Once you go past Fort Frederick, the Dutch fortress built in 1624, at the most extreme north-east point in Trincomalee, you get to the Koneswaram Hindu temple which is at the top of the cliff. From here you get stunning views of the Dutch Bay and Back Bay. It is a picture postcard moment in what is one of the best deep sea harbours in the world, with its azure waters.
Lunch at Baticoloa
Sri Lankan food is punchy and full of strong flavours and spices and definitely not for the faint hearted. I particularly enjoyed the breakfasts, which usually comprised of string hoppers (thin fermented rice flour pancakes), Kiribath (milk rice), chicken curry, fish curry, dal and lots of super-hot coconut sambal (relish) with lots of cooling lassi. I also did a side trip to Batticaloa for lunch because I'd heard it's famous for its mutton curry. So, I treated myself and my driver, Rohan, to a 10 dish lunch at a local restaurant all at a princely sum of £8.00 for both of us! A real treat.
98 Acres Hotel in Ella
Best night’s accommodation?
Definitely the 98 Acres Hotel in Ella, for a number of reasons. The eco-friendly luxury hotel lies on a hillside among tea plantations and is very chic. The individual chalets have stunning views of Little Adam's peak and Ella Rock from its private balcony. The rooms have thatched roofs, charming décor and the private living rooms are all well-appointed, with traditional stone showers, locally sourced toiletries, LCD TVs, wi-fi, mini bar, safe, hairdryers, etc. I would definitely go for the executive suite with its private infinity pool. Absolute heaven!
The climb up to Sigiriya Rock was a real treat. Being from Nepal, if we see anything worth climbing, we will climb it! So, to see this ancient rock fortress with all its amazing history and the vertical steps, it was an honour to be able to experience it.
I thought I knew tea until I visited a few plantations in Sri Lanka. So, now I have 11 different teas from glorious Orange Pekoes to BOPs and flavoured Soursop ones and loads of green teas. I also visited a herbal spice plantation and bought a few concoctions which have gone down very well with my wife.
Getting to Passikudah on the north-east coast and seeing the white sands and stunningly blue seas was a real revelation. The drive from Negombo to Anuradhapura following the coastal roads was pretty spectacular too. I was amazed by how green and tropical the country was, with an abundance of wildlife areas and wetlands, among its stunning scenery.
Not having time to go whale watching in either Trincomalee or Mirissa. These two locations are some of the best places anywhere to see the blue whales.
Tips for travellers
Lots of the cultural sights do not allow you to wear hats or shoes while visiting them, which can get tricky on a hot day when a bit of walk is involved. Always carry lots of water, some wet wipes/hand towel and wear socks to negate the hot sandy-rocky floor.