A Travellerspoint blog

Special day in Sri Lanka

Day two – Traffic jams, elephants and hair removal cream.


Our late night research had still not provided any answers and so we were still pondering what to do as we ate our curry and cakes from the slightly strange breakfast buffet at our hostel; The Tropic Inn Hotel. Defeated we went to the hostel reception to ask for their advice. After some negotiations and a bit of haggling we managed to get ourselves a car and driver for the day to take us to Kandy to see the temples there. It wasn’t a long journey in terms of distance and having learned nothing from the previous day three hours had passed before we were even halfway.

Thankfully our lovely driver who had spent the journey chatting to us, pointing out pineapple groves and cashew villages by the roadside, suggested stopping at a nearby elephant orphanage. We’d read about two different elephant orphanages on Tripadvisor, and he suggested The Millennium Elephant Foundation as the better option. On Tripadvisor there were some comments as to how the elephants were often treated brutally by their handlers. This was not our experience in the slightest. Within minutes of our arrival we found ourselves on the back of an elephant and trekking through a nearby village and jungle. We had one handler by our side at all times whilst another took some photos and videos for us. It was a little uncomfortable but truly amazing.


Once back at the centre we browsed the small elephant museum which was interesting if a little dilapidated. After a brief break we were then led to the river running below the museum with the elephant we had ridden to wash him in the water with coconut husks. Being that up close and personal with this huge creature was a privilege and the extraordinary feeling was something neither of us will ever forget.


Our driver welcomed us back to the car and after a brief brainstorm we decided that for reasons of timing and money to head back. The driver had told us about some spice gardens that we could drop by on our way back. We didn’t think the day could get any better after the elephants and thought that whilst spice gardens would be an interesting aside it would be nothing special. After arriving at The Island Spice Grove we realised how wrong we were as our tour guide led us around giving us information about all the plants and letting the smells wash over us. He allowed us to sample the products of the spice gardens including some hair removal cream on Alex’s leg (working a little too well, leaving a shiny bald patch).


The very best part came towards the end when we were sat down on a veranda overlooking the gardens where we each given a head, face, neck, back and arm massage. Words cannot describe. Alex actually zoned out it was that relaxing. Did we also mention that the spice gardens were completely free due to government funding?

We are now packing our bags up in our hostel room, ready for an early start and a plane to Singapore!

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • If you’re struggling for things to do ask. The people are friendly and always willing to help.
  • At the elephant sanctuary and indeed in many places your guides may ask for tips. Don’t be embarrassed and cough up your precious travel money. Be firm but polite and they will stop bothering you.
  • If you want something a bit different, amazing, informative, relaxing and best of all free; visit The Island Spice Grove in Mawanella.

Posted by rexontheroad 15:23 Archived in Sri Lanka

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