After the tranquil East coast beaches and the mythic Ancient cities, it was time to dive into the luscious green paradise of Ella, the wildlife adventures of Uda Walwe and the famous beaches in the South.
Day 8 & 9 Ella
Definitely one of my favourites, Ella is a true all-green gem! The change of scenery from the white sand beaches or the busy Colombo and Kandy was dramatic! I just couldn’t get enough of the intense green hills of this charming little village.
I decided Ella was my place for spoiling so I treated myself to this wonderful little hotel called Laura, situated right on the top of the hill. Despite being extremely difficult to leave my so comfy bed, waking up to the view from my terrace was priceless!
Along with the stunning views, the generous breakfast, the sooo delicious veggie curry and the most adorable bear-like puppy in the world made this place just so hard to ever leave.
On my first day in Ella I headed to Ella rock, ambitious to find it myself. There are plenty of blogs that give you detailed directions but I was lucky to meet some nice guys who knew well the way. Even if you are not, the path gets busy with fellow enthusiast all heading to the same place, so it’s really hard to miss. Despite the crowds, the views from Ella rock are truly breathtaking and the sweaty climb was well worth it.
Hungry for more hiking adventures and pretty vistas, I also went to Nine Arch bridge (didn’t make it for that perfect train picture though) and through the tea plantations to Little Adam’s peak. After probably exceeding my monthly step target in two days a rest with coconut on my so adorable hanging wicker chair was just the perfect end to my time in Ella.
Postponing my departure from this green oasis as long as I could, I left Ella in the late afternoon. I could hear the elephants and the crocodiles in Uda Walwe calling my name, so 2 bus journeys later (changing quickly at Welawaya) I arrived in my home for the night.
Day 10 Uda Walawe
The hosts at Enjoy Paradise Safari Homestay were absolutely lovely and truly made us feel at home. Along with cooking us amazing home dinner, they helped arrange the safari on the next day. We started off at 5am, just in time to catch the amazing sunrise on our way to the park. Two minutes after entering the park with our safari jeep we saw our first Mr. Elephant carelessly wandering around the bushes. I knew this place was perfect for spotting wild elephants, but I wasn’t really expecting so many! Couples, families, babies – everything! Walking, sleeping, eating, drinking, bathing! Watcing the pace of these animals was simply amazing!
We were also lucky to see all sorts colourful birds (bee-eater being my favourite), delighted mud-bathing water buffalos, totally confused baby jackals, lazy mongoose, mighty and (I honestly thought) magnificent crocodiles, cheeky monkeys and many many others.
We returned to our homestay after 10, pleased to discover a delicious feast, showcasing all treats Sri Lankan breakfast has to offer in a single go – plain hoppers, string hoppers, egg roti, coconut roti, coconut pancakes and not sure what else. Oh well! Hard life it is!
Stuffed and happy we left our Uda Walwe home with a convenient direct bus to the south coast. I was getting off at Mirissa, heading for my last few days of sea adventure and blissful beach time.
Day 11, 12, 13 Mirissa
I did spend a significant amount of time considering where exactly I should spend my last few days. Mirissa was the final winner because of its pretty bay, offering a bit more life than the peaceful Tangalle, but yet with still a lot of unspoiled charm left compared to the more touristy Unawatuna.
You could feel that it was the low season in Mirissa. Some restaurants and hotels were closed and but perhaps this gave the place an extra slice of calmness. The weather was just perfect. Quite hot and sunny, but for sun-obsessed person like me, I didn’t mind. The only tricky bit when visiting in the low season though is that the sea is very rough and the crazy waves can often give you an unexpected salted wash and greedily steal away all carelessly left on the beach belongings (flip flops being their favourite).
Despite that I still enjoyed my chilled time in Mirissa. I stayed in a place called Surf and Yoga, just to add an extra level chillness to it all. Despite that it’s located a bit further from the main beach, the place is really lovely with cool spacious all-wood rooms, hanging hammocks, yoga sessions every morning and afternoon and surf lesson every day. The afternoon yoga classes were particularly amazing, as while you’re downward-facing-dogging you can enjoy a terrific view from the little hill, surrounded by the palm trees, right by the ocean (well…upside down). The beautiful sunset after yoga is just what you need to make this whole experience just perfect.
I also decide to test my non-existing surfing skills, which was quite fun, despite I know I am not a surfer by heart.
I also rented a scooter for two days, which (except of making me feel as happy as a kid in a candy store) (and except of giving me the weirdest sun burn on the top of half of my hands) made exploring the neighbouring beaches amazing!
As my constantly-running-into Italian friends advised I also went one morning to Polena beach to swim with the turtles. I was a bit unlucky with the current this day, which made the dozens of turtles from the previous day disappear, but I could at least sea one, which was still worth the little journey.
I also went to Udawatuna one day, just to make sure I haven’t missed out on something. I wasn’t left that impressed and the low season seemed a bit more obvious here with many ghost restaurant and seemingly empty hotels. The journey to Udawatuna was very interesting though, as it was the peak of the Vesak celebrations, which meant colourfully decorated streets, lots of music and lights, as well as people stopping everyone on the road just for a treat on the go! Vesak is one of the biggest Buddhists holidays, celebrating the birth of Buddha and it was quite a unique and vibrant experience, a never ending feast down every street of Sri Lanka.
My time in Mirissa went too quickly and the time to go home was unfortunately approaching.
Day 14 Galle – Colombo – Home 😦
I decided to make the most of my last day and as my flight was leaving at 3am in the morning meant I had a whole day and night for a last portion of adventures.
After a final morning swim in the ocean, followed by the routine banana pancake breakfast, I was on my way to Galle. I decided to spend few hours in Galle before getting on the train to Colombo.
You can leave your backpack conveniently at the station and freely enjoy few hours wandering in Galle fort, exploring the cute galleries and arty cafes hidden in the colonial buildings. Do make a stop at a place called Poonie’s for a cold lemonade and a veggie delight.
The train to Colombo is indeed very scenic but do make sure you get a window seat with the window wide open as it gets quite hot.
I arrived at Colombo quite late and I had just enough time to pick up a pack of my favourite ginger biscuits and head to the airport. I was very ambitious to take the public bus, however the celebrating crowds on the streets made it quite difficult to find my way to the right bus. A final tuk-tuk ride was the solution, which to be honest was how this magical trip was supposed to end. A true fairy tale in a land of adventures and colourful memories.
Slideshow Sri Lanka!