Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Trip to Beautiful Sri Lanka (Nuwara Eliya-Yala- Mirissa)

We were looking for quick and short international trip in the month of May. After long discussions, we (Pritesh-Renuka, Aditya-Neha, Saurabh-Vrishali, and Anannya) decided to visit Sri Lanka for 5 days. A week before the trip, we booked our flights and set for the Trip.


About Sri Lanka:
              Sri Lanka is Island country in the Indian Ocean formerly known as Ceylon. Country name was changed to Sri Lanka in the year 1972. This place is also known as King Ravana’s Lanka as per Indian Mythology (In Ramayana).
Sri Lanka has variety in tourism and you can visit the country for Culture visit, Beautiful beaches, Dense Green Forest, Hill Station, landscapes, Hiking activities or adventure activities.

Our Trip Plan
Day 0: Pune to Colombo via Chennai and Stay near Airport (Negombo)
Day 1: Negombo to Nuwara Eliya. Whitewater rafting at Kitugala
Day 2: Nuwara Eliya
Day 3: Nuwara Eliya to Yala and Safari at Yala National Park
Day 4: Yala National Park to Mirissa
Day 5: Mirissa to Airport for Return Journey

Traditional fishing in Sri Lanka
Traditional fishing in Sri Lanka

I have shared popular travel plans/circuit at the end of Travel Blog.

Day 0: 28 April 2017: Pune to Colombo via Chennai
              We all gathered at Pune airport by 2 PM from respective Office/Home location. We booked Jet Airways flight till Chennai and then Sri Lankan airline from Chennai to Colombo. Saurabh was in Chennai for office assignment so he joined us at Chennai airport. Layover time in Chennai was 4 hours and then we board Sei Lankan Airline. We applied for online VISA whereas collection/Stamping was at Colombo airport. We did the Online booking of Bangalow at Negombo from Airbnb. We rented a vehicle for 5 days whereas we did walk-in hotel booking for respective locations. Our Driver "Bandhu" welcomed us at the airport and we left for our stay location which was 8 KM from the airport. As Bandhu knows the English and local language very well, he acted as translator during the entire trip. BTW, English is widely spoken at a Tourist destination.
The bungalow was built in British style and well maintained by Garden around it.

Our vehicle for 5 days

  • Pune to Chennai Jet Airways (Single journey): INR 14858/- for 2 person
  • Chennai to Colombo to Chennai (Sri Lankan Airline): INR 27200/- for 2 Person
  • Chennai to Pune Indigo Airline (Single Journey): INR 6560/- for 2 person
  • Sri Lanka Visa: USD $20/-
  • Local SIM Cards: LKR 3600/- for 3 SIMs [$9/-in USD per SIM]
  • Bungalow Stay at Negombo: INR 4891/- per 1 night for 7 people
  • Toyota Hiace Car Rental for 5 Days: USD $490/- [INR 32340/- for 5 Days] (for 7 People)

Day 1: 29 April 2017: Colombo to Nuwara Eliya:
              We all woke up after 7:30 AM. We planned to start Sri Lanka tour by 10:30 AM. After Breakfast, we left Negombo for our first destination. Our first destination was whitewater rafting at Kitugala which is on the way to Nuwara Eliya. After 4 hours of journey from beautiful Ghat section, we reached for rafting.

Our Stay at Negombo

              We parked our vehicle and went at the starting point of River rafting by Auto (Also known as Tuk Tuk). Total river rafting distance was 7 KM with around 6-7 Rapids. Everyone was aware of rafting Technics expect me and Renu. Our mentor/Guide explained us Rafting rules/techniques and after 15 min of training, we were ready for the fun ride.

White Water Rafting at Kitugala

               We had a great time and ride was managed so well to stay safely in the Raft. Our trainer took a raft in one of the Rapid falls against the water flow. Water pushing you back with the force and still your tiring to climb the Rapid which was an amazing experience. After all Rapids, we got a chance to float along the river which was very relaxing. The entire experience was captured in GoPro Camera.

White Water Rafting at Kitugala

              After river rafting, we freshen up and left for our remaining journey. It was 3 PM in clock and all were too hungry. We stopped our car on road(Ghat) side food stall. Only Egg Hopper was Available which was a local dish. We had our meal. As we were approaching Nuwara Eliya, Weather changed from humid to freezing cold. By 7 PM, we reached Nuwara Eliya.
             We booked Bungalow for 2 nights which was hardly 1 Km away from town. For dinner, we went to Grand Indian restaurant. you can get all Indian Dishes here but the food was average in taste. Our Day 1 ends with the memory of Adventure ride.

  • River Rafting: LRK 15500/- for 7 people. [USD $15/- per person OR Around INR 1000/- per person]
  • River Rafting Photos with Memory Card: LRK 3500/- [USD $22/- OR INR 1500/-]
  • Lunch: LRK 1455/- for multiple Egg Hoppers, Tea & Toast [USD $10/- OR INR 615/-]
  • Nuwara Eliya Stay: LRK 61400/- for 7 people [USD $400/- OR INR 25800/-]
  • Grand Indian Restaurant: LRK 7100/- for Veg and Nov veg Dishes with Rotis [USD $47 OR INR 3000/-]

Day 2: 30 April 2017: Nuwara Eliya:
              We woke up by 8 AM and went for a morning walk. We got to know that there is route besides hotel which goes to the highest village of Sri Lanka name as Shantipura. There is small watch tower built to enjoy the view of the village. You can reach at top by walk from Nuwara Eliya or by Auto Riksha (Tuk Tuk)

Shantipuram Village: Highest Village in Sri Lanka
Shantipuram Village: Highest Village in Sri Lanka

              Weather and view of Shantipura were pleasant. Small homes from village surrounded by step farming of tea. We spend some time in early morning and climbed down for breakfast. Bungalow owner prepared Local food in breakfast which was tasty.

Shantipuram Village: Highest Village in Sri Lanka

               After 11 AM, we left the hotel for Sightseen. Our first destination was tea plantation and factory. Sri Lanka is 4th largest tea exporter in the world. You will find tea plantation around Kandy, Nuwara Eliya etc. We visited one of the famous tea factories. A person from Tea factory explained us the process from Picking leaves from Plant till the packing of tea powder. They showed us a different variety of tea powder and how to identify it. It was just 30 min tour inside the factory.

Tea Factory

              They offered us complimentary tea in their tea Cafe. An idea is if you like the taste of tea, then you can buy tea powder/tea bags from their factory outlet shop. Overall visit was good. Tea power which was for sale in the shop was of international quality. After purchasing variety of tea, we left the place.

Tea Plantation in Sri Lanka
Tea Plantation in Sri Lanka

Tea Plantation

              We went in Nuwara Eliya's local market for a walk and some shopping. As we had heavy Brunch, we preferred having light lunch at local restaurant. We tried some authentic chicken dishes and egg Kottu dish.
              The last destination for today's was Gregory Lake. It is just a few km away from the heart of the city. This lake is worth a visit in the evening as this offers a beautiful view of the town, Landscape, and mountains. It also has a lot of activities for everyone like games, boating, and food. After sunset, entire lake front is lit up. After spending quality time with friends, we went in the town for dinner.

Gregory Lake, Nuwara Eliya
Gregory Lake

Gregory Lake
Gregory Lake

  • Viewpoint entry for Shantipura Village: LRK 50/- each
  • Light Lunch in local restaurant: LRK 910/- for 7 people [USD $6 OR INR 400/-]
  • Coffee: LRK 50/- each [USD $0.30 OR INR 21/-]
  • Gregory Lake entry (Non-SL entry): LRK 1400/- [USD $9 OR INR 600] (Entry fee is LRK 50/- for locals)
  • Dinner at Milano Restaurant: LRK 2494/- for 7 [USD $16 OR INR 1050/-]

Day 3: 01 May 2017: Nuwara Eliya - Yala:
              For a change, We all woke up early morning and started our journey by 7 AM towards Yala national park. The curvy road passing through the beautiful tea plantation. We took a small break at Ella. This place is famous for international tourism as it offers plenty of hiking trails around the town.
By 12 in the noon, we reached Tissa (Also known as Tissamaharama). We searched for hotel options and decided to stay at Echo safari resort at Tissa Lake. The hotel is located on the bank of Lake. The property is very well developed with all required amenities. Most of the rooms offer you a lake view and we selected Lake view rooms. The hotel has clean large size pool. They have a poolside closed restaurant which serves varieties of food dishes in Veg and Non-Veg. Authentic food in the meal was plus point for us.

Sita Temple

Echo Safari Resort, Tissa

               We had lunch and till the time, our safari arrangement was done by our Driver. Safari jeep picked us from the hotel. Yala national park entrance gate is around 25-30 km from Tissa. We reached at entrance gate by 2:15 PM and after paperwork (which was done by safari driver), we entered the forest.

Way to Forest... Clicked by Renuka Kulkarni

Yala National Park
Yala National Park

             Yala national park located in the southeast of Sri Lanka and some part of the forest is directly exposed to coastal line of Sri Lanka. It is divided into 5 zones (local people call zones as Block) whereas only 2 zones are open for safari. We had a permit to explore both the zones. Later we got to know that there is no strict rule to cross the zones (In India, you cannot enter in another zone without having Permit and permits is issued for particular zone only)

Yala National Park... Clicked By Renuka Kulkarni

Black Neck Stork... Clicked By Renuka Kulkarni

               Yala national park has a good population of Asian Elephants. Around 350-400 Elephants present in Yala whereas count varies as per their Migration. It is also one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Each block contains around 20 leopards.

Elephants in Yala National Park
Elephants in Yala National Park

Leopard from Yala National Park

             We entered in Yala Park by 2:30 PM. With a few KM drive, we spot the first mammal which was Jackal. He ran away quickly and somehow we manage to take a record shot. Further, we saw many wild buffalos.

Jackal in Yala National Park

              We saw spotted deer, Sambhar and Nilgai. Our eyes were looking for a group of Elephants. After some time, we spot a small group of Elephants with small baby Elephants. Even though spotting an Elephant in Yala or in (South) Indian forest is not too difficult but still, it gives you satisfaction after watching huge mammal. We spend some time there and then moved ahead.

Elephant Rock from Yala National Park... Clicked by Renuka Kulkarni

Baby Elephants with Mother...Clicked by Renuka Kulkarni

              We also saw much variety of wetland birds such as Cranes, black neck Stork, Ibis, Painted Stork, Spoonbill, open billed stork etc. Our target of Safari was to spot Leopard and huge male elephant. After an hr. Drive, we finally spot Leopard in the bushes. He was relaxing in the bushes. It was a pleasure to watch beautiful predator. We spend some time, with the hope that he will move out from Bush so we can click few photo. Our wait was paid off after 25 min when another Leopard made Royal entry from Grass and joined his friend. It was an amazing moment and treat to the eye.
Soon other safari jeeps join the place and we left for our further journey.

Leopard sighting

Leopard sighting

               We went in Yala national park's beach for a quick bathroom break. Park have installed restrooms near the beach for all safari tourists. Beach was clean but water waves were very high and rough. It was a good place to take a short break from Safari.

Yala National Park Beach

               After beach break, our safari began. On the return journey, we saw Elephant groups, crocodiles, Wetland birds, and deer. Head on the walk of female elephant was a thrilling part but she left us alone and changed her path. By 6 PM, we came out of the park. It was memorable wildlife safari at Yala National Park. Jeep dropped us at the hotel.

Head on walk of Female Elephant

Yala National Park
Yala National Park... Elephant, Crocodile, Wetland bird and lake area from Forest

Now it was time to relax in the pool followed by tasty dinner.

  • Tip to Hotel staff: LRK 500/-
  • Breakfast: LRK 950/- [USD $6-7 OR INR 400/-] (Omelet Roll, Cutlets, boiled corn, and water)
  • Yala national park safari: LRK 33600/- for 7 members [USD $220 OR INR 14000/-]
  • Stay at Ekho Safari Tissa: LRK 70706/- for 4 rooms [USD $460 OR INR 29700/-]
  • buffet Lunch: LRK 6340/- for 6 people [USD $42 OR INR 3000/-]
  • Dinner: It was a part of Stay

Day 4: 02 May 2017: Yala - Mirissa:
              It was a lazy start and all gathered in the restaurant one by one. As we reach a bit early, we spend some time near Lake. After tasty heavy breakfast, we spend some time around Pool. We left the beautiful property by 1 PM. Our last destination was Mirissa beach. By 3 PM, we took a break for Lunch. Our driver Bandhu suggested a restaurant which is owned by local and governed by Ministry of Agriculture. There are multiple counters which offer you local food prepared by ladies from nearby Village. We tried dishes like Tender Jac fruit cutlet, Asmi, Balancing Roti, Rice with local curry and juice. The food was the good and Different experience of True Sri Lankan taste.
             On the way to Mirissa, we took a pit stop at Matara Beach. It was a small and popular beach in Locals. We reached Mirissa by 4:30 - 5 PM. After few hotel search, we booked rooms at Paradise beach club resort which is located on the beach. Fabulous view of beach and sea from the room was the plus point o the resort.

Beach view from Room

             We spend evening time on the beach. Due to monsoon (Monsoon start in South SL by mid-May) time, waves were high and aggressive. After some time, we came back to the resort to enjoy the pool. Dinner was average in the resort. Very fewer options were available for veg people. It was our last night in Sri Lanka.

  • Breakfast: it was a part of Stay
  • Lunch: LRK 1785/- for 7 people [USD $12 OR INR 750/-]
  • Stay at Paradise beach resort club, Mirissa: LRK 81400/- for 4 suit rooms [USD $540 OR INR 34500/-]
  • Dinner: it was a part of Stay Package

Day 5: 03 May 2017: Mirissa - Colombo - India:
           I and Renu woke up early in the morning and went to the beach for a walk. Mirissa beach is curved in shape and small hilly island on the end of one side. You need to cross 3-4 feet sea water to reach the island whereas, in non-monsoon time, you can take a walk on the sand till island. There is board claiming that this is private property but locals don't believe in it. View of Mirissa beach from the island is beautiful.Beach was clean and hardly any tourist in the morning time. We spend around an hour and return to the hotel.

Sunrise Time

Mirissa Beach
Mirissa Beach

Mirissa Beach
Mirissa Beach

            Mirissa also offers whale watching tours organized by different groups. We all wanted to go for it but unable to fit it in the available Time slot. You can board the boat by 6 AM for whale watching. Tour is around 4 hours and if you unable to spot a whale, they extend the trip by another 1-2 hours. Still if you unable to watch whales then operators give you a next day ticket without any cost.
            After getting ready, we all gather for breakfast. To our surprise, there were a lot of options for veg and non-veg. The taste was much better than the meal which we had last night. We left the hotel by 12 for Colombo Airport.
            On the way, we took out stop at a Galle. Galle the is coastal city from Sri Lanka. The city was ruled by Portuguese and you can see many Portuguese architectural style building. Galle fort the is the prime attraction of the city. It is a largest remaining fortress in Asia built by Europeans. This is UNESCO world heritage site. The Galle Fort, also known as the Dutch Fort or the "Ramparts of Galle. We unable to explore the fort due to lack of Time. Other places in Galle is Lighthouse, Galle cricket stadium, temples, and churches.
             We had some souvenir shopping in Laksala souvenir shop before we start our final journey to Airport. To save time, we had pack lunch in the car from Pizza Hut.
We reached the airport by 5:30 PM and boarded flight to India at 6:50 PM.

  • Breakfast: it was a part of stay package
  • Lunch at Pizza Hut on expressway food mall: LRK 1620/- [USD $10 OR INR 720]
  • Tip to Driver: LRK 1000/-
  • Shopping: As per product
  • Dinner: In flight

Contact details:

Famous Trip plan/Places in Sri Lanka
Culture/Temple visit: Kandy, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Habarana, Anuradhapura, Jaffna, and Colombo
City: Colombo and Galle
Hill stations: Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Ella
Forest: Yala national park and Minneria national park
White water rafting: Kitulgala
Trekking / Hiking: Nuwara Eliya, Adam's Peak and Ella.
Surfing: Mirissa, Arugam Bay, and Weligama
Whale watching: Mirissa, Kalpitiya, and Trincomalee.
Beaches: Negombo, Galle, Mirissa, Matara, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Batticaloa

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni