A dalliance with a rock fortress and idyllic beaches 🇱🇰

Plans sometimes don’t go as planned, I suppose that is sometimes what makes life interesting. In my previous post,  I talked about Colombo and some tips when you arrive in Sri Lanka. After two days in Colombo, it was time to take a train to Habarana. I had asked one of my friends to book train tickets in advance. However, you can easily get the train tickets to Habarana the previous day if you wish. When you book train tickets in Sri Lanka

  • Do not book a first class air conditioned ticket. You will not be able to open the windows so you might as well book second class reserved and have plenty of natural ventilation. You can even hang out of the carriage doors (not advised of course) but its all part of the journey
  • Book the train from Kandy to Ella in advance – a month in advance if possible

Train tickets booking site: There is no official online booking website for Sri Lankan railways. However, you can use this website Click here – Prices here are extortionate compared to the cost of buying the ticket in Sri Lanka. But if you want to book in advance this is the best shot you got.

Airbnb tip: If you’re going to book several airbnbs, I would advise you to send invitation links to your friends and ask them to sign up and book an airbnb as they will be gifted 35 Euros and you will be awarded 20 Euros. This could easily reduce some expenses.

Habarana

We got to the Fort train station only to find out there was a strike and the trains were not running that day. So trying our luck on the pickme app, a lovely driver accepted our long journey and we were on our way. It cost us a whole 7500 LKR (£37) for a 180 Km journey. Bargain for sure! Habarana itself is a good place to base yourself if you want to do the cultural triangle and Minneriya national park. We arrived in Habarana around mid-day. Rather than wasting the day, we headed over for a safari in Minneryia National Park. We started the safari around 13:00 pm. If you go to Minneriya make sure you

  1. Don’t go after 15:00 as on my way back there were a lot of jeeps driving around and you won’t really get the place to yourself
  2. Ensure that you’ve loaded on sun cream as it can be scorching hot. The safari should not make more than 3 hours and in all fairness, at one point you will get tired of seeing hundreds of elephants that you will consider that you’re ‘done’.

Returning from Minneriya and the monsoon rain started to show its presence. I welcomed it with open arms as it was perfect after our safari escapade in 35C and above. We took shelter in the plush Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. Even if you’re not staying in the hotel you can still enjoy some drinks and use the swimming pool for a small fee if you wish.

Habarana accommodation: Dudley Guest House

Pidurangala Rock

As I mentioned in my previous post if the 35 USD pp to climb the Sigiriya Rock is too steep for you then head over to this cheaper alternative. You just need to make a donation to the temple around 500 LKR(£2.50) if you’re a foreigner, locals go for free. The climb itself takes around an hour and the views from the top are to die for.

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The Sigirya Rock is visible ahead

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Nilaveli Beach

What do you do when you’ve broken off a sweat? You cool down of course. Living by this motto it was time to head to the beach. We made our way to Nilaveli, Trincomalee and stayed in an airbnb. It was one of the cheapest airbnbs we stayed in but one of the most welcoming with great food to go with it. I would highly suggest staying in this Airbnb, the host even sorted us out with the boat trip to Pigeon Island National Park.

  • Nilaveli beach is not crowded at all so you get the whole beach to yourself
  • There is a spot where locales swim which is right next to the lifeguard centre, work either to your left or right from there for 5 minutes and you will get a long stretch of the beach all to yourself.
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Drone shot of Nilaveli Beach
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A beautiful sunset in Nilaveli

Airbnb – Great little house right next to the beach

Pigeon Island National Park

Snorkelling in Pigeon island national park was an unforgettable experience. You will get to see so many coloured fish, small sharks and sea turtles. There are certain things to consider before you visit the national park

  • Leave early as you can so you can get the island to yourself.  After 11 the locals will start coming in and it will be crowded.
  • Get the best deal via your guesthouse or airbnb for the trip to the island and for the snorkelling rental equipment
  • Drones are not allowed so save yourself some trouble and do not take such equipment with you. Cameras and underwater cameras are allowed
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Coral reefs in Pigeon Island
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One of the many sea turtles in Pigeon Island

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achchu1501

25. QA Engineer. Private Pilot.

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