Our SL Tour
Sri Lanka is a popular country in southern Asia. We have been to many countries in Asia but this is the first time we holidaying in a south Asian country. We first thought of going to the Maldives but my wife and some others wanted to go to an exotic holiday destination and enjoy nature. After having a lengthy discussion and studying the all possibilities we decided to go to Sri Lanka (hereafter I refer Sri Lanka with SL because it is easy to write). The first phase of SL tour was a round a tour, we were based in several cities during the round tour, to visit important tourist attractions, which was the priority of some people of the group. Towards the end of our SL tour we were staying and relax in a beach resort and the beach stay was my main priority.
When I recall on our SL tour, what immediately comes to my mind is the beautiful Sri Lankan landscapes and the splendid historical sites, lush green vegetation and most of all nice clean beaches. It is being more than 6 months a trip of 6 days in Sri Lanka, accompanied by a group of 7 people, which keep excellent memories.
Back to our SL tour
On the first day of our SL tour, we landed at the international airport of Katunayake at around 16.00 hrs of local time. Even though the lading time was 15.35 we landed a little bit late. It took a long time for us to leave the departure lounge and checkout process was really lethargic. After going through the customs/formalities we managed to reach the airport arrival lounge at around 17.15 hrs, where we supposed to meet our guide. Here we met our guide, I would like to use the term companion rather than the guide because he was friendly and very nice to us, even though I heard Sri Lanka is a very friendly nation, I never thought that Sri Lankans to be this much friendly and helpful. It seems this beautiful nation is blessed with friendliness, wherever we go we are received with warmth and friendliness. Shelton was always very helpful to us and we felt very very comfortable during the tour. I must say that Shelton is very knowledgeable and very good at his job.
Later we checked into our hotel in Negombo, our hotel was located right on the beach and we were very lucky to have a sea view room. Surprisingly it was just a 20 minutes drive to the beach hotel from the airport and we never thought that we were able to enjoy fresh the sea breeze on the very first day of our SL tour. We enjoyed the pristine beaches of Negombo until the late night and thereby having time to relax after a long flight. We met again our tour guide just before the dinner and he briefed us about the proceedings of our SL tour.
After the breakfast on the next day, we left for Sigiriya from our beach hotel in Negombo. The road that leads Sigiriya was really good and it was a very enjoyable trip on the day 2 and we had the opportunity to see the picturesque countryside, coconut plantations, rubber plantations along the way. There had been several cities (I don’t remember the names), where our precious time drained more than necessary I think. In several cities, we stuck for a long time, especially in cities near Colombo. But the traffic moves swiftly in all other places.
I heard that Pinnawala elephant orphanage is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. And I think it should be because never seen that much of elephants in one place ever before. It was really a nice experience for us.
We made the first stop at Pinnawala elephant orphanage and it was really the most important highlight of the day. The entire group enjoyed a lot while observing the mischevious behaviour of the little jumbos. We spend about 1 hour at the orphanage. According to Shelton, the animals here are having a good time with ample of food delivered to the footstep, a river for a refreshing bath, plenty of room to roam around and a big house to rest. Afterwards, we drove to the hotel in Sigiriya.
On the next day (day 3) we visited Sigiriya rock fortress, which is a world heritage site in Sri Lanka. It had been used as the official residence of King Kashyapa in the 5th century AD. We spent about 2 hours at the site exploring the various building, paintings, ponds, boulders, caves and a beautifully landscaped garden. Sigiriya is one of the places that struck me the most during our SL tour. We left for Sigiriya early morning as our guide suggested in order to avoid the scorching heat of the sun. We are all done by the mid-day and we felt it was a very clever idea to avoid the climb during the mid-day.
As we had a lot of time left in the day our guide suggested a safari in the nearby wildlife reserve, known as Minneriya. after a short break with lunch, we set off on an elephant hunting tour. We came to know that Minneriya is one of the best places to spot wild elephants. We enter the park with a lot of hopes of spotting a large concentration of wild elephnats! Let’s see. As we have expected we were able to spot wild elephants gathered at the Minneriya tank. Same times we were able to the same amount of foreign travellers, especially Europeans roam around in the park. After around two hours we decided to go to our hotel in the cultural triangle to dip into the pool and have a time with a real holiday atmosphere.
Temple of the tooth relic Kandy, is one of the most important places in Sri Lanka.
Next day we were heading to Kandy from Sigiriya and it was a very enjoyable ride with several stops on the way. The landscapes are greener towards Kandy and really uprising. We stopped at the golden cave temple of Dambulla and it was a fantastic historical site with a large number of paintings and centuries-old statues. We were able to take a very close look at troops of monkeys to hang around the temple.
Later in the days we spend the time in the cultural city of Kandy and visited several places such as Gem museum, tooth relic temple, Kandyan cultural show.
Next day we took a day tour to witness several important sites in Kandy. We came across the Royal botanical garden. We enjoyed the beautiful surrounding with a large number of tropical trees and plants. The beautiful palm groove and orchid house are really worthy of a visit. Unlike in Sigiriya, the temperature in Kandy is relatively more pleasant. Otherwise, it was very hot and humid and the temperature was around 35 centigrade during the previous several days, despite we travelled in the month of September.
Next day we were travelling further towards the mountains under the beautiful sun of Sri Lanka, we stopped at several tea plantations to take a glimpse at beautiful landscapes and tea plantains. As we reached Nuwara Eliya city it was, even more, cooler than in Kandy and we learned the temperate had been around 8 centigrade after the sunset. We explore the Gregory lake and the golf course in Nuwara Eliya.
We knew that the train journey would be much much picturesque towards Nuwara Eliya from Kandy compared to the road trip, but unfortunately, we had not planned it in advance. But some of us will be hoping to take part in this scenic train journey in our next SL tour, we have not planned yet but we hope to visit this beautiful island in about another 3 years. We are not ready to visit Sri Lanka in the near future because the world is big and there are so many interesting places to visit similar to Sri Lanka. So, we have postponed the train ride through the Sri Lanka mountains until our next SL tour.
Later in the day, we explored the beautiful Nuwara Eliya city. For us, there was not much to do in Nuwara Eliya, therefore we felt one overnight stay in the city was enough. We visited picturesque Gregory lake, golf course, and several temples in the city. We had a nice time in an old pub in the city, which is located towards the northern end of the city, next to the bank of Ceylon building. Each of us sipped a couple of beer mugs before heading to the hotel. It was walking distance to our hotel from the city. It was really chilly in Nuwara Eliya after the sunset.
The next day, we took the road to Bentota beach on the west coast, it was a long journey on a winding road but the landscape is really beautiful with several waterfalls, Mountains, escapements and tea plantations.
This popular beach resort is located at the confluence of Bentota river and the sea, the beach resort is surrounded by water from three directions. Many hotels are to be found in Bentota beach area and most of them are catering to high-end luxury travellers.
We reach the hotel at around 15.00 hrs. The entire group was heading to the beach just after getting off at the hotels, even before finishing the check-in formalities. All are very eager to find out the beautiful settings of the beach, that we hang-around during the next several days. Later we checked-in to our hotel located right on the beach just before the lunch.
That was the end our SL tour
We were very happy with the tour and collected lot sweet memories during several days as we travelled through the country. The end of our tour marks the start of our nest interesting chapter of Sri Lanka holiday, the beach hopping. We spent 4 days on the beach, we have decided not to take any major sightseeing tour during the beach holiday. It was really interesting at the beach resort and our beach holiday helped us to unwind our selves after a lot of work at home.
We were staying only good 4-star hotels during the tour. Staying in the 4-star hotels was a common idea of all of us. We asked the recommendation of Seerendipity tours and they have suggested us several options. After reviewing their suggestion we have finalised the best properties for our tour. We knew that sometimes you don’t get the same hotels on the tour that you are offered at the time of the tour arrangement, and we had little doubt on this occasion, but, Serendipity tours booked the same exact hotels we asked them to book. Later on, we came to know that they are not that kind of local company because they delivered all the services as per the document we finalized with them. I’m happy to say that were able to make a good combination of hotels for us. All the hotels we were staying at was very very good and they provided a good service.
We entrusted Seerendipity tour on all tour arrangement and they did it perfectly. We did not want to go for self-organizing of our SL tour, because we wanted to have a hassle-free vacation, we simply wanted to enjoy. Sightseeing tours, tour guides, transportation, accommodation all done by seerendipity tours and we just had to enjoy our holiday. We have done this type of tours (package tours) on many occasions earlier and we are very comfortable with it. Because it takes all the tedious tasks of tour arrangements. In fact, I think a DMC is the best way to get the tour arranged because they are the experts in the particular holiday destination. Making a holiday package through a DMC is cheap too, sometimes people think it is cheaper to organize a tour package their own but I highly doubt it.
Sri Lanka is a perfect holiday destination to have a nice holiday, they have all the ingredients required to make your stay memorable. The country is unique in many ways and they have a fascinating blend of palm-fringed Beaches, green-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, tea garden, historical places, national parks teaming with wild elephnats, forests and many other things. Virtually every traveller can find something interesting here.