When planning our Sri Lanka itinerary buses and trains seemed to be the only logical option at first but after a wasted week of getting nowhere with our plans due to unfriendly public transport timings, it kinda seemed that the only option we have is renting a car.
Even though there was a huge alert sign about self-drive in Sri Lanka on every site that we googled and we got the message clearly – it is not recommended, we thought: So what? We traveled Bali and Turkey on scooter plus Italy, Jordania and Dubai with a car, so generaly we should be okay with driving in Srilanka, too. Yeah, right.
In Bali, me and Uroš proudly shared our parenthood over our firstborn scooter Jessy Pinkman. Now we got ourselves a firstborn car and named him Walter White. We spent our days cruising along the winding roads like there is no tomorrow – and I mean it – was there a tomorrow? We really didn’t know!
Surviving was the goal. Downtown traffic is hectic and undisciplined and not for the faint-hearted. There are not only cars and motorbikes, but tuk-tuks, kids, people, cows, dogs, lizards and worse of them all – trucks and buses! Theese last two really have only two rules – go as fast as you can, and get through regardless. Meaning, the smaller you are, the more in danger you are. Nobody waits for side walkers here neither.
That said, driving in Sri Lanka is a big risk, even for the locals. Being a foreigner, only makes it harder. Uroš had the real guts to do it, and I don’t think he was even close to prepared for what’s coming, but he hit the road like he doesn’t care and don’t ask me how, but somehow we managed to return our car back in one piece. And more importantly: ourselves! We made it! We survived! Happy dance!
Now let me tell you something. Having a car when traveling through Sri Lanka is truthfully one big of an advantage. Not that driving isn’t giving you enough mad adrenaline already, but it really does give you plenty of possibilities to adventure away, find secret spots, stop at the most amazing view-points. Flexibility, not loosing too much time on the road and also being in complete comfort with your luggage safely stowed in the back of your trunk… Looking back, we would not have done it any other way.
Starting in the capital we toured down south to enjoy a couple of days at the beaches before heading up to see some elephants in Udawalawe, experiencing the wonderfully unspoiled interiors of the island – Haputale, Ella and Nuwara Eliya (mainland is a bit easier to drive through with no such hard traffic but the roads are still very winding), getting to know forested Kandy and finally climbing up to see one of the biggest Sri Lankan treasures – Sigiriya Lion stone. There is really nothing but wild adventures and good times to find in Sri Lanka.
So Sri Lanka delivered. It really did. Moment after moment was thrown at us. Driving through Udawalawe National park through open grassland seeing hoards of elephants before heading up hills through narrow roads surrounded by tea plantations, was a highlight.
Rainforests, palms, trees, verdant tea fields – achingly green charms everywhere.
Warm mountain sunrises, piles of lychees, mangos and avocados on every corner, breathtaking landscapes, natural pools, curry leaves and high palm trees scattered all around, Srilanka has been our own personal heaven.
Truth to be told… It would not have been the same experience if it weren’t for our Walter. And the driver, of course. After Sri Lanka trip Uroš is now the proud owner of the driving license for even another planet. I might be exaggerating a tiny bit, but you get the point.
Have you tried driving through Sri Lanka? Let us know down below. We seriously love reading your guys’ thoughts!