Life long ambition - Sri Lanka

Tracey Blackman on 07 December 2013
Sri Lanka is a destination I have always wanted to go to as I have a dear friend whose father is Sri Lankan and I have known the family for many years. I have always wanted to see the children’s orphanage they have set up themselves.

Deciding my itinerary was a joy because I had the treat of my friend Sharmani’s mum and dad spending the afternoon with me going through the places we must see, hotels we must stay in and locations to be in. Once we had got that right, I was able to put this together.

The flight we had chosen was Qatar Airlines as they offer five star service, very good service although we had to stop in Doha both ways. When we go again I would definitely choose a direct service as it is a long flight and you do feel tired! Next year BA start a service so that will be fab.

Our first stop was Colombo. We stayed at Mount Lavinia Hotel which is a fantastic hotel with its own private beach. Within an hour of us being there we went down to the beach and as we were coming up the stairs an elephant’s trunk pressed against my husband’s stomach - it was so funny! The hotel has a very colonial feel and is very famous in Sri Lanka. We spent four days there. We had our own personal driver, Raja, who was so lovely. My friend’s father had organised this for us and it is very normal to have one in this country. We learnt so much from him, there is loads going on in Columbo and it’s a great place to start.

Next stop was Galle Jetwings lighthouse and spa which was a fabulous hotel in a lovely location overlooking the sea. From here we wanted to go down to Dondra Point as at this time of year the blue whales migrate. We went out on a fishing boat whale watching. We went out 30 kilometres which seems a very long way in a small fishing boat. Although we didn't see the blue whale we did see three whales. It was pretty scary stuff though as the crew just follow the other boats and you have to hang on for dear life!

Our next stop was Chaaya village Habarana. Although the hotel was not as nice as the Jetwings we saw some amazing wildlife here. We hired bikes one afternoon and went along the river on a path alongside this and we had to pass an elephant. It was mad - I couldn't quite believe I was overtaking an elephant on a bike! We also saw a Kingfisher down on the river and loads of white monkeys, swinging through the trees. We spent three nights here and then went to an elephant orphanage on the way.

We also visited Cinnamon Citadel Kandy. We had a very memorable time here as they were celebrating the full moon and we went to the temple of the tooth on that evening where we lit candles and watched all the families offering prayers. I’ll never forget that experience. Thanks to our driver Raja who suggested this.

The next day we climbed Sigiriya rock which is just amazing. Inside there are fabulous ancient drawings on the stone. If I am honest when we saw the metal stairs going up I was a bit nervous and Roy suffers with bad knees so I wasn't sure we would make it to the top! We had some amazing men who literally held Roy both sides and helped him up. He called them walking hand rails and that’s why they were so funny. The view from the top is just breath-taking, overlooking the rain forest. It would be a shame not to do this.

The next stop was Jetwings St Andrews Nuwara Eliya for two nights. We went to see the tea plantations with such breath taking scenery. All the tea is cut at the same level and the women had their baskets on their backs. We also visited a tea factory and had some tea. It’s very cold up there so you need to be prepared. There is so much to say about this country, the people, the food and the culture. We will return soon!