatures are a little bit low.
I loved to visit this safari because I’m not fun of ZOOS (I don’t visit those places as it seem so cruel to me) and here are no chains involved, no fences. All the animals are free and when you spot them it’s truly magical, it makes you feel so good inside.
Fun fact: This safari was made to protect the wild elephants that were visiting the reservoir here away from poachers. It’s home to over 250 wild elephants (and growing) which are permanent residents. The tribe includes males, females and cute little babies.
Udawalawe National Park is based in the southern of Sri Lanka and is a perfect stopover if you’re heading from Ella to the beaches in the south.
Oh my, there are many and they are super awesome. Be aware of the waves! There are waves on most of the beaches. I visited many beaches with pretty intense waves. If you like swimming in big waves or surfing, this is the place for you. I beach I highly recommend is Mirissa. This beach is one of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka to go surfing and believe me, the waves are huge.
This beach is pretty special. Here you can find some calm turquoise bays protected by the reef, but also some spots where the waves are crazy. The water is very clear here and it makes this beach the perfect place to snorkel around the small reefs and rocks. The right side of Mirissa beach is the best spot for snorkeling. You can spot many species of marine life and lots of turtles!
Mirissa is the best place in Sri Lanka where you can experience whale watching. This The best time to spot whales in Mirissa is November to April. The trip is around 4-5 hours in the boat, so if you have sea sickness or you are afraid of big waves, be sure you really want this.
The boat we went on, had two decks and we went to sit up the top. The sky was covered in big clouds that grew darker and darker, the waves started getting bigger, when one wave reached us on the top deck and drenched us. The sea was crazy and the waves where huge. I have sea phobia, but seeing the blue whale was something that worth all the fear I feet. It feels strange how an experience can be so scary but yet so wonderful. It was truly magical when I spotted my first blue whale, then we saw a few more and I kept saying to myself how much it worth going through the nightmare. We were super lucky to see around 20-25 whales.
Hikkaduwa was mostly destroyed by the Tsunami of 2004, in fact it was the scene of the world’s worst ever train disaster that day claiming 1,700 lives as the coastal railway got washed away.
We took a little tour at the Tsunami memorial and museum, a pretty harrowing and humbling experience, but we coupled that with a trip to the turtle hatchery where we got to see some adorable baby turtles.
Something truly magical that happens at this beach is swimming with giant turtles. This was awesome!! You’ll have a high chance of seeing the huge turtles swimming around close to the shore as this is one of the places in Sri Lanka where they hatch their eggs. We were surrounded by 2-3 huge turtles. They are super cute and friendly. Don’t be too worried about the big waves or if you are not a good swimmer because they come very close to the shore.
You can do some nice snorkelling here but unfortunately lots of coral and fish have died in the recent years. Reasons are the 2004, tsunami but also poor management and general pollution of the ocean. You can book a tour, where you’ll get to see the marine life and many turtles underwater from up close. It’s only a short boat ride to the reef. Usually, snorkels and masks are included, but make sure to ask this before booking.
Unawatuna beach it’s is a beautiful beach of golden sand with turquoise water, surrounded by green palm trees. But because this beach is one of the best known beaches in Sri Lanka, it is also very busy. There are still quieter spots to escape the crowds, where you can try many nice activities like swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling and climbing coconut trees.
Around Sri Lanka are so many street dogs and they have a very sad life, they aren’t treated well by the locals and they often get fatal diseases, as well as parasites and malnutrition. Our driver told us to stop keep petting them, because they are full of diseases and are dirty. Of course we didn’t listen to him. This cuties are not well groomed because they live on the streets, but that is no reason not to give them a little bit of affection. Many people have no empathy for animals. I left with my heart broken thinking of all the cute doggies that I couldn’t help.
You know what? I grew up in a country with many stray dogs. When I was a child my biggest happiness was to hang around animals (and it keeps until today). I hugged them, touch them and NEVER ever got not even a single disease from them. When I was 5 years old I got a horrible disease from a human that needed 6 months of hospitalization and 1 year of recovery. So you tell me from whom I have to keep distance.
Here in the south are living monkeys. We saw a family of monkeys right in front of our hotel. They were hanging around in some palms. It was pretty awesome!
As you can see from the photos I posted, the beaches here are full of palms. If you’re looking for some fun spots to snap cute pictures of palms there are many hidden spots with many palm trees and sea views.
Sri Lanka is a dream for every photographer. Sunsets, underwater or beaches lined up with hundreds of palms, there’s a great photo opportunity around every corner.
It’s no problem to travel to every part of the country nowadays. Most of the mines in the north and parts of the east of the country have been cleared since the end of the civil war. But there are still ongoing mine clearing campaigns in both parts of the country. Don’t worry though, these areas are clearly marked as restricted and are only accessible to the military. Always make sure to dress appropriately, especially in temples and at religious sites. Protect your valuables like anywhere in the world. We felt pretty safe going around.