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Five reasons to love Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an incredible country that has so much to offer for everyone. During Asia Expert, Lauren’s recent 3-week trip throughout the country she was lucky enough to see all the top sights, eat delicious food, meet the most incredible people, and stay in some of the coolest properties. It quickly climbed to the top of her list of favorite countries in the world. Below are five reasons why she fell in love with Sri Lanka and why you will too.

 

The people

What made a lasting impression on me and why Sri Lanka will always be close to my heart are the people. The people of Sri Lanka are the most kind, welcoming, and gentle people I have ever met. They are genuinely so happy to have visitors to their country and are always so eager to show you kindness and invite you into their home for a cup of tea. You will notice right away that you are often greeted with large, beaming smiles everywhere you go.

There are so many incredible things to do and see while travelling through Sri Lanka, but everything was made even more special and unforgettable by the Sri Lankan people. My guide, Ananda was an absolute joy. He was so knowledgeable about the country and during our long drives we would chat all about Sri Lanka, its history, religion, culture, and you could feel the love he held in his heart for his beautiful country.

 

The food

The food is INCREDIBLE. I could eat rice and curry for every meal. And if I wasn’t eating rice and curry, I was eating fresh seafood pulled straight from the sea in front of me. If you are a pescatarian like me, then this is the country for you. You will have no shortage of food choices here. Curries made from fresh vegetables that you choose from local farms or vegetable stands; or seafood BBQ feasts on the beach.

Coconut is a key ingredient in Sri Lankan food, and it’s be featured in almost every dish. Spices play an important part in Sri Lankan cooking and the spices all have unique properties. For instance, Sri Lankans use different types of curry powder, dependent on what ingredients are in the dish. I consider myself someone who can handle a decent amount of spice; but I suggest you go for the mild option as the Sri Lanka chili can be extremely spicy!

My favorite dishes were pumpkin curry, coconut sambal, and Kotu Rotti. I highly suggest taking a cooking class at least once during your visit to Sri Lanka. It’s really fun to learn about the traditional ways of cooking Sri Lankan food and believe me you will miss rice and curry when you get back home so you can put you newfound cooking skills to the test. You should also try eating in the traditional Sri Lanka method; with your hands! It takes a few times to get accustomed to it but in the end its good fun and its less dishes to be cleaned.

 

The beaches

As a native San Diegan, I feel at home when I am close to the water. If you’re a beach person like me then you will fall in love with Sri Lanka. Surrounded on all sides by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka boasts some of the most breathtaking beaches along its spectacular coastline. The shores in Sir Lanka have a unique charm to them and offer up some incredible swimming, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, sunbathing, and whale watching. And the most unique aspect about Sir Lanka beaches is that no matter what time of year you go there is always a beautiful stretch of sand greeting you with nice weather and calm waters.

Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons that affect different parts of the island and different times. This means it’s dry somewhere on the island at any time of year, so regardless of when you choose to travel, you’re likely to enjoy some good weather. So, whether you’re looking for quality surf, pristine water, white sand, tall palm trees, and gorgeous sunsets, you’re guaranteed to find exactly what you’re searching for on the beaches in Sri Lanka.

 

The landscapes

The landscapes in Sri Lanka are breathtaking. I had expected palm trees and beaches, but I didn’t expect it to be so lush, green and hilly as far as the eye could see! The saturated green hues of the rolling tea plantations in Hill Country were really a highlight for me. By far one of the best ways to experience the beautiful landscapes in the Hill Country is to take the scenic train ride from Ella to Kandy. Passing through a massive plantation of teas, where women can be seen dressed in colorful saris picking tea leaves, it was truly a sight to behold! The photos I took from this trip will never be able to portray just how unbelievably beautiful this island truly is.

 

The wildlife

Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for animal lovers and the wildlife is amazing. This small island has so many national parks teeming with fauna. Choose to go on safari at some of these incredible national parks and you won’t be disappointed. Some animals you can expect to see are elephants, leopards, sloth bears, crocodiles, monkeys, water buffalo, deer, peacocks, wild boar, and a wide variety of birds.

I got the opportunity to go on safari in three national parks, Wilpattu National Park, Gal Oya National Park, and Yala National Park. Each park is different, but they all offer up some incredible animal viewing. My best experience by far was the hour long stand off we had with a large male elephant in Yala National Park. We were situated next to a lake watching a small herd of elephants bathing and playing in the water. Watching the family completely distracted us from the large male elephant that was approaching us on our right. We didn’t notice him until he was about 10 feet from our jeep. Elephants are surprisingly quiet for how big they are. He hung around and checked us out for about an hour before moving on. This was by far the coolest, most natural, up close experience I have ever had with an elephant. I was overwhelmed with the amount of wildlife I was able to see during my time in Sri Lanka; it was truly an unforgettable experience.

My list really could go on and on because there are so many things that make Sri Lanka such a special country. My time in Sri Lanka has made a lasting impression on me and it’s a trip I will cherish forever. I cannot wait to go back and experience more of what Sri Lanka has to offer.

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