A family holiday to Sri Lanka has been on our radar for quite a while, but with our busy travelling schedule over the last year or two, we have not had much time to think about it. After assessing the school holidays of the year ahead, work commitments, and checking the best times to travel, April suited best, which did not leave us long to organize a two-week tour. With just a day to go before we leave, we have all but completed our research, planning, booking and packing! As we have just spent a lot of our recent weeks planning this trip, now seems a good time to reflect on where we have chosen to go and why.
Are Two Weeks Enough?
Once we had booked our flights, we realised that two weeks in Sri Lanka would only be enough to tour the major sights, and we have settled on a fairly traditional loop around the southern part of the country. Even though we have travelled a couple of times to India (without kids), Sri Lanka appears to be quite different from its close neighbour.
Here is a map of our planned route, starting at the airport near Colombo, and travelling in an anti-clockwise loop back to where we started. As you can see, there are many parts of the country that we are missing.
Along The Coast
Our route skips over the capital Colombo – we arrive at the airport and immediately head south along the coast. From what we have read, the large bustling Sri Lankan capital of Colombo does not have much of interest for the tourist, and from our experience of past trips we find the big cities not very appealing. As we head south we will pass some popular resort areas that dot the south-west coast, but that is also not for us. We are heading further along to the Dutch colonial-era fort town of Galle, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We are staying within the fort walls for a comfortable first night in the country. From Galle we follow the coast a short distance to stay at a relatively underdeveloped and laid-back beach village of Mirissa, where hanging out on the beach is the main attraction.
Into The Hills
From the south coast, we head inland and into the hill country to the small town of Ella, set among the tea plantations and spectacular scenery. Some people choose to stay in the larger hill town of Nuwara Eliya. Here we jump on a train for a full day train journey to Kandy. Tickets for the train can be hard to come by, and the reason we are doing this route in the anti-clockwise direction is that it is less travelled and it was the only way we could get reserved seats on this train.
Sri Lanka’s second largest city, Kandy, does not hold much attraction for us, though we do stop over for a day before heading to what’s called the cultural triangle, staying in Sigiriya (for Lion Rock), and day trips to the cave temples of Dambulla and remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.
We Can’t Do It All
As with most trips, there are many more places we would love to visit. We have a varied itinerary that will give us the chance to experience the different aspects of Sri Lanka; the Dutch colonial history, the beaches, the hill country and tea plantations, and the cultural past and of course the food. In addition to missing Colombo, we are also not intending to do a safari, which is a popular Sri Lankan experience to see elephants in the wild and if you are lucky a leopard. After our unforgettable safari in Kruger in South African in 2016, we are happy to give this a miss. We also don’t have time for the quieter east coast and places to the north, which can always be put in the ‘next time’ basket.
You must agree it sounds great. We are looking forward to some exciting unique adventures, and fun for all the family. We hope it lives up to the hype and our expectations.