Possibly one of the most entrancing and beautiful countries to start oneâ€™s backpacking adventure is Sri Lanka. Gap years are probably one of the most important times of your life; some people even tend to extend their sojourn for longer than a year, and this might prove to be a most liberating experience. Enjoy.
One of the most culturally diverse islands to visit is that of Sri-Lanka, under British colonial rule this magical island used to be called Ceylon and was mainly famous for its tea. What a mistake, this island can boast gods, famous temples eco-tourism and so much more. If youâ€™re operating on a minimal budget one of the cheapest ways to visit and subsume a country is to volunteer in one of the many differing projects that abound in this region. A country changes once you actually call that place â€˜home,â€™ and living and working within Sri Lanka will give you a totally unique perspective on, life. For example, there is no better way in which youâ€™ll be able to take a weekend trek out to that sanctuary all blessed places than to visit the magical sites of the Sri Lankan temples in the so called â€˜cultural triangle,â€™ and then return to your residence or volunteer project.
Mulkirigal Rock Temple
Whether you spend time in Sri Lanka under your own steam or visit the island through one of the many tours organised by companies including Selective Asia, try and visit some of the lesser-known sites. The rock temple at Mulkirigal is well worth the long hike up the 200-metre rock face in order to visit this beautiful spot and take in the ancient paintings that decorate these two thousand year old temples. You should also make sure that you pay a visit to the enormous reclining Buddhas that are venerated in one of these shrines. Be prepared to be well and truly amazed.
This town in the South of the island is renowned for its excellent beaches and can operate as a base for visiting many of the local sites. Mulkirigal is only 20 kms away and the Tangalle pristine coastline is as popular with local birds and wildlife as it is with travellers. There are eco lodges in this region as well as hostels and hotels but the area is only slowly being rebuilt following the devastation of the infamous tsunami. If possible it might prove to be a good idea to book in advance or if this is your first foray to this island.
Sri Lanka is most definitely a land of possibilities. If surfing and snorkelling donâ€™t interest you then make your way to the Yala National Park and spend some time admiring the elephants and monkeys who live here, the stately leopards that spend much of their time sunning themselves on the rocks are also pretty impressive. Old Sri Lanka hands advise haggling when it comes to paying for tours around the park and this is best carried out by a group rather than an individual.
By Celina Bledowska