Last September I visited Sri Lanka, a destination that is in the spotlight. Not only 'Who is the Mole' was recorded there last year, there is also a growing number of travelers who enjoy exploring the country or returning there after a first visit.


Last September I visited Sri Lanka, a destination that is in the spotlight. Not only 'Who is the Mole' was recorded there last year, there is also a growing number of travelers who enjoy exploring the country or returning there after a first visit.



Last September I visited Sri Lanka, a destination that is in the spotlight. Not only ‘Who is the Mole’ was recorded there last year, there is also a growing number of travelers who enjoy exploring the country or returning there after a first visit.

My first impression is one of rain and high humidity as I walk into the open air in Colombo in the evening after leaving the airport. A quick transfer to Negombo follows. I wonder what Sri Lanka will look like in daylight.

When I open the curtains the next morning, the sun shines and it is a bright day. The beach is beautiful and the sea is calm. Negombo is in fact a long coastal road with hotels located on the beach. However, explore as the fish market is interesting with its long rows of fish drying in the sun. Boats sail off and on to unload their cargo and fish is sold directly in the open air. The fact that Negombo also has a historical past can be seen when visiting the churches and canals that were built by the Dutch in the V.O.C. time. Negombo feels relaxed and I would have liked to have stayed there for another night but the interior lures.

It is quite luxurious to let you drive through the country, let the landscapes glide past you and be briefed on the road by the guide who is also the driver about the country, the population and the history. Along the way small villages, Hindu temples but also large, impressive Buddha statues and churches. The different religions live here in peace side by side and although my guide is a Buddhist, he just as easily enters a Hindu temple to get a blessing. That is a good example of tolerance and it feels pleasant. The infrastructure is good and fortunately the many dogs crossing turn just in time when we arrive…

Soon I get acquainted with the cultural triangle, an area with impressive sights like Anaradhapura, a large Buddhist complex with a sacred bodhi tree. Here the same devotion I experienced a few years ago during my visit to the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya in India, one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. And just   during my visit to the Museum of Anaradhapura, let the wet monsoon erupt. For an hour it thunders and lightning and it looks like the sky is coming down. The pond flows over and the fish swim out. When the rain stops and the puddles quickly dry up again, the fish are gasping for breath on dry land. A monk makes sure they get back into the pond safely.

At Anaradhapura I stay in Ulagalla, a very beautiful resort with 20 luxury villas located in a rural setting. In the early morning I see during my ride on the bike on the way to breakfast the monkeys catch moths in the grass. A large iguana has the same insect on the breakfast menu. It’s a pretty face.

“No,” I say to the guide.. “I’m not going to climb Sigirya Rock…”

I had just walked past the Red Cross tent and it won’t be there for nothing, I think. The huge rock with the remains of a former king’s palace at the top in awe from the first moment I see him. But then you stand there and get persuaded and start the climb. Halfway into the caves the beautiful frescoes and then finally continue to the top. Once above, the view is stunning! It’s almost non-imagined how a king must have lived here. It was more than worth the effort and the sore calves.

Sri Lanka is of course also the land of nature experience. My first experience comes in Minneriya Natonal Park. Especially in the dry period from July to August, large herds of elephants are observed here seeking cooling in the then still full water features. I too see the elephants, in lesser numbers, but no less impressive.

The journey also takes me to the coastal town of Trincomalee where the Tamil War was still going on until about five years ago. It’s all activity now. Many resorts are being built to meet the growing demand for accommodation. Trincomalee is a good place to stay in our summer months. Whales swim there in that period off the coast and you can snorkel there from Pigeon Island fine. Many (often) large resorts here with excellent facilities. I myself stay at Jungle Beach, a smaller and more special resort with nice cabins and a very good outdoor restaurant. The sound of the waves is an enjoyable alarm clock in the early morning. And a walk along the beach that still deserted makes the start of the day even more pleasant…

Kandy is the most important city in central Sri Lanka. It’s fun with a lot of activity. Many of the hotels are built against the   hills. You often have a beautiful view of the city or the Mahaveli River that flows through the city. Kandy House is such a beautiful residence that has now been transformed into a hotel. The look is classically romantic and the service very personal. Boutique hotel Elephant Stables is also allowed, and it is suitable for families with children as there is a fine family room and swimming pool.

In Kandy I visit of course the Temple of the Tooth where a tooth swallow of Buddha is kept. It is a bustle of buzz, a mishmash of monks, tourists and believers. Stairwells are full of meditators, floral sacrifices are made, outside listen to a sermon by a monk… The atmosphere is one of devotion and serenity but at the same time of positive activity.

Soon after leaving Kandy, the landscape changes and I see the first tea pickers. Women on a steep hill with a basket on the back where the tea leaves are collected. Heavy physical work in an idyllic environment. Tea is an important export product of Sri Lanka. The British introduced the production of it and had beautiful country houses built between the tea fields where they could stay with their families in pleasant temperatures during the gruelling heat in Colombo. Now many of those tea bungalows have been converted into a hotel and I too spend a night in such a gem. I enjoy a delicious cup of Dilmah tea.

Very impressive are the vistas in Ella, a little place that I pass on the way to the east coast. It looks like a hippie village with its cute cafes and eateries. It attracts especially lovers of hiking, from stévig hiking, because the climb to the top of Adam’s Peak (2,243 meters high) is not for everyone. I especially enjoy the beautiful views here and can’t get enough of it. The 98 Acres Resort has such a beautiful location that you can sit on the porch of your chalet all day and you won’t be bored for a moment.

However the journey continues and soon we ended up away from the cool hills again in the heat. A next nature experience is planned. After all, Yala is the most famous national park in Sri Lanka and I really want to see a leopard. The disappointment is great when I am told that the park is closed due to a prolonged drought that has been going on for more than six months. Travelers are bored in the hotels, IPads are taken out of the backpacks. Everyone seems upset but also left. Don’t worry because I’m exploring Bundela National Park. Here no leopards but especially birds and I spot different species. And I am also rewarded with a wonderful close experience with an elephant. He comes off impressively on the jeep but then gets off the road and lets us pass. It’s a moment to remember.

In addition to hotels, there are tent camps in this area where you can stay overnight. I visit Mahoora Camping which is next to the park. The tents are comfortably furnished, the park is next door. Nature guides are available with information about the flora and fauna of this area.

A piece of Dutch history passes by in Galle where the eponymous fortress was built during the time when the V.O.C. was engaged in the export of spices from Sri Lanka, the former Ceylon. The fort is very well preserved and has also weathered the tsunami. It is a village in itself with narrow streets and cottages, built in Dutch style. Within the fort are several hotels where you can stay overnight such as The Fort Printers, Fort Bliss or the luxury Amangalle hotel.

And what beautiful beaches Sri Lanka has, in all shapes and sizes with resorts, boutique hotels but also beautiful villas where you can spend a wonderful time together with your family or group of friends. I’m staying at Aditya, one of those beautiful boutique hotels on the coast. There are only twelve guest rooms, most of which have private plunge pool. A little paradise on earth where you will be pampered from the moment of arrival to departure. A wonderful ending to a perfect trip.

Sri Lanka is a great holiday destination, especially due to the wide variety of landscapes, sights, flora and fauna. The distances to travel are not great, the infrastructure is good and there is a wide choice of hotels, one even more special than the other. The country is actually suitable   for everyone, for families with children but also for honeymooners and nature lovers. Activities such as whale excursions, diving, white water rafting and multi-day walks are possible in various places in Sri Lanka. And also travelers who are looking for relaxation can come here very well. Make the trip even more special and plan a stop on the return trip, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or in the idyllic Maldives.

Tryntsje Jaspers

After my studies I left for Australia to travel and work for a year. After which many trips and destinations followed. For India, a passion arose. The special culture, delicious cuisine and impressive nature of this country are things I never get tired of. In my long career as a travel consultant I have always tried to convey my passion. After all, we can all visit a country. However, experiencing a country is quite another and finding that special and traveller-appropriate travel experience is what attracts me to working at Untamed Travelling. After all, not one trip is the same! I am happy to help you create the perfect travel experience.

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