Treasures of the Indian Ocean: Cruising on the Voyager - Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles & Mauritius
About this blog
This will be our third cruise with Voyage of Discovery, but this time on a new ship, the MV Voyager.
Prior to the departure of our cruise we took a 5-Day overland tour of Sri Lanka. In order to get there, we used frequent flyer miles to "purchase" our free business class ticket. Unfortunately, in order to get it, we had to fly from San Francisco, to Vancouver, to Hong Kong, to Bangkok and then to Colombo. Flights and lay-overs that took us over 25 hours! Whew! We assume the trip is worth it.
Sri Lanka is one of Asia's richest treasure troves with no fewer than seven amazing UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites. Upon arrival in Colombo, (just after midnight!) we headed to our hotel and had a short city tour before spending the night and heading out to Sigiriya.
In the heart of Sri Lanka is the extraordinary site of Sigiriya - the "Lion Mountain", is considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the world. The lofty rock dominating the neighboring plateau consists of an ancient castle used by King Kasyapa as a hideout in the 5th century from his brother who sought vengeance. The site is both a palace and a fortress. The upper palace is sited on the flat top of the rock, a mid level terrace includes the Lion Gate and the mirror wall with its 1,500 year old frescoes, the lower palace, which clings to the slopes below the rock, and the moats, walls and gardens that extend hundreds of feet out from the base of the rock.
An ancient city sacred to the Buddhist world, the site of Anuradhapura is the first historical capital of Sri Lanka. Established in the 5th century BC, it was considered the greatest monastic city of the ancient world. At its peak it had dozens of monasteries housing thousands of monks. Scattered throughout the city, wonderful ruins give a fascinating insight into the history of the Great Sri Lankan civilization. Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka. The ruins of one of history's most astonishing urban creations are testimony to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's first rulers.
Dambulla Rock Temple and the famous Dambulla Caves are the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Many impressive statues carved in living rock and paintings relating to Lord Buddha and his life enrich what is one of the oldest Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka.
The cruise itself was a touch of the exotic, a touch of the idyllic and perhaps even a touch of the unknown. Mist-shrouded mountains, wildlife-rich jungle and rolling tea plantations, pearl-shaped Sri Lanka promised great geographic diversity. A spectacular skyline of candy-colored skyscrapers, Male, the capital of the Maldives, manages to be both a city and an island, while sublime Kuda Bandos (an uninhabited island) is the quintessential Maldives. The gentle ebb and flow of crystal, clear waters against pristine white sands perfectly mirrors the relaxed pace of life on the Seychelles where Praslin is a timeless nature reserve. Colonial trails led to Mauritius - the perfect end to a wonderful voyage.