Underrated and Understated - Sri Lanka

Discover what happened when Imran Arshad took his family on an Exodus adventure to Sri Lanka in 2013, and had the time of their lives!

“Are we there yet?”

“Almost” I replied. My fellow travellers, Ameera (11 years old) and Hassan (8 years old), were growing impatient. Outside the airplane window the ever-changing landscape rolled by but secure in their seats, the children were eager to get going.

Sitting on the plane, we had no idea what to expect from Sri Lanka. Every one of us was pleasantly surprised. The country is a fascinating amalgamation of South Asian cultures. There are numerous sites of historical and religious significance, each as gorgeous as the next. The wildlife is abundant, diverse and flourishing; Asian elephants, a unique species of native leopards and an astonishing array of birdlife live in a harmonious ecosystem, along with the migrating whales and sea turtles which appear seasonally.

Leopard in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka Leopard in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

The scenery is utterly breathtaking, from the turquoise waters and pure white sands of the beaches, where palm trees sway gently in the breeze, to the lush green paddy fields and rich tea plantations that rest upon mountain slopes. Add to this the phenomenal food, welcoming locals and delighted children, and you have a very special experience on your hands. There was so much to learn, observe and experience; the other two families travelling with us were just as enamoured with Sri Lanka as we were.

Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress

Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress

There wasn’t a dull moment. We tried everything Sri Lanka had to offer; we climbed the sacred lion rock fortress, Sigriya, and took a leisurely bike ride through the romantic backroads. We visited tranquil hillstations and wonderful wildlife parks, rode the high surf in the south and watched majestic Blue whales pass by our boat.

In the very capable hands of our incredible, inexhaustable Exodus team, we felt safe, inspired and educated every step of the way. Our local leader always went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure we were all having the best time possible; he and the entire team worked tirelessly to deliver an unmatched holiday experience.

Idyllic beach, Sri Lanka Idyllic beach, Sri Lanka

For anyone with an appetite for adventure, culture, wildlife and understated beauty, Sri Lanka is the place to be.

To be able to share this experience with my children was awe-inpiring, seeing their amazed expressions with each new discovery on this eye-opening adventure was heart-warming. The only drawback is that now they are constanly asking "where are we going next Dad?"

The honest answer: I’m not sure yet. Wherever we choose, it has a very tough act to follow!

Surfs up Surf's up!

Six months on and Hassan and Ameera are still talking excitedly about their Sri Lankan experience on a daily basis! Here are their top five Sri Lanka highlights:

Hassan's Top 5 highlights!

1 - Lion Rock, Sigriya

Reaching the top of Sigiriya alone; Ameera stopped halfway and Dad stayed with her, so I carried on with the trip leader and made it to the top.

2 - Visiting the Tsunami house

Visiting the Tsunami house built by Exodus – it was nice to spend time with tsunami victims to learn about their terrifying experience. It was nice to support them by buying the food they kindly made for us.

3 - Tuk Tuk training

The tuk tuk journeys around Kandy and coastal towns were amazing.

4 - Botanical gardens

I really enjoyed visiting the botanical gardens to learn about herbal medicine and the various uses of the coconut tree.

5 - Monkeys in Sigriya hotel

Seeing a variety of wildlife. My favourites being the monkey family living in the Sigiriya hotel, the impressive land monitors and chameleons.

Ameera's Top 5 highlights!

1 - Pool time

Water fun: I loved being in the swimming pool every day as well as surfing and body boarding in the Indian Ocean for the last three days!

2 - Visiting Yala National Park

I loved the jeep safari in search of leopards in Yala National Park. We saw loads of wildlife and birdlife but no leopards unfortunately. Don't worry - I have promised myself that I will go back one day to find one of Sri Lanka's big cats!

3 - Visiting a tea plantation

Visiting an amazing tea plantation high in the mountains was really special.

4 - Buddist temple in Kandy

It was great to learn more about Sri Lanka and their customs and traditions. I particularly loved watching people go about their daily buiness in Kandy, as well as the colourful morning prayer ceremony at Buddhist Temple of the Tooth.

5 - Cycling in Sigriya

Cycling through the Sri Lankan countryside where we met many local people and tried some weird and wonderful fruits.

Imran travelled on Exodus' Tropical Island Wanderer: Sri Lanka Family Adventure with his two children in April of 2013.

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