Sri Lanka, a little tear drop south of India surprised me with it’s wide range of natural resources – wide open plains and plateaus, dense safaris housing one of the world’s largest leopard population, tea country, and beach side surfing relaxation. Our 10 day trip gives us the perfect mixture of all these things read more below!
Day 1: Negombo
We arrive in Negombo late so spend the evening near the airport and head out for Dumbulla early in the morning. I would suggest if you arrive at the airport later to hire a car which will drive at night to Dumbulla. We were stuck in very heavy one way traffic for 3-4 hours which is twice as long as it normally should take.
Day 2: Dambulla Raiamaha Viharaya Temple and sunset overseeing Sigyriya
Entrance Fee: LKR 1,500
10 minutes driving away from the town and we are greeted by one of Sri Lanka’s most well known landmarks. The Dambulla Raiamaha Viharaya temple hosts some of Sri Lanka’s most well preserved cave paintings. The temple is surrounded by lush green landscape and far off in the distance scattered mountains.
Entrance Fee: LKR 500
After the temple a short 15 minute drive brought us to the lesser well known Pidurangala Ancient Forest Monastery. From this plateau, you can see Sigirya and surrounding temples. The sunset cast the most beautiful hue of pinkish yellows framed by Sigirya Lion Rock.
Day 3: Kandy and Nuwara Eliya
From the hot valley of Dumbulla we drive 4 hours through Kandy and Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lank’s misty tea country. The biggest tea company in Sri Lanks is Mavericks and they are known for their black tea. The white hollywood signs scatter across the tea fields as we drive through.
Day 4: World’s End, Horton Plains National Park
An early morning start, we leave the hotel at 5 AM for World’s End hike. It’s around a 2 hour drive from Nuwara Eliya up a mountain and through a valley to get to the entrance of Horton’s Plain National Park. Ominous clouds and fog cover the ride up to the entrance as it almost deters us to turn back.
When we reached the entrance the rain started to roll in. When we reach the parking lot, the sunrises burning off some of the early morning mist and rain. The hike takes about 2-2.5 hours return trip. The earlier you can go the better to avoid the afternoon mist which can cover and obscure the entire view of World’s End.
The view at the end did not disappoint. At World’s End, the cliff drops off and on a clear day, you’d be able to see all the way out to the ocean. We packed breakfast to sit and enjoy the view.
Day 5: Ella
Ella is a small town with the most western tourists we saw. Many were surfers retreated to the mountainside to embrace the cool breeze. This small town was undergoing a lot of construction while we were there – they were repaving the road. But a quick 15 minute walk away is a hike called Little Adam’s Peak and the summit of this hike looked like a scene straight out of Lord of the Rings.
Day 6: Yala National Park
About a two hour drive from Ella we reach the outskirts of Yala National Park. Suddenly the surroundings become mostly flat with lakes where water buffalo bathe and cranes of all different species fly. While I wouldn’t recommend the Safari, cost 240 USD per person, the sunrise on the way to the morning safari renders me speechless.
Day 7: Matara and Weligama
From Yala we spend the morning in Matara – there isn’t much to see and do except a bridge and memorial built by the Japanese after the Tsunami which hit in 2004. Weligama is a sleepy surfer town and we are visiting during off season. It’s a nice relaxing break and our first town along the beachside.
Day 8: Galle and Hikkaduwa
From Weligama, it’s about a 20 minute drive to see the stilt fisherman. These fisherman sit on wooden poles and fish. It’s ideal to go in the morning before the sun gets too hot to be fishing.
Another stopover at Galle to check out the Spanish fort and grab an afternoon snack. This area has a lot of nice scenic views and little stores to rest your feet.
Day 9 and 10: Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is known as the “party town” of Sri Lanka. However, we are here slightly before the high season and the water is too choppy to go snorkeling or water activities. We took the next two days to relax – about a 40 minute drive north of Hikkaduwa you can visit the Turtle Conservation and Hatchery. This project purchases turtle eggs from poachers to replant and hatch. The turtles in the holding containers are no more than a few days old. We sunset we get to release our own set of turtles and watch as they race for the ocean. It’s truly a magical experience and highlight of the trip – I would highly recommend this if you plan to visit Sri Lanka!