Sri Lanka is by far one of the most soulful, charming places I’ve ever been to. Its alluring natural beauty, the warmth and good-naturedness of its people and despite its recent history of violence, a deep sense of peace and serenity that calms the soul.
It’s always amazing to travel with the best friends I grew up with. We’ve been friends almost 15 years and the company was a big reason why the trip was so enjoyable. One of the first sights that had me smitten were these old vintage train cars that we spotted in Colombo on our way to Nurawa Elia. Aren’t they just gorgeous?
We began our adventures in Nurawa Eliya in Central Sri Lanka. It literally means “city of light” and where the weather was just sublime. Deep in the hills, we lapped up the cool mountain air, gorgeous scenery and tea plantations. We stopped by one of the oldest ones dating back to the 1910s. It’s called Blue Field Tea and we were given a wonderful history lesson and educational tour of the place and how different teas are grown, harvested and processed for consumption. Of course, the trip there wouldn’t be complete without our first cup of fresh Ceylon tea enjoyed amid the green plantations.
The highlight for us in Nurawa would have to be hiking through Horton’s Plains and reaching World’s End. Here’s the heart-stoppingly beautiful view of World’s End after a three-hour hike. They called it a cloud forest and we literally felt on top of the world.
Quick tip: Wear proper walking shoes as the terrain can get quite rocky at some parts. And bring your own water/an umbrella or poncho just in case the weather changes. I’d advise starting early in the morning around 6-7am when it’s not so hot and you should be able to complete the entire trail by noon.
After a long day hiking and on the road, we checked into the most quaint, charming hotel called Jetwing Warwick Gardens. Once the home of a Scottish tea planter, this place was so beautifully and tastefully furnished, I wished we could have stayed days in this beautiful villa. Meals were home cooked and served in style while the rooms had an old world glamour and a rustic charm.
Highly recommend this place if you intend to stay in Nurawa a few days. We had to leave for our next destination before dawn but the view at sunrise is said to be unrivalled. Excellent service and great comfort. We couldn’t stop gushing.
Another fun part of the trip was when our driver Rohan decided to take us shopping in the small town centre and we managed to get our wine supplies from the local liquor store. All the men were looking at us like we were aliens! Haha but it was such a fun experience. Everyone was so friendly and kept yelling “Hello!”.
I could stay in Nurawa forever but we had to move on to Yala for our first-ever foray into a safari. We stopped by the aptly named Cafe Chill in Ella for a quick lunch and boy do I LOVE Sri Lankan curries. The variety is mouthwatering and somehow I never get sick of vegetable curries. Simple and satisfying.
And finally, after about 4-5 hours on the road, we arrived at Yala.
Yala National Park is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. We decided to stay by the beach because its a nice change from the mountains we enjoyed the days before. Here’s the gorgeous sunrise we caught over the plains.
Although it is a large safari, I’d like to clarify expectations and say don’t expect to spot elephants, leopards and hyenas at every turn. In fact, these come quite few and far between so patience is absolutely necessary. You end up seeing a lot more of the smaller animals like buffalo, peacocks and wild boars. But we managed to spot a leopard and it was good fun chasing it down on our very own jeep!
After a scorching afternoon watching wild animals in their natural habitat, we couldn’t resist a dip in the cool blue of our hotel Laya Safari. These villas were right by the beach and it was so quiet and peaceful at all times of the day it was just absolute heaven.
But the pool and cotton candy sunsets were not the only draw.
Check out the gorgeous beach that’s literally just 2 minutes away from our villa. We wouldn’t even have known about it if not for the super friendly staff there who insisted we enjoy the sunset by the beach instead of by the pool. Best decision ever.
This was my favourite evening at Sri Lanka. Just us girls dancing on the beach and skipping over the rocks bathing in the foamy sea and just basking in the golden glow of the setting sun. I can still picture how it feels each time I close my eyes. Pure bliss.
After two relaxing days in Yala, we had to move on to the final leg of our trip.
After about a 5-6 hour drive (yes, be prepared to spend a lot of time on the road in Sri Lanka), we arrived in Galle at lunchtime. Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It’s a stunning blend of old European architecture and local flavour. We stopped for a fresh seafood lunch at Rampart Hotel followed by an afternoon stroll around the city.
If you’re looking for exciting attractions and lots to do, you won’t find it in Galle. Its beauty lies in its architecture and cultural richness.
It’s a great place to kick back and just explore the old shophouses, cafes and just enjoy the sea breeze. I reckon you wouldn’t need more than a day or two to explore the city. We even made friends with a snake charmer!
The lighthouses and forts are definitely worth a visit, and a great way to work off all that delicious curry. Heh.
And finally, after 6 days of enjoying the beauty of Sri Lanka, we spent our last evening on a beach in Colombo watching the sun set on a truly unforgettable trip.
Sri Lanka feels like a soulmate. It’s not ostentatious and showy. It wins you over with its quiet simplicity. You connect with it effortlessly — with its people, with the kind of beauty that lingers long after you’ve left. It leaves you wanting more. And it’s without any doubt that like a love affair that will last a lifetime, I’ll be back for more.
What are your favourite places in Sri Lanka? x