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

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