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After the stressful last weeks it was wonderful to escape into the warm. I am not a fan of Asia but I wanted to give Sri Lanka a try as I heard a lot of positive about the Island. On the world map Sri Lanka is „below“ Inda just above the equator. I have been to India some years back, Sri Lanka remindes me a lot of that, it just nicer and cleaner. Tourism is still growing (but already has a lot), the civil war just ended some years back (2009).
Because I was not having any time to plan this trip we decided to go with a private guide on an individual planned tour (Riswan private tours). Well this was a disappointment. Hotels were just big Tourist places, food was bad and just buffet. Our guide was nice, but his idea of a tour was taking tourists from one tourist attraction to another without any local/cool stuff. We had to discuss if we want to leave before 9am! All attractions are very expensive for tourists (sometimes 25times the local price). But of course we made the best of it. Everything went well and even with a stupid guide we had a good time. Here a little bit about the trip.
From Stuttgart we flew via Abu Dhabi to Colombo (free business class upgrade for the second flight :D) and arrived 2:30 am. Immigration was super quick (ok we were the first ones there). Our Hotel, Villa Arylia, was in Negombo just 1 block away from the beach and not far from the airport. We didn’t do much except getting used to the warm and super humid temperatures. Second day our tour started and we were picked up by driver and guide in a very run down vehicle. First destination was Sigiriya, on of the highlights of Sri Lanka. I was surprised about the heavy traffic on the road. It took ages. Sigiriya is a palace build on a big rock 150m above the ground. We climbed it in the afternoon in the sun and we were almost dying like the many many other tourists around. Totally crowded, I was really surprised!!! But the view from the top was fantastic. Next 2 days we spend in Kandy. The tooth temple was far too crowded with tourists so we skipped that, but we went to see a dancing and fire show, which was nice. Also we visited an Elephant orphanage in Pinnewala.
From Kandy we drove into the Highlands (Nuvara Eliya) to see the Tea Factories and try some of the Black Teas they produce. The first little hike was in the morning to Worlds End. It is recommended to be there before 9am otherwise there will be clouds and you look against a white wall. But due to the unwisely chosen hotel location by our tour-operator it took ages to get there (almost 3 hours – we started to drive 6am)… but luckily also after 9 am we had a good view.
(My) Highlight of the trip was the climb of Adams peak. The mountain is important to 4 world religions (Buddhism, Christian, Muslim, Hindu) and every Sri Lankan has to be on top at least once. On top you find a monastery with a foot print of Buddha, Adam or Shiva…. depending on the religion. The climb is demanding so you start in the middle of the night – if you are fit. Old people overnight on the way or start much earlier. The whole track has electric lights and lots of tea houses on the way. You have to climb more than 1000m and more than 5200 stairs. We stayed the night in Dalhousie and left the Hotel at 2am. It was very impressive to see the whole way to the top in light. And a lot of people were on their way – too many. On weekends during pilgrim season it is almost impossible to reach the top. Everyone was there – young, old, sick, tourists… We went on a Sunday to Monday night during pilgrim time, so not the weekend anymore, still the top was super crowed. We actually did not make to the very top (stopped 10 Meters before where the view was great). The last meters were simply just stepping on each other’s feet and being pushed around. Not such a great atmosphere as you read about. But if it on a less crowded day it is much more impressive. I could find myself + tripod a little spot and waited for the sunrise. It was a little too cloudy to see the sun, still it was very impressive. The way down was a killer for the legs. Luckily I brought my sticks (I could still feel my legs some days after…).
The same day we took a train from Nanuoya to Ella which was impressive. The slow train through the highlands is considered as one of the best train tracks in the world – it was wonderful. In Ella we stayed one night and hiked to the Small Adams peak which is just a little mountain with a good view. After that the idea was to do a Safari in Yala National Park but my stomach was on strike and I was feeling horrible. So we skipped the Safari experience. The rest of the trip was relaxing on the beach in Tangalle which was wonderful. Our Hotel (Seven Turtles) was directly at the beach (Rekawa Beach) in the middle of palm trees. Almost no people around, empty and clean beach – just perfect. And the food in the hotel was good, and my stomach fine again, so we had a great end.
Well Sri Lanka has its lovely parts, especially the countryside which is super nice. But I was not so happy with the way we were treated. I prefer a welcoming atmosphere instead of a “money in the eyes” atmosphere. But with the always changing landscape and great beaches definitely a good destination.

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