Sri Lanka in 7 days: explore incredible landscapes, pristine beaches and misty mountains

By Mamta Naidu
In Asia
May 13th, 2017
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Sri Lanka in 7 days

Sri Lanka is the island Ravan held Sita captive and it looks exactly like India, across the Bay of Bengal, and this is where my knowledge of Sri Lanka ends (rolling eyes, I know). 

I casually mention Ravan to my Lankan friend, he responds in the same casual tone, he was a great king.  My jaw drops.  My English friend can’t tell why I look so shocked. I’m so eager to call my parents right away and tell them that, what we know about Ramayan is all wrong. 

Sita Eliya – Sita’s abode in Sri Lanka

For all those curious to see where Ravan held Sita captive, this temple will give you chills, for its cold as well as to see the gigantic footprints, supposedly, of Hanuman’s.

Sri Lanka in 7 days

In Sri Lankan airlines, as the air hostesses, dressed in the traditional Osariya, say ayubhovan to greet us, I fathom, for the first time, I’m visiting a foreign land. Sinhalese sounds as foreign as Mandarin to me. I’m so wrong to think Sri Lanka is not very different from the Indian sub-continent.

 From terrain to food to culture to fashion, I found Sri Lanka very exotic. 

 From left to right: wedding dancer… fisherman from Tangalle showing off his catch of the day… Nuware Eliya Tea Estate… and string hopper with pol sambol and curry, something I crave for even today. Sri Lanka in 7 days

When I think of the glorious island, I think of incredible landscapes, pristine beaches, misty mountains, rich biodiversity, friendly locals and delicious food.

 

  Sri Lanka in 7 days

 

1. Cool off in the hill station called Nuware Eliya aka City of lights

One-hundred-and-eighty-kilometer road trip from Colombo to Nuware Eliya itself makes for a memorable journey.

Winding tree-lined roads punctuated by Buddha statues and stalls selling coconuts, morphs into a vast expanse of tea estates. It is when you start rummaging for your sweater, you know you have reached Nuware Eliya.

 Owing to cool weather, the hill station served as a summer retreat to the colonists during the British-era. Therefore, it also earned the nickname Little England. The Tudor-styled buildings, rose gardens, ivies creeping up the walls, misty and cold climate and people drinking a lot of tea, does give it a touch of England.

Things to do/visit
  • Tea plantation/factory
  • Sita Temple
  • Hakgala Botanical Garden
  • Rose Gardens
  • Race course
  • Golf course
  • Explore the town on foot

 

2. Hike in the cloud forest feasting your eyes on the gorgeous landscape while spotting wildlife 

 

A protected park, at an altitude of 7,500 ft, is a delight for hikers, landscape lovers, wildlife enthusiasts and botanist alike.

The park comes to an end at a spot called World’s End, an escarpment which plummets to 2800 ft. You have to reach here before 10 am to see the stunning views of the lush green mountains with windy roads. Horton Plains is also home to many endemic plant and animal species. 

I missed a Sri Lankan Leopard sighting sitting right next to my friends who spotted the Leopard.

Left to right: Baker’s waterfall…. you can see why it’s called cloud forest…. hiking trail…. and water body

Sri Lanka in 7 days

 

3. Find out how a private beach feels in Tangalle 

It’s a no-brainer that the island has some of the most astounding beaches in the world, with pristine green water and coconut palm lined shores, that attracts tourist from across the globe, all year round.

The beach resorts in Tangalle are reasonably priced as compared to the other more popular beaches. Like that’s not enough, you can literally jump out of your balcony and land on the beach. Food and drinks will come to you on the beach while you take a dip in the Indian Ocean.

 

Things to do/visit
  • Visit Turtle hatcheries
  • Depending on the season, watch Turtles nesting
Stilt Fishing – A specialty of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in 7 days

4. Galle fort – Experience Europe in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in 7 days

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, sheltered by gigantic stone sea walls flaunts an array of glorious Dutch colonial buildings and Portuguese and British architecture. This town is a must visit and best enjoyed on foot. 

Sri Lanka in 7 days 

Vendors selling giant yellow coconut drinks on cobbled stoned streets and exorbitant price on the menu cards, chic hotels, café and boutiques give Galle an exotic European air to it. 

Nearly third of the Galle’s population is expats. It is when you step out of the fort, you will see the real Sri Lanka: crowded streets, small shops, the hustle and bustle of daily life. 

Sri Lanka in 7 days

There is a plethora of things to do within 5 to 30km of Galle fort. It is easy to hire a tuk-tuk and wander around.

Things to do/visit
  • Unawatuna beach
  • Jungle beach
  • Japanese Peace Pagoda
  • Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya
  • Turtle hatcheries
  • Koggala Beach for Stilt fishing
  • Hikes
  • Snorkel
  • Night clubs

 

Quick Tips

  • Prepare for humid weather 
  • Drink lots of coconut water
  • Indulge in local delicacies, I tried kottu, string hoppers and pittu and loved them all
  • Get away from the tourist hangouts and eat and shop cheap
  • Unless you want to be taken for a ride, research tuk-tuk charges well in advance or ask the hotel/hostel staff 

 Also read: 6 most memorable experiences of Annapurna Circuit Trek, Nepal

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