The editor-in-chief of a top New York based travel magazine recently wrote to SriLankaInStyle CEO Miguel Cunat to inquire about a short holiday to the island (just five nights). Sri Lanka, small though it may be in size, has so much to offer that, even to the most resourceful traveller, five nights just isn't going to cut it. But Miguel, being the experienced and sought after destination-manager that he is, came up with an elaborate yet concise six-day travel plan for the editor and his companion that captures the essence of Sri Lanka without compromising on quality or style. Let’s take a look.
It is virtually impossible to see Sri Lanka completely and comprehensively in just five nights. Unless, of course, we fly you around in sea planes and helicopters. There is a scheduled sea plane service that connects various parts of the island that isn’t expensive and works wonderfully well. Naturally, the exact plan for the first day would depend on the time of your arrival; but the scheduled flights to the Cultural Triangle and to Kandy will put you in the ancient heart of Sri Lanka in a heartbeat, saving you a four-hour drive. This, in my opinion, would be the ideal way to start your trip – not least because nothing beats a bird’s eye view of the tropical paradise that is Sri Lanka. But let me backtrack a little and paint you an overall picture before getting into operational details.
|The ancient capital of Anuradhapura|
Sri Lanka was a tremendous asset to the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, each colonizer nation left its mark on the people and the land adding to the diversity and to the general mix of things here. In today’s global geopolitics, Sri Lanka is at a crossroads (namely China, India and the west).
Another little known fact is that Sri Lanka is home to the highest density of leopard in the world. We also have elephants, bears, sperm whales and blue whales, and 33 endemic species of birds. It is truly one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet.
In order to grasp the significance of Sri Lanka and the interplay of all this, there are various places in the country that you need to visit even within the short spell of time you will be here. The devil is in the details (or planning) and the people you meet.
dy. En route, you can stop for lunch at the home of Ena de Silva, who runs a a fantastic cooperative of local village folk who team up to cook a spread of 22 curries: hands down the best food in Sri Lanka. In the evening, a visit the Temple of the Tooth – UNESCO World Heritage site – is highly recommended. The following morning, check out the Royal Botanical Gardens with a learned Professor of Botany named Bandara Palipana, and then fly back to Colombo city via sea plane (45 minutes again). That’s the ‘center north’ covered.
Here onwards, you could drive down the coast to Tangalle (if you wish) and spend a night at the AMAN (note that beaches are beaches anywhere in the tropics and technically you need not go to Tangalle if you would rather your trip’s focus be on culture and people; but, of course, it is an option if you wish to rest a little). The drive from Colombo to Tangalle is three hours, approximately. Overnight stay in Tangalle (that would be night number 3) giving us two more nights.
The next day, I would head back to Colombo, possibly stopping en route to have lunch at Lunuganga, the home of the late great Geoffrey Bawa – father of an architecture style called ‘tropical modernism’. His home and gardens are stunning, to say the least. The drive to Lunuganga from Galle takes one hour, and from Lunuganga to Colombo takes another 1.5 hours, approximately. It is important to try and get to Colombo in the early afternoon.
So that’s that, in a nutshell.
- Day 1 – Cultural Triangle
- Day 2 – Kandy
- Day 3 – Tangalle
- Day 4 – Galle
- Day 5 – Colombo
A bit crazy, perhaps - but doable and fun, and in-style as well.