If you pick-up the summer issue of Canadian Traveller, you would have read of my experience in Sri Lanka. For nearly two weeks, I explored the nature, beauty and culture of the country with G Adventures, previewing its National Geographic Journeys ‘Discover Sri Lanka’ itinerary. The experience took us from Colombo to Anuradhapura to Dambulla to Kandy, before moving on to Nuwara Eliya and then wrapping up in Udawalawe.
It was an eye-opening journey, offering the opportunity to discover a place that, in many ways, is still recovering from a civil war. As you can imagine, the people, the food and the landscapes combine to make for an ever-memorable experience. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
NOTE: To capture the experience, our friends at Nikon let me borrow the new D7500 – I’m really not an experienced (nor gifted) photographer, but this trip warranted a heavy-duty camera.
Sri Lanka’s history spans more than 35,000 years and has been preserved in a way that allows travellers and locals alike to embrace and respect it, from ancient stupas and relics to the ruins of sites like Sigiriya rock fortress (pictured here) and Anuradhapura.
Buddhism is the dominant religion in Sri Lanka, having been established here in the 3rd century. But some say that regardless of faith, Buddhist values – kindness, compassion – unite all Sri Lankans. Pictured here: Scenes from Temple of the Tooth Relic.
In Sri Lanka, coconuts are called "the fruit of life." Every piece of the coconut is used whenever possible; shells are made into utensils and dishes; the milk and fruit itself is used in a number of dishes; it may be spun into fishing rope. And leaves from coconut trees are often weaved together to shingle homes.
Tea is among Sri Lanka's top exports. While many travel sites will suggest you enjoy a journey to Ella for the epic views of tea fields, we were advised that travellers can expect the beauty of Ella and so much more in Nuwara Eliya. Perhaps why it's on the G Adventures itinerary...
Sri Lankans have a lot of pride in their country and their culture. We had the chance to enjoy a cultural dance performance in Kandy, which allowed for this “joie de vivre” and national pride to shine.
Among the amazing views to be found throughout the country, the “World’s End” plateau in Horton Plains National Park is top of the list. The best approach is to start the day early and catch the sunrise before setting out on a nine-kilometre hike with varying elevations.
I didn't realize Sri Lanka's wealth of wildlife. Almost everywhere we went, we bumped into a monkey or two (or a hundred), but more uniquely, encounters with elephants were easy to come by (because we knew where to look). G Adventures took us on safari through Udawalawe National Park, where we had the chance to watch these beautiful giants, as well as water buffalo and various birds. We weren't lucky enough to spot a leopard, but maybe you will be!