Sri Lanka is one of those destinations that’s been hiding in plain sight.
Wonderful people, incredible wildlife, too many flavors, rich culture, lots of tea and enough sites and scents to keep you’re interest piqued for years – Sri Lanka is the place for the curious traveler.
I have been privileged enough to visit Sri Lanka twice in the past three years, though neither time was enough and I’d go back again given half a chance. Anyone out there listening? It’s the kind of place that makes you curious and gets under your skin. A complex country of layers that can only be peeled back with time, with every visit you can dig deeper and get to know the pearl of the Indian Ocean a little better.
You won’t regret it, even if you end up getting Dengue Fever. Shivers.
I have so many stories and special moments from my most recent trip to Sri Lanka, but I wanted to introduce this magical land in my own way – through my favorite photos.
For me, Sri Lanka is colorful, bright and warm. I close my eyes and I can be instantly transported back to the hot air, scorching sun and earthy smells. My memories of it are so close, almost alive.
In the beginning of my trip, I based myself at Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, a place I had stayed at a few years earlier (and got charged by elephants on safari). Tucked away with beautiful villas in the jungle in the Cultural Triangle near Minneriya National Park, it’s a great base for exploring the North Central Province.
Watch out for the monkeys.
My villa at Habarana
Caption contest anyone?
Even young monks take advantage of a cool swim on a hot day
Waking up before sunrise to climb up to Pidurangala Royal Cave Temple, an incredible rocky outcrop that had been occupied by monks for 2500 years. A few kilometers north of the more famous Sigiriya (which I visited last time), it’s much less known and more peaceful.
The steps towards Mihintale Temple, a place where Buddhism was considered to be brought to Sri Lanka.
Exploring local spots around Ritigala
I was lucky enough to be invited into some locals’ homes and pretending to learn how to cook, and even making coconut milk from scratch
Obligatory tuk-tuk shot
The ruins of Anuradhapura are a must visit on any trip to Sri Lanka. An amazing complex of temples, pools, buildings, archeological sites and sacred places still visited today, it’s a bustling lively place that helps give an understanding of what makes modern-day Sri Lanka tick.
One of my favorite things was traveling up to Trincomalee in northeast Sri Lanka, a place that is not often visited. A beautiful seaside town, it suffered during the war but it’s back on its feet now. I based myself at Trinco Blu, and went out first thing to snorkel around Pigeon Island, one of the last coral reefs in Sri Lanka.
The highlight for me on this trip to Sri Lanka was finally visiting Yala National Park. I based myself for a few days at Wild Yala so I could go on as many animal safaris as possible, at sunrise and sunset when the animals are most active. Yala has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world so it’s a great place to go on safari and look for them.
A wild bull elephant in must in Yala National Park. You can see from the wetness in front of his ears when their testosterone levels are super high and they become very aggressive towards other elephants and humans, so watch out.
On Boxing Day in 2004 a tsunami hit the south coast of Sri Lanka and killed around 30,000 people and displacing millions, the remnants of destroyed houses can still be seen along the roads.
I shall call this “Woman in Pink” in Galle.
Galle is one of my favorite places in Sri Lanka (along with everybody else too) and for a good reason – it is so beautiful and lovely. A stunning little seaside town on the south coast with Dutch colonial buildings, fun cafes, boutique shops, good food and art galore, it’s a traveler’s dream.
Sunset from my room at Hikkaduwa at Hikka Tranz on my last night in Sri Lanka.
Have you ever been to Sri Lanka? Is it on your bucket list? Do you ever return to place that get under your skin too?