Monday, 15 September 2014

Our Honeymoon - Sri Lanka - Part 1

The first stop on our honeymoon was beautiful Sri Lanka! I had spent months planning our whirlwind trip to make sure we could see as many sights and sample as much culture as could comfortably fit in one week.
However, flying on the Sunday following our wedding we were both utterly exhausted so spent the first two nights in Negombo. We stayed at the Jetwing Beach which was absolutely perfect for relaxation. Great service, a chilled atmosphere, an olympic sized pool, spa, gym, beach and very affordable room service. In fact we were so lazy that other than buffet breakfast we only ate out once! If you are prone to jet lag or are going straight from work I would really recommend staying in Negombo for at least a night as it is a little paradise just 30 minutes up the coast from Colombo airport. A perfect way to start your trip!
After attempting to book all our hotels and logistics myself I soon realised that it was very difficult given the long distances we had to travel. There is very little public transport and many places are not set up on the internet. I therefore put my pride aside and after speaking to about 15 different tour operators managed to negotiate the itinerary I had already planned with Kuoni. I honestly hate using tour operators as I often feel that I could do better (lol) and don't want to pay commission, but Kuoni were absolutely fantastic! Our tour included a private driver who acted as our tour guide for 4 days. In retrospect I would say a local presence is definitely a huge advantage as many places do not let you in without a local guide anyway!

Our first transfer was a 5 hour drive to Dambulla in the centre of the country. We had a quick stop midway and met some local wildlife... if you are scared of snakes look away now!
In Dambulla we visited the beautiful Cave/ Golden temple filled with ancient sculptures and paintings dedicated to Buddha, dating back to the 1st century BC.
The caves were spectacular, but after the long climb the views over the surrounding landscape were also stunning!
 
We also met the oldest, wisest soul reincarnated as a monkey who lived in the temple. You can see a whole other life in his eyes. I love animals so to spend a little time with him in such close proximity was amazing!
We then took a little detour and visited an elephant sanctuary where we got to ride an elephant around a small lake and even have a little elephant shower. When I was first researching places to see elephants I came across Pinnawala, which I believe is the largest, but after speaking to a few agents I was told that the elephants didn't have the best treatment there, so we decided to go with a much smaller, family run sanctuary. Our elephant Raannie was an absolute sweetie, though so hungry for bananas we ran out of them in minutes, despite purchasing two huge bunches for the short trip! 
The last stop was an amazing Jeep safari through Minneriya National Park. This was a once in a lifetime experience as we came across 2 families of elephants and were able to spend as much time with them as we wished!




The views in the wildlife park were just stunning! 
After a long day we made our way to the most special and unique boutique hotel I have ever seen! I was beyond excited to stay in one of their amazing paddy field dwellings, even if it was only for one night. Vil Uyana has been named as the best eco luxury hotel in Sri Lanka and it is not difficult to see why. Jetwing Hotels created a private nature reserve consisting of a wetland system with lakes and reed beds. Jetwing Vil Uyana was built within these environs with rooms which have been placed within the paddy fields itself. Our hut was incredible! We had our own little plunge pool, two terraces and some very romantic decoration, as well as a bowl of fruit and chocolate cake! They made such an effort to make us feel special on our honeymoon!

Vil Uyana is one of the most magical and tranquil places I have ever visited. I really wish we had been able to spend more time there!

As well as our amazing 'dwelling' the main areas of this hotel were also stunning. As we arrived quite late when it was already dark we went straight to dinner. The food was delicious and we had the most romantic evening.
The next morning we got up extra early to explore the hotel as we had to leave at 8am to climb Sigiriya. We found a little open air library/ chill space next to the restaurant which was perfectly serene and took a few minutes to take in our beautiful surroundings.
I hope you enjoyed coming along on our honeymoon in Sri Lanka! Please stay tuned for the next instalment! xxx


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