The second part to my Sri Lanka guide is dedicated to all things land. The beaches are stunning, but if you are more of a hiker, long grass wanderer and elephant lover then maybe the land is for you.
This guide is quiet glimpse of the heart of Sri Lanka, and I hope I can give you some sort of inspiration and tingling in the nether region to get up (LEAP) to your computer to book the ticket. Sometimes you need the tingle to let you mingle…shingles? Not a poet. Moving on.
Uduwalawe National Park:
Before heading off on my own trip I was confused! Where the hell do I go to get to this special wonderland of elephants? I was in deep need of elephant one-on-one time and I was panicked at the thought of maybe asking, but not receiving. However, young friendly human, I have some answers for you!
Arrive: Catch the bus or taxi
Any local will be able to help you with this. We chose bus, because we like the groove and the friendly price of one dollar. We took a bus from Dikwella to Embilipitya, then at this stop asked for Uduwalawe National Park. From there we caught the bus towards Ratnapura, and got off at Uduwalawe (the city) ! This took us around 3/4 hours. Taxi = self explanatory.
Depending on your budget you can stay closer or further from the actual national park. We chose bud-get, meaning $15AUD per night between two. We didn’t sleep due to some sort of animal-kingdom themed party going on in our hotel living room, but the price was right.
You can get your hotel to organise this for you. There are all separate costs for park entry, driver, tour etc however what you can do is to simply pay one price to your organiser. We paid $50 per person, and there were no surprise costs which I have read about. Surprises are not always as exciting as a dick in the box.
All you have to do now is pee* BEFORE you start the tour (usually at 5/5.30am), wear something warm even if you’re sweating- safari truck= chilly, and bring a camera because the list of synonyms to stunning, amazing and wowee bob are long and you shall need them all.
*peeing is essential if you do not want to have to do so directly beside where tour guide can keep an eye on you so that while you do so you don’t meet your untimely demise while doing your worst squat position. Tour is usually three hours with some bumpy roads for that small bladder of yours.
Hike here, go to the tea factories, buy tea, drink tea, explore the hills, have many pens in your bags to give the local children- or other fun trinkets- they love treasures! This is a hilly wonderland of green that provides a relaxing atmosphere regardless of where you stay.
Ella Rock Hike. We hired a tour guide, he showed us the way through the railroad tracks, tea leave gardens and up the rocky path of the mountain to a a view over the entire surrounding area of green hills covered in tea leaves and leaves of other plants I don’t know the names of- maybe grass!
It is incredible. Take a picnic up there and chill on the rocks. Take pics of you and bae. Just love life. Think philosophically, and take a mental snap while making the pretend photo-finger sign. Say “I’m lucky to be alive and to be here!” and believe it girl!
Wander around the streets of Ella, see the waterfalls with all the residents (local monkeys) and make mates with the locals. Everyone is so nice and eager to help. We arrived with one man down- fever- and the lady we stayed with recommended to us this tea that you can only find in Sri Lanka- Samahan!- its Ayurvedic medicine and all Sri Lankan people swear up and down by it. Try it if you’re there, and if you’re like us, bring home boxes of the sweet curing drink.
Banana, coconut and honey roti- this is similar to India’s roti except they roll it up in a tube and cook it that way. Its yum and you will like it.
Train from Ella to Kandy:
This is well known for being the MOST BEAUTIFUL TRAIN TRIP IN THE WORLD. It……IS!!!! We found that a lot of the trains around this hill-country area provide similar views, so don’t stress if you can’t book ahead, or the train is booked for the day you need. You have options. Friends of ours missed out, so they just took a taxi to the next stop and bought a ticket from there.
Buy ticket as soon as you arrive in the city and you should be golden. Third class reserve is what we took and its totally worth the $4 we paid.
The trains are generally right on time. And amazing, did I mention that?
Dambulla is this rarely mentioned little town with close proximity to one of Sri Lanka’s most well known attractions, Sigiriya Rock. Close-by are also other national parks filled with elephants and peacocks (the peacock sound is like a human voice! google it) as well as an incredible cave temple filled with lying Buddhas and intricate, colourful paintings.
Sigiriya Rock. WHAT? A palace on top of a rock? 500 concubines? One man?
The story behind this palace is almost as good as the place itself. I recommend getting a guide, to tell you all the little stories behind the place. Its cheap and worrrrrrth it. Our guide told us tales of the Monks who once inhabited the rock, taking down the naked paintings of the concubines (as it definitely distracted from meditation), the war between the king and the rightful heir to the throne and finally, his dramatic demise. The entire story and palace is an experience you will not easily forget. Breathtaking.
A short climb up a (mini) mountain and you are in these wondrous temples. Countless lying and sitting Buddhas to be seen, covered in intricate paintings of all colours and things. Well worth the visit.
Hope you find this useful and thanks, for, comin’ down.