The Travel Team Holiday Blog

 

SRI LANKA

august 07, 2013 11:34am

We flew on the Emirates afternoon flight from Manchester via Dubai which landed into Sri Lanka the following morning. 1 night Negombo –Jetwing Beach Hotel 4-5* Set on a lovely sandy beach, approx. 30 minutes transfer from the airport. Lovely staff, reasonably priced food & drinks we stayed in a stylish Deluxe large room. Behind the hotel is a road with many restaurants and touristy shops selling souveniers and clothing. Negombo is a large town and I would only recommend staying in this resort for a couple of nights before moving off to see more of the island. The evening meal in the hotels restaurant was very nice and the breakfast was also a very good buffet. The following morning we left the hotel and drove appx 3 hours to Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage. The journey there was interesting, lovely scenery but rather bumby roads! The orphanage was well worth a visit and the highlight was seeing a group of elephants come down to the river where they stayed for 2 hours. We had lunch in a hotel restaurant which overlooked the river. On the road down to the river there were lots of touristy shops and this would’ve been a good place to buy some souveniers if you could do a bit of haggling.( As it was our first day we wernt ready to buy anything just yet.) Another 2 ½ hour drive took us to Kandalama where we stayed for 3 nights at the Heritance Kandalama. Luxurious hotel overlooking the lake and built into the jungle so there was lots of atmosphere and plenty of monkeys and wildlife to see and hear. Lovely rooms (we had an upgraded room with a lovely bathroom and sitting room area.) Excellent food, the evening meal was a buffet with different themes each night and specialty “show cooking” stations where they cooked various dishes in front of you. Although this hotel was a long way from the airport we thoroughly enjoyed staying here as it was so chilled out. We did 2 half day excursions from here. Sigiriya a large monument of stone, 200 metres high with lots of history – in the 5th century a king created a palace on the rock along with extravagant gardens and water features and the remains can be still be seen. There are a number of steps and stair cases so you can climb up to the top of the rock and half way up is a spiral staircase where you can visit some ancient wall paintings. Elephant Safari – we went to a lake near the Cinnamon Lodge – Habarana and rode the elephants around the lake and even into the lake! We went early in the morning and both trips were around 30 minutes from the Heritance Kandalama. Both excursions could’ve been done on the same day as they were quite near each other, also they were on the way to our next resort Trincomalee so we could have done the elephant safari on the way there too. The drive from Kandamala to Trincomalee was around 4 hours but it was a very good road. 3 nights Chaaya Blu – Trincomalee We chose to stay on the East coast of Sri Lanka as this has the best weather in July/August. (The beach resorts in the south and west of Sri Lanka can be very wet in July/August so its best to go there in the winter months) We stayed in a Beach Chalet room which was on the ground floor so you could step right out onto the beach where there were sun loungers but also on the terrace was a day bed which was nice. The rooms were fairly basic, decent size, comfortable but very clean and the hotel had a rather “shabby chique beach feel”. It was a 3-4* Hotel, the food was OK but not fantastic but very good value. We did a boat excursion to “Pigeon Island” which is a protected nature reserve where you can snorkel and view the reef and a wide variety of fish including sharks! There were a couple of beach front restaurants which you could walk to for lunch which were very reasonable but rather basic. Lovely sandy beach and the sea was warm but quite a bit of sea weed at sections in the sea but we were told this was seasonal. Also quite a few stray dogs and lots of crows around, the hotel did chase them away but they didn’t stay away for long. “Ideal for a couple of days on the beach at this time of year but wouldn’t go for too long” Drive from Trincomalee to Kandy around 3 ½ hours. We drove through the “spice area” and stopped at a spice garden which was very interesting we did a small guided tour and were shown different trees and spices and there use as herbal medicines. We also had a small cookery demonstration and tasting with the spices and coconuts and a massage was offered using various herbal remedies. 2 nights Kandy - Hotel Cinnamon Citadel Nice hotel around 20 minutes from the town. Modern colonial feel, lovely pool and bar area and restaurants. Nice gardens which overlooked the river, but not much else in the area. Kandy has a cooler climate than other places in Sri Lanka and apparently wealthy people from the island buy holiday homes here or come to stay in the hotter months. We did a full day excursion of the city stopping at various view points and a walk through the shopping area. The main 2 sites were the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens – well worth a visit and a walk round, if you were very into trees you could spend days here, but we enjoyed a walk round and stayed a couple of hours. Lots & Lots & Lots of tree bats which were huge in the tops of the trees. Large orchid house with lots of varieties of orchids but not that many flowering when we were there. Temple of the Tooth is a very famous and most visited Budhist Temple, very straight entry, everyone is checked to make sure they are wearing correct clothing – ladies long skirts/trousers and shoulders covered. Shoes have to be removed and there were lots of people selling flowers to take in to offer to Buddha. The history of the whole Temple area was very interesting and definitely worth a visit. We also went to a “Cultural Dance Show” worth going to see when in Kandy but it was quite long! Kandy to Nuwara Eliya – this was a very long drive (around 5 hours) through the mountains, lovely scenery going through small villages, seeing lots of waterfalls. We stopped at a Tea Plantation on the way and were given a tour of the factory and shown how tea was made and the different stages used for drying/wilting etc. We visited on a Sunday so the factory was shut but it was still interesting, there was tea tasting and of course a shop! If we had done this journey through the week we would have seen people picking the tea too. Heritance Tea Factory – Nuwara Eliya District 1 night On the way here I was thinking “I hope this long drive is worth it” and I have to say it was! It’s probably the most unusual hotel Ive stayed in and was a bit like staying in a museum it was an amazing experience. We were lucky with the weather here and arrived in the afternoon to blue skies but as its so high it was cooler than anywhere else we visited in Sri Lanka, definitely needed a cardigan when we sat outside. Our room was fairly basic compared to the other hotels we stayed in Sri Lanka but clean and comfortable. We booked the special restaurant which was in an old railway carriage, 6 course meal was £40 per head. Food and service was excellent and the unusual setting and atmosphere in the cabin was worth it. Most people would only stay at this hotel for 1 or 2 nights as there is very little to do other than walk around the tea plantations, spa and enjoy the scenery BUT it’s a lovely experience so I would recommend going. Nuwara Eliya to Negombo – another long journey back down the mountain appx 6 hours! But we stopped for lunch on the way and again, an interesting journey through various small towns. We stopped overnight at the Jetwing Beach, this night we ate in the hotel next doors beach restaurant (Centre Point) which was lovely and very good value. 1000 flight from Colombo to Dubai – appx 4 hour flight. • Very friendly people • Road trips take a long time as they go through local villages, lots of swerving in & out definitely wouldn’t drive myself! • Fantastic service everywhere we went • Check in at hotels always easy & friendly were welcomed with cool towels and a drink • All rooms were cleaned every day with clean towels • Tipping not compulsory but they do appreciate small tips

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