A five-hour drive from Sri Lanka's capital or a short flight by seaplane, sits the breathtaking central Hill Country district. This area is defined by miles of lush green tea plantations, towering waterfalls, jagged mountain peaks and views as far as the eye can see. Nuwara Eliya, the highest town in Sri Lanka, is a great base for exploring the Hill Country. A long-lasting memory for me involved catching a local train which winds its way through successive tea plantations, enabling me to experience first-hand how critical the tea trade is to Sri Lankans.
Having visited over 30 countries worldwide, my love for travel is something that has been ingrained in me since a very young age. My first extended trip began between school and university and since then I have never quite lost my itchy feet. I’ve ticked off destinations in Southeast Asia, Australasia, Central America, Northern Africa and of course, Sri Lanka.
I first got a taste of Sri Lanka as part of a four-month trip around the world. Within a few days of arrival I was completely smitten by its beauty, culture and diversity.
It’s rare to find somewhere where every aspect of the country is so wonderful and so varied. The food, the people, the wildlife and particularly the scenery, which ranges from golden palm-lined beaches to lush, green tea plantations and jagged mountains, are a constant source of wonder. It’s like a microcosm of world travel all in one island.
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Set within bucolic countryside a stone's throw from Anuradhapura, sits the impeccably restored, colonial-style property of Ulagalla. The surrounding area is dominated by rich green paddy fields, forests and ancient ruins and the hotel sits in a large private estate regularly visited by native peacocks and water buffalo who roam between the individual villas dotted around the grounds. Each villa is tastefully decorated in a contemporary but historically influenced style and all have lots of space and light as well as a private plunge pool that serves as a much-needed retreat after an action-packed day of sightseeing.
I'll never forget when…
An utterly breathtaking experience for me was spotting my first leopard in the dense jungle of Wilpattu National Park. We started out really early to ensure we were the first people to enter the park at sunrise in order to spot the fresh paw prints in the sand. Having done this, it was no time before we found a leopard and I was sitting in awe witnessing a teenage leopardess happily playing with a butterfly in the long grass. To see such a majestic animal in a completely authentic and untouched setting is something that I will cherish forever.