Fern Hordern was the lucky winner of the prize draw at Badminton in 2016
generously sponsored by Zip Trave. The month of January would normally herald short, grey winter days, the joys of cold hacking and muddy turn out rugs. But not this time around…
Mister Luck shone brightly on me in May last year when my name was pulled out of the EHOA prize draw and I found myself booking an adventure to Sri Lanka with ZIP Travel.
My sister and I set off mid January, flying out to Colombo and meeting our guide, Ralston (whom we secretly named Wally on account of his Where’s Wally T-shirt). He became our translator, driver and all round hero for the trip. A perfect example was on our train ride from Kandy to Nurawala Eliya which was a stunning 4 hour train journey over beautiful
hillsides and through the tea plantations.
At the station, Ralston positioned himself perfectly on the platform in order to leap onto the train before it had come to a stop, push past all the passengers waiting to get off and grab us two seats on the side of the train which would have the best views. By the time my sister an I had boarded the train, all the seats were taken apart from the two guarded by Ralston.
Highlights of our trip included: 1000 steps up to the rock fortress at Sigiriya, and the ancient wall paintings and Buddha statues at the Dambulla Rock Temple. Cheeky monkeys live at these world heritage sites and one tried to pull my sarong off! The safari in Yala National Park was a bit more hectic than we had imagined it would be. The Jeep drivers raced around like rally car competitors in their frenzied search for the elusive leopard. This resulted in “Jeep-jams” and general chaos. However once off the beaten track, we were thrilled to see brilliant green and blue bee eater birds, unbelievably huge crocodiles, pelicans, mongooses, and a rare sloth bear (a shaggy black bear the size of a chimpanzee).
There were some unexpected moments too: A swarm of silent crows at dusk as we sat on our balcony in Kandy turned out to be a colony of fruit bats (also known as flying foxes). We saw wild elephants wandering along the roadside and at our hotel in Yala, on the edge of the National Park, we had to side step water buffalo, wild boar and a land monitor to
get to breakfast!
Although we were sad to leave the warmth, sunshine and beautiful sunsets, it is always lovely to get back to family, dogs and horses (clean or otherwise). A wonderful trip.