Sri Lanka - View from the Inside

"Herds of ancient giants roam the 47 national parks/wildlife sanctuaries so a safari is a must."

December 2016 • Jules Verne

Sri Lanka - View from the Inside

Recently I had the unexpected opportunity to travel to Sri Lanka; it was never on my top list of places to visit just because it sounded too much like a beach and honeymoon destination to me. How wrong was I!

Hidden treasures have seduced travellers from around the Globe, from legendary Sindbad the Sailor and the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, to the travellers today drawn by the sunny beaches washed by the powerful, warm waves of the Indian Ocean, coral reefs, ancient civilizations, impenetrable jungles and the wildlife.

Herds of ancient giants roam the 47 national parks/wildlife sanctuaries so a safari is a must. We were supposed to visit Minneriya National Park, but the elephants migrated to Kaudulla National Park and so we set off in search of the gentle giants.

By the time we arrived at Jetwing Kaduruketha (a wilderness hotel) it was already dark and had been raining. The earthy smell emanating from the wet ground and the jungle noises transported me back to the time when I visited the Amazon a few years ago. The eco-friendly lodges with no TV and open to the outside make for a wild experience…

We woke up to realise we were very much located in the middle of civilization with clusters of peacocks, which we could hear all night, roaming the vast fields and forests around the hotel - perfect camera shots from the comfort of your lodge observation deck.

Yala National Park, offers an abundance of animals and birds. We were able to spot a leopard, more elephants, eagles, crocodiles, water monitors and different bird species.

We visited a turtle hatchery on the way to Galle and learnt about the mystery on how they know where to return and how little creatures hatch from the cold sand at night to find their way instinctively to the same waves that their mother came from.

With elements of India, Portugal, Dutch and British – the teardrop shaped island is bursting with flavours; one must try the curries and tea that come from these fertile lands powered by rain.

I couldn’t take my eyes of the window as we drove to Kandy, the ancient highland capital which is still the true heart of Sri Lanka and it was the hardest to conquer due to its unique location surrounded by cool mountain scenery. Our car crossed deep river valleys with our competent driver negotiating winding bends to increasingly steep hill country. Vast plantations of green gold, the Ceylon tea, covers the hills and nothing is more rewarding than having a tea tasting at the top after a presentation of tea picking and processing. It was very interesting to see how our daily tea is being processed and shipped to our mugs every day.

Sri Lanka is also home to 8 UNESCO Heritage sites and 200 km north of Colombo is the living monument of Anuradphura, known as the Eternal Sacred City and the centre of Theravada Buddhism for centuries. Next to it is Mihintale filled with stately architecture, art and shrines where you can get lost in history and legend.

Sigiriya is the cliff-top citadel with superb views and 1700 year-old rock paintings, a must despite the long hike and steps to the top.

Go wild birdwatching and whale spotting, go wild with the gentle giants, go wild experiencing new flavours and spices, go wild with discovering lost civilizations, go wild shopping in Galle, go ‘Wild Sri Lanka’.

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