Diary from Sri Lanka
My first trip to Asia was 15 years ago, to Sri Lanka, with my mum. This piqued my love for this special part of the world. A month before my wedding we decided to take a mother daughter trip to revisit to explore more of the country and take some time out from the planning to relax.
The trip started with a night in Colombo before a scenic flight on a seaplane down to Yala National Park. The plane went via the tea country, so we had some amazing views. We watched as the landscapes changed from coastal and flat to green and mountainous with low laying cloud between the peaks. The plane seated eight, most of whom were travelling to the tea country. Once they disembarked, we continued down to Yala with the pilot and co-pilot. They took us on a spectacular fly-by of Adam’s Peak, a pilgrimage site recognized by Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, and one of the highest points in Sri Lanka.
We then spent two nights in Noel Rodriguez Leopard Camp in a luxury tent, which was a wonderful experience – we had great food and met wonderful people. The guides were passionate and knowledgeable about the park, wildlife and photography, bringing the whole experience to life for us.
Yala is divided into five blocks, and we explored the back entrance of block one and block five. We saw six leopard between the two zones which is just so lucky – the park has the highest concentration of leopard in the world, but they’re an elusive cat so we felt very lucky. The bird life was also rich and varied – we spotted kingfishers, bee eaters, horn bills, and peacocks. The landscapes within the park ranged from dense verdant foliage to quite stark (like the below picture). It made each drive very different and the park a joy to explore.
Our next stop was Tangalle, where we stayed at The Last House – a relaxed, pretty house set on the end of a secluded beach. At night we slept with the doors open to our balcony and woke to roar of the sea and the sun shining in. There was a beautiful pool area dotted with frangapani trees and bougainvillea, with lots of sofas and planters chairs to kick back in the shade on.
We then moved onto Galle, a pretty port town, for two nights. Galle is a UNESCO protected town and known for its gemstones so we had some fun with shopping and bartering. I picked up my wedding earrings here, so I’ll always have a story to tell when I wear them. The grand colonial buildings, boutique hotels and private homes were immaculate and the old Dutch churches and architecture gave a very special feel to the town. Galle is also filled with independent and varied restaurants. On one of the days that we were there, Sri Lanka was playing Bangladesh in the cricket just outside the city walls and many people had climbed up to watch the game and cheer from the ramparts of the fort, giving the day a great vibe. It was the perfect place to finish our trip – relaxing, exploring, and eating.
Everywhere that we stayed in Sri Lanka felt like a home away from home. The small, locally run properties all have such a welcoming, cozy feel and you feel that you’ve uncovered somewhere very special everywhere you go. For that reason, Sri Lanka is a place that I feel I can return to time and time again.