I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Sri Lanka. I had heard varying opinions like, “It’s just like India” and “It’s nothing like India”. So naturally, having been to India before, I was quite keen to see for myself what Sri Lanka was really like. I was not disappointed. The landscapes, the tea plantation routes – there was rich green all over as we drove from town to town.
As we drove in this quite tropical climate, we could clearly see the rich culture of the people and the British influence still evident in some of the building structures and surroundings. This is the case especially in Colombo, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya (also known as Little England).
The name ‘Ceylon’ (Sri Lanka’s former name during the time of the British rule) is still seen on some buildings. There have been talks to remove all references to the name Ceylon, but signs still exist, especially in Colombo.
There were many highlights on my trip to Sri Lanka, but the two which stood out the most were Sigiriya Rock and the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home.
Sigiriya Rock stands at nearly 200 metres high. You can climb this rock at your own pace – it took me an hour to get to the very top of the rock with my very minimal level of fitness. Don’t forget to climb the odd two ‘standalone’ steps to ensure you actually get to the top of Sigiriya Rock. Missing these two steps is tantamount to an incomplete climb!
There are levels to the climb, so there’s no worries if you can’t make it to the top. Stopping at either of the two separate lower levels is still no mean feat. However, I would not recommend this to anyone with mobility issues, due to the height and the fact that there are lots of winding (and at times steep and narrow) steps.
Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home
My second ‘not soon to be forgotten’ highlight was the visit to the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. These creatures are just absolutely gorgeous, somewhat human in their cheekiness and playfulness. So surreal!
We arrived in time for the feeding of the elephants, which is the real reason people go here. There is a certain order to this. The elephants, without a prod from the handlers, know where to go and when to wait their turn for feeding. It’s all so orderly.
This home does such an amazing job at looking after sick, injured elephants, nursing them back to health before releasing them into the wild. Although we didn’t experience it (it probably would have been too emotional for me!), we were told that days where an elephant is due to be released into the wild can be quite emotional. The elephants often come back and use their trunks to hug the handlers, not letting go. This is a beautiful thing for the elephants and the handlers, albeit quite sad too.
On the way out of the transit home, there are opportunities to drop a donation. This is not mandatory and you can give whatever amount you choose to.
Sri Lanka is definitely a place I would love to return to – there’s still so much more I’d like to see and so many more places to explore.
Visit Sigiriya and the Elephant Transit Home on ‘The Best of Sri Lanka’.