Sadly, a few spoil it for the many and Easter Sunday, 2019, saw a tragic attack on this country. Claimed by a group I won’t acknowledge and supposedly justified as retaliation for an equally abominable act in New Zealand more than 10,000 kilometres away.
Innocent victims lost lives and received extensive injuries. The futures of family and friends of these poor people have changed forever.
This is as much as I will mention about this cowardly behaviour.
This article is to remind us of the beauty and joy in Sri Lanka and how important tourism is to this small country.
Jetwing Travels arranged our adventure, with accommodation in fabulous Jetwing properties. One such property is Jetwing Kaduruketha in Wellawaya on the southeastern plains.
Kaduruketha is the first of Sri Lanka’s agro-eco-luxury resorts. This completely sustainable green development is made up of 25 luxurious bungalows nestled amidst paddy fields, waterfalls, hiking trails, and local village life.
This remarkable property caters to the energetic and the sedentary.
Mountain bikes are supplied to every guest. Cycling tours are arranged to visit the local village. While you’re there, share a meal with the residents and learn about their lifestyle and farming practices.
Jetwing Kaduruketha’s 60 acres is home to abundant bird and animal life. Fall asleep to the sound of frogs and wake to insistent peacocks.
The stunning swimming pool surrounded by lush farmland is perfect for your morning cardio or an afternoon nap.
Fruit and nut trees and an organic garden provide the ecological kitchen with the freshest of ingredients to prepare healthy and delicious authentic Sri Lankan cuisine.
As hard as it is to leave Jetwing Kaduruketha, there’s wildlife on the horizon.
A two-hour drive straight to the Indian Ocean brings you out at Yala National Park. Morning and afternoon safaris run daily in the park and as it has the highest concentrated leopard population anywhere, this is an experience you don’t want to miss.
By arranging your Sri Lanka adventure through Jetwing Travels you don’t need to concern yourself with ticket purchases, but if you haven’t, arrange them prior to arrival.
Of course, it’s not guaranteed you’ll see the spotted cat, but you will definitely see wild boar, water buffalo, peacocks galore, monkeys, spotted deer and you may meet elephant families and a few lone bulls.
The birdlife is plentiful, crocodiles cool off in dams and land monitors wander around finding shade.
Yala National Park is huge but the safaris are kept to a certain area where there are plenty of watering holes and dams attracting the bird and wildlife.
Jetwing Hotels has two properties adjacent to Yala National Park. Jetwing Safaris with its glamping ethos and Jetwing Yala next door, a truly wonderful resort with its own beach and 75-metre swimming pool.
This resort has resident monkeys, cheeky squirrels, wild boar families and the bull elephants from the park make the odd appearance.
Imagine being out on the ocean and experiencing the incredible breach of a blue whale. It’s not out of the question when you’re visiting Mirissa.
This coastal town has a thriving whale & dolphin watching industry. Tours begin around 7 am and generally last for five hours.
I know, it’s an early start, but when you’re on a boat surrounded by the beautiful Indian Ocean and a blue whale breaches, you’ll have no regrets about leaving that bed.
You’ll experience spinner dolphins playing alongside the boat. A lone sea turtle was only half interested in us as it swam by. What was most surprising was how beautifully clean the water was with very little debris near a busy shipping lane.
The coast road from Mirissa to Galle is lined with lovely locations to grab a beer and a bite to eat with your feet in the sand.
This is a prolific fishing area. The catch arrives early in the morning after a night of fishing. Boat maintenance, net repairs, produce sales and gossip are the order of the day with the market set up right where the boats land.
There are some pretty radical looking fish on sale and many you will easily recognise. Stop off for chat to learn a little about the fishing lifestyle.
Arriving in Galle, you’ll notice an interesting mix of native and Portuguese architecture. The Portuguese spent around a century in Sri Lanka expanding and contracting their presence along the coast depending on which King was in residence.
Their dominance was usurped by the Dutch in the 1600s so when you visit Galle Fort you may well forget you’re in Sri Lanka surrounded by all the Dutch architecture.
Galle Fort (or Dutch Fort) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and well worth visiting. You’ll need all day into evening for a leisurely stroll, visiting museums, churches, administrative buildings and the Commandants House.
Following the ramparts that saved Galle Fort from the 2004 Tsunami’s destruction takes you past the lighthouse. Seen from many angles on Instagram, it’s still quite cool in person.
Galle Fort is full of restaurants, cafes, shopping, spas and tours. You can find all levels of accommodation to suit your budget, so for historians, staying in this part of Galle would be quite a treat.
Our accommodation choice was Jetwing Lighthouse. Not far from Galle Fort, Jetwing Lighthouse is right on the beach with an incredible pool which we’ve come to expect from the fabulous Jetwing properties we’ve experienced.
The renowned Geoffrey Bawa designed property follows an interjoining open space plan making full use of the sea breezes and views. Installations and objet d’art throughout the property reproduce Sri Lanka’s history (some, not quite accurate but lovely just the same)
How does relaxing at the beach for a few days sound? I mean seriously kicking back on loungers under palm trees with the beach on one side and a huge swimming pool on the other.
Negombo Beach is the perfect place to do just that.
Mind you, there’s a lot more to do in Negombo than get a tan. Fishing trips and boat cruises through mangroves expose both the local resident’s way of life and native flora, fauna, and marine life.
Often referred to as “Little Rome”, Negombo’s large Roman Catholic community has 25 churches available for worship.
Regardless of your beliefs, St Mary’s is definitely worth a visit. You’ll recognise it by the pink exterior and, once inside, be amazed by the ceiling frescoes.
Negombo is an excellent place to begin or end your Sri Lanka adventure. Under ten kilometres from Bandaranaike International Airport, getting to Negombo is quick and easy. With Negombo’s four railway stations, getting to and from the rest of Sri Lanka is also a breeze.
At the Jetwing properties we experienced, all of them showed us incredibly open and embracing hospitality. Each property was unique but they all followed the Jetwing ethos - sustainability, luxury, community, customer service, and pride.
Sri Lanka’s wounds from Easter Sunday will heal and while still leaving scars, the country will prevail.
With stunning scenery, precious people, scrumptious cuisine and abundant wildlife, Sri Lanka is a place we love…. and we’re absolutely certain you will too!
Ayubowan (may you live long)
Shona’s award winning travel blog shares tips and tricks on where to eat, drink, explore & shop in any given destination. At home ordering street food or perusing a fine dining menu, she seeks out venues with a conscience who promote local produce and sustainability. Find her in markets, museums, art galleries and on walking tours as well as wineries, breweries, distilleries and restaurants. Wherever she is, she’s always looking for something a little different to share with her readers. Follow her travels at www.paraphernalia.co or subscribe to her Shenanigans Report http://paraphernalia.co/subscribe-form/ so as not to miss a post. firstname.lastname@example.org.