I realise that I’ll probably say this about a lot of the countries that I’m going to over the course of the next year or so- but I have completely fallen in love with Sri Lanka.
The moment in we set off in our car from the airport (with a brilliant driver who perfectly navigated the steep and windy roads up through the tea country) the queues at customs, the sleepless flight and the constantly crying toddler on the plane from Dubai were suddenly all worth it.
Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada)
First destination on our list was a tiny village called Delhousie, high up in the mountains in central Sri Lanka. We were here for a quick, one-night stay so that we could experience the tea plantations, and tackle Adams Peak.
Adams Peak, or Sri Pada, is a cone-shaped mountain some 2,500 metres high. There’s a rock formation near the summit known as the “Sacred Footprint”. Buddhists and travellers alike tackle the hike up to the top as a sort of Buddhist pilgrimage. 5000 odd steps take you up into the clouds and the idea is that you set off early enough that you reach the top in time to watch the sun rise.
This is not an easy feat. So much so that I’m actually including it as one of my travel-fitness workouts– and if you read the post later this week then you’ll understand why!
It was pitch black, 3am, when we set off, complete with hiking boots, torches and anoraks. We’re not in peak traveller season at the moment, so the majority of our journey we faced alone. Just a couple of passers by and then a small group of people gathered at the top.
Unsurprisingly, the trek back down was not only significantly easier on the legs. It was also much more spectacular, given that it was light enough to actually see the rolling hills and waterfalls that surrounded us.
The wildlife here is incredible. Everywhere you look there are monkeys and chipmunks and tiny colourful birds.
We arrived back at our hostel for around 9am, where the hosts quickly set about cooking us eggs and roti for our breakfast. Roti are Sri Lankan bready-pancakes. They’re usually served with Chilli or coconut, and Tom and I have quickly become obsessed!
Exhausted from our pilgrimage, we had a bit of an accidental nap after breakfast! We only woke when our driver had arrived to take us away from the tea country and down to the beach.
Unawatuna & Galle
Unawatuna is a small beach village next to Galle. It was as different to Adams Peak as you could possibly get, although equally beautiful. Much more built up, there were guesthouses and little restaurants everywhere.
We stayed in a gorgeous guesthouse called The French Lotus. They did our laundry and served us fresh fruit, yoghurt and scrambled eggs for breakfast everyday. They served homemade passionfruit jam which was simply delicious. It was like heaven.
Unawatuna is all about the beach. It’s got that white sand, clear water, palm-trees-in-the-sunset feel, which Tom and I took full advantage of.
Both of us tried surfing for the very first time. Sri Lanka is surfers heaven, and there was an endless amount of surf schools lining the beaches. It was a lot of fun and our instructors were great. Although neither Tom or I were amazing, they did manage to get us standing up and catching a few waves in the hour that we had!
We did a day trip to Galle on one day. A port city and a UNESCO heritage site, Galle is known for its tall stone sea walls and the Dutch colonial architecture. It’s a beautiful town just to wander around, with lots of car-free streets where you can look over the Fort out to the horizon.
We were both somewhat reluctant to leave our little seaside haven. However the lure of spotting some leopards on safari and the world famous train journey from Ella to Kandy eventually won. After one more French Lotus breakfast, we packed our bags and said goodbye.