Katie's Top Tips On Sri Lanka
Our Asia Specialist, Katie has just landed from a trip to Sri Lanka. She was overjoyed to see that a country that receives ever increasing numbers from tourists each year, still feels so untouched. In 2015, Sri Lanka welcomed 1.8 million foreign guests, a jump of 17.8 percent in a year.
Sri Lanka offers an enormous amount of variety, best experienced staying in boutique properties, privately owned, highly individual and set in incredible locations across the country. What's brilliant about Sri Lanka is the ability to be able to combine great experiences that are so different from each other but that can also complement each other so well. With our specialist and expert guides, your trip will be complete.
A good trip in Sri Lanka is heavily influenced by your reliable driver/guide. Although the roads aren’t too bad, Gal Oya Lodge was one place where we zigzagged down the infamous 18 hairpin bends of the Mahayana Road from Kandy. In the clearings, you ware blessed with blue mist covered vistas and an abundance of greenery. I enjoyed being in the competent hands of Punchi. We were constantly stopping to take photos and whenever we were thirsty, we would stop for fresh coconuts in local markets.
Whilst travelling, my fondest memories always come from the most natural, unplanned experiences. Here, on a very relaxed walk on the lake brimming with birdlife, I watched fishermen arranging their nets, children swimming whilst mothers were busy washing clothes. We also drove into Gal Oya National Park where we were the only boat out on the water, and having a cup of tea, downwind from a herd of Indian Elephants was quite mesmerising. Sri Lankan National Parks are not managed very well. I can advise you on the best parks to travel to.
Another joy of travelling is meeting locals, lodge owners and building connections with your guides. At each lodge, after an afternoon of guiding, a fleet of friendly faces welcomed me at my hotel. They would help us settle in, offer us a cup of Sri Lankan tea or perhaps something stronger. The sense of community amongst the various lodge owners in Sri Lanka is refreshing. They were always so complimentary of the other lodges I was yet to visit. The network of boutique lodges in Sri Lanka shone out. I left a few things along the way that found themselves to my next lodge within a matter of days, sometimes hours. You really feel looked after. By building these relationships, we can put special requests in for you.
I was so curious to see Camellia Hills, Teardrop’s latest venture. It exceeded expectations, having outstanding views over Castlereigh Reservoir. One memory I will take home, was my morning run, where I was joined by 20 or so school children, making their way to school. We exchanged songs and generally made a lot of noise as we snaked down the tea hills. These more remote locations offer unexpected experiences and serene surroundings.
Leaving boutique properties behind, I travelled to Sigiriya to climb the impressive ancient rock fortress. My guide fascinated me with the history and archaeological significance of it, rounding up the trip on a literal high.
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