Think Sri Lanka and most of you think white sandy beaches, 4 star hotels and cricket but with a 2000 year old culture, countless national parks and a seriously tropical climate it has so much more to offer.
We began our trip with the breath-taking train ride to Kandy; the cultural hub of Sri Lanka. This is the city in which many of the countrys leading figures choose to reside. It’s also home to the golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth and houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha. On a daily basis thousands of Buddhists and tourists alike visit the temple to pay their homage. At 500 m above sea level Kandy has its own micro climate, noticeably cooler and wetter than other urban areas the ever changing weather creates a rich green landscape.
Delving deeper inland we encountered the varied array of wildlife, home to elephants, water buffalo, a range of monkeys and even leopards, Sri Lankas national parks are simply worth a visit. But it’s the landscape that truly takes your breath away, from Stunning waterfalls to a multitude of ever green tea plantations the scenery really is spectacular. Houses and even farming plots have been carved into the dramatic steep sided mountains and mud slides are a continual problem . For the farming community it is a hard life and makes up the vast majority of Sri Lankas impoverished workforce. 70% of the country still live in third world conditions and a little inland away from the tourist hub it’s never too far away.
And if your not farming inland your living off the sea using traditional methods. Though these villages are very slowly beginning to be taken over by the tourist train – still in its infancy – with civil unrest now out of the way it’s only a matter of time before more of these sleepy villages are replaced by hotel fronts.
Of course the main reason people visit Sri Lanka is for its towering palm trees and white sand beaches… and there’s no shortage of these on this charming little island. Though the South now has a couple of established resorts it’s not too hard to find yourself lazing the days away on an empty desert of white sand and turquoise sea.