Sri Lanka Blog - Tullys Travel

Sri Lanka Express Tour – G Adventures & Turkish Airlines.

        

 

I started my trip off in Dublin Airport where I met all my amazing travel companions.

We checked in with Turkish Airlines which was very quick & efficient.

Our flight route was Dublin – Istanbul – Colombo with a short stop in the Maldives for re-fuel. I don’t think anyone really minded the re-fuel in the Maldives because the photo opportunities were out of this world!!

 

 

Although the flight duration was long, I cannot recommend Turkish Airlines enough, their in-flight entertainment was top class, complimentary food and drinks and the seats were more than comfortable enough for the duration.

 

Arrival to Negombo – Welcome meeting.

 

On arrival into Colombo we met our G Adventures CEO (UD) who would be with us for the duration of our trip. His extensive knowledge of Sri Lanka was amazing, he was very interesting to listen to. We got onto our bus and met our driver & his helper who also would be with us for the duration.

 

**Quick Tip – On arrival in the airport, make your way to a foreign exchange desk and change some money. You can do this in the hotels but it’s always handy to have some money on you when you arrive**

 

We made our way to our first hotel – Jetwing Sea Hotel

 

The hotel is directly on the beach, absolutely gorgeous views. The hotel was a very good 4* standard hotel. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful.

 

After check-in we had a welcome dinner and some cocktails. The dinner was buffet style and had enough to suit every palate. After a long day of travelling we all hit the hay shortly after dinner for an early night.

 

 

Negombo – Mawanella – Kandy

 

 

After breakfast in the Jetwing Sea Hotel, we checked-out and made our way to Mawanella. Mawanella is renowned for its contribution to the world spice industry. We stop at the “New Paradise Spice & Herble Garden”. Our guide meets us on arrival and we begin our tour. We learned how various spices are used as medicines by the Sri Lankan people instead of Western Medicines. I think everyone bought something in the gift shop when we were leaving, some spices for their cooking or some natural remedies for at home.

 

** Quick Tip – Bring plenty of bug spray with you as you are walking in among a garden & plants**

 

After our visit to the Spice Garden, we set out again for our journey to Kandy. When we arrived to Kandy we stopped for lunch at the Sthree Craft Centre. We had a fantastic lunch of a few varieties of different curries.


 

The Sthree Craft Centre is one of G Adventures Planeterra projects. The Women’s Development Centre in Kandy has been working to create equal opportunities for women since 1986. This registered non profit organization runs programs to combat violence against women and empower them as equal members of society. Sthree is a handicraft shop for women entrepreneurs, Sthe was established in 2007. The artisans can thrive here as they receive training to improve their skills and social support.

 

After a little bit of shopping in Sthree, we make our way back to the bus for our journey to the next hotel.

 

 

 

We arrive at the Hotel Thilanka Kandy for check-in. This is going to be our home for the next two nights. Upon checking-into the room we notice a sign on the balcony door to “Beware of the Monkeys”. It wasn’t until the next morning that we were visited by the monkeys, running across our balcony, jumping from one balcony to the next. We had another amazing dinner at Hotel Thilanka Kandy.

 

Kandy

Starting off today we take an optional trip to visit a famous Temple in Kandy. We visited the “Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic” – a Buddhist temple, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. We witnessed a traditional Buddhist ceremony, the only way I can explain this is – very loud. There are drums banged and horns played. It was truly fascinating to see.

 

** Quick Tip – When visiting, remember you  are visiting a place of worship. Shoulders & knees must be covered, you will not be allowed enter in clothing considered too tight (i.e Gym leggings etc), you will be inspected going in. You can purchase shawls from vendors outside the temple to cover up but it’s just easier to be dressed appropriately going in)

After our temple visit we headed to what is termed an Ayurveda “HOSPITAL”. The title is a tad dramatic and does not specialise in hangover treatments but is a major Spa and health centre. Everyone opted to have some treatment or another, treatments are not included in the tour and were paid for directly by ourselves. I myself had a full body massage, it was a lovely experience and I would highly recommend stopping by here.

 

Back to the hotel again for dinner and sleep.

Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Ella Gap

 

After breakfast we check-out and say farewell to Kandy.

 

En-route to Nuwara Eliya we stop to visit a Tea Plantation. We tour the cool and misty hills where the tea grows in lush green blankets before being presented with the factory processing of Ceylon Tea. Obviously being a group of Irish Travel Agents, meant we had to sample a cuppa before we left.

We then board the “Blue Train” from Nuwara Eliya to Ella Gap. The Blue train is one of those lifetime experiences you never forget. The train travels through the most amazing scenery, through the green hills of the tea plantations and fabulous country side. You can open the doors of the train while it is moving and hang out to really see the countryside.

 

We arrive in Ella (The Back Packers Resort) and check-in to our hotel. Hotel Oak Ray Ella Gap. We have no organised dinner tonight so we all make our way out to the town and sample a local restaurant. Again the local restaurants have something to suit everyone. After dinner we had a few drinks and a not so early night.

 

The next morning, with a few sore heads we set out for a 3km hike up “Little Adams Peak” Although the word “hike” would put some people off, it was a very soft hike, not too steep.  A few difficult steps to climb but I promise the views alone from the top make it every bit worth while.

 

 

Back to the hotel to freshen up for a cooking demo. As we have realised by now Sri Lankan food is not just “Korma and stuff”. We made all different curries and everyone played their part. We had a great laugh and we all enjoyed our master pieces.

 

 

Ella – Udawalawe

 

The day everyone was most looking forward to has arrived… ELEPHANTS!!!

 

We arrive at Elephant Transit Home, this was optional but when we heard what it was nobody wanted to miss it. The Elephant Transit Home is an orphanage for baby elephants where they are rehabilitated until the are released back into the wild. We arrived just in time for feeding.

 

 

We then hopped into our Safari Jeeps and go in search for the elephants in their natural environment. We saw plenty of other wildlife such as barking deer, Sambur, Buffalo & Jackal. The highlight was definitely getting so close to the elephants.

 

 

After the Safari we head to the Big Game Camping by Eco Team to merge with nature for the night.

We arrive to pre-pitched tents, with a campfire where we are treated to a “Wilderness Dining Experience”. It has to be said, while this is a camping experience, it is more of a Glamping experience. The tents had separate toilets, showers and wifi so we weren’t really going Bear Grylls style. We sat around the campfire having a few drinks & of course a sing song until the early hours of the morning.

 

 

Udawalawe – Galle - Unawatuna

After breakfast at the Campsite we’re on the way to Galle, the southern capital City.

Dutch architecture dating back over 350 years are in abundance here. We have lunch in one of the bohemian style cafes “Pedlars Inn” located within the walled fort.

 

Late afternoon we drive to Unawatuna and check-in to our hotel J Hotel Unawatuna. We have a free afternoon here so some of us chose to stay by the pool and relax and others went exploring.

 

 

 

 

Unawatuna

 

The big day has arrived – A FREE DAY AT THE BEACH!!!!

 

We all headed to the beach for some maximum chill out. We had some lunch on the beach and then decided to visit the local fishermen stilt fishing. This was fascinating to watch.

 

After our farewell dinner at Coco Bay we head to King Fisher, a restaurant on the beach which also doubled as a night-club. We danced into the early hours before we got a Tuk-Tuk back to our hotel.

 

 

Homeward Bound

 

On our trek back to Colombo we are given the choice if we would like to visit a Sea Turtle sanctuary. Of course we all agree. We stopped off at the Victor Hasselblad Turtle Sanctuary . The main aim of the project is to monitor local sea turtle activity and conserve the local nesting sites.
One of the most important activities of the project is its hatchery. Within the sanctuary of the project, collected and rescued eggs can hatch safely away from predators before being released into the sea.

 

Another stop en route is to see the Bhamian Buddha Statue. The statue was erected after the biggest natural disaster struck on the 26th December 2004. A Tsu Nami killed 1700 people onboard a train within 10 minutes. The statue of Barmian Style Lord Buddha was erected as a mark of respect to the people that lost their lives in the village of Peraliya. More than 2500 people lost their lives and a village completely destroyed.

 

We arrive at Colombo Airport and once again check-in with Turkish Airlines for our flight home to Dublin. We fly over-night so we all had a good rest and were bright eyed and bushy tailed when we landed in Dublin.

 

Overall I had an amazing experience with G Adventures & Turkish Airlines. I cannot recommend both companies highly enough. Sri Lanka as a destination itself is truly breathtaking. Whether you are into chilling out on a beach or moving around exploring, there is something for everyone here. The local people are among the kindest and friendliest I have ever encountered on my travels.

 

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