There are few places on earth that have been able to keep their authenticity and resist the wave of modernization. As we discussed in an article earlier, traditions and vintage are incredibly trendy. Travel is one of the most exciting ways to enjoy this reversal, even more so when you reach places with incredible history and roots. Sri Lanka, the former island of Ceylon, was our ideal destination for this time travel experience.
On the Southwest coast of Sri Lanka, the beautiful Galle fortress stays anchored in history. Founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century and then the Dutch later on, the city boasts an impressive fortification and stands as one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Once you enter the main gate, a maze of cobblestone streets with a mix of European and Oriental Asian architecture gives a unique tone to the place. After a visit to the iconic lighthouse, you can rest by a little cafe, your boutique hotel courtyard or the ancient church and mosque which serve as reference points for the wanderer.
Long history also manifests itself in the countryside indeed. Flying a tiny seaplane with only six seats and a barefooted pilot, we were struck by the bird-eye view of the incredible rock of Sigiriya. We are much further back in time: the 200-meter high rock formation is of archaeological importance as it is home to a mysterious ancient palace which sits on top as if it has been put up there by magic. King Kasyapa in the 5th century BC is said to have established the place as the capital of the country and colourful frescoes still speak of it as such.
Now somewhere in between those periods, wild animals have spreaded and made Sri Lanka their home: elephants, peacocks, monkeys, leopards, buffalos, sloth bears… In Yala National Park, game drives are a delightful experience that bring you up, close and personal with living species from yesteryear.
Here, animals are free to quietly enjoy their natural environment, and it is up to your mastery of modern equipment to be able to spot them. Unless they come to you. This was the case with one elephant who visited us one night, making its way through the bushes and rocks to the resort. The morning after, the fresh prints in the ground seemed like a guessing game to try and find where the animal had been going.
Nested at the heart of nature, our sustainable and environment-friendly accommodation also did welcome some wildlife guests which presence you could without going on a safari game drive. The place speaks of ancient times yet with the comfort of the modern era. The Indiana Jones’ style explorer tents between the National Park and the Indian Ocean transport you back to former times where everything was still wood and copper. In the middle of the jungle, there are hardly better resorts to make you feel like you’re living the real Sri Lanka and not just sightseeing it.
From Cape Weligama and its surfing paradise, to the inland tea plantations which made Ceylon Tea so revered worldwide, and from its warm-hearted indigenous people to its refined and flavourful cuisine, it is difficult not to be enchanted by this charming island. We left a part of our heart there, and if you also want to fall in love, get in touch with us here.
by Julien Yung Mameaux and The Experience Company team