For our second day in Kandy we blocked off the morning and afternoon for a visit to The Royal Botanical Garden. Our estimation for how much time we needed there was 3 hours but I think we could’ve stayed for two more hours. The garden area is huge and there is a lot to see.
Before we went in the entrance we grabbed breakfast rotis at a nearby cafe. This roti was the hottest food I ate in Sri Lanka. My mouth was on fire for about 30 minutes. But I was so hungry and it was the only food option so I ate the whole roti. Sri Lankan food will deliver you a next level of spiciness not experienced in the States. I guess unless you go to a Sri Lankan dinner spot.
After the fiery hot lava breakfast we got to the ticket office/entrance to the gardens. Grabbing free maps was easy and allowed for us to get our bearings. We started at the greenhouse, then made our way to the “cactus house.” Paul and I love nature and it’s fun to see plants unknown to us. The greenhouse was full of succulents I’d never seen before – long ones, hanging that look like green braids.
After these two garden houses we went to the Orchid House. This was a highlight for me on our visit. I think I took almost 100 pictures. I love orchids – who don’t! – and couldn’t resist snapping photos of all the different varieties. There were white, pink, lavender, purple, magenta, yellow, orange, green. Their shapes were all so different as well. When you get to look at exquisite flowers this closely you realize why Georgia O’Keefe devoted her time to painting them. They are all so complex and different.
After the orchid house we ventured to the tree section. It reminded me of Washington D.C.’s National Arboretum. This was a section where every sort of tree imaginable could be seen. Down the pathways we saw trees from Africa, Sri Lanka, and India. The African tree, Kigelia, also known as a “Sausage tree” was something I’d never seen before. There were plenty of palms trees, coconuts, and banana trees as well.
The garden must be a popular make out spot because hiding behind every huge, exterior root of the Banyan trees were high school couples making out away from the eyes of the older generation. Not a bad place to misbehave!
On the east side of the grounds is a suspension bridge. They only allow 6-10 people on at a time, but the line moves pretty fast. We waited 3 minutes and walked across. The monkeys also like this suspension bridge and they hung on the chords like vines.
After that, we moved to the west side of the garden. Here, we heard cicada like sounds. At first we thought they were birds, but they were actually thousands of flying bats!!! I never knew bats could be not nocturnal so it was surprising to see this many bats hanging around and flying everywhere in broad day light. A part of me was a bit apprehensive at first, but these kind of bats do not want to bite humans. As we walked under the bats we looked up to see them flying above us.
As we went down the west side, we saw packs of monkeys, a section devoted entirely to agave, banana trees, and gardens dedicated to medicinal plants or Sri Lankan flowers.
At times it felt as if we were deep in a Sri Lankan jungle! It was fun to explore this massive garden ground and I’d highly recommend setting side a few hours to roam it if you’re interested in seeing nature and wildlife from Asia.