Tag: elephants

Sri Lanka Road Trip – Exploring Sri Lanka in One Week

After a relaxing two weeks at the beach we decided to spend our last week in Sri Lanka on a road trip. I am so happy we did this because there was so many interesting things to see and do.  And we really had the best time.

In case you are planning a road trip around Sri Lanka or just want some inspiration of nice places to visit I have shared our itinerary with you below.

Day 1 – Ella

AM – Drive from Arugam Bay to Ella passing through tea plantations and rice paddies.  Stop on the way at the Rawana Falls for a swim in the rock pools.

PM – Go trekking in the hills surrounding Ella.  Choose treks to Ella Rock, Ella Gap or like us, trek through the tea plantations to see Tamil families picking tea at sunset. Sleep at Ella Eco Lodge to have your own wooden cabin in the forest.

Day 2 – Nuwara Eliya

AM – Wake up early and catch the train from Ella to Nuwara Eliya.  The old trains pass though tea plantations and tiny, hill top villages with incredible views of the valleys below.

PM – Go exploring in Nuwara Eliya.  Explore the english colonial village, eat fresh strawberries, go for afternoon tea, relax by the lake and take a walk though the rose gardens in Victoria Park.

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early morning train

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sunrise at horton plains

Day 3 – Horton Plains & Kandy

AM – Wake up at sunrise and go trekking through Horton Plains.  Get to the park early and reach the Worlds End Viewpoint before 9am to see panaramic views of Sri Lanka’s countryside.  Have a picnic of fruits and coconut pancakes for breakfast on the cliff edge.

PM – Drive to Kandy, stopping along the way at a tea plantation to do a tea tasting.  We arrived in Kandy during the Perahera Festival so found seats in the streets and watched the two hour procession of elephants, fire dancers and drummers all wearing beautiful traditions costumes!

Day 4 – Kandy

AM – Visit the ancient Temple of the Scared Tooth Relic to see beautiful buddhist shrines and temples. Visit during the Perahera Festival to see pilgrims worshipping and visit the festival elephants relaxing in the gardens before their performance.

PM – Take a walk around the Botanical Gardens to see exotic plants and wildlife.  We saw snakes, birds and hundreds of bats sleeping in the trees.  In the evening we watched the festival again.  This time following the procession back to the Tooth Temple to walk with the free elephants around the gardens.

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elephants at the perahera festival

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monkies at the temple

Day 5 – Sigiriya

AM – Drive from Kandy to Sigiriya making a stop off at a Batik craft-factory to see local women making beautiful handmade batik clothes – great for some shopping!

PM – Visit the amazing Dambulla Cave Temples and explore the five painted caves filled with ancient buddha statues.   Then arrive at the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the late afternoon.  Climb the huge rock-face and watch the sunsetting from the incredible view of the surrounding mountains.

Day 6 – Polonnaruwa & Minneriya Park

AM – Rent bikes and cycle around Polonnaruwa Ancient City.  Ruins date back to 2000 years but statues and shrines are incredibly intact and the atmosphere is beautiful.

PM – Take a jeep safari around Minneriya National Park and see huge families of elephants gathering around the lake.  We saw over 50 grazing together and two new born baby elephants!

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sigiriya rock fortress

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polonnaruwa ancient ruins

And there you have it, our road trip itenary around Sri Lanka.  Thinking of visiting Sri Lanka, let me know your plans in the comments below…

For more about our Sri Lanka adventures read my Arugam Bay Beach Town Guide

Arugam Bay – My Beach Town Guide

Following my recent posts about our wonderful travels around Sri Lanka I have had a lot of people asking advise about places to visit and stay, particularly in Arugam Bay.

As we were there for two weeks we got to know the scene quite well and we found some cool places we really loved.  There is so much to see and do there that we were busy exploring and having fun everyday! So I decided to write a list of my top spots in Arugam Bay.  Hopefully you can check out some of these places when you visit and see if you likes them as much as me…

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peanut farm beach

SEE

Main Point Beach. Drink a fresh coconut while watching world class professional and amazing locals surf the waves breaking at the point on Main Beach.  It will give you some inspiration before starting your surfing lessons.

Wild Elephants at Sunset. End your day at the beach by stopping at Crocodile Rock before heading back to town.  Climb the rock at sunset to see herds of wild elephants coming out of the forest to graze! We saw a herd of 15  – so beautiful!

Pottuville Lagoon at Sunrise. Take an early morning canoe ride through the lagoon and see crocodiles, elephants, monkeys and countless wild birds.  The atmosphere is so tranquil and peaceful.

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coconuts on the beach

sunrise at potuvil lagoon

pottuville canoe trip

DO

Early Morning Yoga Class. Start your day with an energising Yoga Class before hitting the beach.  I loved the rooftop classes at Bay Vista Hotel for the amazing ocean views.

Ayurveda Full Body Massage.  A deep tissue, ancient healing technique using holistic oils.  I took a treatment at the Ayurveda Healing Center for a natural and authentic experience.  Learn more about my experience here.

Eco Wave Cooking Course. Learn how to make traditional Sri Lankan dishes taught by local women from the village.  Even better all the food used is grown locally on organic farms so, as well as having a fun day with lots of food, you are also helping out the local community too.  We loved making the coconut sambal and fish curry!

Surf Lessons. Take lessons or rent a board and try out at the many surf sports around Arugam Bay. For beginners Elephant Rock or Peanut Farm are great places to practise.  Hasan’s Surf House is a cool place for board rental.

fishing boats at main beach

fishing boats at main beach

Eco Wave Cooking Course

eco wave cooking course

EAT

Spicy Snacks from the Street Venders.  At the top end of the beach road you will find several street venders selling freshly made spicy snacks.  Super cheap and extremely tasty, it is so much fun buying a mix and having a picnic on the beach.  We loved the vegetable rotti’s and fried lentil dhal.

Organic Curry at Danny’s Soul KitchenThe best place we tried for local food.  All ingredients are grown locally in the organic farm.  Order curry of chicken, beef or fish and enjoy trying the amazing selection of vegetable sides with mountains of red rice.

Health Smoothies at Zephyr BarGrab an amazing fresh smoothie and relax on one of the huge bean bags on the beach.  The perfect chill out evening.

fresh rotti's & spicy sauce

fresh rotti’s & spicy sauce

EXPLORE

The Beaches. As well as Main Beach, Arugam Bay has several secluded beaches all within around a ten minuet tuk-tuk drive away. Our favourite was Peanut Farm for its isolated setting and great surf! Visit them all and see which is your favourite.

Kudumbigala Forest Monestry. Take a day away from the beach and explore this little visited Buddhist Monastery in the middle of the forest.  See some of the 200 cave shrines and climb the sacred rock for incredible panoramic views of the countryside.  We were greeted by lovely monks who gave us cakes to eat at the top and saw snakes and monkeys while walking through the forest.

Lighthouse Point. 23KM from Arugam Bay town this amazing beach is little visited and extremely beautiful.

buddhist monks at peanut farm beach

buddhist monks at the beach

kudimbigala monastery viewpoint

kudumbigala monastery viewpoint

SHOP

Ethical Accessories from Rice & Carry.  Made from recycled rice sacks by local women from the villages, this brand is super cute and works for a good course.  Choose from backpacks, tote bags, clutches and purses – you will want to buy them all!

Hideaway Sunday Morning Market. Serving up happy vibes, Hideaway’s sunday morning market sells cute handmade products from the local community.  See artsy postcards, funky jewellery, ethic fabrics and colourful sarongs.  Great for present shopping.

rice & carry accessories

rice & carry accessories

As you can see we loved our time in Arugam Bay lots.  Have any suggestions from your trip – please share in the comments below.

My First Impressions of Sri Lanka…

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We have been in Sri Lanka now for five days and are currently staying in the beach town Arugam Bay on the islands East Coast.  We will be here for another nine days and then we begin our one week road trip around the inside of the island.  As I love to travel, I have already visited several Asian countries, but I have to say Sri Lanka is unique to anywhere else I have been before.  The culture has very strong Indian influences and I am absolutely loving learning about and experiencing a culture that is new to me.

My first impression is that the people here are so kind and friendly. Everyone seems genuinely happy to help and wants to make sure we have a great time in their home.  People want to explain the culture and history and show us special places of interest like secret beach spots or the best places to see wildlife (today we were shown twelve wild elephants grazing on open farmland!).

Also the food is also incredible. We have tried colourful and exotic curries, coconuts fresh from the trees, fried doughy bread filled with vegetables or bananas (called rotti’s) brought from roadside venders and healthy fresh fruits smoothies. Everything has been so full of flavor and very spicy! We are loving this new food experience.

I love how much life there is to absorb here. I feel like walking through the streets is a trip for the senses. There is sweet incense burning outside shops creating beautiful perfumed scents. There is always music playing loudly from inside shops or people on the beach dancing and singing with drums and bells. And I am so inspired by the colourful Sari’s the women wear here. I am in love with the bright mix of patterns and silky materials, beads and embroidery.

And finally the abundance of wildlife that seems to be here. In five days we have already seen elephants, monkeys, buffalo, peacocks, parrots, giant dragonflies and butterflies to name just a few!

So far Sri Lanka is winning my heart and I cannot wait to see what the next eighteen days has in store. I cannot wait to share with you our next discoveries soon