Deep in the Indian Ocean, there is an emerald shaped island. Just 30kms off Kanyakumari at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula, and having been connected terrestrially for almost half a million years until just 10,000 years ago, one would think that Sri Lanka would be an extension of South India. Coming from South India, I disagree partially. The roots are there but the country evolved her own identity and I feel it is an easier to navigate version of Southern India.
I didn’t know what to expect, so was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at quite a modern Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. The airport is named after Sirimavao Bandaranike who became the world’s first non-hereditary female head of government in modern history, when she was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1960.
Our good friends Chris and Jean, planned our itinerary and showed off their country. From Colombo, we drove down to Galle stopping along the way to see the 2004 Tsunami memorial. We walked around the fort and waterfront in Galle and then overnighted for a couple of nights in Unawatuna. The beach is fantastic and the resort was literally on water’s edge.
On our way back to Colombo, we did a few pit stops one at Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project. It was enlightening and total recommend a visit here. We also stopped by at Ariyapala Mask Museum and it was fascinating to see the workshop as well as the intricate mask museum. I heard so much about stilt fishing, so our driver found a spot where they were stilt fishing. It is unique but felt a bit cheated as this set up was for show and tourists!
We stayed at the iconic Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo. It is a colonial hotel with a history of over 210 years. We enjoyed Sri Lankan cuisine as well as the nightly puppets /dance show. The beach and sunsets were spectacular.
We totally enjoyed our week in Sri Lanka but our highlight has to be spending a half day at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage located inland 90kms from Colombo. These days ethical travellers want to support animal welfare programs and see examples of a positive impact. While Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage has some reason to raise concerns, I totally believe they are doing vital work in conservation. Let’s accept that the world is not perfect nor is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage perfect.