First Class Experiences: Sri Lanka with Amanda

Amanda, our Sales Manager, has recently returned from a trip to Sri Lanka. Below is a summary of her trip.

My husband and I travelled to Sri Lanka in April 2024 as a special holiday for our 50th birthdays. We stayed for 2 weeks, flew from Manchester to Columbo, via Doha with Qatar Airways.

We did an escorted tour with a driver. There are many ways to see Sri Lanka including train, self-drive, coach tour but we opted for the car with our own driver so we could tailor-make the tour to include everything we wanted to see rather than a set tour. We flew into Columbo and spent the night at the lovely Marino Beach Hotel.

Up early the next day all refreshed and ready to start the tour. We headed north to Dambulla (3½ hours). We visited Sigiriya Rock, also known as Lion Rock, which was a Royal Palace dating back to the 5th century however was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. Sigiriya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The climb to the top is not for the faint hearted or those scared of heights (me) however I’m so glad I pushed myself as the view was spectacular. We stayed for 2 nights at the Jetwing Lake Hotel which was absolutely beautiful.

Lions Rock

Next we travelled to Kandy, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. We stayed at the Amaya Hills for 1 night and were lucky enough to witness a fantastic lightening show courtesy of Mother Nature! Look out for cheeky monkeys, we witnessed one trying to steel a bottle of vodka from the reception area.

Next stop Nuwara Eliya – translated ‘City on the Plain’ or ‘City of Light’ also affectionally known as ‘Little England’. Instead of travelling by car we took the iconic Blue Train and travelled in the style of the British during colonial times on the original tracks laid in 1864. We caught the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya which took about 3½ hrs. The scenic beauty of the countryside, waterfalls and tea estates adding so much colour to this unforgettable journey. Our driver met us at the end to take us to our hotel. Nuwara Eliya is at an altitude of 1868m and is considered to be the most important location for tea production (Ceylon Tea) in Sri Lanka. A much cooler temperature due to the altitude the area is very popular with the Sri Lankan people who are looking to escape the heat.

We stayed 2 nights at Jetwing St Andrews, a restored Georgian style country mansion. The grounds were stunning and the hotel had roaring fires throughout the communal areas even though the temperature didn’t drop below 18°C, even in the evenings. It was quite entertaining seeing all the locals wearing big coats and we even spotted fur lined trapper hats when we were wearing shorts and t-shirts. Horton Plains (another UNESCO World Heritage Site) is another not to be missed experience with stunning landscapes that take your breath away. We did the 9km walk to Worlds End and back. Sturdy footwear is required. The landscape including ferns and rhododendrons, streams and waterfalls makes you feel like you have been transported back to the UK for a couple of hours. An unmissable stop.

Sri Lanka

Next, we headed to Yala, possibly my favourite stop. We stayed 2 nights at the stunning Jetwing Yala Hotel. Our stay included an evening and a morning safari which was a dream come true. We saw so many elephants including babies, which was breathtaking. Yala National Park is home to elephants, leopards, crocodiles and hundreds of bird species. So not the Big 5, as South African safaris can offer, but a fantastic taster if you have always fancied doing a safari.

Next stop Galle (pronounced Gaul) for 4 nights staying at Jetwing Lighthouse where we relaxed by the pool, walked on the beach, saw a bale of turtles who were more than happy to put on a real show for us. We headed into Galle one day, taking a Tuk Tuk there and back for a few pounds. Galle is a beautiful fortified old city founded by the Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. Stone seawalls encircle ‘car free’ streets and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours wandering and watched a beautiful sunset.

Sri Lanka

Our last 2 nights we spent in Columbo (Marino Beach Hotel) enjoying the pool, hotel facilities and some shopping where we bought some local batik fabric and souvenirs to remember our fantastic stay in Sri Lanka.

I have to say the standard of hotels we stayed in, in particular the Jetwing properties, were ‘First Class’ and sustainability is at the heart of everything Jetwing Hotels do them being the pioneers of sustainable tourism throughout Sri Lanka.

Would I go to Sri Lanka again? Without a doubt. The scenery, the food, the people, the wildlife, the tea, the weather, the hotels all exceeded my expectations. I think I would like to try the east coast next time and hopefully see a blue whale.

Sri Lanka has faced its struggles and has come through smiling, just like its people.

Sri Lanka

Inspired to explore Sri Lanka? Our team of expert advisors would be happy to personalise your perfect holiday, just call us on 0161 888 5632 or click here to explore more holidays with First Class Holidays.

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