Last month I spent two weeks in India with my fiancé and his two colleagues. Since we were staying in Chennai, about an hour’s flight from Sri Lanka, we figured we absolutely must go that weekend.
I drew up three plans for the team:
Option A: Wildlife and temple adventure
Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and see Sri Lanka’s number one attraction, Sigiriya Rock.
Option B: Luxury tea trail trek
Stay at the only Relais & Chateaux hotel on the island, the luxurious Ceylon Tea Trails. Take in the breathtaking views and do some activities such as rafting and trekking.
Option C: Road trip to the beach
Drive down to one of several luxury beach resorts in the southwest of the island. Visit the must-see Galle fort town, relax on the beach, watch some stilt-fishing and sip on a coconut.
And the winner is… Option A
If you can only see one thing, why not see the number one thing. That’s Sigiriya Rock. It is probably the most unique option to Sri Lanka, whereas beaches and luxury resorts are something you can do anywhere.
We arrived late on Friday night and caught a few hours sleep in a little hotel called the Lespri Grand in Negombo, chosen because it was on the road to Pinnawala. The manager greeted us warmly with cold towels and fresh juice.
Pinnawala elephant orphanage
Saturday morning after a breakfast of eggs, we headed out at around 7.30am and arrived at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage at 10am, just in time for bathing. If Sri Lanka had a spirit animal, it would no doubt be the elephant. It was really beautiful to watch them play in the water. We spent an hour there before starting the 2.5 hour drive to Sigiriya Rock, which took a little longer with traffic. We arrived around 2pm.
Once upon a time, a king built his capital city at the top of Sigiriya rock. It’s as crazy as it sounds. The walk to the top took 1.5 hours as we kept stopping to breathe and take photos, compared to just 20 minutes coming down. Even though it was boiling hot, the climb is so worth it. The views are among the most incredible I’ve ever seen.
We wasted a bit of time waiting for a tuktuk to take us back to the car park, as our driver claimed he couldn’t take us any closer. It was 5pm by the time we got to our car and we were faced with a choice. Visit the Dambulla Golden Cave Temple or head to Colombo to make our 9.30pm dinner reservation.
Cinnamon Grand Hotel
We decided to go to Dambulla. But when we got there we discovered it was another walk up to the cave temples and another entrance fee. Low on time, cash and energy we decided to call it quits. Colombo from Dambulla is about a 3.5 hour drive, but our driver got lost and so we arrived at the impressive Cinnamon Grand hotel late at 10.30pm.
We missed our reservation at Nuga Gama, which is supposed to be an incredible authentic Sri Lankan dining experience where they have recreated an outdoor Sri Lankan village. We saw it the next day as we were leaving and it really looked amazing.
Instead, we were told we could eat at the Lagoon if we got there before 11pm, the number one restaurant in Colombo according to TripAdvisor. After a record-breaking fast shower and change of clothes, we had a fantastic dinner and several well-deserved cold beers. The seafood was so fresh, plentiful and inexpensive. After dinner we collapsed in the hammocks by the pool.
Ministry of Crab
Sunday we woke up late and went straight for lunch at the Ministry of Crab. A friend had suggested it and we were glad we didn’t miss it. The restaurant was amazing and the branding and presentation very impressive! We tried most things on their menu and loved everything.
There is also a fantastic souvenir shop opposite, where we bought some presents and things to take home. Although they have the same one in the airport, the one here is much bigger.
Our driver – the same one all weekend – picked us up from the restaurant at 2pm, arriving at the airport at 3pm for our 6.30pm flight. While that may sound excessively early, that’s what we were advised to do. The queues and situation at the airport can be quite unpredictable, so better safe than sorry.
There you have it, our jam-packed weekend in Sri Lanka. Which option would you have picked?
This article was written by Lara Olivia and originally appeared on MissPortmanteau.com. Follow her adventures on Instagram. Club Elsewhere brings you compelling stories for and by the world. Contribute an article of your own by sending a message to the editor.
Lara Olivia is a Norwegian and Portuguese writer sharing all she knows about the good life on her blog, MissPortmanteau.com. Follow her @miss.portmanteau on Instagram.