As I'd wanted to go to Sri Lanka for so long, the whole trip was inspirational for me. If I had to pick out the most exceptional moments though, I would have to pick highs and lows (in relation to sea level!!) The highs were climbing to the top of Sigirya, which tested my head for heights something rotten coming down a not terribly wide staircase literally nailed into the side of the rock!!) and climbing Adams Peak and seeing the sunrise (even though it wasn't a clear sky) from the summit. The low, which was probably my most favourite moment of the holiday, was taking an optional whale watching tour at the end of the holiday which was out of this world!
However, it seems unfair to only pick a few moments of the holiday, as we did and saw so much. Everything was great - from the cave temples to Kandy, the cycle ride in Giritale and the visit to the Tsunami house (both of which involved a most stunning local curry lunch!), World's End to the Ella Gap to Yala National Park...
This is actually a pretty active holiday with lots of travelling, so can be tiring - our group frequently used the travel time to cat nap!! However you have your own bus and can often leave bags (or yourself!) on them whilst visting various sites. Be warned though - the bus may be inclined to break down every so often, but fortunate our drive and helper were technically minded and managed to patch it up well enough most times!
Don't go too mad on the clothes front - shorts & t-shirts are the way forward - but ladies, make sure you have some below the knee trousers or skirts and tops that cover your shoulders to respect the rules in the temples. Do take some travel wash though as there are not that many opportunities to do laundry.
If you're planning to climb Adams Peak, be prepared for 6km of steps up and 6km down! You don't need walking poles and a good pair of trainers is sufficient. If you're reasonably fit, you should be fine - I am but by God my calves hurt next day!! Also, wrap up warm for the summit - it's pretty chilly up top at 4.30 in the morning!!
Take a good supply of wet wipes, hand detergent and tissues! And DEET is a must if you don't want to get bitten!
For the Yala National Park safari drive, make sure you have spare batteries and memory cards as you'll doubtless be zooming for England! And be prepared for a very bumpy and dusty ride! My t-shirt was so filthy afterwards, I just threw it away!!
If you are there in the right season, definitely go on the optional whale watching tour. It cost about £50 for pretty much a 5 hour trip, we were plied with tea, biscuits, water, fruit, omelettes & cake throughout and saw 3 different types of dolphin, two different types of whale and a couple of sea turtles - amazing!!
This was a fantastic holiday and I cannot recommend it highly enough. There is so much to see and do and so much variety. I would love to go back and explore more of the country and re-visit some of the places we went to - sometimes you just don't seem to have long enough in each place.
The Sri Lankan people are also very friendly (and laid back!) and those who welcomed us into their homes were most hospitable.
If brownies and jewellery are your thing (strange combination I know, but bear with me...), when in Galle, head for the Pedlar's Inn Cafe. The brownies are out of this world and rather rich and copious - we had one between 3! And there is a jewellery shop in the back with the most beautiful pieces! This is an extension of the main jewellery store just up the road. Good deals can be had, especially if go in numbers and buy quite a lot on a public holiday as we did!!
Finally, take as many pens & pencils as you can for the bike ride from Giritale. On the return in particular, the local children are home from school and love to wave or run alongside you saying "hi" (whether you're coming or going!!) They really appreciate receiving these gifts - I took about 100 with me and wish I'd have taken more!