Sorry for not keeping this blog better up-to-date during my stay in Sri Lanka, but the internet connection wasn't good and I only had 8 days so needed to make the most of them!
All in all I've been very impressed with Sri Lanka and it continues creeping up on my charts of places to come back to. Eight days is not enough time to fully experience all this country has to offer. But, as always I did my best to squeeze in a lot, while at the same time trying not to rush it.
I thought this time I'd write about my favourite experiences in Sri Lanka, seeing as I didn't keep any diary form of information as I went.
1. ADAM'S PEAK
The fifth highest peak in Sri Lanka, it's also a very important pilgrimage site for both Christians and Buddhists. There's apparently a footprint indented into the rockface at the very top of the mountain and Buddhists believe it is the footprint of Buddha while Christians in the area believe it is the footprint of Adam (of Adam and Eve). The entire hike is only about 2 1/2 km BUT it is all uphill, complete with 5500 steps! To do the mountain right, it has to be hiked during the night to reach the summit in time for sunrise. So, this is exactly what I did. I set an alarm for 1:30AM and by 2AM I was sitting down for tea, then it was on my way up this behemoth of a hill! It was a gruelling hike, the ultimate stair master. There were a few times I had to dig deep, but honestly, I would do it again and it wasn't anything too intense. I decided at the base of the mountain that I'd finish the hike. I didn't really have to channel that "inner strength" or have any moments where I wasn't going to finish or anything. I found inspiration as I passed the 70+ year olds who were also progressing up the mountain to reach the pilgrimage site for sunrise...impressive!
Needless to say, at sunrise the view was completely stunning. Misty mountains, shimmering lakes, rolling hills, small villages... beautiful. My group hiked back down in record timing, deciding to run instead of walk so we wouldn't get jelly-legged. All in all, a great experience and highly recommended.
An ancient, abandoned kingdom atop a huge, odd-shaped rock that juts out of a relatively flat landscape. After touring the very well-done museum I hiked Sigirya at midday. It was incredibly hot which obviously led to some crazy amounts of sweating. So worth it though to tour the ancient ruins at the top and soak in the amazing views. Basically, Sigirya is Sri Lanka's version of Peru's Macchu Picchu.
Later on, in the evening just before sunset, I hiked a mountain 2 1/2 kms from Sigirya. There were no other tourists and the trail leading to the top was much less marked. At one point, we had to shimmy up a rockface then swing from a branch to get higher onto the rocks. But, we made it to the top and the view was even better than from Sigirya, because of course, we had Sigirya in plain sight as well! It was cooler, and with not one other tourist in sight,
3. NUWARA ELIYA
After an amazing train ride through the tea plantations and rolling hillside of Central Sri Lanka I arrived in Nuwara Eliya, a small town which is booming for two reasons: 1) making tea and 2) tourists coming to drink that tea. It's a really beautiful spot, although since we rose almost 2000 metres more above sea level you could feel quite a difference in the temperature. The hotel room bed even had a heavy duvet, which at night I needed to use! Big difference from other parts of Sri Lanka where using any blanket at night is too much!
Anyways, the morning after my arrival here I woke early and hired a jeep to take us to Horton Plains National Park. After entering the park I spent the morning hiking on foot throughout the park to a place called "The End of the World". It's a straight-edge drop some 2km above small villages with mountains in the backdrop. Pretty nice!
I also hiked to some waterfalls, but it was too chilly to swim.
So, I know I'm missing LOTS, but these were some of the biggest highlights for me. I would recommend anyone to visit this part of the world. But, everything about Sri Lanka was amazing! The people, the highlands, the beaches, the ancient ruins, the landscapes...everything!