Our Sri Lanka adventure: part 2

It’s all about the Sri Lankan Elephants!

We departed Mount Lavinia with our tour group and made our way (approximately 130 miles or around 4 and a half hours) to the first stop on our Sri Lankan road trip – Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

The orphanage was established in 1975 by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation and here they provide care and sanctuary to orphaned baby elephants. It was lovely to see them take their daily bath in the river!

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Happy looking elephant

Elephant taking a shower

And we got to watch all the elephants playing and splashing around as we ate our lunch from the restaurant overlooking the river below.

Elephants in Sri Lanka

Once bath time was over, the elephants were led out of the river by the mahouts to their nearby forest.

And once lunch time was over, our tour group was led out of the restaurant by our guide to see the elephants in the nearby forest.

The other side to the orphanage consisted of some open green space surrounded by trees. We could see elephants in the distance but we didn’t get too close to them. It was enjoyable to see them out in the open but I will admit that the heat was starting to make me flag!

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka

The only thing I didn’t like about the orphanage was that there were two baby elephants chained at the ankle within a large pen. This was so tourists could pay to bottle feed them. One of the baby elephants became distressed and managed to run underneath the bars, obviously trying to get away from the gawping crowds. It was upsetting to see and I honestly hope Pinnawala stop doing this.

After a long day of travelling (and much dozing off on the mini bus!) we made our way to our next hotel on the tour, Chaaya Village in Habarana. We joined our tour group for an evening meal before heading off to our cute little “cottage” style room before our big day at Sigiriya the next day!


Part 3 of our Sri Lanka tour will be published next Sunday but if you miss me in the meantime, follow me on instagram

Our Sri Lanka adventure: part 1

Sea, Sand and Sri Lankan Surprises

A teardrop shaped island in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a beautiful country of beaches and forests, temples and tea plantations, elephants, monkeys and an assortment of other wildlife. And if that wasn’t enough, it is also home to EIGHT Unesco World Heritage Sites!

If you’re visiting Sri Lanka and you want to soak up a bit of culture rather than just lounge on a beach for your visit, then it’s highly likely that you will be on some sort of organised tour, be it with a small group or a private tour. We decided that we would prefer to mix with some like-minded travellers so opted to do a small group tour consisting of us, 6 other travellers, a guide, an assistant and a driver.

Rather than jumping straight into the tour, we booked ourselves an extra day at the beginning of our holiday, just to get over the jetlag and have a bit of a chill-out before all of the action and sightseeing began. We stayed in the coastal town of Mount Lavinia, at Mount Lavinia Hotel – a British Colonial mansion and one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Sri Lanka.

Mount Lavinia Hotel, Sri Lanka

I had been unwell the day before we flew to Sri Lanka, so when we arrived in the early evening, we ordered room service pizza and watched the thunderstorm from the window. The hotel had kindly provided us with a fruit plate as it was our honeymoon, so it wasn’t all unhealthy!

The next morning I was feeling a lot better and the weather also matched my mood. We pulled back the curtains to find this amazing view…

The view from our room at Mount Lavinia Hotel

Today was going to be a beach and pool day. And the view from the pool area wasn’t bad either!

The view from the pool area at Mount Lavinia Hotel, Sri Lanka

We’d also already met some of the local wildlife in the form of the random squirrels and lizards that roam the hotel grounds.

Sri Lankan lizard on a wall

Sri Lankan squirrel

After lunch we took a walk along the beach, it was very quiet, which was lovely really. Beaches are so much prettier when they aren’t crowded with people. As we continued to walk along we were approached by a local man who was showing us how he was scooping up crabs from the sea, before throwing them back. The next thing we know is we are following him along the beach to see a turtle that had been washed ashore! Not really knowing what to expect we cautiously followed the man down the length of the beach…

Taking a walk down Mount Lavinia Beach in Sri Lanka

Expecting to see one poor lone turtle, we were surprised to discover a little sanctuary, right there on the beach! There were a couple of other locals tending to the turtles and they were showing us the different turtles they had rescued – all different sizes! I just hope they were a legitimate sanctuary, but when you are caught by surprise it’s difficult to research into these things.

Turtle sanctuary in Sri Lanka

Soon after, we headed back to the hotel to sample some Sri Lankan cuisine, before an early night ready to begin our tour the next day…


Stay tuned for part two next Sunday. In the meantime you can follow my adventures on twitter

My favourite things about The Maldives

1. The feeling of awe when we arrived.
We caught an early flight from Sri Lanka to Male, then arrived at our island via speedboat. It was incredible stepping off of that speedboat onto the wooden pier and into a picture postcard.

Arriving at our island
Arriving at our island

2. The scent of our water bungalow.
Sadly, we haven’t invented smell-o-vision just yet but I will never forget walking in to our gorgeous water bungalow and seeing petals scattered on the bed, the bright blue sea and sky from the windows and inhaling the aroma of whatever reed diffuser they had placed in there. Sometimes it’s the small details that count.

Petals on the bed
Petals on the bed

3. The peace and quiet.
A tropical island like this only invites a happy, calm and tranquil atmosphere, even when surrounded by other holidaymakers.

Enjoying the peace
Enjoying the peace

4. The island band.
In contrast to the peacefulness, we adored watching The Wood at Kuramathi perform. ‘Billionaire’ by Travie McCoy and Bruno Mars will always remind me of the night we spent dancing under the stars, sand between our toes, to the island band (who I hear have moved on, possibly to a different island).

The Wood at Kuramathi
The Wood at Kuramathi

5. The cocktails!
Hands down the best cocktail menu I have seen. I enjoyed the Ninja Turtle – which had black pepper in it! Worth going all inclusive for (although the food was tasty too!)

Performance and cocktails
Performance and cocktails

6. Movies under the stars.
If we weren’t watching The Wood in the evening, then we were sipping our cocktails on beanbags and loungers watching a movie on the beach. We saw ‘A thousand words’ starring Eddie Murphy and ‘Little Fockers’ starring Ben Stiller. Very romantic! Haha!

Movies on the beach
Movies on the beach

7. The wildlife.
Seeing the stingrays being fed at dusk, the cute little crabs skittering about the sand, the heron majestically perched at the edge of the infinity pool, the contrast of the flocks of black and white birds at the sandbank, the lizards in the little garden of the outdoor shower of our beach villa – you haven’t lived until you’ve showered naked outside with lizards eyeing your behind!

Poolside heron
Poolside heron

And let’s not forget…

8. The marine life.
Snorkelling in the crystal clear turquoise ocean, that close to all those brilliant, beautiful tropical fish. And yes we did see a couple of sharks.

Shark!
Shark!

9. The infinity pool.
Infinity pools always have something a little more luxurious about them. Lovely to cool down as you gaze out to the horizon.

To infinity and beyond!
To infinity and beyond!

10. The spa.
I would love to be wealthy enough to have a regular spa day but we went for a relaxing soak with champagne and fruit followed by a full body massage (him) and a Thai foot massage (me).

I want to live here!
I want to live here!

11. The sunsets.
What’s not to love about a glorious sunset on a tropical island? Part of our stay included a free sunset cruise which was a pleasant little boat ride, including champagne.

Sunset cruise
Sunset cruise

12. Souvenir shopping.
The island had a gift shop and because I collect foreign coins but was sadly paying for things using U.S. dollars rather than the Maldivian rufiyaa, I bought a souvenir pack of coins. This unusual necklace caught my eye too so I treated myself – it’s one of my favourites.

A gift from myself, to myself!
A gift from myself, to myself!

13. The sandbank.
At the tip of the island there is an exposed stretch of sand where you can walk and feel truly like you are on a deserted island on the edge of the world.

The Sandbank
The Sandbank

14. Photogenic scenery.
It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo on this island it is so beautiful.

Paradise
Paradise

15. The seaplane experience.
Departing by seaplane is definitely something worth experiencing, just to see all those tiny, stunning islands below you dotted in the Indian Ocean.

View of a random island from the sea plane
View of a random island from the sea plane

We stayed at Kuramathi Island Resort.

A view from the top: Sigiriya – Sri Lanka

Continuing on from A view from the top: Tokyo Tower, is the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya Rock, situated in the beautiful teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka. Located in the Matale District in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, Sigiriya (Lion Rock) sits at 200 metres tall and is one of the country’s most spectacular and most visited landmarks.

Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

The rock was home to a group of monks in 3rd century AD, however Sigiriya is most famous for becoming an unlikely setting for a royal palace. King Kassapa ruled from 477 AD to 495 AD and was born to a non-royal consort. Kassapa’s younger brother, of royal blood, had been proclaimed as their father’s heir to the kingdom and so Kassapa took it upon himself to murder his father and seize the throne from his brother. Fearing retaliation, Kassapa established his palace at the top of Sigiriya, a defensive place to reign from.

The famous lion paws at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

Pros – It is quite an achievement to climb Sigiriya, no matter how tired you feel while doing so. The views are pretty rewarding and it’s worth taking a look at the frescoes part way up.

Cons – It is hot. And tiring. And you must make sure you take water with you as there is nowhere to purchase a bottle until you are right back at the bottom and on your way out.

Surprises – I was quite surprised by how broken up the climb is. You do a fair bit of climbing before you even reach the famous lion paws! Also watch out for the monkeys – they’ve been known to get a bit lairy.

Beware of the monkeys at Sigiriya, Sri Lanka!

Verdict – This is one of those things you do that you only truly appreciate once the moment has passed. I thought the heat and tiredness would kill me before I reached the top but I’m glad I made the climb up as the views are spectacular!

The view from Sigiriya Rock Fortress