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Sri Lankan Road Trip 2022

Updated: Jan 26, 2022



Sri Lanka! Popularly known as a pearl in the Indian ocean, had been on the list for a long time. Because of the global epidemic, we had to postpone planning our trip to this incredible destination by a year. Sri Lanka is a land where you would witness a variety of terrains, from mountains to beaches, and all in between.

We had a plan of 7 days trip and included Colombo, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Yala, Mirrissa, and Galle in our Lankan adventure. It had been a bumpy ride planning for this trip! After all of that, we were ready to explore exquisite Lanka.


Day 1

We arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport in Negombo around 2:30 a.m. on December 27, 2021. Since we completed an online health declaration before leaving India, the immigration process proceeded well and quickly. We needed to get a SIM that provided the maximum network coverage in the places we planned to visit because we were on a road trip in Sri Lanka. We purchased two SIM cards from Dialog and Airtel, respectively. For our stay, we booked a “Pick me” from the airport to Colombo. We needed to get some rest so we could be ready to explore when the sun came up.

We had reserved a rental car and needed to get a Sri Lankan temporary driving licence. We took a “Pick me” from " Lt Sugath" to Colombo's Department of Motor Vehicles. Staff were helpful, and we quickly got our driving licences and were ready to explore in our Toyota Hiace, which would be our ride for the next seven days.


Lunch was delicious with Sri Lankan rice and curry at a local eatery. When visiting Sri Lanka, you must choose the best spot to eat.

We checked into Tatha Villa, got ready, and began exploring Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital.



Colombo didn't miss to awe us with its vibrancy. It is a city where you can see modern life as well as colonial buildings and monuments. The first stop was Gangaramaya Temple.

Gangaramaya Temple, it is a 19th-century temple which is one of the largest and oldest temple complexes with beautiful architecture in Colombo and one of the most well-known Buddhist temples in the city. You can find a massive Buddha statue once entered the main sanctuary with his stories painted on the walls and ceilings.

The temple houses a museum with collections of ivory, wood carvings, old manuscripts, and even vintage cars!.


Seema Malaka is a beautiful lake temple that stands on Beira Lake and is a walk away from Gangaramaya temple. Temple consists of three platforms. A central platform with seated and calming Buddha statues around the periphery, with a meditation room enclosed with wooden walls in the centre. The next platform has a statue of the Treasury of Truth which has got its significance. On the third platform, a bodhi tree provides shade for various Buddha statues.



The sun had begun to set by this time. We hurried to Galle Face Green to see our first Sri Lankan sunset.


Galle Face Green is an urban garden surrounded by tall buildings, and the beach offers a stunning view of the sunset. We enjoyed the beautiful sunset by blending in with the locals and tourists.


Now it was time to explore the nightlife of Colombo. We headed towards Park Street Mews.


Park Street Mews, it is a street lined with old warehouses that have been restored into a vibrant and colourful place. It has restaurants and bars that feature a one-of-a-kind blend of contemporary art. It was a relaxing evening with a mug of Lion beer.



Day 2

Colombo is a city which you can't explore in a day. So, we had planned to visit a few other places before we left for Sigiriya.


National Museum Of Colombo, in 1877, a British governor constructed this magnificent two-story building in the Italian style. A meditating Buddha statue dating from the fourth century greets you in the hallway once you enter the museum. The museum takes you on a journey through Sri Lankan history and culture.


As we walked out of the museum, we noticed a street lined with various paintings. It was a visual delight, especially for art lovers.



Just after that, we went to Independence Square, which commemorates Sri Lanka's independence from the British Empire. There is a Memorial Hall which is an open-sided hall with beautifully carved cement columns and a shapely tiled roof. It is surrounded by parks and lawns which offers a refreshing feel from the urban environment of Colombo.



On our way to see the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, we passed by the Sri Lankan Old Parliament Building, which stands in stark contrast to the skyscrapers all around it.

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque is undoubtedly one of the unique looking mosques which you can see. It is located in the heart of the bustling Pettah market.


Colombo's heat was rising at this point. To relieve the heat, we found a tender coconut cart in Pettah, which was indeed refreshing. We left immediately for Sigiriya, as we had a long ride ahead of us.


By the time we arrived in Sigiriya, it was already dark. We ate dinner while learning about Sri Lankan cuisine and then checked into "Wali kukula nest" before calling it a day.


Day 3

Sigiriya is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. We began hiking Pidurangala rock early in the morning to reach the peak before sunrise and get a beautiful view of the gigantic Lion Rock. It was a moderate hike, and the second half demands you to be fit. While hiking Pidurangala, we passed through a cave temple that houses a giant sleeping Buddha statue. Finally, our efforts were not in vain, as we gazed in amazement as the sun rose over the misty forests, painting the vast landscape in a golden hue. From the top, you can see the famous Lion Rock in all its glory.

We started descending the rock and headed towards Sigiriya Lion Rock to explore the site after soaking in all the breathtaking sights and capturing moments.



Sigiriya Lion Rock site is an ancient rock fortress whose history goes back to prehistoric times. The rock was formed by an extinct volcano. The fortress complex includes remnants of a ruined palace, surrounded by an extensive network of fortifications, vast gardens, ponds, canals, alleys and fountains. As India is one of the SAARC nations, we got a discount on the entrance fee. We began climbing towards the Lion Rock after wandering through the gardens and learning about the ruins along the route. We began the final ascent to the top through the open paws of the lion, one of the few remaining portions of the palace that are still intact.


We headed to Praveen's for lunch after these two back-to-back trekking adventures. Our host recommended it, and the location is unique. It is run by wonderful people who greet their guests with warm smiles. The food was excellent. All the guests' feedback is written on the wall. The atmosphere was quite welcoming. We also inscribed our names and wishes on the wall before departing for Kandy.


Pinnawala village is home to an orphanage, nursery, and captive breeding area for wild Asian elephants. Pinnawala has the world's largest captive elephant herd. They have been rescuing orphaned elephants that have been abandoned by their moms or who have become lost in the wild as a result of development projects or other factors.

Elephants had already been bathed, and it was time for them to eat when we arrived. We watched as they playfully ate their food.


We had to skip the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy due to time constraints and headed straight for Nuwara Eliya. It was about a 3.5-hour drive away. When we exited the van in Nuwara Eliya, the weather differed from what we had experienced in Sri Lanka. A cool breeze greeted us. We quickly checked into British Bungalow to keep ourselves warm.


Day 4

Nuwara Eliya, which means "City of Light", is popularly called Little England in Sri Lanka most likely because of its climate and the colonial buildings which you can see all over the city. It is surrounded by tea plantations and is well known for its tea.


We had planned to begin our day by visiting the Seetha Amman temple, which is one of Sri Lanka's most prominent Ramayana sites. Seetha Matha is said to have spent her days as a prisoner here while Ravana held her captive. You can find a stream flowing next to the temple and huge footprints of Hanuman.

Later, we left to explore the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka



Diyaluma Falls: It was a long trip between luscious tea fields from Seetha Amman Temple to the falls, which is located on the off-beaten track of Sri Lankan lands. Once you reach the local village, you can take a shortcut to the top that includes a short climb. When we started the hike, the sun was scorching hot. We were surprised to see the breathtaking views of the horizon after we reached the peak. There is also a naturally created infinity pool, much to our surprise.

We spent some time at the top and came back as we had to make it for nine arches bridge before the sunset.



Driving in ghats is a unique feeling that we enjoy at the core. We now had 1.5hrs of time to reach Ella which means we can make it just in time.


Nine Arches Bridge Ella, we arrived at our destination, but the bridge was still a 1km walk away. When we asked about tuk-tuks, they gave us an absurdly high estimate. The locals will easily scam tourists here. Make sure you don't get caught up in it. So we jogged down to the bridge, knowing that we only had 8 minutes to see the view before it got dark.

All the running, panting didn't go in vain! We had all smiles on our faces once we could see the viaduct bridge of Sri Lanka.



It's known as the "Sky Bridge" because it connects two mountains and is an outstanding example of colonial-era architecture in the country. The bridge and the surrounding area were completely captivating. It is a stunning place because of the beautiful nine arches, especially since it is nestled in a dense jungle and agricultural landscape. We were even lucky enough to see a train pass by on the bridge with the ideal backdrop because it was exactly sunset time. This is a must-see site for anybody visiting Sri Lanka.


It was indeed a long day. We grabbed a quick bite in Ella and continued our journey towards Yala

Day 5

It was one of the most anticipated days of our trip because it was Safari Day!. Yala is a designated wildlife sanctuary. Yala National Park is the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka.

We had booked a safari through Viator, and our day started early because a Safari jeep was waiting for us at our hotel at 4:30 a.m. Our driver educated us about the park along to the gate.

The park is divided into five blocks, and we were assigned to block 1, which has the most diverse wildlife, including leopards, of the five.


We learnt that leopards are more visible early in the morning and near dusk. The gates had been opened, and we were all ready to see the wildlife.

We saw crocodiles, giant lizards, and the Sri Lankan national bird, the Ceylon Jungle Fowl, within the first hour of the safari. Along with the safari, you'll see a lot of peacocks, peahens, herds of deer, and monkeys.


There are approximately 30 leopards in the area, but due to its vastness, it is extremely difficult to pinpoint their exact location.

Our safari driver received word from one of his colleagues that a leopard had been spotted. He quickly reversed the jeep and arrived at the location. Many jeeps had already gathered to see the celebrity. However, he quickly vanished from view, and we were unable to see it. We braced ourselves for the possibility of seeing a leopard before calling it a day. With the mission of showing us a leopard, our driver began exploring the entire national park.


We came across a herd of elephants as we continued. Along with its mother, there was a baby elephant. Humans sometimes strike fear in wildlife animals, causing them to retreat for fear of being harmed. As they were about to cross paths, mama elephant was trying to protect her baby elephant. It patiently waited until our jeep was out of sight before crossing the path.

You get to see rear sights when you're in a jungle or on a safari like this. We saw a crocodile quietly crawling behind a bird, preparing to eat it. A peacock was making a valiant effort to impress a peahen. We wandered and wandered, but there was no sign of the leopard.


We had a traditional picnic lunch next to the water. Despite this, we had four hours of Safari time left. We began our mission of spotting a leopard once more. We saw a wide variety of bird species, as well as tuskers, swans, sambar deer, and wild buffalos, and went to a spot where the leopard had been spotted but was disappointed once again.


We finally spotted the leopard as we got closer to the end of the safari. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The leopard had hidden behind the bush, preparing for a hunt. It was planning to hunt a herd of deer that was nearby, taking small steps without making noise so that the deer would become alert. It was on the verge of jumping.


As the leopard prepared to leap, all of the nearby species, including monkeys, peacocks, and birds, began to make a collective noise, as if they were communicating with the deers. Deers understood the signals and bolted from the scene. Leopard was angry because he had missed his hunt. By the look of its face, you could tell. Our entire day's search had finally paid off. What a marvel nature is, and how intertwined everything is. We were fortunate enough to witness such events in real-time, as compared to seeing them on television or in documentaries.



We were dropped back to our hotel, and it was also New Year's Eve, so our next destination awaited us to celebrate the start of a new prosperous year.


By the time we arrived in Mirrissa, the city was bustling with visitors and ready for the celebrations. We arrived at the beach right on time. As we welcomed the new year, fireworks were set off all around the perimeter, brightening the night sky. It was fantastic and the mood of celebration and party was high in the city. We cheered for a new year full of opportunities, adventures, and happiness.


Day 6

We needed to get our RTPCR tests done today because our trip was nearing its end and we needed to have negative reports conducted 72 hours before flying. So, we gave Asiri Laboratories samples on our way to Galle.


Galle is an old fortified city founded by the Portuguese and later taken over by the Dutch and British.


Galle's architecture is a delicate blend of Portuguese and Dutch styles.

We started by going to the Galle Fort Lighthouse. The lighthouse is now run by the Sri Lankan government, but the British originally built it. It is the country's oldest operational lighthouse.

Walking through the streets of Galle is like walking through time.

Where you'll find Dutch-style whitewashed mansions, lovely cafes, quirky boutiques, and immaculately restored hotels.



We came across St Joseph Chapel while wandering through the streets of Galle. It is the fort's only Roman Catholic church, and it is small and lovely.

Galle's streets are all picturesque. We spent most of our day exploring these streets. You can also find many vintage cars here.


It was almost evening, so we decided to go to the fort to soak in the view of the sunset.

Galle fort is Asia's largest remaining European-built fortress, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and then expanded by the Dutch in the 17th century.

We climbed a bastion and waited for the right moment. It was both soothing and relaxing at the same time. We witnessed the sky transform into a spectrum of colours.


Day 7

The final day of our trip before we left for India the next day. Today we had another most popular activity lined up as part of our Mirissa journey. Whale watching is an exciting water activity you can do when in Mirissa. The months of November to April are thought to be the best for viewing the largest mammal and the adorable dolphins.


We had reserved this activity through Klook. The boats were prepared to take us far from shore to see the whales and dolphins. If you get seasick, it's a good idea to take the medications they provide. The boat began its journey, and the waves were crashing against it; keep your grip on the bar tight. As we began our journey early in the morning, the sun was on the horizon, spreading all of its light in all of its glory, and we could feel the sea breeze as we progressed. As time passed, the city faded into the distance, and all you could see was water.


Then we noticed something leaping out of the water. Yes! it was the dolphins. They were playing with the waves. It was amazing to see such a large number of dolphins so close together. In our search for the mighty whale, we also saw turtles and flying fish.



After a while, our guide advised us to keep an eye out for whales because we were in their territory. He explained that whales usually emerge from the water in 10-15 minute intervals because they can only breathe at the surface. They can be identified by a large splash of water coming from their blowholes. We saw a splash in the distance, but it was vague, so we waited for it to appear again. We saw them jump off its tail a few minutes later. It was nearly 70% to 80% out of water. What a fantastic rear sight it was!. We began to see whales around the boat within minutes and were on our way to the shore.

We had a little break at our hotel before heading out to see the rest of Mirissa.

Coconut Tree Hill, it is Mirissa's most well-known location. The walk from the entrance to the beach took about 10 minutes. At the end of the beach, there lies a cliff covered in large coconut trees. It overlooks the Indian Ocean and provides the best sunrise and sunset views. As it is one of the most instagrammable locations in Sri Lanka, this place was filled with tourists by the time we arrived.

On our way, we passed through Parrot Rock, which also offers a panoramic view of the beach.


After enjoying the view from the coconut tree hill, we left for Secret beach.


Secret beach, despite its name, it is now a well-known beach. The walk to the beach is not simple; it takes around 30 minutes to arrive at the beach.

This beach has three distinct characteristics. A rock pool immediately in front of the beach is part of a blue lagoon that is ideal for swimming. We can find a cove with golden sand and coconut trees just around the corner from the blue lagoon, which is popular for snorkelling. Shelly Beach, which comprises a series of rock pools, is located to the right of the blue lagoon.



It was time to call it a day and return to Colombo to be ready for our return journey to India. When we arrived in Colombo, we said our goodbyes to our ride and handed it over.

The next day, we stopped by the famous Pettah market on our way to the airport.


Experience

Before departing for Sri Lanka, we, like most of the others, had different expectations. But it stunned us with its diversity, warmth, and exquisite natural beauty. Throughout the journey, we experienced a thrilling rollercoaster ride. One of the important aspects of travel is the food, and Sri Lanka does not disappoint. Overall, we had a wonderful and memorable time in Sri Lanka.

Bohoma istouti!