When I was little, I was always fascinated by my friends parents and their long-haul flights to faraway places. I thought to myself when I began my travels that I’d struggle to go far from Australia because I wouldn’t know how to handle long-haul flights and extensive transit periods. This year I feel like I’ve become a veteran of the long international transits. To get to Sri Lanka I flew from London to Mumbai and then from Mumbai to Colombo Sri Lanka. The next 10 days I was to spend with the Sri Lankan Tourism board and 10 other photographers, vloggers, videographers and social media influencers.
Arriving in Sri Lanka!
Arriving in Colombo I was scooped up by a friendly man named Pre who would be our driver for the next 10 days in Sri Lanka. I was dropped off at Movenpick hotel just before sunrise, so I defied all urges to sleep and was so stoked to witness an extraordinary sunrise over the city of Colombo. I continued to fight the need to sleep and went out for a run around Colombo, where a lot of school kids (and military) were also doing their training.
By lunch time, everyone had arrived and we had the chance to sit down and meet everyone. A worldwide crew of creative minds had gathered, I was very excited to be adventuring with this wonderful collect of people. Following on from lunch we assembled and dispersed into the city on a tuk tuk tour of Colombo. There were some definite charms to Colombo, but my favourite part was all the colourful tuk tuks that filled the roads.
Wilpattu National Park
Day 2 we jumped in a convoy of vans and ventured to Wilpattu National Park. This was going to be my first ever safari adventure and I was excited. One of the main attractions of this national park is the elusive cheetahs that hide in the expanses of the park. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see one, so I had to just look at all the crazy photos the guide showed us from his personal photo library. However, many other animals roamed the Sri Lankan landscapes including many colourful birds and countless spotted Bambi.
Each day we were up well before sunrise with a mission at hand. Our schedule was intensive and there was no time to waste getting from one destination to another. We spent a lot of time in vans which was always an adventure in itself. I’d have to say that Sri Lankan roads are some of the craziest I’ve been on. If you know the game ‘chicken’, where you test who is the last person to flinch or in this case swerve, it felt like we playing that constantly. Bus and truck drivers played with no mercy, and often I thought we were going to have a head-on crash. I know the locals make the erratic road-system work but it surely must fail from time to time.
Dambulla Cave Temple!
Rolling into day three we visited Dambulla Cave Temple. An intriguing space carved into the side of a mountain. The artwork inside this cave temple was fascinating and so were the mountainous views that surrounded it.
Sera Ella Waterfall! It’s been a little while since I’d last frolicked and swam at a waterfall. Sera Ella Waterfall was hidden wonderland. Nestled away far off the meandering mountain roads, we hiked down to Sera Ella. The lighting was magnificent and I was in my element shooting photos. It was super refreshing to jump in for a swim against the strong current from the roaring waterfall, alongside the locals who also knew about the magical place. Looking back over the trip, I think this was my favourite place we visited.
Sri Lanka by the roadside.
Another one of my favourite things whilst spending many hours travelling across the country were some of the views we passed. I don’t know the names of many of the places but I’d often ask to stop so I could get out the van for a moment to take it all in. I also needed a break from the windy roads, my head would be spinning at times from all the thousands of bends we drove through.
Here are a few photos from either the van or quick roadside stops we made.
Day 5 lead us to hiking Kongdagala mountain. This was really off the beaten track in Sri Lanka as we hiked up through tea fields to get to the main part of the hike and took a very rickety tuk tuk ride. When we reached the top we found 360 degree mountain views with large cliff drops.
Half way into the trip we really hit our stride when it came to hikes. We were now knocking out awesome hikes every day, and day 6 brought along my favourite of them all. I was well and truly astounded by the views that we were exposed to at the top of Hanthana mountain. There were multiple sections to the hike each with their own unique view and landscape, however, the end of the hike was well and truly my favourite.
Our last few days we visited a few more waterfalls and made it down to the beach in Negambo to wrap it up. One of the last waterfalls we visited was Barbarakanda, the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka! From the base it was hard to grasp how tall it really was, but looking from a far and from some of the drone footage it was incredible how grand it was.
My time in Sri Lanka was nothing short of amazing and I feel very privileged to work with the Sri Lankan tourism. To visit a lot of places that are not usually visited was exactly the way I like to explore and to do it with a fun group of people made it even better. I’ll definitely be heading back to Sri Lanka to explore even more and to further immerse myself in the wonderful culture. I should note, the food is delicious and very spicy. The people are wonderful and would often smile and wave at me during my morning or evening runs. When you get the chance, book a flight to Sri Lanka, you won’t regret it.
Surround yourself with inspiring people, and you too will inspire those who cross your path. – JL