Sri Lanka’s magnificent cave temples: Dambulla and Mulkirigala

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Reclining Buddha at Mulkirigala Cave Temple

The cavern is enormous. It’s filled with statues of Buddha, kings and deities. The walls and ceilings are covered with murals. Of all the amazing cultural sites in Sri Lanka, my favourites are the cave temples. We visited two: the large, busy Dambulla Cave Temple in the country’s Cultural Triangle and the smaller, lightly-visited Mulkirigala Cave Temple in the south. They’re historically significant for their role as places of Buddhist practice and ritual for over 2000 years, and they remain important holy sites. I’m overwhelmed by the visual feast that’s housed in these natural rock overhangs carved into the cliffs. Continue reading

Categories: Sri Lanka, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

Sigiriya: Sri Lanka’s mysterious rock

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Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

How could an ancient civilization have flourished on the summit of this monolith? How were building supplies, food and people transported up its near vertical walls? Why was this spot chosen? These questions go through my mind as I climb the vertigo-inducing staircase bolted to Sri Lanka’s famous rock—Sigiriya (Lion Rock). Much of Sigiriya remains a mystery, but the enormous rock rising above the jungle is one of Sri Lanka’s most fascinating and dramatic sites. Continue reading

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12 travel tips for Sri Lanka that you may not find in guide books

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The life saving king coconut

No matter how many guide books you read, there are always some recommendations or travel tips that you miss (or get missed). That’s generally not a bad thing, except when you’ve fried off the soles of your feet at a Sri Lankan temple. Why didn’t anyone warn me to bring socks! In this post, I’ll take you through some of the quirky, funny, painful, intriguing things we discovered about travel in Sri Lanka, and offer up tips that you may not find in a guide book. Continue reading

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Wandering through Sri Lanka’s tea plantations: an unexpected highlight

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Dambateene Tea Plantation, Sri Lanka

It’s late in the afternoon and the last tea pluckers are heading home. We wander down the narrow, hard-packed paths that crisscross the enormous plantation. Our long shadows blanket the glossy green bushes that uniformly stand waist-high and cling elegantly to the curves of the surrounding hills. It’s tranquil, and beautiful, and awe-inspiring. These are my favourite memories from Sri Lanka. Come take a walk with me: first, from Lipton’s Seat through the Dambatenne Tea Plantation near Haputale, then at Oliphant Estate, high above Nuwara Eliya. Continue reading

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5 Great Things to do in and around Ella, Sri Lanka

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Little Adam’s Peak, Ella

It was tough to tear ourselves away from the beaches of Tangalla, but promises of sweeping mountain views, tea plantations, and hiking got us excited about Ella. The town makes a great base for exploring Sri Lanka’s hill country, and sits in the middle of some really WOW scenery. While Ella’s busy main drag is a bit off-putting, the town has lots of good places to sleep, eat, drink, and get a massage after a long day of hiking.  Here’s a summary of our favourite activities around Ella. Continue reading

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Captivated by the ambiance of Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

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School children at Galle Fort, Sri Lanka

It’s late on a Friday afternoon in historic Galle,  and there’s hundreds of school children out in their tidy, white uniforms. Teachers keep a watchful eye on the youngsters as they walk hand-in-hand along the fort walls and play on the beaches. Their youth is an irresistible foil to this exotic old trading port in southern Sri Lanka. We are captivated by Galle’s ambiance. Come along as we a stroll atop the 17th century, Dutch-built fortification and explore the atmospheric walled town. Continue reading

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Don’t miss The Gargoyles on an Elfin Lakes hike

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The Gargoyles in Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia

I’ve hiked to Elfin Lakes at least half a dozen times, but I’ve only recently done the gem of a little add-on hike to The Gargoyles. Elfin Lakes is a popular hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park, near Squamish, British Columbia. The 22 km (14 mile) return hike is a beauty on its own, but for just an extra 2.5 km (from Elfin Lakes) you get into some incredible glaciovolcanic landscapes. In non-scientific lingo, that means bizarre volcanic rock pillars, stark scree slopes, and turquoise-hued, glacially-carved lakes.  A few weeks ago, my friend Morag and I got to explore this otherworldly place called The Gargoyles. Continue reading

Categories: Activities, British Columbia, Hiking | Tags: , , , | 59 Comments

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