A Spiritual New Year's Eve

Are you exhausted by the idea of a new year’s eve party? All the noise from the fireworks and the loud music can seem inescapable. You either join the party and drink till you can enjoy it, or you hide away at home, calming your pets as they fear for the end of the world. What if it didn’t have to be that way? What if you could have a meditative, spiritual experience instead? Keep reading.

While it may be a tradition in the West to countdown to midnight on new year’s eve, in Sri Lanka, it’s not as big a deal. Sure, every hotel will throw a party and a put on a fireworks display, but apart from the bourgeoisie in Colombo, the rest of the country doesn’t really celebrate it. We actually have our own new year, a harvest festival, and it’s celebrated in April!

If you’re up for an uphill climb (there are stairs, don’t worry!), a boat ride on a lake, or a campsite in a grassland, here are our suggestions:

Peak Pilgrimage

Being a multicultural country, Sri Lankans share religious sites to which they make pilgrimages. People of all faiths begin the ascent to the top of a mountain, known to some as Sripada, Ratnagiri, Samanala Kanda, and Adam’s Peak. Yes, that Adam. Why do they climb? There is a footprint on its peak that Buddhists believe to be of the Buddha, Hindus believe to be of Lord Shiva, and Muslims and Christians believe that it was left by Adam as he set foot on earth upon exile from Eden.

What’s really to be marvelled at, though, is the view. If you make the climb at night, it will take about five hours to reach the peak. Once you’re there, settle in and look forward to the sunrise. Words can’t do justice to the sight, it simply must be seen and experienced. Watch as the sun leaps over the eastern horizon, drawing a shadow of the mountain in a perfect triangle over its western backdrop.

Cloud Forest

At an elevation of 2000 meters, there is a plateau rich in biodiversity, populated by endemic species. It is known as Horton Plains, a world heritage site that spans grasslands, a waterfall, a cloud forest and a spectacular view dubbed World’s End. It’s about a nine-kilometre walk, with a circuitous route, so you can decide in which order you want to experience it. Keep an eye out for the birds and lizards as you make your way through the cloud forest. In the grasslands, you’ll likely come across some sambar deer.

We suggest camping in the grasslands. The wildlife department operates three campsites, each about 500 meters from the visitation centre. You can spend a quiet night under the stars and then take the walk in the morning.

Ancient Reservoir

Man-made by damming one of Kala Wewa’s tributaries, the Kandalama Reservoir is a serene, placid water body that stands testament to this country’s ancient irrigation knowledge. Formed with masses of hewn rock, with stones ten feet thick at the base, placed like steps, it would have been quite a daunting task to complete. It’s actually often called Kandalama “Lake” as it’s so easy to mistake it for being a natural phenomenon.

You can look forward to birdwatching by boat, early in the morning. Imagine being greeted by birdsong at the dawn of a new year. Your view of the lake transforms over the course of the day, as the misty morning gives way to crimson skies at sunset. Other activities available in the area include hot air balloon rides as well as climbing Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress, just a few kilometres away.

Where To Avoid

In any case, if you want to enjoy a peaceful night on new year’s eve, you’d want to avoid major hotels, especially along the coast, and stay far away from the capital and larger towns. If you’d like to have a custom tour tailored to your needs, write to us and we’ll see right to it!

#1 On Lonely Planet In The Mi..

Note: This article will be updated to reflect the changes in the ground situation.

Update (14/11/2018 11:40 AM) : Parliamentarians who voted in favour of the No Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse have signed a motion to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya reconfirming their calls. The majority voted ‘aye’.

Update (26/11/2018 4:30PM) : Following the initial NCM vote, there have been two further votes, both of which led to violent incidents within the parliament, as supporters of Rajapakse refused to accept the outcome. Those of the Rajapakse camp claim the Speaker is being partisan in how he chose to conduct the NCM vote. The Court of Appeal will take up a Writ of Quo Warranto filed by 122 MPs challenging Rajapakse and his purported government's continuation in office on November 30. Meanwhile, a seven-judge bench to hear the petitions against the dissolution of Parliament will be taken up on December 3.

No sooner than Lonely Planet announced Sri Lanka as its #1 travel destination for 2019, governments around the world issued travel advisories warning their citizens about the sudden shift in Sri Lanka’s political climate. Fear not, however, as we’re here to tell you that our doors are still open and why it’s still safe to visit the resplendent island.

So what’s really going on? Well, at the moment of writing this, a few things have happened. Our president and prime minister came under scrutiny as their government, which came to power on a popular platform, could not deliver on its promises. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid responsibility, the president chose to remove the prime minister and appoint a new one, former president Mahinda Rajapakse. The president appointed a cabinet of ministers, issued a gazette to dissolve parliament, and elections have been called for January 2019. This was much to the ire of those opposed to the previous regime and those who uphold the constitution, which does not allow for it. On the other hand, many have been celebrating this change.

In fact, for the most part, it is civil society, concentrated in Colombo, that are riled up about the issue. Everywhere else on the island, from tourist destinations to the rural countryside, peace prevails and life goes on as usual. There has been one incident of violence when a mob attempted to assault a member of parliament and his security personnel fired at them. This happened in the heat of the coup, and since then it has been calm and memes have taken over. Politics is certainly on everyone’s mind, but the hospitality sector, in particular, is never shaken. As Lonely Planet rightly notes, our people defy all odds with our welcome and friendliness.

Be it the tuk driver, surf instructor, waiter or bus conductor, wherever you go, you’re sure to be greeted by a Sri Lankan smile. That’s just a part of our culture and our personality, a curious fact. You’d sometimes stop and marvel at how we manage to maintain this sense of optimism. Some attribute it to short-term memory, that we soon forget our troubles. Others choose to believe that we simply persevere. After having to turn away visitors time and time again over a 30-year conflict, we’ve spent the past decade, post-conflict, inviting the world to share in the delights of this country, and we’re not about to let some political misadventures spoil that.

So what’s in store for Sri Lanka? A Supreme Court hearing on November 12 and 13 led to a stay order on the Gazette. This allowed the parliament to be convened, today. A No Confidence Motion has been called against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.

Sri Lanka Beach Holiday

10 nights on the beach

If you are looking for a beach holiday in a tropical destination to break away from all the stress of your everyday life then Foozoo Travel’s Beach Please Dash plan is the best place to start.

It combines 6 of Sri Lanka’s most amazing beaches. And because each beach destination in Sri Lanka is different you get to experience so much more than just sun, surf and sand.

The Sri Lanka Beach Holiday package offers 6 unique beach destinations

For example, the Beach Please Dash package offers Tangalle beach in the deep south of Sri Lanka. This beach is super quiet, unspoilt and very much like the picture postcard beaches you see. It truly is a paradise out here. The Beach holiday package which is of 10 nights and 11 days duration also features Mirissa beach and Weligama beach. Mirissa offers so much by way of nightlife, beach culture, parties and amazing restaurants. Weligama Beach is spectacular when it comes to surfing and whale watching.

In addition to the happening Mirissa Beach and Weligama Beach the Sri Lanka Beach Holiday package, Beach Please Dash offers Unawatuna beach. This is a beach which has its own vibe and is super close to the famous Galle Fort. From here you can explore the old Dutch Fort its idyllic streets, high-end restaurants and so much more. So yes this Sri Lanka Beach Holiday package also offers superb opportunities to explore the island, meet people and take in a multitude of enthralling aspects.

The Beach Please Dash Sri Lanka Beach Holiday will also take you to the water sports hub off Bentota where you also have the opportunity to explore Geoffrey Bawa’s Lunuganga Estate, enjoy boat rides on the river and enjoy quiet nights under the stars with the rise and fall of the ocean to lull you into a state of bliss.

The tour ends with Mount Lavinia Beach which brings you super close to the city, allows you time to shop and sightsee and then head off back home.

Please follow this link to find out more about this package and to see our amazing inclusions, holidays and much more.

The featured video is by courtesy of BackPAcker Steve: