On the road in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an impressive place to travel, as I discovered on a recent seven-night trip to the tropical island that lies off the south-east coast of India.

A colourfully painted statue of Buddha reclining at the Isurumuniya Temple near Anuradhapura, one of Sri Lanka's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A colourfully painted statue of Buddha reclining at the
Isurumuniya Temple near Anuradhapura, one of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

My trip encompassed aspects of Sri Lanka’s culinary diversity, wildlife and cultural heritage.

Elephants grazing in the lakeside grass at Minneriya National Park.

Elephants grazing in the lakeside grass at Minneriya National Park.

Due to professional commitments elsewhere, I didn’t have as much time available as most travellers to explore the island. You can easily spend a couple of weeks in Sri Lanka.

Sunanda Kumar, the Executive Chef at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, during a cookery demonstration in the hotel kitchen.

Sunanda Kumar, the Executive Chef at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, during a cookery demonstration in the hotel kitchen.

Enjoying tea and surf

With tea plantations, beaches renowned for outstanding surf, ancient temples and fortresses plus national parks that provide habitat for endemic animals and birds, there’s much to do and see on the island.

A monitor lizard basks in the morning sun in Wilpattu National Park.

A monitor lizard basks in the morning sun in Wilpattu National Park.

Of course, many people visit Sri Lanka to do very little. Many tourists visit simply to relax on the sandy beaches.

Lily leaves floating in an ornamental pool at the Kahanda Kanda close to Galle.

Lily leaves floating in an ornamental pool at the Kahanda Kanda close to Galle.

Others prefer spending time at luxury wildlife resorts that offer morning and afternoon game drives.

Orchids at the Royal Botanic Gardens Peradeniya, whose expansive grounds are on a bend in the Mahaweli River on the edge of Kandy.

Orchids at the Royal Botanic Gardens Peradeniya, whose expansive grounds are on a bend in the Mahaweli River on the edge of Kandy.

I left it to Indian Odyssey, a tour company with expert knowledge of Sri Lanka, to put together my itinerary.

The smiling chef at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

The smiling chef at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

Outstanding accommodation in Sri Lanka

They selected some impressive places to overnight. All of the hotels and resorts that I stayed at in Sri Lanka are places that I’d happily visit again.

The courtyard by my room at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

The courtyard by my room at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

My itinerary started in Colombo, where I stayed at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.

A selection of the Sri Lankan cuisine, freshly prepared by Executive Chef Sunanda Kumar during a cookery demonstration at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana.

A selection of the Sri Lankan cuisine, freshly prepared by Executive Chef Sunanda Kumar during a cookery demonstration at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana.

After departing the Sri Lankan capital, I spent a couple of nights at the Leopard Trails on the edge of Wilpattu National Park.

The infinity pool at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

The infinity pool at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

As I travelled through Sri Lanka’s interior I stayed at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana

Four poster bed at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana.

Four poster bed at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana.

The Cinnamon Citadel Kandy has impressive views over the Mahaweli River.

A delicious shank of lightly spiced lamb served at the Cinnamon Citadel Kandy's Cafe C restaurant.

A delicious shank of lightly spiced lamb served at the Cinnamon Citadel Kandy’s Cafe C restaurant.

The Living Heritage Koslanda resort proved a tranquil base to view Sri Lanka’s second highest waterfall and provided exquisite hospitality on my penultimate night in the country.

Water tumbles at the Diyaluma Falls, the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.

Water tumbles at the Diyaluma Falls, the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.

My final night was at the Kahanada Kanda resort, set on a tea plantation near Galle.

Dinner at the Kahanda Kanda resort - succulent grilled fish is served with vegetables.

Dinner at the Kahanda Kanda resort – succulent grilled fish served with vegetables.

Reasons to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is one of the few places on the planet that offers opportunities to see whales swimming in the sea on the same day as taking a game drive during which you might spot wild creatures such as elephants and leopards.

A crested serpent eagle resting on branches in Wilpattu National Park.

A crested serpent eagle resting on branches in Wilpattu National Park.

I’m pleased to say that I did see a leopard and captured some good photos of the animal. I’ll be sharing those elsewhere, so don’t be surprised if you see a leopard picture with my name on it soon.

Fresh pugmarks, left by a leopard, in the sandy ground of Wilpattu National Park.

Fresh pugmarks, left by a leopard, in the sandy ground of Wilpattu National Park.

The photos illustrating this post are a fraction of the hundreds I shot while in Sri Lanka. They depict some of the people I met, some of the food that I ate, and some of the things that I saw on the island.

A moment of reflection in Wilpattu National Park.

A moment of reflection in Wilpattu National Park.

If you are thinking about a trip to Sri Lanka, don’t forget your camera. It’s a great place for travel photography.

The enormous Golden Buddha statue at the Golden Temple at Dambulla, which is renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage Site designated cave temple,

The enormous Buddha statue at the Golden Temple at Dambulla, which is renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage Site designated Cave Temple.

How to do it

I travelled to Sri Lanka on a tour organised by Indian Odyssey, a UK-based tour operator specialising in bespoke holidays to Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and the Maldives. The team has personally tested the accommodation and excursions and can create inspiring, tailor-made privately guided tours and bespoke holidays. For more information and to book, visit www.indianodyssey.co.uk, call 01224 313984 or email info@indianodyssey.co.uk. 

Peacocks, male peafowl, are often photographed with their tail feathers on display. I found this pose to be interesting.

Peacocks, male peafowl, are often photographed with their tail feathers on display. I found this pose to be interesting.

Prices start at £1,895 per person for a seven-night trip to Sri Lanka, including return flights from the UK, accommodation in boutique hotels, a personal driver and a tailored itinerary for each guest.

One of the wonderful aspects of visiting Wilpattu National Park is the diversity of birdlife that finds habitat there. This raptor is drying out on a branch.

One of the wonderful aspects of visiting Wilpattu National Park is the diversity of birdlife that finds habitat there. This raptor is drying out on a branch.

SriLankan Airlines operates direct flights between London Heathrow and Bandaranaika International Airport near Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. The duration of the flight is 10 hours 45 minutes.

Women at work hand dying traditional batik fabric at a production unit in central Sri Lanka.

Women at work hand dying traditional batik fabric at a production unit in central Sri Lanka.

Find out more about things to do and see on the island by clicking on the Sri Lanka Tourism website.

A local man shows off some of the salted fish that have been dried on the beach in Negombo,

A local man shows off some of the salted fish that have been dried on the beach in Negombo,

The Go Eat Do travel blog has a post with useful cultural and practical tips for travel in Sri Lanka.

A traditional Sri Lankan breakfast of egg hoppers served with fish curry at the Kahanda Kanda resort near Galle.

A traditional Sri Lankan breakfast of egg hoppers served with fish curry at the Kahanda Kanda resort near Galle.

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Coconut rotis, served with chutney, a breakfast at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

Coconut rotis, served with chutney, a breakfast at the Living Heritage Koslanda resort.

Despite being well camouflaged, I noticed the eye of this lizard peeking out from a hollow tree in Wilpattu National Park.

Despite being well camouflaged, I noticed the eye of this lizard peeking out from a hollow tree in Wilpattu National Park.

Disclosure: Stuart travelled in Sri Lanka as a guest of Indian Odyssey.

Elephants marching to be fed at the Udwawalawe Elephant Transit Home in Uwawalawe National Park.

Elephants marching to be fed at the Udwawalawe Elephant Transit Home in Uwawalawe National Park.

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8 Comments

  1. Guruprasad Ramakrish 13th July 2018 at 6:26 am #

    Very nice and very well framed!!!

  2. Susie Brown 13th July 2018 at 6:54 pm #

    These photos are inspirational. Love the eagle picture.

    • Stuart Forster 16th July 2018 at 11:05 am #

      Thank you. I thought that Wilpattu National Park was a great destination for wildlife and nature photography.

  3. Barry Stephen 16th July 2018 at 5:12 am #

    I’m so envious of your trip! Looks like you stayed at some awesome places.

    • Stuart Forster 16th July 2018 at 11:03 am #

      Thank you. Yes, it the hotels and lodges were outstanding.

  4. Tom Dim 12th October 2018 at 7:02 pm #

    Sri Lanka is a beautiful country for anyone to come to on a vacation. There are many experiences and adventures for you to take part in from the beautiful beaches to wildlife and the hillside tea areas.

    • Stuart Forster 25th October 2018 at 2:41 pm #

      Hello Tom, I certainly found the landscape beautiful. Thanks for commenting!

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