Uncharted territory, for me at least. A couple of weeks touring the country, with an emphasis on the natural wonders of scenery and wildlife found in Sri Lanka. Aside from a trip to Sulawesi in Indonesia longer ago than I care to admit, this was a new part of the world for me.

Lured by tales of the amazing wildlife found all over the country, but especially in the national parks, by the dramatic & varied scenery, and by the opportunity to experience a truly different culture to anything in Europe, a route was planned to take is as much as possible. A full-on itinerary meant there wouldn’t be much chance for R&R, but it’s only a short hop from Sri Lanka over to the Maldives, so a few days there tagged onto the end would no doubt remedy any aching bodies and tired minds.

The route was a circular affair… Flying into Colombo before heading clockwise up into the northern central area, then working our way down and east to Yala National Park on the south-east coast, then back round to Colombo.

The whole country was amazing. The people were so friendly and welcoming, the landscapes beautiful and varied, and the wildlife spectacular at every turn. There’s far too much to condense into a blog post, but a few of the stand-outs were:

The sweltering hike to the top of Sigiriya ‘The Lion Rock’. It was mind-blowing to imagine how people carved a palace into the top of that rock so long ago… it must’ve been a sight to behold.

The journey from the lush and dense jungle surrounding Kandy with it’s precious gem industry, up into the mountains to Nuwara Eliya and the colonial-era tea plantations, and experiencing the dramatic change in climate en-route – think Borneo at the bottom, British at the top!

Yala National Park. What a place! Leopard, crocodile, mongoose, water buffalo, snake, langur monkey, macaque, deer, hornbill, eagle, peacock, fruit bat, warthog, openbill, stork, ibis, monitor lizard… it goes on. All this in one morning safari! Magical!

We had an amazing guide for the trip, who did the driving (this was a good idea, it was common to round a bend and find giant trucks coming towards you two abreast over both ‘lanes’) and was a font of knowledge about all things Sri Lanka. His passion for the country was infectious, and it made the trip all the more memorable.

Although sad to be leaving Sri Lanka, our time was up, and a strenuous few days in the Maldives beckoned. It was as you’d imagine there – idyllic – but the highlight by far for me, was swimming over the ‘house reef’ of the island we were on, accompanied by a bunch of black tip reef sharks. Amazing, graceful, elegant, and intriguing creatures in every respect. Loved it!