Sri Lanka: The Highlights

Let’s face it: travel has its highs and lows. And Sri Lanka was no exception. But reflecting on the trip most of my memories are of the highs. Even though at times it was hard – I’d take those moments over being at home or at work any day! Here are some of favourite experiences and places in Sri Lanka:

SIGIRIYA

Sigiriya blew my mind! Located In the Central Province of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya is an ancient, abandoned city complex at the base of an enormous granite rock. The origins of the site are disputed – It is either a former 5th-century king’s fortress and palace, a Buddhist monastery or both. After seeing it in the flesh, I believe it could have been both. The legend goes that in 477AD King Kasyapa selected the site for his new capital, building his palace on the very top of the enormous rock. He decorated the sides with colourful frescoes and on a large plateau half way up the side of the rock he built a gateway (to the palace) in the shape of a lion. Today Sigiriya is listed as a World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved sites in the world. It’s also the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya was a highlight for me – I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilisations (thanks to my Ancient History classes at school). Climbing the rock was challenging but stopping regularly for water breaks made it a lot easier. We didn’t hire a local guide but were able to navigate the site and climb the rock easily enough on our own. From the rock we gained spectacular views of the countryside which made the big climb well worth it!

ELLA

Everything about Ella is lovely. It’s a small village in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country surrounded by vuluptuous mountains, luscious vegetation and crystal clear waterfalls. With only a handful of restaurants and shops there isn’t much to do in Ella but sit back and marvel the view. We only spent one night in Ella, at The View, which had spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountain peaks. On the way to Ella we passed tea plantations, pristine waterfalls and tiny villages. Ella’s neighbouring villages are heavily influenced by Dutch colonisation and are very interesting to look at. The combination of the Dutch-inspired infrastructure and mountain peaks made makes you feel like you’re somewhere in Europe – It’s so surreal! Ella received two thumbs up from me… It’s gorgeous!

ARUGAM BAY

Arugam Bay is one of the loveliest beaches I’ve been to and is great for swimming and surfing. The water was deliciously warm and the beach is mostly uncrowded. There’s also free deck chairs dotted along the shore perfect for sun-baking and reading! During the day we spent hours in the sun swimming and surfing and at night we sat in the bars and restaurants listening to music and making friends. Arugam Bay has a cool vibe and is a lot more laid back than the other parts of Sri Lanka. It was okay to walk around in shorts and a singlet (unlike other areas) and there was more bars and restaurants than anywhere else we visited. The only downside was accommodation which was expensive (due to it being peak-season) and the heat was also pretty stifling at times. All in all we had a great time here and I would recommend it to beach-lovers and surfers!

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