We were surprised by the cold in the mountains of Nuwara Eliya…and here, on the East side of Sri Lanka, this is the extreme heat that caught us off! It was 1.00pm when we arrived at our guest house close to Sigiriya, and the sun was burning. No time for a nap, we left straight away to see the wild elephants in Kaudulla National park.
This is only the next day that we finally got to the famous lion rock, a sacred place for locals and a must for international travelers.
How to get close to Sigiriya Lion Rock without entering the tourist site
if you are not keen on paying 40€ to visit the Lion Rock and Sigiriya archeological site ( I can totally understand!) just know that there is another way to admire the famous Lion Rock: Climb up the Pidurangala mountain, facing the Lion Rock.
As the climb is steep, don’t go for it in the middle of the day just like we did, even if it means you will have the view pretty much for yourself ! Once you have reached the top, you get a perfect view over the Lion Rock of Sigiriya, with the perfect spot to take cool pictures. But, you might how we are, so we went even higher, on top of the rock!
So we ended up all alone on this huge granite flat wall and a huge gap all around, with a 360 view over the whole plain. I suddenly had the urge to sing “circle of life” but I didn’t and took some great shots in silence instead! To be honest this view seemed even more impressive for me than the one you get from the top of Lion Rock.
Visiting the Sigiriya archeological site
A bit of history…
Sigiriya is a major archeological site in Sri Lanka, classified as UNESCO World Heritage. There, you will find lives remains from Prehistory, but it is its status of ancient imperial city that mostly attracts visitors!
During the 5th century, the second son of Anurâdhapura king tried to steal the throne from his older brother ( yes, Game Of throne before Game of Throne). So he decided to brick up he father alive and forced his brother to escape to India ( charming character, I know). As he feared of his brother coming back with an army, he established his royal city on top of Sigiriya Lion Rock, thinking that its 370m of height would be a perfect defense against the enemy. Nowadays, there are only a few remains left on top of the rock, but you can see impressive videos about the whole construction, at the Sigiriya museum ( included in your ticket). The king didn’t stay for long in his eagle nest, as his brother did come back! The site was totally abandoned…until its restoration during the 20th century.
We got up very early this morning, to reach Sigiriya entrance at 7:30 am with our bicycles! I really encourage you to ascend the Lion Rock before 8:30, as they are not too many people before this time. From 9:00 am, everybody is queuing on the stairs and I bet the view is way less charming with so many people around you!
When you are there and you imagine how they built a fortress on top of that rock you realize how nuts this is! Gardens around the rock are full of monkeys, old stones and ponds covered by lotus flowers…enough to keep you busy for a few hours.
Being a beach bum in Uppuveli
To end our travels in Sri Lanka on a high note, and also because I had to “get back” to work, we decided to spend a week in Uppuveli, a really nice beach on the East coast. Work for me and chill on the beach for Mathieu…the perfect break before moving to Laos!
There isn’t so much to do in Uppuveli, but that’s part of the reason why we chose this place. But we could still go for a snorkeling day at Pigeon Island, which was really nice even if they were quite a lot of people, I even had the chance to swim with black tipped sharks! You can also find a few diving spots around, and the “beach bums” can still spend their days and nights at the Fernando’s Bar, chilling with their toes in the sand.
Our addresses :
Our guest house in Sigiriya, with amazingly nice and helpful hosts: Isumi & Risara Homestay
I recommend our hotel in Uppuveli, made of wooden bungalows only 5mins away from the beach : Silaa Cabana
You will find a lot of restaurants with a delicious catch of the day, and of course, the famous Fernando’s bar right on the beach.