Sri Lanka was an absolutely amazing place!! If you want to immerse yourself in culture, wildlife and beautiful beaches then this is the place for you. Here are our highlights of Sri Lanka!
Highlight number one – Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park was created to provide a home for wild animals who were displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe reservoir.
We woke up at 5 am to drive the four-hour journey to Udawalawe and it was definitely worth it.
Our local driver dropped us off at a house outside of the park with safari jeeps in the drive. We were so excited!! A driver drove us to the park entrance and a safari guide jumped in to help us on our journey around the park.
We were a little bit apprehensive before we entered the park because as we were driving in there were people who we presumed worked for the park were throwing things that made a massive noise at the parks perimeters. It seemed that some elephants were getting too close to the fences. However, whilst we were in the park, there was no mistreatment of the animals at all. We were simply observing them in their natural habitat.
Whilst we were in the park, we saw hundreds of elephants. Our safari guide was really good as he took us on different routes to the other jeeps so that we were on our own with the elephants. It was honestly the most unreal experience. One elephant came so close to our jeep, he was grazing on the grass whilst we were in shock, we could have touched him he was that close!
We saw buffalo’s, a variety of birds, peacocks, monkeys, crocodiles and snakes. Apparently you can see jaguars too, but we weren’t lucky enough to see them!
If you ever go to Sri Lanka, make sure this is one of your highlights We have never experienced seeing wildlife in such close proximity before and it was truly an experience we will never forget!
Highlight number two – Turtle Hatchery Hikkaduwa
This was another amazing experience. We went here on the way to Galle.
It is a relatively small place but it does an incredible job of saving turtles who have been injured and also hatching and releasing baby turtles back into the wild. The majority of the turtles that they fin who are injured are nursed back to health and released. However, they have a small number who will stay in the turtle hatchery as it is too unsafe for them to be released back into the wild.
We were able to see hundreds of tiny turtles which were one day old and we could hold them. Honestly the cutest little things we have ever seen!!
We were also shown turtles who were over a hundred years old. These turtles had their legs missing due to pollution in the ocean and people trying to hunt them. It was sad to see actually that humans have hurt these incredible animals but that the kind Sri Lankan people are helping the turtles recover.
We unfortunately did not release any turtles but were told that tourists could help release the baby turtles into the sea. We can imagine that being a great feeling!
The man who showed us round actually ran the hatchery. His father set it up in 2000. However he passed away and his sister then took over the hatchery. In the tsunami the man’s family, including his sister all tragically died. He said that most of the turtles were washed away after the tsunami and he had to start again with the project. This man and the people who work at the hatchery were very passionate about the turtles and you could tell that the turtles were well looked after.
Definitely visit this place if you’re ever in Sri Lanka, it really is heart warming.
Highlight number three – Education regarding the Tsunami
This might not be everyone’s cup of tea and it may not be considered a highlight. However, we realised that during our trip to Sri Lanka, the tsunami is still affecting everyone there. We think it is really important to educate yourself while you are there about the tsunami and to realise how the country is still recovering. Over 30,000 people died in the tsunami in Sri Lanka and 24,000 were injured.
We met a local near our hotel who invited us into his home. He showed us the level the water had risen to when the tsunami struck and it was really quite shocking to see. It was only about two inches from the ceiling. The locals will tell you that they have no money because everything they had, was taken by the tsunami. It really is very sad.
On our way to Galle we stopped at the Peraliya Buddha Statue. This statue was placed close to the train tracks in the village of Peraliya as remembrance for the people who died in the tsunami. 1500 people died on a train in the village of Peraliya when the first waves of the tsunami hit. There are still abandoned houses all along the road to this monument.
It was really an eye opener for us visiting Sri Lanka and getting a glimpse of what it has been like for the people there. Don’t be afraid to ask the locals questions about it, they are among the most friendliest people we have met on our travels and are very open and honest about how it has effected their lives. Although highlights of trips are usually happy moments, it is really important to understand how this one event has affected the whole country and to truly immerse yourself in a culture, you have to understand the history and moments that led to how the people are today.
Highlight number four – The Beaches
Sri Lanka has some of the most amazing beaches. They have the softest sands and breathtaking views. We stayed in Kalutara, this was a red flag beach. This meant we weren’t able to swim in it because it was so dangerous. The sand apparently drops into deep water within a few metres of entering the sea. However, this stretch of coastline was amazing and you could walk right along it for miles. A lot of people complain about local men who are trying to get your business when you leave your hotels and go onto the beach. However, if you make small conversation with them, they do not actually bother you. They are just trying to make money for their families and actually their deals are much cheaper than the hotels offer you with more of an experience. There is so much to do in Sri Lanka but give some time to relax on its beaches if you can, they won’t disappoint.
What were everyone else’s highlights of Sri Lanka?!