Sri Lanka - Island of Senses
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|Itinerary: Colombo -> Wattala -> Negombo -> Mihintale (walking) -> Anuradhapura -> Sigiriya (hiking) -> Polonnaruwa -> Dambulla -> Kandy -> Pinnawela (Elephants orphanage) -> Nuwara Eliya -> Horton Plains (hiking, optional climbing up Adam's Peak) -> Nanu Oya (nostalgic train) -> Bandarawela -> Ella -> Tissamaharama -> Yala Nationalpark (Safari, optional) -> Mirissa -> Kogalla -> Galle -> Colombo|
Sri Lanka Travelblog made4you1. Day:
Flight with Qatar Airways from Munich to Colombo with stopover in Doha.
Arriving on Colombo airport in early morning. Fahrt nach Wattala zum Pegasus Reef Hotel in the north of Colombo. The beach with offshore breakwaters is heavily polluted with garbage of prosperity - Swimming in the sea in Wattala is not advisable. In the distance you can see the skyline of Colombo.
In the afternoon city sightseeing in Colombo. In the district Fort is located the Downtown of Colombo with it's prominent glas towers of the World Trade Center. In Colombo I believe there is nothing of interest you must have seen on a Sri Lanka trip. Tonight in Wattala heavy rain and thunderstorms, extrem high humidity.
At 8 o'clock departure along the cinnamon channel from the dutch colonial period to Negombo, visiting the fishermen's harbour and walking arround the fischmarket with dry fisch production. For 500 Rupis photo fee a Ceylonesischer snake charmer shows us his frightening spitting king cobra.
|People in the region between Colombo and Negombo are Christians. On every street corner you can see life-size statues of holy saints. Apostle Petrus quards the fish market in Negombo.|
Extrem bad road to Anuradhapura. After noon heavy rain as usual. We stay overnight in a dingy room (mold on the wall) of the Lodge Miridiya which is located just outside of Anuradhapura on a idyllically lake.
|A bike ride through the extensive ancient ruins of Anuradhapura is not possible because of the heavy rain. Instead, we take the bus and drive through the highly dilapidated ruins. Reputedly the oldest and most sacred Bodi tree in the world has closed just from 12 to 14 o'clock. Why Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are Unesco World Heritage Sites is beyond me.
Afternoon (15:30 o'clock) we drive to the bizarre rock formations of Mihintale. The climb (800 steps) in the pouring rain barefoot on the slippery rocks is a challenge. We are constantly harassed by Sri Lankans who want help for money when climbing up and down.
|Departure 8:30 o'clock. Visit to a rice factory, then short stop at Aukana Buddha. The Buddha statue is 13 m high and dated to the the 5th century. Lunch in the cosy Sigiriya Village Hotel with swimming pool and direct view to the breathtaking Sigiriya rock. Sehr gute Ayuvera Massagen für 1000 Rs. From 15:00 o'clock ascent in the pouring rain through the paws of a gigantic lion and up spiral metal staircases to the sexy clouds girls, then for those who are not afraid of heights, continue up to the Sigiriya summit plateau.|
The rock art of erotic clouds girls are made in the 5th century. In my opinion, the imagination of the restorers has gone through at the sight of naked breasts and they have clearly overemphasized the advantages of these beautiful girls.
The way back leads through giant boulders, pasing the giant cobra cave. In here a Cyclops could have been at work.
|Tip: Not far from the Sigiriya Rock is located Pidurangala, another magma block - not quite as high - but with excellent views to the Lion Rock. Below the Pidurangala rock you find a small monastery and on the way up, we visit a reclining Buddha.|
|Arrival at the hotel The Village Polonnaruwa at 19:15 o'clock. In the ordinary bungalows there is no safe and no wardrobe. Caution, dinner at the "Hotel The Village Polonnaruwa" is extremely bad and expensive.|
Tip: In the immediate vicinity of the beautiful hotel The Lake located right to the lake with excellent and beyond still much cheaper food. With a little luck you can watch the early morning bathing by the pool terrace of The Lake Hotels wild elephants.
Walking through the ruins of Polonnaruwa partly on foot, partly sightseeing by bus. The weather is slowly getting better. The granite statues of Gal Vihara Buddha show Buddha in lying, sitting and standing position. They are very detailed, even the pillow where Buddha lays his head is pressed.
We drive along the huge water reservoir and on lonesome narrow roads with lovely avenues through rice fields to Dambulla. On our way we watch a 3 m long sleeping crocodile lying at a small river. Here is "Bathing prohibited". Because the crocodile is not moving for a long time, some fellow travelers claim, the crocodile is made of plastic and placed on the riverside only for the stupid Tourists.
UNESCO World Heritage Site cave Temple of DambullaThe sightseeing of the over 2000 years old UNESCO World Heritage Site cave Temple of Dambulla, is the absolute Highlight of every Sri Lanka tour.
The first cave, named Devarajalena or God king cave, is dominated by the 14 meters long reclining statue of the dying Buddha. The second cave is the biggest and contains 16 upright and 40 sitting Buddha-Figures and also the Hindu Gods Saman and Vishnu. Due to the larger than life-sized statues of the kings Vattagamani (1. century before Christ and Nissanka Malla (12. century) this cave is called Maharajalena, the cave of the big kings. The third cave is named Maha Alut Vihara and contains ca 50 Buddha Statues. The fourth and fifth caves are much smaller and less elaborately decorated.
|On the continuation of our journey to Kandy short stop and guidance with following sales show in a spice garden. The Swiss Residence Hotel is beautifully situated on a hillside above Kandy.|
Kandy, the secret capital city of Sri Lanka consists of many Colonial buildings and was a summer resort of the British.
City tour through Kandy, visiting the Tooth Temple, gemstone grindery with sale show. The head of the gemstone grindery has guided the former Federal President Richard von Weizsaecker and his wife in Sri Lanka. Hiking to a gigantic, 40 m high Buddha statue below Kandy Swiss Residence Hotel on the nearby hills with beautiful views. A spiral staircase in the back leads up to the head of snow-white Buddha statue. In the evening we visit a tourist show of the famous Kandy dancers and fire-eaters.
At 7:30 o'clock Departure by bus to Djoser Elephant Orphanage Pinnawela. First the elephant babies drink their milk bottles. Then, the whole herd of elephants is posing on a hill to take photos. For a small donation a Mahut took me in the middle of the elephant herd of about 50 animals. Then the entire elephant herd is led through the tourist mile to swim in the nearby river.
Afternoon tour through the Bothanic Garden of Kandy or stroll through the city of Kandy. In the King's Street 44 in Kandy, I found a very nice hotel in old english colonial style Royal Bar and Hotel. Return by Tuc Tuc to Swiss Residence Hotel.
The weather conitions are getting better that hot air ballooning would be possible now. But the balloon launch is at 6 clock in the morning in Dambulla. I should arrive on my own initiative to meet the starting site, Justin from the balloon company "Srilankaballooning" would not let me pick up from Kandy. With a taxi I would have to leave Kandy at 3:30 o'clock and take the risk if the taxi driver finds the balloon launch site in time ? This is too dangerous with the poor local knowledge of the Sinhalese, so Ballooning does not take place in Sri Lanka for me :o((
Ride into the highlands passing the huge tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya. Stop at the tea factory Glenloch Tea Factory. Sightseeing at the old tea machines and tasting the world famous Ceylon tea. We stay overnight in the centrally located Hotel Windsor.
In Nuwara Eliya we visit some impossante colonial buildings rebuild as hotels, the old post office, a lake and a golf course. In the center of Nuwara Eliya there is a large market for cheap outdoor clothing.
Optional excursion hiking around in the 2000 m high Horton Plains National Park or climb up the Adam's Peak at sunrise over 15000 steps. Unfortunately due to lack of good advice I decided to go for the boring walking tour in Horton Plains National Park and therefore missed the adventure of Adam's Peak ascent.
The Horton Plains National Park, there are deers, birds of prey, sea eagles, bizarrely shaped trees and a remarkable waterfall, called Baker's Fall. But first we get to the World's End, a 1300 m deep canyon to the sea. In the national park house a stuffed leopard and an elephant's skull are on exhibition.
By train, a small narrow-gauge railway with nostalgic old Thyssen Henschel Diesel locomotive built in Kassel Germany in the year 1979 we drive through tunnels, passing the big tea plantations of Nanu Oya by Bandarawela. The highest point of the mountain range is 1898 meters. I can sit in the Diesel locomotive beside the engine drivers. The train consists of two passenger and four freight waggons. But proper railway nostalgia will not rise by the passengers, therefore a steam engine would be necessary.
Arriving at the train station in Bandarawela we continue our tour with the Djoser bus to Ella. On the way we make a short stop at the small Dowa Cave Temple at Bandarawela.
|Just arrived in Ella it is heavy raining again. After lunch and a cappuccino at the Dream Cafe we continue our Sri Lanka roundtrip to Tissamaharama to the most beautiful hotel of the entire Djoser tour, the Priyankara Hotel. The hotel is picturesquely situated in the rice fields. The rooms are well equipped. We continue our trip and make a short stop at a waterfall beside the road. Poor Sinhalese people sell beautiful minerals and crystals, they have found along the river. 5 stones cost Rs 200.|
In the early morning we have the possibility for a safari in Yala National Park. Some passengers were lucky to see one of the rare leopards in the wild. With swimming stop at the southernmost point of Sri Lanka and the Blow Hole in Dickwella we drive to Kogalla. Of course it rains again.
|14. and 15. Day:
Half day trip by urban bus to the colonial city and UNESCO World Heritage Site Galle. The bus station in Galle is located directly in front of the Dutch Fort, the one way ticket is 30 Rs. The distinctive clock tower was built in 1883. Because of the massive city walls, which were build by the Dutch, Galle was largely spared by the tsunami. Many Dutch colonial buildings have been converted into luxury hotels. Because of today dominating Islamic population most of the restaurants have no license for alcohol serving.
On the mile-long flat sandy beach ofn Kogalla huge up to 4 m high waves are running onto the beach. Swimming in the sea is there too dangerous. Slowly we get used to the day and night pounding surf. Directly on the beach north of the Kogalla Beach Hotels we visit a sea turtle breeding station.
Women traveling alone are often harassed while walking on the beach or swimming in Kogalla and Negombo by young Sinhalese men with dubious offers. Even male tourists are accosted. Oddly enough, only young men in Sri Lanka make this dubious business, women I've never experienced.
Roundtrip with a rented scooter to Weligama and Mirissa. On the beach of Weligama you can go at low tide dry feet to Taprobane island, with its lovely small luxury hotel built 1925.
Near Weligama and south of Kogalla you can see the famous Sri Lankan stilt fishermen. Taking photographs of the "One Dollar Indian of Sri Lanka" is only possible by throwing hard cash.
|In Mirissa we can swim better, as the sea is much calmer than in Kogalla due to the offshore islands. In Weligama there is a large fishing port - to visit, of course, for an entry fee. Between November and April tours are offered in Mirissa for Whale Watching. With a little luck you can observe blue whales, sperm whales and dolphins.|
16. and 17. Day:
6 hours drive for 140 kilometers from Kogalla to the airport with lunch break in Colombo ! Return from Colombo Airport via Doha with Qatar Airways and arriving in Munich in the early morning.
The entire Sri Lanka trip was perfectly organized by the Djoser travel agency. Never were there waiting periods or other complications. Our tour guide Shathis knows Sri Lanka as his pocket and is very committed. The Djoser tour bus was comfortable and our bus driver drove very prudently between the extremely ruthless Ceylonese racers.
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