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Sri Lanka and the wonderful Maldives

( Nederlands scrol naar beneden)

In April 2016 we flight with Turkish airline from Amsterdam with a stopover in Istanbul to Colombo Sri Lanka. We had chosen for April because this is the low season on the Maldives and you can stay at the water bungalows for a reasonable price which you often see on the honeymoon photos or a little more budget on the white beach.

Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage

After much puzzling to combine Sri Lanka with the Maldives, and a route of 15 days in Sri Lanka combine with a week at the Maldives we succeeded and booked on the internet a Taxi with a private driver which was well recommended on TripAdvisor. My experience with this driver was less, though he was friendly, we have occasionally had lots of fears so dangerous they drive here. No wonder that it is therefore recommended or even not allowed to drive around here as a foreigner. You can also travel low budget with a bus and train but this will cost you so much time that low budget will become very expensive in time.

We chose a tour from Negombo to Habarana, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Tissamaharama, Mirissa and via Negombo back to the airport. A beautiful route of 15 days which you can shorten or expand yourself, these are the highlights of Sri Lanka.

fisherman at the beach of Negombo

Sunset Negombo


We stayed 2 days in Negombo north of the Colombo airport to get used to the time and the climate and to get acquainted with the honest cuisine of Sri Lanka. Negombo is a typical seaside resort with many hotels on the beach where many travelers begin and/or end their journey. The coastal town has been in the hands of the Netherlands in the history for more than a century and a half. You can still see the influences of this. Not necessarily in the streets of Negombo, but in a number of sights that you can view. The Dutch Canals was built by the Dutch and was frequently used by the VOC. You can view the canal from a distance or take a boat trip. You can also visit the Dutch Fort in Negombo. This sounds more impressive than it is, in reality, it is no more than a remaining ruin of the fort

Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage


After breakfast we drive through the busy part of Sri Lanka towards Habarana, two runways are used here as five runways and everything goes just fine but looks very scary. Breakfast rises dangerously up a few times and we are happy that we can leave the busy part behind us to enjoy nature and wide views. We set course towards Pinnawalla Elephant Orphanage this elephant camp was set up with lots of good intentions but after looking around I doubt this is just a big tourist attraction with little regard for the welfare of the animals. The elephants are kept at a beautiful river where you can take great pictures but underwater the elephants are still chained and not as free as you often see in Thailand. 1 Elephant and 1 Elephant keeper who is the caregiver of the elephant and also takes responsibility for his buddy. The entrance in the park is 20 Dollar after a cup of coffee in a restaurant overlooking the river we had actually seen enough We were disappointed that the animals were driven into the river like cows with heavy chains. A better way to see the elephants in Sri Lanka is to visit the many national parks that the country is rich in. We stayed in a nice hotel at a large lake in Habarana and relax by the pool in the afternoon with a cocktail.




The next morning we decided to leave early towards the old city of Polonnaruwa.

Polonnaruwa one of the oldest royal cities of Sri Lanka and worth a visit.There are a lot of historical sights here and you can go with your taxi driver or rent a bicycle. Here they are a lot stricter than in other Buddhist countries. You have take off the shoes and possibly socks everywhere and do not stand with your back to the Buddha, respect this and go early in the morning so it is not too hot. We were driven to the important highlights of the city to win some time with our driver and after lunch, we enjoyed the pool at the hotel because it was so hot in this area. In the evening the driver picked us up for a safari in the park Minnariya which is known for its large herds of elephants.

Elephants at Minnariya park



The jeep safari cost $ 28 we drove around the park for a couple of hours to see the sun goes down and could see a few elephants from very close, Actually at this time of the year April the grass was too high to make beautiful pictures of the animals. The safari is fun if you have not often seen elephants. We stayed one night at the same hotel on the lake and then headed forward to Kandy the next morning.

Sigiriya rock

view from Sigiriya rock

Sigiriya rock

The famous rock, also known as Lion Rock, is in the middle of the jungle and has an interesting history. Between 477 and 495 AD. stood on top of this 200-meter high rock, namely the palace of the then king Kassapa. According to many researchers, King Kassapa especially had many fun adventures with many women here. On top of the lion rock, this boss even had a swimming pool . This theory is reinforced by the restored murals of half-naked women. The Lion Rock is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is also a very beautiful natural phenomenon to see. The entrance fee is $ 32 a lot of backpackers skip this rock because the high entrance feeand visit the rock on the other side with a nice view of the Lion Rock. Pidurangala rock is the cheap alternative to the Lion Rock. After the Sigiriya rock, we drove further towards Kandy to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple.

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla is together with Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Dambulla is best known for its golden temple ('Dambulla cave temple'), which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The area around Dambulla has more than 80 caves, but the main attraction, the Golden Temple, has five caves. Most statues and paintings in the temple are from Buddha, but there are also images of the Hindu gods Vishnu and Ganesh. We walked around a bit and did not really like it but it was fun to stop on the route. After this, we would visit Matale Hindu Temple but because it was so hot and we see already so much of history we drove to our hotel and relaxed a bit.

Temple of the Tooth in Kandy


In Kandy, we stayed in a luxury hotel just outside the city on a hill with a great view of the city. We visited the Temple of the tooth 10 Dollar entrance for this temple with the tooth of Buddha. The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy houses the most sacred and most important relic of Buddha, namely the left upper canine tooth of the Buddha. This precious relic attracts hundreds of believers every day, but many travelers also pay a visit to the temple. According to legend, the tooth of Buddha, after the burning of Buddha, was removed from the ashes. The tooth was then smuggled from India to Sri Lanka in 313 AD, hidden in the hair of Princess Hemamali. She fled at the time for the Hindu army that besieged the kingdom of her father in India. The Tooth immediately became an extremely sacred object and was exhibited during special occasions. The Tooth has since been preserved in various temples in Sri Lanka. Many travelers get into Kandy on the famous train through the tea plantations towards Ella. We have this trip by train from Nuwara Eliya to save time and still the most beautiful part of the view. After breakfast in Kandy the next morning we traveled on to Nuwara Eliya known for its green hills with tea plantations and waterfalls also known as little England

Nuwara Eliya our hotel in the mountains

view from the train in Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya

Most travelers skip the town of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka and travel directly to Kandy by train from Ella or Kandy to Ella for perhaps one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. We stayed between the green tea plantations somewhere in a lodge for a night in the mountains with one of the most famous waterfalls of Sri Lanka Ramboda around the corner. We visited a tea plantation and saw the process of picking leaves to tea in the supermarket. The most famous activity that is undertaken from Nuwara Eliya is a visit to the Horton Plains National Park. Here you will find Adam's Peak, also called Wolds End. We decided to climb the mini Adams Peak ourselves and enjoyed the great view over the green mountains. A route that is easier to walk then Adams Peak and the view is almost as beautiful perhaps even more beautiful. After this walk, we relaxed the afternoon at the Gregory Lake. People with boats and jet skis sail across the lake and there are a number of good restaurants. You will also see many horses where you can ride a bit on payment. We spend the night in an old colonial hotel in the city. In the afternoon we enjoyed our free time visiting the market and the post office which also reminds us of England with its construction and red colors. The cool, quaint little hill retreat gained popularity during the British rule. Back then, the area was lost in wilderness comprising of only forests and jungles. However, the hill area was discovered by John Davy back in 1819 who decided to build a sanatorium here.

Gregory Lake

Market in Nuwara Eliya

The cool climate made Nuwara Eliya an escape for the British as well as a ‘home away from home’ for them. When the south of Sri Lanka would get warmer, they would often spend their time in Nuwara Eliya. From growing English vegetables and fruits to spending time playing golf, cricket and polo, they thoroughly enjoyed their stay up there. During the 18th century, they even grew coffee plantations, however, when it suffered a disease, they switched to tea.

Even today, the buildings, surroundings, and architecture have a colonial, British-feel attached to them thus keeping with the town’s untouched heritage.

After a good night's sleep in the cooler Nuwara Eliya (there were even jugs in our bed) we went out on the road and our driver brought us to the train station for our shortened train trip to Ella. This is a great route where you will not get tired of the beautiful views of the tea plantations, forests, mountains and all the different people on the train complete the day. In the afternoon we drove to Tissamaharama where the next day we would do a safari in the national park Yala

Train ride Nuwara Eliya to Ella

Train ride Nuwara Eliya to Ella

Little Adams peak

Fishermen Sri Lanka

Yala National park, Tissamaharama

Thaulle Resort on Yoda Lake offers nice spacious rooms and is close to Yala National Park. Like all the hotels where we had this trip to Sri Lanka we were very well cared for and the food was excellent as well as the care of it. We usually stay in 4 and 3star hotels which are well-regarded on Tripadvisor or Expedia. Actually, we have never been disappointed in this. The next morning we were picked up early for sunrise by a jeep for the morning safari. At the entrance, we had to wait half an hour before the park opened and we enjoyed a bit of our breakfast box which the hotel had prepared for us. The Yala national park is known for its leopards, crocodiles, and elephants, I especially liked nature and the beach, unfortunately, we could not see a leopard. After lunch, we drove to Mirissa and on the way, we stopped at the fishermen who are on poles. Previously they fished real nowadays this is a tourist trap.

Sunrise Yala National park

our breakfast packet from the hotel on the beach of Yala

Elephant at the lake in Yala National Park

Mirissa Hills

In Mirissa we stayed in the hills in an old cinnamon plantation which was still active. Mirissa Hills is a few minutes from the beautiful Weligama Bay and offers a panoramic view of the Ruhunu landscape - the deep south of Sri Lanka. The property is a working cinnamon garden. Which in recent years has been restored by the current owner to produce cinnamon of the highest quality? Mirissa herself has a nice beach with some restaurants and bars. We stayed here a few days to get a fair rest of our tour and went further on the way to the Maldives on the way to the airport we stopped at the old Dutch VOC Fort in Galle and flew in the evening to the Maldives.

Mirissa hills

Mirissa hills

sunset Mirissa hills

Dutch VOC Fort in Galle


Our flight from Sri Lanka to Mahe Maldives was in the evening and the most islands with the resorts are about 1.5 hours from the airport, we stayed the first night in a hotel close to the airport of Male, the capital of the Maldives. This way we could begin the trip to Meeru island slowly where we would like to stay in a water bungalow relax and with no hurry. At the airport, you can also find the water taxis and seaplanes and every resort have its own info desk where you can take the boat, or Flight to your resort at the agreed time.

Meeru island Maldives