Our train from the tea country stopped just before our next stop, Ella, because a landslip further down the track. I was a little anxious but my boyfriend reminded me to ‘go-with-the-flow’ when travelling and we didn’t need to be anywhere on time anyway. Half an hour later the landslip (which must have been small) was fixed and we reached our destination safely.
In Ella (which means waterfall) we stayed at the 99 Acres Resort in a room that reminded me of a tree house in a Disney movie.
We arrived when it was dark, so it was only the next morning that we realised we were nestled on the edge of a beautiful valley with these breathtaking views from our balcony.
After enjoying breakfast with a view, we hired another driver to take us to Yala National Park. On the way we passed the pretty waterfall that ‘Ella’ is named after. As we descended further down the mountains and away from the tea country, the temperature and humidity started to rise to almost unbearable levels.
We arrived around midday at the modern Jetwing Yala, one of the only hotels inside the national park and right next to the Indian Ocean. After a quick lunch we hopped into the back of a jeep for a 3 hour safari tour. We saw all kinds of animals in their natural habitat including water buffalos, spotted deer, elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, wart hogs and peacocks. We were told that it’s very rare to see a leopard but we were lucky enough to see four! It was an unexpectedly exciting and fun-filled afternoon.
Our next stop was Galle, an interesting coastal town on the West coast of the island. It was a long drive and our driver stuck to the inland route because of traffic on the coastal route. But we could admire the stilt fisherman and colourful boats on the turquoise-coloured Indian ocean when the driver ventured onto the coastal road a few times.
Our accommodation in Galle at Kahanda Kanda is not worth recommending because the service was very poor and we didn’t feel welcome at all. So we spent most of our time at the Galle Fort exploring the little shops on the cobblestone paths that reminded me of a European city. We also spent one morning learning about the interesting history of the Fort on a walking tour.
In the evening on both days in Galle, we walked along the Fort walls admiring the beautiful view. On the first evening, large drops of rain started to fall soon after we took these photos. So we ran to the shops and found hot tea and biscuits at the Heritage Cafe. After the rain subsided we wandered over to the beautiful hotel Amangalla for a very special Western dinner.
Luckily, it didn’t rain on our second and last evening so we managed to take plenty of photos in the sunset.
When it became dark, we strolled to the Dutch Hospital Precinct and enjoyed a drink on a hammock looking over the ocean at the Hammock Bar. For dinner, we wandered downstairs to The Tuna and The Crab and ate a delicious Japanese feast of sushi, sashimi with olive oil and garlic, chicken curry and rice and tempura udon noodles which included a tempura curry leaf. It was comforting and simply delicious, we still talk about it today. I never thought Japanese food in Sri Lanka could be that good.
After two days in Galle we circled back to Colombo and stayed another two nights at Tintagel to see my family (especially my grandmother) again. My cousin Miss S took us gift shopping for friends and family in Australia at Crescat Shopping Mall, the Racecourse and Laksala.
And then sadly we were off, back to reality in Sydney (via Singapore). It’s a good thing that Sydney is a pretty city to come home to!
– Wifi is available at almost every hotel and even at some restaurants.
– Always wear mosquito repellant, even in the colder areas like Nuwara Eliya where we were caught out and bitten a few times.
– We had different drivers for every leg, organized through the hotels. I have heard it’s cheaper to have one driver for the entire trip, though, so check with your travel agent.
– Wear something respectful to the temples, like a shawl or knee-length skirt to cover your shoulders and legs.
– Most people speak English, especially at the hotels. They will love to practice their English skills with you.
– Try to find the metered tuk tuk drivers. If you can’t, try to negotiate the price before getting into the tuk tuk because they are known for scamming both locals and tourists.