As I child I took abroad holidays for granted as we were lucky enough to go away a couple of times a year, but one of my first holiday memories where I really appreciated the time away was when we visited the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is a tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean. It is a rugged land of rainforest, diverse wildlife and endless beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins, including the 5th-century citadel Sigiriya, with its palace and frescoes, and the sacred city of Anuradhapura. Its flavourful cuisine reflects its history as a maritime hub and cultural melting pot.
We stayed in Negombo in a hotel by the beach and I remember the crystal clear waters and white sand. I also remember the extremely bust city of Columbo where the locals all like to pat my head as I had golden blonde hair. My favourite memory though is riding an elephant, my favourite animal of all.
As an adult I would love to have another chance to travel to Sri Lanka and see how the country has changed over the years.
My must visits would be Yala National Park which has a leopard density that’s higher than anywhere else on this planet. These menacing predators prowl majestically in Yala, while elephants roam in their numbers with cautious deer scampering by their side.
One place we did not get to visit all those years ago was Sigiriya and it is somewhere I would love to go. The iconic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is Sri Lanka’s single most dramatic sight with near-vertical walls that soar to a flat-topped summit that contains the ruins of an ancient civilisation. Sigiriya refuses to reveal its secrets easily and you’ll have to climb a series of vertiginous staircases attached to sheer walls to reach the top so it is not for the faint hearted. On the way you’ll pass a series of quite remarkable frescoes and a pair of colossal lion’s paws carved into the bedrock. It is also somewhere you can take an elephant backed safari!
The ruins of Anuradhapura, which are now a UNESCO World Heritage site, are something I have a vague recollection of seeing. The sprawling complex contains a rich collection of archaeological and architectural wonders: enormous dagobas, soaring brick towers, ancient pools and crumbling temples, built during Anuradhapura’s thousand years of rule over Sri Lanka.
Another favour place to visit was the Tea Gardens of Kandy and I remember being shown how to pick tea with my mum, before enjoying some in an old colonial house.
My final destination, if I got the chance, would be to the North of the island to Jaffna. My best friend from school, Ambi, is from there I would love to catch up with her and have a local tour guide of things to see and do.
Have you been to Sri Lanka, where would you recommend visiting?