I couldn’t find much information about horse riding vacations in Sri Lanka when I was planning my trip, therefore here’s my trip report to help all future riders who’d love to experience an exotic Sri Lankan vacation on horseback. Whether rider or non-rider, I hope everyone can gain some useful knowledge here:
After many helpful tips in different travel forums, we finally booked our horse riding vacation in Sri Lanka with a beach extension with Mai Globe Travels. The horses were owned by a riding school called Premadasa. However, we booked the complete package with Tanja, a German employee from Mai Globe (I’m German so the communication in my native language was much easier for me). We were absolutely delighted! The horses, the riding guide, the guys who groomed the horses, drivers and our chauffeur-guide Erik were really awesome!
We had a wonderful holiday and enjoyed rides at many beautiful locations: The first ride was on the beach in Kalpitiya, which is quite deserted and therefore ideal for undisturbed galloping. We even went with the horses into the sea; it was just really great! We left Kalpitiya behind for some cultural visits, like a bicycle tour of Anuradhapura ancient city (was very hot, but fun) and the Dambulla cave temple. Erik accompanied us to all cultural sites and explained the historical facts and culture in Sri Lanka. He always had some witty anecdotes about his life as a tour guide in Sri Lanka to tell, so it was actually never boring during the drives from A to B.
After a day of culture without rides (so the horses could rest after transportation) we took off for a ride in Kandalama the next day. We rode through small jungle streams, went past ancient ruins and through the jungle. It was an absolutely stunning backdrop. We partly felt like being in another world. The next day we rode to Sigiriya. It was actually planned for us to explore the rock fortress Sigiriya with Erik after the ride, however the desire to visit disappeared quickly after seeing 3 big tourist busses arriving just before we were about to enter the site. We decided to skip Sigiriya and instead hike up Pidurangala rock, which was nearby. We didn’t regret our decision. The view of Sigiriya and the landscape from the top was amazing! (And there were only about 5 other people there; entrance fee was only a few hundred rupees, much less than Sigiriya. But be aware, the climb can be steep on the way to the summit).
We continued our journey to Kandy and stopped by a spice garden on the way. It was interesting to see vanilla, pepper and other spices growing, but at the end it felt more like a sales event and we didn’t enjoy it. In Kandy, Erik guided us around the holy Temple of the Tooth and we visited a local market and tried some super sweet local confections.
The next day we drove on to Nuwara Eliya and passed through an absolutely gorgeous landscape with tea plantations and waterfalls (we stopped at Ramboda waterfall, beautiful spot!). In the afternoon we went for a horseback ride through the tea plantations. Unfortunately it started to rain after about 2 hours. Also for the ride the next morning the weather was mixed. It was partly sunny, but we experienced some drizzle in-between. However, the ride was still great because we went high up to the mountains through tea plantations and small villages. This was unfortunately our last ride, as we really wanted to have some time in Galle and a few days on the beach to relax before departing. Thanks again at this point to the awesome horse riding crew! The horses were really great, easy to handle and very sure-footed.
We continued our journey with Erik to Udawalawe, where we stayed in a camp surrounded by wilderness. The tent had a large double bed and a private bathroom. We greatly enjoyed the lost-in-the-jungle-feeling and probably the best rice and curry in Sri Lanka! The next morning we went to the national park for a jeep safari and saw some elephants and enjoyed the amazing mountain backdrop. However, we were told that a safari in the afternoon is better to see more elephants (but it did not fit into our itinerary and we still enjoyed the morning safari).
We drove to Galle, where we stayed for 2 nights at a charming little villa/inn ([email protected]) right inside the Galle Fort. We absolutely loved the Fort. There were plenty of fancy bars and restaurants to eat at and the colonial buildings are a pleasure to discover. The last 5 days of our holiday we booked a luxury beach hotel (Heritance Ahungalla). The hotel was more expensive than the others we stayed at during our Sri Lanka trip, but we decided to treat ourselves to some luxury and it was well worth it! Erik dropped us there and we enjoyed super relaxing days by the sea. Mai Globe Travels organized an airport transfer on our last day. We were picked up by a driver (unfortunately not by Erik), had a brief stop in Colombo and were dropped off at the airport in time for our return flight.
We enjoyed a really great holiday thanks to the excellent organization of Tanja. We didn’t have to worry about anything during the tour and we always felt safe in the car with Erik, despite the sometimes very chaotic traffic. I’d love to be back in Sri Lanka and hope our next holiday (this time without horse riding) in Cambodia would be just as great!!
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Trip report: Horse riding holiday in Sri Lanka – October 2015