I am very excited to share this epic journey I’ve just had to Sri Lanka. It is a magical place which warmed my soul. I wanted to go a few years ago but could not as the civil war with the Tamil Tigers was still raging on (which lasted almost 30 years). But now it is safe!!
It was an adventure filled with biking through ruins, white water rafting, canyoning, cliff jumping, sacred Buddhist sites, hiking, train rides, surfing, elephants (including getting chased by a wild one!), amazing food and people and more.
I learned so much about not only some exciting plants and foods by visiting spice gardens and botanical gardens and talking to local experts, but I also learned more about myself!
Let’s now take a little trip to this amazing island off the coast of India, shall we?!
For a country about the size of Ireland, Sri Lanka has an incredibly diverse array of climates. These mountains are in Ella, where a lot of the Ceylon black tea is grown and you can go on fabulous hikes. It is breathtaking!
We stayed in a jungle resort here where you have to take a 4 x 4 down a bumpy 2 mile jungle road, then board an open air gondola for 15 minutes that takes you along the treetops, across a river and eventually down into the lodge, complete with jungle bungalows. As we arrived for the first time on the full moon, crossing the moon-lit river and seeing the camp far below with burning bonfires in the distance, it was truly unlike any entrance to any hotel/lodge or whatever I’ve ever been! Just amazing.
Riding the train to Ella through the mountains and along the edges of cliff drops was just beautiful. You go through all these mountain tunnels, through the forest and the tea country…and amazing journey onto itself.
Ah…Sri Lankan food!!! SO good. Delicious fruit. The main ones available are pineapple, papaya and bananas, but there are others as well as you can see here – wood apples, dragon fruit, mangoes (not the season though), kiwis, starfruit, etc.
The traditional lunch is rice and curry- which translates to many separate bowls brought out of daal, a variety of local vegetables- such as bitter melon, beets, okra, pumpkin, and some salads like cucumber/tomato. It is a vegan dream!
They also cook with coconut oil, and because they do not use or top dishes with ghee, and use a lighter amount of spices, I found Sri Lankan food far less heavy than Indian food.
I loved these rice and coconut flour and coconut milk pancakes, filled with the natural sugars of jaggery and treacle from the local kukhil trees. Delish !
Here’s another one of my rice and curry plates! Keep in mind that I would refill the veggie dishes and daal a few times, eating a pretty large amount. But we were active and the food was light and non-oily, and I didn’t get bloated or gain weight! (I’ll be discussing this Asian carb phenomenon soon on our podcast we are re-launching!!)
We even found homemade coconut ice cream. YUM!
It was the very end of durian season, and we were able to stop roadside and get some delicious ones!
Sri Lankan abounds in natural produce- which is all or largely organic, and non-GMO. I love that the traditional cuisine is so veg-centric and fresh, and mostly naturally vegan and gluten-free!
I LOVED visiting the local markets and seeing all the beautiful colors, as well as the bustling, vibrant energy of bargaining and trading.
For part of the journey, we dropped down into the rainforest in this place called Kittugula. It was lush, rainy, gorgeous. We stayed in this simple, completely open bungalow over the river on stilts with a great view, and thankfully a mosquito net. This became our base for white water rafting, canyoning and cliff jumping.
The only downside? The leaches! They are everywhere and it is inevitable they get all over you. The key is trying to swipe them off before they suck so much blood they get really huge and attached…literally!
Check out Borderlands for rafting if you make it over here.
When you hike you see these mysterious looking piles of rocks with Buddhist flags….
Locals love to ask foreigners to take photos! So, why not? I’ll get one too!
This is in super awesome, chill surfer town Arugambay, where you can hang and explore for days (or a few weeks!).
Just as the dozens of fishing boats are pulling up around daybreak, the surfers are headed out for the break!
This was a surf break called Peanut Farm that you had to take a tuk-tuk about 30 minutes to get to, through the jungle and dirt roads. It was leaving this place that we got caught in the dark and encountered a wild elephant on the road, leaving us to run for our lives (after our tuk tuk driver freaked out and got the tuk tuk stuck and ran away himself!).
Great local cafe/juice bar called Hideaway. They have their own garden, lots of king coconuts, vegan lattes, and green smoothies. Come by if you come for sure!
I even found local kombucha brewed with rose petals. What a delicious, delicate taste!
These baked banana leaves were filled with a delicious mixture of shredded coconut and treacle, a natural sugar from the local kikhul trees. What a great treat! This was at a fabulous place we stayed for a few days called the Kandy House. Kandy is known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka.
Certainly no shortage of king coconuts! I had 2-3 a day. And look how this creative local chopped us up some little mice coconuts :).
Well that’s the end of Part 1 of our journey!
Check back in next week for Part 2. I’m so glad you came on this little journey with me, and hope that you feel inspired from seeing and hearing about this magical place…
Have a great day and see you soon!
Lots of love,