A Holiday for the Soul
After an extremely busy year, we both felt like we needed a total break. Unusually for us, we decided not to organise an active holiday. Instead, this holiday was going to be about relaxation and restoring our mental and physical well-being.
We chose Reddot Tours and in consultation with them settled on a three location trip. We would start our tour in Kalpitiya on the west coast, then travel inland to Sigyria and finish up in the tea plantation hills above Kandy in the Santani Wellness Resort..
We were picked up at the airport by Vajira, our driver, having paid extra for a fast-track service through immigration. That turned out to be a smart move as for very little we were able to transit quickly into a lounge while our passports were stamped and our bags retrieved.
It was an evening arrival and so we sped through the crowded roads in darkness. To be honest, the roads and driving are bad and it was a relief to finally reach our cabin by the sea.
We were tired by now, so with the sound of pounding surf filling the air we flopped down on our beds and were soon asleep.
Wild Waters — Palagama Beach
The following morning we woke to find that our small resort was indeed close to the sea. The sea was wild however and not safe for swimming. That was okay though, because there was a beautiful pool.
We lounged through our day, strolling down the golden beach and soaking up some sunshine. The food was buffet style and excellent — I love curries.
We stayed at Palagama Beach in the Begonia Villa. Very relaxing and a great setting.
Sigiriya — The Water Gardens
Our next stop was the Water Garden complex at Sigiriya. This is a beautiful, modern site with a large central dining hall and entertainment building.
The accommodation offered includes villas with a small private pool which you can see in the picture below. The food and standard of accommodation is very good.
Sigiriya — A Rock Fortress
The big draw for staying at the Water Gardens is the ease of access to Sigiriya.
“Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most dramatic, inspiring and beautiful historical locations in the world. Sigiriya is a fortress-palace which was built atop a towering rock in the 5th century. A mythic past of feuding dynasties enhances Sigiriya’s striking setting.”
Climbing The Rock
As you can see from the photo, it is possible climb the rock. You do need a head for heights, although it is actually very safe. A large steel staircase winds around the immense rock and take you to the summit.
On the summit, in addition to unbelievable views, there is a very large fortress-palace. It reminds me a little of Mach Pichu.
Elephants in Minneriya Park
We had been on an African safari a couple of years previously and so we were keen to spend some time with Sri Lanka’s elephants.
At this time of the year, very large numbers congregate in Minneriya Park as there is a good supply of water. During an unforgettable afternoon we saw hundreds of elephants who were moving around in large family groups. This was a spell-binding close encounter.
The Natural Environment
The landscape we visited was often densely vegetated and there were also many areas given over to crops.
On one evening while eating supper we were slightly alarmed when a large bull elephant appeared quite close to where we sitting. The staff responded quickly and with a couple of fire-crackers, the elephant dissolved into the night.
There are lots of birds to see and I was pleased to spot a Snake Eagle which spent a lot of time hunting around the lakes while we were at the Water Gardens.
Santani Wellness Resort
Our trip climaxed with a week at the Santani Wellness Resort.
Perched in the tea plantation hills, Santani is a high quality ayurvedic treatments, but also offers relaxation treatments too.
We went the whole hog, starting with a consultation with an ayurvedic practitioner who prescribed treatments for us over the course of a week.
These mainly consisted of many different kinds of massage and oil therapy as well as yoga.
The food at Santani is excellent and the pavilion where meals are served has amazing views on all sides.
Sri Lanka Conclusion
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sri Lanka. On balance a week was probably too long at Santani and we might have been better off with a bit of time in Kandy.
The roads in Sri Lanka are chaotic and best avoided. We would definitely recommend a driver.
We were very pleased with the service from Reddot and would recommend them to anyone thinking about a visit to Sri Lanka.
This month birds of prey across the northern hemisphere will journey south to their non-breeding