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A honeymoon of two halves: Adventure and Luxury in Sri Lanka and the Maldives

When we receive an enquiry from a couple who are passionate about travel and want to do something different and adventurous for their honeymoon, we couldn’t be more thrilled. Don’t get us wrong, we adore arranging luxury beach breaks and swooning over gorgeous water villas, but it’s always exciting to get a brief that combines fast-paced adventure with beachy bliss.

And when we say fast-paced, this couple were certainly not afraid to pack as much into their Sri Lankan itinerary as possible (even earning themselves a reputation amongst the local tour guides for insisting on visiting both Sigirya rock and Temple of The Tooth in one long 12-hour plus day!). But when time is limited and your to-do list is long, it makes perfect sense to pack adventure into every second of your trip.

This incredible itinerary began with a Sri Lankan airlines flight from London to Colombo. Upon arrival in Colombo, our guests were given the VIP treatment, being ushered out of normal passport control and into an exclusive lounge where passports and visas were checked whilst they enjoyed some light refreshments.

On route to their first hotel, our couple paid a visit to the Pinnawala elephant orphanage, where around 60 elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild are cared for by the Sri Lankan wildlife authority.  Home for the night was in the town of Deltota where they stayed at boutique hotel, Taylors Hill.

Taylors Hill Boutique Hotel, Deltota

A 6am wake-up call followed, to start the busiest day of their entire honeymoon itinerary. After a 3-hour drive they reached iconic Sigirya Rock Fortress, which is a UNESCO heritage site. It takes over 3 hours to climb up (and back down) the 1200+ steps, but the magical views from the top of this incredible fortress make it more than worth the exhaustion. Not stopping there, the next excursion of the day was an hour’s drive to see the famous Temple of the Tooth relic in Kandy.  This is Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic and is kept in a heavily guarded room, encased in a golden casket shaped like a dagoba (or stupa). After an exceptionally long but rewarding day, our clients headed back to the sanctuary of Taylors Hill for a well-earned evening meal and rest!

Sigirya Rock and Fortress

The following morning, our newlyweds woke early to head out to Peradeniya to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, Sri Lankas largest garden with thousands of species of plants, trees and herbs to discover over acres of impressive grounds. The highlight of this collection is the remarkable Giant Bamboo of Burma, which can grow by an astounding 30 centimeters a day. After a leisurely few hours spent enjoying the gardens, it was into their private car for the drive on to Ella, where they checked into the very special 98 Acres Resort. Set into luscious green mountains on a tea estate, the Honeymoon Deluxe room has breath-taking balcony views out onto the Ella Gap and the Small Adam’s Peak Mountain. Just take a look…

98 Acres Resort, Ella

The next portion of this Sri Lankan adventure was to drive south to two different National Parks; Yala and Udawalawe, for a few days of game drives, experiencing the rich wildlife that this magnificent country has to offer.  Driving from Ella, there was time for a quick visit to the Nine Arch Bridge and Ravana falls, arriving later that day at the stunning Cinnamon Wild Yala resort. Two nights spent in this luxurious lodge included a selection of safari drives at different times of day to experience as much variety as possible. Inside the park, if you are lucky, you will come across wild boar, deer, leopards, elephants, bears, peacocks, flamingos and many more animals roaming freely.

The second safari resort was in Udawalawe, around a 2 hour drive from Yala, which was broken up by a visit to an Elephant transit home (a kind of halfway house for orphaned elephants who are released back into the wild after rehabilitation). This was highlighted as an absolute ‘must-see’ by our clients who highly praised the work of this important facility. Arriving at the Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort, our clients enjoyed further safari drives in a different terrain, before continuing to their final destination in Sri Lanka; the coastal town of Galle.

Baby elephants playing at the Transit Home, Udawalawe

Situated on the South West coast of Sri Lanka, Galle is best known for its historic fortress, which is a UNESCO Wold Heritage Site. With car-free streets, ancient lanes, Dutch colonial buildings and plenty of cafes and boutiques to enjoy, you can spend hours strolling through these historic streets. Nearby town of Marissa is home to incredible whale and dolphin watching excursions where you can catch a glimpse of a whole host of marine species. Spend time watching the locals stilt fishing on the shores of the Indian Ocean, or take a trip to Dalawella beach for some down time. Our clients stayed at quirky boutique hotel The Fort Bazaar, which fits impeccably with the historic feel of the city, offering 18 stylish rooms centred around an atmospheric courtyard with a Middle Eastern riad-esque feel.

Locals stilt fishing in the Indian Ocean

After a jam-packed 9 nights exploring the highlights of Sri Lanka, our clients embarked on part two of their honeymoon, returning to Colombo airport for the quick 1-hour flight across to Male in the Maldives. Hopping straight on to a sea plane, our clients transferred to their new home for a week, the breath-taking LUX* South Ari Atoll resort. On arrival at their incredible over-water villa, I was thrilled to receive an excited Facetime call, to show me around their luxurious surroundings and express their gratitude for the wonderful experience they had enjoyed so far.

With 193 villas dotted along the waters edge, this incredible resort boats two miles of white sandy beach, a 5-star PADI dive centre, eight restaurants, five bars and a plethora of activity, wellness and fitness facilities to suit guests of every taste. Feedback from our couple was that this resort offered everything they hoped for and much more, for a truly luxurious week of down-time and reflection. They highly praised the friendliness, attentiveness and personal approach of the staff at LUX*, and were overwhelmed by the line-up of smiling faces, waving enthusiastically from the jetty as they arrived and departed by sea plane.

Their top tip for this dreamy Maldivian resort? Go all-inclusive. With the range of world-class restaurants to experience, you’ll never feel restricted and they felt that they more than got their money’s worth by upgrading their board basis.

A few weeks after they arrived back in the UK, I spent a pleasant couple of hours enjoying a glass of wine with them, and hearing all about their incredible experiences of both destinations. Would they recommend such a diverse (and busy) multi-centre itinerary to other honeymooners? Absolutely! What better way to kick off married life than by experiencing two stunning countries and two totally different holiday styles in one amazing trip.

This itinerary was booked by our honeymoon expert Mia, via our luxury trade-only operator Lusso. To enquire about either of these destinations, or to let us help plan your dream honeymoon, get in touch with mia@footprinttravel.co.uk.

 

About the Author
Mia is our resident honeymoon expert. As a newly-wed herself, she loves to help brides and grooms to-be to create their dream getaway, from island hopping in Bali to African safaris, and everything in between. Favourite destination: Cambodia Next destination: Canadian Rockies