My journey in Sri Lanka in February 2018 wasn’t about getting only to the most touristy area but exploring places that are not yet popular
Here was my 10 days itinerary organized by Sri Lanka Tourism Board
Part 1: Colombo
The biggest city in Sri Lanka (population: 800,000) worths visiting to get the vibes of the economic heart of the country.
Mount Lavinia Hotel
15km south from city center, the colonial Mount Lavinia Hotel is the perfect place to enjoy the beach and remote the time.
Step 2: Jaffna
Jaffna was probably the most pleasant surprise of the trip since this is still free of tourism. Indeed, this region was victim of a civil war that ended in 2009 and only opened in 2015. Jaffna is the Tamils Capital of Sri Lanka which makes it also unique in the country.
What to see and shoot in Jaffna:
- Authentic fishermen harbors (at sunrise, great place for drone photography)
- Hindu and Buddha temples (but this is not allowed to shoot inside)
Step 3: Anuradhapura
Anuradhapura is the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, established in the 4th century BC. This is “the Angkor of Sri Lanka” I would say.
This is a place to visit for old temples and ruins lovers such as:
- Isurumuniya: the first temple to be built in Sri Lanka
- Ruwanveliseya: the largest Stupa in Sri Lanka
- Jethawanaramaya and Abhayagiriya: which in their original form have been matching in size to the Great Pyramids in Giza being the tallest brick buildings in the world (World Heritage)
I would suggest to go the these sites early morning to get the best light and avoid the crowd (this is not the most crowdy place in Sri Lanka though). Daytime, the light can be very harsh!
Step 4: Sigiriya
Sigiriya, also known as “Lion Rock”, the Royal Citadel in the 5th Century AD, is one of the most touristy place to visit in Sri Lanka. The rock is 200m high to climb and the view at the top is very impressive, especially with the ruins in the foreground.
But if you want to make good photos, I strongly advise you to go there at opening time in the morning (7 AM). Otherwise, you will get the ultimate combination of massive tourism crowd and harsh light that will spoil any of your photographic attempt! Moreover, the climb will be way more exhausting if you come too late in the day because of the heat and sun! Actually, in my case, I went there at noon… It was difficult and I haven’t made the great photo this site would deserve.
Step 5: Minneriya National Park and Dambula
If you want to see elephants and you like animal photography: this is the place to go. Don’t forget to bring your tele-lens because you cannot go close to the elephants for obvious reasons!
Step 6: Kandy
Kandy is a World Heritage city at 500m high in the mountains in the center of Sri Lanka. This is where there is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, one of the most important Buddhist place in the World because it hosts a tooth of Buddha!
Try to allow enough time to visit it because it is a beautiful temple and there are a lot of photo opportunities.
Step 7: The famous Train in the Tea Plantation and Nuwara Eliya
A must do if you go to Sri Lanka for sure. This train is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world. This is actually true but even if you have a reserved ticket, you can have no space in the coach because this train is extremely full of both local and tourists. Then the journey can be a bit difficult.
The Switzerland of Sri Lanka: at 1900m above sea level, this is a green mounty and fresh area. The perfect place for relaxing, avoid the heat and have a cup of tea! When I was there, the temperature was no more than 17°C!
Great place also for drone photography with the tea plantation!
Step 8: Mirissa
Back to the coast, in the south, for blue whale watching, the biggest animal in the world!