Travel Diaries: Sri Lanka Travel Guide
Back in 2016 the Zika Virus hit the media by storm. The hype and panic surrounding the virus was caused by the World Olympics being held in Rio, Brazil that year, a country currently experiencing a Zika epidemic, the fear was that this world event would spread the disease further, impact on our athletes and spectators health and cause an all-round world crisis.
Zika is a virus, transmitted by mosquitoes to humans that can cause serious birth defects in pregnant women and couples trying to conceive such as microcephaly. You can read more about what the Zika Virus is here.
The media was some what right, but it was inevitably going to spread eventually, so perhaps continuing to hold the international event there was a good thing as it helped dramatically increase awareness about this disease and its effects on un-born foetuses, enabling pregnant women and couples trying to conceive to take the precautions they needed. Would we be quite so aware of it now?
So when it came to searching for a tropical holiday destination for our get away in November that year we found that we were rather limited. We wanted something not too far away, hot, chilled with a beach and a few activities to do and that was when we came across Sri Lanka. The Caribbean and anywhere close to Brazil had all been wiped out, it had also encroached on Cape Verde.
- Flight Time: 10.5 hours from London
- Average Temp: 30c°
- ZIKA FREE (at time of posting – check)
My Travel Guide to Sri Lanka
Where to Stay in Sri Lanka
We stayed at the all-inclusive RUI hotel in the Galle region of Sri Lanka, probably most famous for its railway line that was hit by the tsunami back in 2012 and is now lined with tomb stones.
The hotel we stayed in was pleasant, the rooms were lovely and the food was great. My only moan would be that on the website it looked like it was directly on the beach, which it kind of was, they just missed out that it was a public beach to which they had access to, but did not have it’s own private beach. This meant that you were bombarded by the local market men and women trying to sell their over priced goods to tourists, and unlike us english, were very pushy and persistent in doing so which meant those who were not brave enough to sternly tell them to go away had their time on the beach spoilt.
This is the perfect area to go to if you are looking to purely chill out and relax for the week, but if you are in search for a water sports, action packed holiday, then check out Bentota.
What to Do in Sri Lanka
Go on Safari
If you have always fancied going on Safari but are put off by the expense of an African adventure, and the long drives in search of animals, then this could be a good, cheaper option for you to try so that you can get a ‘taste’ of going on Safari.
Don’t get me wrong, you still have to be prepared to get up early (4AM), as the animals are most active in the cooler hours of the day, morning and evening. During the heat of the day the animals will hide away in the undergrowth and trees which makes it very hard to find them and catch a good view.
There are many sanctuaries and parks all over Sri Lanka to which you can go on safari, especially for those of you who are in search of seeing the elephants, but please make sure first you check how they treat the animals, many are not treated well. Seeing them in their natural environment, free to wander is always usually the best/safest option.
With that in mind, we headed up to the Udawalawe National Park, a 3 hour drive from our hotel. Arriving at the Safari park at 8am we switched from our taxi into a jeep, and began our trip into the wilderness in search of animals. We were so lucky, we saw lots of elephants, crocodiles, peacock and bison. A group that went into the park just 40 minutes after us said they had seen nothing – which just goes to show that getting up early pays off!
Visit a Turtle Sanctuary
On route back from the Safari park, we took a detour past one of the many turtle sanctuaries that are available to visit in Sri Lanka. The people of Sri Lanka realise that their native turtles are at risk of extinction and are desperately trying to help rebuild the population through these sanctuaries. Inside, you can see turtles at every stage of the process from egg to shore, and also rescued turtles that would not otherwise survive in the ocean.
Tips & Advise
- Check that this country still remains Zika free.
Firstly for anyone trying to conceive do check that this country is still Zika free, when we went the Indonesian region and yet to be hit with the virus, but I believe its spread is far greater now.
- Be prepared to be stern with the locals
There are many locals who will try to sell you their goods for a lot of money – be warned they are very pushy, and a lot of their products are over priced. Be prepared to haggle and even tell them to leave you a lone if they keep pestering. They are not nasty people, just desperate to make a living (as we all are) so no need to be rude, but you will need to be assertive.