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Driving from Colombo to Tangalle in southern Sri Lanka provided an insight into the landscape I was to come across throughout the next week: historic colonial buildings, beautifully crumbling and fading, street hawkers selling local favourites, lush and green wide open spaces, one lane roads clogged with tuk tuks and buses near bursting with passengers, temples and roadside Buddhas adorned with neon lights and fluorescent decoration and rocky, white sand beaches.

We arrived at the breathtaking Amanwella – meaning ‘peaceful beach’ - located on a stretch of secluded beach which attracts only a few locals taking in the magnificent sunsets and cooling off amongst the rock pools. As inviting as the clear blue water is, the powerful waves of the Indian Ocean can be a deterrent from swimming however the pool at Amanwella is certainly a welcome alternative. A place to spend hours relaxing and taking in the views and enjoying the calm, proving it really lives up to its name.

The suite at Amanwella is a spacious luxurious haven to while away the days, with an endless supply of minibar snacks and drinks and your own private pool. No one would blame you for never leaving.

We ventured out on an early morning jungle safari, leaving Amanwella in the dark, arriving at Udawalawe National Park for dawn sightings of elephant herds. We were treated to elephants crossing our path in search of breakfast, numerous peacocks majestically showing off their feathers, monkeys, deer, crocodiles, water buffalo, rare birds; all accumulating in a surprise breakfast atop a rock overlooking the sunny expanse.

The next morning we visited the Mulgirigala Rock Temple, built high on a rock 200m above sea level, with 533 steps to reach the summit, entering three temples along the way to offer lotus flowers as a symbol of life: rising and blooming above the muddy water to achieve enlightenment.

You’re rewarded at the top with beautiful views over the Southern Province.

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