Capturing the Soul of Sri Lanka | Best of Sri Lanka Trip | GeoEx
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Capturing the Soul of Sri Lanka

By Alysa Pakkidis | July 25, 2018

Sri Lanka is a place of great wonder. I was met at every turn with friendly smiling faces and architecture steeped in Buddhist tradition. I loved getting the chance to explore Buddhism and local connections during special ceremonies, including meditating with a monk high up in a cave that overlooked the valley and participating in a private almsgiving ceremony. Oh, and the food! It was fresh and delicious: lots of curries, coconut, and vegetables! I realized that Sri Lanka is also a safari destination: In Yala National Park, we saw many elephants, two incredibly healthy leopards, flying foxes, and countless bird species. Add the gorgeous beaches, lush Tea Country, and cosmopolitan Colombo, and I can’t think of another country of its size that packs so much natural and cultural wonder!

Along with nine of  my colleagues on what would later be called the “Greatest GeoEx Staff Trip Ever,” I traveled throughout Sri Lanka scouting the best properties, activities, and personalized experiences that would make any trip feel like a dream come true. Our 10 days in country felt like 10 separate trips as we tirelessly explored the best of Sri Lanka and soaked in the abundance of offerings.

Reclining Buddha and devotees at local temple.

Jetavanaramaya, the largest stupa in the world and the tallest brick building ever built.

Ancient Buddhist temple Thuparamaya.

Breakfast overlooking the pool—a great way to start the day at ancestral estate Ulagalla.

GeoEx staff and local guide get ready to climb UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya, the Lion Rock, fortress.

Lion’s Paws and the final climb at Sigiriya.

Old palace grounds atop Sigiriya.

Many adorable monkeys can be seen throughout Sri Lanka.

Standing among local devotees after participating in a traditional almsgiving lunch ceremony for resident monks.

GeoEx staff with indigenous martial artists after their masterful demonstration of Angampora.

Visiting the rural Habarana school, where the children greeted us with homemade flower bouquets, was a true highlight.

GeoEx staff with children from the school.

Delicious homemade Sri Lankan curries!

Exploring the great Polonnaruwa ruins.

Devotees at the Buddhist rock temple of Gal Viharaya.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Dambulla Cave Temple, housing five caves and more than 21,000 square feet of painted walls and ceilings.

The many paintings and statues of the Dambulla Cave Temple.

Colossal reclining Buddha of the Dambulla Cave Temple.

Monks visiting the Temple of the Tooth.

Local schoolgirls were just as curious about me as I was about them at the Temple of the Tooth.

The Peradeniya Botanical Gardens—first built as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala King.

Following a Buddhist monk up the mountain to meditate in a cave!

Learning about different herbs and spices at a private spice garden.

We were taught how to make a traditional Sri Lankan curry using freshly picked spices.

Train travel in Sri Lanka.

On our way to Tea Country.

One of the best ways to travel—you can literally hang out to get the wind in your hair.

I can’t tell you if I was up riding with the conductor or not.

Vibrant lush scenery.

At a tea factory; these containers are used for blind-tasting tea before an auction.

Quite possibly the best cup of tea and accompanying scone I’ve ever had.

Just outside Yala National Park, Wild Coast Tented Lodge was the ultimate safari home base.

We encountered numerous elephants right away.

Then on to explore the colonial fort town of Galle.

Arriving in an ever-changing, cosmopolitan Colombo.

Plenty of historical architecture.

After an intriguing walking tour of the city, learning about its past leading to the present, we got a craft cocktail lesson at a hip roof-top bar.

GeoEx staffer Melanie Regino makes the delicious arrack cocktail for the rest of us.

The variety of temples around the city is lovely to see.

Taking it all in on the last day at the Independence Memorial Hall.

Just another reason to love Sri Lanka—so many bananas!

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Alysa Pakkidis is the Social Media and Digital Marketing Manager for GeoEx. She curates the various GeoEx social channels, sharing moments from guests and staff, travel inspirations, and travel-related news.

Her relentless passion for travel and discovery has brought her to many stretches of the world, including: Namibia, Nepal, Iceland, Patagonia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, the Galápagos, and her father’s homeland, Greece.

To find out more about Sri Lanka travel options, call GeoEx’s specialists at 888-570-7108.

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