5 Things to do when in Sri Lanka
I've been lucky enough to have explored Asia many times, however one of my favourite places that I highly recommend to visit is Sri Lanka. It has everything
that an adventure traveller will fall in love with.
History, culture, wildlife, beaches, natural environments, friendly people and incredible service.
I felt safe in Sri Lanka and was blown away by how much respect the people had for each other and their natural assets.
Here is my top 5 things you must try and do when in Sri Lanka:
1.Step back in time and visit the ‘Kingdom of Sri Lanka’
Nothing can be as overwhelming as visiting Sigiriya or ‘Lion Rock’, one of Sri Lanka’s ancient rock fortresses located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka - Dambulla. At 660 feet tall, it rises in the middle of the forest proudly, with its Lion Feet greeting you as you climb the stairs to the top view. Over 1500 years ago, this was the stronghold for a rogue King and it still remains one of the most interesting historical places within Sri Lanka. It's awe-inspiring to be on top of this fortress and see how the architecture, and the place was managed during its time. "WOW" was the word I remember silently repeating, so I didn't bore my friend at the time. Dambulla is a great place as well. It has some very old Buddhist caves where you can witness well preserved ancient relics, and it's also a popular spiritual place for Sri Lankan’s today who still climb to the caves to pray.
2. Explore the cuisine.
My last day in Sri Lanka, I was able to visit a local family and participate in a traditional cooking lesson. I'm not a good cook, and don't even enjoy cooking, in fact it makes me stressed and I often get caught up on what else I could be doing with my time. So when I decided to join this activity, I expected to be bored. In fact, it was one of my highlights of the entire trip. I cooked using traditional clay pots and was able to create the flavours without any electrical appliances, whilst the incredible cuisine was cooked over a wooden stove. To top the experience off, it was delicious! This is a great activity for families, solo travelers, and anyone who wants to interact with local people and understand more about their culture at the same time. Make sure you visit a local family on your holiday to Sri Lanka, it is a great experience.
3. Get your camera ready….
Ever since I can remember, wildlife spotting has been my passion. Watching wild animals in their natural habitat is just one of the best ways I can spend my time. It makes me happy, develops empathy for another living species and I'm never bored as I learn, watch and respect them living freely. If you enjoy wildlife experiences, then Sri Lanka must be a bucket list travel destination. I have never seen so much wildlife! From the largest Asian elephant migration in Minneriya National Park, to leopard spotting in Yala National Park.
This is where I discovered more about myself and took up photography as a hobby. My crappy old canon camera was out of date and I was so disappointed I didn't get good photos, I decided to invest in good equipment, to capture wildlife moments and memories on my new Canon Mark3 5D. Sri Lanka's also a brilliant place to bird watch. My automatic respect for birdwatchers around the world has given me a new perspective and I love capturing them in photos.
4. Tea Plantations
I am not one to visit large plantations, and in particular tea plantations. However, Sri Lanka is renowned for its tea production and prides itself on
various qualities with tastes that are exported around the world.
Driving through the terraced tea plantations was very beautiful and a great way to see the countryside. I highly recommend a visit at the Dilmah tea factory, opposed to Lipton which I thought was not the most sanitary factory visit. Staff at Dilmah and the local plantations are friendlier and the you have the chance to enjoy some of the tea and learn about the quality grades, without feeling pressure to buy it.
5. Beaches anyone?
Sri Lanka has amazing beach environments and depending on the time of year, you can either visit the East or West Coast. I travelled South West and discovered a town named Galle. This old fort town is very charming and a great way to spend the day winding though the streets and walking along the fort wall. Next to Galle, is another funky beach town named Unawatuna, where at night time you can enjoy a BBQ on the beach at many of the beachside hotels or bed and breakfasts. There are also many activities which you can participate in ranging from whale watching, turtle viewing too water-sports. I enjoyed walking along the coast and collecting shells...
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Cooking: K Freeman
Leopard: L Buckland