May 15, 2017 1113

The Dynamic Landscapes of Sri Lanka

Two months ago, I embarked on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Sri Lanka, exploring the country for the first time with a rucksack on my back and camera in hand. Due to the last minute nature of the excursion, I admittedly wasn't quite sure what to expect upon arrival. Much to my surprise, I was immediately welcomed by a series of stunning landscapes, each one uniquely different but as dynamic as the rest.

The first stop was the city of Kandy, located near the center of the Sri Lanka and regarded by some as the country's cultural capital.  Tropical hillsides surround the center of downtown, creating a wonderful fusion of a "suburban jungle".

Venturing north toward the site of Sigiriya, the journey took an interesting turn when ground transportation suddenly turned into an aquatic adventure.  After boarding a wooden raft, the captain of the sea vessel paddled along the short distance of a lake, stopping to craft hats out of lilypads floating atop the water.

Sigiriya is famous for its palace ruins that rest atop a 200 meter high rock surrounded by tropical landscape.  While not much of the ruins remain themselves, the view from the top is nothing short of spectacular, casting images of outstretched hillsides, lakes, and jungle for miles.

Heading a bit further south toward the city of Nuwara Eliya, the landscape transitioned from tropical landscape into outstretched fields of tea.  

Nuwara Eliya made way for an excellent gateway toward Ella, a small backpacker town in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka.  Ella is home to Little Adam's Peak, a leisurely hike up to 1,141 meters high, with vibrant rolling hillsides that span toward all sides of the horizon.  It's not difficult to get caught up in the tranquil feeling of the surrounding landscape, so much so that even the local dogs felt at peace napping at it's great heights.

Horton Plains National Park, a protected area in the central highlands of the country, remained the final destination of the adventure.  The location is most famous for its sheer cliff drop of approximately 4,000 feet known as "World's End".

Reaching World's End requires a fair amount of trekking through grassland and potential cloud forest, with clouds settling into the landscape relatively early in the day.

With cloud cover having completely swept across open views of the countryside, this version of World's End had created a uniquely different landscape than I had anticipated.  From tropical jungle rainforests to atmospheric clouds, Sri Lanka is filled with spectacular landscapes, an absolute visual treat to anyone who ventures across this amazing country.