Sri Lanka

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April 28, 2018

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There’s so much to do and see in Sri Lanka and with only eleven days we were keen to fit it all in. We flew into Colombo (West Coast) and got out the city as soon as possible.

 

From Colombo, we travelled clockwise, as we wanted to get stuck into the treks and safaris first and end our travels by the beaches. After landing we jumped on the first train to Kandy. Make sure you book in advance as the trains get booked up really quickly and you’ll end up squashed in third class.

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Kandy

Kandy is described as the most picturesque city on the island. We only stayed for one night, as a stopover to get to Ella so didn’t get to experience that much of it. If you do stay, I’d recommend visiting the botanical gardens and the Temple of the Tooth.

The famous train to Ella from Kandy took 6 hours and is a must! The train doors are open so you can sit with your feet swinging out as you pass endless greenery and end up in the clouds.

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Ella

We stayed at the Ella Flower Garden Resort, which had the most amazing views. Think Tulum vibes! The rooms weren’t amazing as they were under renovation but the views are everything. The owner is obsessed with nature so expect to find loads of bunnies and birds.

Ella is a town full of back packers with beautiful settings of endless tea plantations. There aren’t many hostels here, mainly guesthouses. Definitely hike little Adams peak for sunrise or sunset. I would also recommend staying at 98 Acres or at least having breakfast here.

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Other places to see here include Ravana Ella Rock Temple, Ella’s rock (avoid in the morning heat), Dowa Rock Temple and Ravana waterfall. Another attraction worth seeing is the famous Nine arch bridge. Ella town is popular for cooking classes. I would recommend Matey Hut. For really cheap good food go to Café Chill-the upstairs chill area is like a tree house with loads of beanbags and majestic music.

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Udawalawe National Park

We hired a driver to take us to the safari from Ella who then waited whilst we explored and took us to Tangalle (South coast) after. We woke up at 4am to get to the safari for 6am so we could see the animals. We saw loads of elephants, monkeys and crocodiles. If you prepare leopards, Yala is the National Park you should visit.

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Dikwella and Hiriketiya beach

We stayed at the Sea Tree View, which was only a 5 min walk from the famous Hiriketiya beach. The beautiful tree houses were cute and minimalist with modern bathrooms. They have the best massages in private huts looking out to the sea view. Most people say this beach was their favorite in the whole of Sri Lanka, perfect for surfing and swimming I can see why!

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Unfortunately this place was closed for the month of May so we didn’t get the chance to visit, but if you want a cool workspace with great coffee or even a place to stay, check out Verse collective. The interior design is everything.

Walking around Hiriketiya beach we stumbled upon a stunning restaurant called the Grove, started by two aussies. The lemongrass juices and fresh fish tacos were calling us! If you’ve looking for a mean brunch, the Grove is your place. For a fancier dinner Salt House is also a good option.

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Mirissa

We stayed at JJ’s hostel for a night. All the rooms were super clean and modern. It’s also a two-minute walk from Shady Lane. This place is amazing for cheap iced coffees, smoothie bowls and cinnamon French toast.

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We had dinner at Salt on the beachfront. They had fresh fish and prawns complimented with delicious chili pasta (Sri Lankans love their chili!).  The vibe was great here…tables covered with fairy lights and music by the beach. Also check out Zephyr restaurant for the best burgers.

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Weligama

I found this beautiful hotel on Instagram called Ceylon Sliders. A Swedish couple started this place and each dish on the menu has been carefully crafted. The tuna tartar and falafel bowls are so tasty. From the detail and interior in the rooms to the rooftop yoga classes, I couldn’t recommend Ceylon Sliders anymore! Weligama beach is located just opposite the hotel. There are tons of surfing schools here where you can book hourly lessons on the beach. For cheap food and fun social vibes, check out Hangtime hostel.

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Ahangama

We stayed in the most beautifully decorated house called the Kip. The most welcoming couple and stunning interior. 

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Yoga Shala is the best place for yoga (especially the Vinyasa classes). The classes take place in the jungle and you can go for a dip in the infinity pool after. They also sell delicious banana and peanut butter smoothie bowls.

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Galle

Galle is famous for the Fort aka as the Dutch Fort, which withstood the tsunami, which damaged part of the coast area. Galle is full of jewelry shops and little cute souvenir shops. If you do get the chance to visit you must go to Poonie’s Kitchen and order the coconut and banana bread with passion fruit icing butter (thank me later).

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The Amangalla is an amazing beautiful colonial building, which was the first hotel in Sri Lanka. Good for afternoon tea or dinner. Go to sunset drinks at the Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel, which was built by a famous Sri Lankan architect called Geoffrey Bawa, who has designed some incredible buildings around the country.

The Owl and the Pussycat do a good avocado and tuna tartar. The almond chocolate ice cream was also a dream. It’s also a hotel and they do the most beautiful quirky interior rooms.

Lots of people recommended us to visit Hikkaduwa, which is a seaside resort town. Sadly we ran out of time, but try and stop by en route to Colombo.

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Beaches of Sri Lanka

You’re spoilt for choices with the number of beaches along Sri Lanka’s coastline. If like me you are planning a trip there and not sure where or how long to stay in which areas, read on…


Tangalle Beach
We stayed at the Mangrove Beach Cabana. This is the perfect place for relaxing, as it’s a super remote beach. It’s pure bliss. We were pretty much the only ones there. Think cute hammocks and palm trees. We shared beautiful dinners by the beach with fresh fish and tiger prawns.

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Dikwella and Hiriketiya Beach
Dikwella is a large bay bordering the town, great for a long walk. Hiriketiya is a stunning crescent bay. Surf all day and fill up on fresh fish and fresh coconut water.

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Mirissa 
A magnificent half-moon bay with a lovely sandy beach that is beginning to see unchecked development but is still deserving of a visit. Waves can be big and beach-dumpers.

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Weligama 
A sweeping turquoise bay with great surfers for all levels. The sunrise waves are less crowded.

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Ahangama
Famous for its stilt fishermen, a beach scene at this seasonally wide, soft and sandy beach is emerging.

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Unawatuna, Jungle (secret beach) and Dalawella
Unawatuna was once lauded as being amongst the most beautiful bays in the world. It became famous for its sweeping bay overlooking on Rumasala Hill. It’s well worth a visit if you enjoy a lively ambiance and bartering for souvenirs. Not the best beach but lots of little shops

The Jungle beach is pretty private, think jungle trek to beach vibes. Perfect for snorkeling! Dalawella is very remote and the sea is too strong to swim in but this beach is known for the famous swinging palm tree.

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Hikkaduwa
We didn’t get a chance to visit this beach but it’s close to Galle. It has everything to offer; snorkeling, swimming, surfing, kite-boarding. Coral sanctuary with turtles

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San Pedro Atacama, Chile

Star Gazing and Desert Wandering

 

Unfortunately, I only had enough time to stay in Chile for two nights but this was nowhere near as long as I would have liked. Chile was on the way to Argentina.

After the most incredible experience spent in the salt flats in Bolivia, we took the 4x4s and drove across the desert on our way to San Pedro Atacama. The Atacama Desert is known as the driest desert in the world, covering a 1,000km strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains.

Lolu restaurant/bar is popular for its cocktail selection and massive empanadas!

Must-Dos
The Valley of the Moon
This 4-hour afternoon tour is a must do when in San Pedro, especially for sunset hour. It’s a photographers dream…as you walk through the desert and observe unique rock formations and mesmerizing cliffs. I went with Andres Travel and the tour should cost no more than 15,000 Chilean pesos.

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One other thing San Pedro Atacama is popular for is Star Gazing. Now I’m not a huge astronomy expert but star gazing in Chile was one of my favourite highlights on the trip. Depending on what time of the year you go, the skies are much clearer than what you would ever see in the UK. We had the chance to look at the planets and stars through some of the best quality telescopes.

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