Sri Lanka

Sarah McCarthy on 08 October 2014

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After a wonderful flight experience in Club World with British Airways I arrived at Colombo Airport, Sri Lanka. To say I was excited was an understatement. As a lover of all things cultural and historic I knew that Sri Lanka was going to be a wonderful experience for me. I travelled with 10 colleagues and we had a very busy itinerary ahead hoping to cover the sights of this amazing country in 8 days.

We had 2 drivers and a wonderful tour guide, Alanda. Their knowledge, expertise and hospitality was incredible and without doubt enhanced our over-all experience. We spent our first night on the beach staying at the Jetwing Beach Resort in the town of Negombo located only 30 minutes from the airport. Some travellers may welcome this stop for a night or two after a long flight.

Onwards to the Ulagalla Wallawwa Resort in Anuradhapura. What an amazing property. Villas built on stilts in the rainforest with a plunge pool and private deck. You can choose to cycle around the hotel grounds or call the buggy service. En-route to Ulagalla we visited the Pinnawela Elephant orphanage. A sanctuary for orphaned and injured wild elephants – it was a fantastic experience.

Next morning we visited the Bodhi Tree Temple and the ancient ruined city of Anuradhapura. We were also so lucky to experience an afternoon jeep safari driving deep into the Minneriya wild life sanctuary. It was very special seeing the herds of Sri Lankan elephants and the spotted deer in their natural habitat.

We arrived early evening to the Heritance Kandama hotel. This property is very unique in that it was cleverly designed and built into the side of a rock and so the hotel blends in with its nature surroundings. I do recommend that you keep your balcony door closed at night as you may have some unwanted visitors, monkeys and fruit bats! The views from this hotel are spectacular.

After an early breakfast we went to visit the famous rock temples of Dumballa and onwards to Sigiriya. This was one of my highlights. We climbed up to the top of Sigiriya rock fortress, the eighth wonder of the world. WOW the views were amazing and Ananda our tour guide was so informative about the history of the Rock.

On to the town of Kandy, a town in the centre of the country 500 metres above sea level. The views of the surrounding countryside are just spectacular. We checked into the Cinnamon Citadel Hotel located on the banks of the river Mahaweli and we visited the Temple of the Tooth followed by a traditional Kandyan dance which was very enjoyable.

The next morning we drove the short distance to Kegalle to the very, very special Rosyth Estate. This wonderful property is surrounded by tea tree plantations and rubber trees. Neil and Farzanna our wonderful hosts brought us for a guided walk through the tea tree plantations, a local tea factory and a rubber making factory. Their chef, Chandana was so kind to allow us invade his kitchen and educate us about Sri Lankan local produce and his wonderful culinary skills. I would encourage all my clients who want to visit Sri Lanka to stay at Rosyth. It will be an experience that will stay with you forever.

Beach time and boy was I ready to relax!! When we arrived at The Fortress Hotel in Koggala just a little south of the city of Galle, I knew I was "home". The beach front setting, the pool, the spa and the amazing bedrooms were so welcoming and I must say this hotel was up there with one of the best beach hotels I have ever seen.

Next morning we drove south to the beaches of Bentota stopping en-route in the city of Galle. I loved Galle, very bustling city with good shopping, street vendors, dramatic coastal views. Our final night we stayed at the Centara Ceysands Beach Resort, only accessible via boat. This hotel is ideal for families as it has an excellent animation programme and offers an all-inclusive food and beverage option.

But alas all good things must come to an end! Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, herds of elephants, surfing beaches, famous tea and flavourful food best describes Sri Lanka.

I had a wonderful and unforgettable adventure and plan to return in the not too distance future.

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