Back in April Matteo and I hoped on a plane to Sri Lanka. We honestly didn't know what to expect of this unique country but I can now confirm, it's full of magic, beauty, culture, sunshine & inspiration.
If you’re looking for a very affordable place to travel and soak up the sun, celebrate your destination wedding, honeymoon in paradise or just in need of an inspiring holiday, you’ll LOVE Sri Lanka! I will say, you’ve gotta be prepared for an adventure to do it on the cheap, but if you want absolute luxury, there are also many options to live it up in absolute comfort at very affordable prices. We did a bit of both!
The Sri Lankan people are so kind and welcoming, with huge smiles on their faces at the sight of a wave from us tourists. The country is very underdeveloped compared to other 'third world' countries we have visited previously in terms of buildings and infrastructure, although this wasn't at all a down fall for us. We loved that most of the highways were lined with markets, dogs and cows! Ha!
We flew into the major airport near Colombo and after a nights stay close by, the next morning we were on our way to Sirigiya, an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province. We hired a car to get around, I've gotta let you know, yes it was crazy but I promise doable!
We spend a couple of nights here in Sirigiya & hung out with some friends we were planning on meeting up with here and there throughout our trip (they were also on holiday there ). Together, we climbed the fortress, drank the best Long Island Ice Teas I've ever had and dipped around the most gorgeous pool at our boutique hotel Sirigiya Jungles. The second night we stay is a pretty little guest house cabin with a view of the rock.
Next, we headed north east to Nilaveli. This area and much of its surrounds (mostly towards the north) were in the midst of a civil war that ended only 10 years ago. Unfortunately, it was also severely affected by the 2004 Tsunami that hit many countries in Asia. For the most part, the standard of living and as far as tourism goes, it's quite basic, but we absolutely loved it! I think this was my favourite place in all of Sri Lanka. There were hardly any buildings on the beachfront, and zero high rises. It was so peaceful, the water so calm and blue.
We went snorkelling at Pigeon Island National Park and Whale watching with a local fisherman and saw the largest pod of dolphins I've ever seen and 3 blue whales!
I really really wish I took my camera over to the National Park where we went snorkelling! But check it out on Pinterest. It's beautiful! "Pigeon Island National Park"
After Nilaveli, we followed the highway down the east coast of the country until we arrived at the sweetest and prettiest bungalows right on the beach in Arugam Bay. We had our own mini deck above our bungalow with a hammock and lounges. Again, I was too busy taking it all in that I actually didn't take too many photos here! ... Except on SAFARI! In the bay, we met up with our friends again and the following day we headed out on Sarafi! We were originally planning on heading to Yala National Park, but we heard multiple times that Yala was always absolutely full with trucks of people and the likelihood of seeing all that much was low if we were in one of the last truck in line. So we went with a locals suggestion of Kumana National Park... and we were all SO glad we did!!
We saw elephants, SO many water buffalo, warthogs, crocodiles, a snake, a wolf, a whole bunch of different monkeys and I swear on anything… we saw TWO LEOPARDS!!! I only have a crappy photo of one on my phone, it's not that great, but it happened! Heres what happened in short: We were leaving the park, super happy with the whole experience and this huge ‘thing’ was laying in the middle of the road, as we got closer it got up and we realised it was a leopard! It was actually pretty scary as it slowly stared at us and walked into the bushes. About 10 minutes later, we saw another.. it was much smaller and sat near by for a little while as we just all couldn’t believe our luck! Needless to say, we were all so super stoked at the end of that day
Then it was off to more beaches.. more of my favourite! We stayed a night in Tangelle Beach, then one night in Mirissa and a few in Unawatuna. In Tangelle, we stayed at Lanka Beach Bungalows. Definitely one of my favourite places we started during our trip! It was a little bit out of the main area and so it was just so peaceful & perfect! There were only about 8 bungalows right on the beach with a gorgeous pool, small restaurant and bar. We ordered our seafood for dinner in the afternoon and the guys that worked there went off to the market to get the freshest catch! If you’ve visiting this area, you’ve gotta stay here!
There are also some photos in here from a few hours we spend at Hiriketiya Beach… I loved this bay so much and I wish we stayed longer. It kinda reminded me of Hawaii!
Sri Lanka was just so beautiful and full of adventure! If you're thinking about going, you should definitely go sometime soon... I loved everything about it! Well, except the mozzies.. but every bed has a mosquito net, so no worries there!