Rachel & Rosalia’s Sri Lankan christmas
Christmas is a great time to plan an escape from the cold, around this time I’m ready to put up my feet and get a good dose of vitamin D to get through the winter.
Last Christmas, my daughter’s wish was for her very own suitcase (apparently she’s now too big to share with me), as an added bonus it contained 2 tickets to Sri Lanka leaving on Boxing Day. (amazeballs right?)
Sri Lanka offers almost unparalleled value for money on long haul luxury travel even during this notoriously expensive period.
We were joined by my Australian friend John and his daughter and focussed on beach, culture and nature.
We started in an Airbnb loft apartment in the buzzing capital city, Colombo. I wouldn’t recommend spending too long in this concrete jungle but the convenience is having a short drive to your bed after a long flight. Rosalia loves airplanes but her jetlag is brutal, she fell asleep at 6am and John arranged our first excursion to Adam’s Peak for 8am, a 4-hour drive from the capital!
Adam’s peak, locally known as Sri Pada, is considered a sacred mountain, the 5th highest in the country, that attracts many pilgrims annually.
The driver told us the hike to the top would take 1,5 hours, with a path lined with shops and restaurants for convenience. Rosie assured me her little legs could handle the hike. It came as quite a shock when, after 4 hours of uphill hiking, a passer-by informed me that it would take a further 1,5 hours to reach the top. John’s back gave in 3 hours earlier and we left him behind on a rock, so it was just us girls reaching the top. To their disappointment, my knees simply couldn’t handle the final stretch, nevertheless the views were incredible and we look forward to revisiting one day.
The following morning we made our way to Hikkaduwa beach. On this 3 hour scenic journey we stopped many times for rambutans and mangoe juice, we indulged in local delights of rotis and stringhoppers and took pictures with elephants we spotted by a temple.
Our 3 bedroom Airbnb villa was immaculate at only £40 per night. It was moments away from the beach with all amenities including world-class restaurants nearby. The kids and I fell in love with the turtle sanctuary literally down the road from our house, spending hours there. The highlight for me was releasing a rehabilitated sea-turtle back to sea (after I shamelessly lied and told the owner it was my birthday!)
Visiting nearby Fort Galle as well as the lively Unawatuna beach made for a well balanced, reenergising holiday.
For us, Christmas has always been characterised by what we can give rather than what we can get; Mahaara Junior School was brought to our attention for the incredible support they gave to local orphans of the 2004 tsunami so we visited and made a donation to help them build an extension to the school.
In future, visiting the ancient fortress and palace of Sigiriya, in the North, would be a dream. It has incredible frescoes and some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. This trip was quite short, we only spent a week there so didn’t get the opportunity to travel around too much. So rather than force it and come home tired, we focussed on what was nearby and just spending quality time together.
But rest assured, you are spoilt for choice in Sri Lanka with heritage experiences, affordable luxury and warm hospitality.