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INDIAN OCEAN SRI LANKA DESTINATIONS LEFT: Tea picking


at Heritance Tea Factory


RIGHT:


One of Sri Lanka’s


secluded beaches


BELOW: Elephants


in Minneriya National Park


FACING PAGE:


Paul and


Rob Forkan on Sigiriya


of sight with a swish of his tail. A rare sighting of a shaggy sloth bear thrilled our guide, along with every other ranger in the park. But this reclusive creature seemed unbothered by the traffic jam he’d generated, as he sat in the middle of the road, digging with his long, curved claws and grunting happily. Wildlife spotting was equally


good at Cinnamon Wild Yala in the park’s buffer zone, where gray langurs do handstands


around the pool, and a stroll back to your wooden villa-on-stilts could mean an encounter with a foraging family of wild boar or a wayward elephant searching for the tastiest fruit.


 FORT OF CALL My last stop was the Jetwing Lighthouse on a stunning south-coast beach, a short tuk-tuk ride from atmospheric Galle. The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1588, with


hulking granite fortifications built by the Dutch a century later. Today, the fort’s cobbled


streets are ideal for idle wandering, to stumble across an architectural gem or a dusty museum filled with long- forgotten treasures. Galle has always been a


trading city, and now there are an increasing number of boutiques where you can shop for everything from one-off pieces of jewellery and precious stones to


handcrafted masks – the perfect spot for a Gandys store. As the torpid heat of the day began to fade and the setting sun streaked the ocean pink and gold, I sat on the stone ramparts, people-watching with a coconut ice cream in hand. A couple of curious locals


stopped to ask where I was from, then with beaming smiles and a gentle nod of the head, wished me “ayubowan” – may you have a long life.


21 March 2019travelweekly.co.uk63


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