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8 Days Itinerary to Discover Sri Lanka With Kids in Tow
Sri Lanka is a perfect place to travel with children. There is so much to see and do for children that you need at least a month to enjoy it. With 8 days in hand, we marked the places on the map of Sri Lanka that can be visited with a child in tow and left.
That’s it our ultimate 8 day best Sri Lanka itinerary for you!
Colombo – Kandy/Sigiriya/Dambulla – Nuwara Eliya/Horton Plains/Udawalawe National Park – Galle (en route Mirissa) – Negombo (en route Bentota)
Day 1: Delhi to Colombo (Sri Lankan Airlines) / Colombo to Kandy (Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage en route) / Explore Kandy / Overnight at Kandy
We decided to skip Colombo and head straight for the Holy city of Kandy. Stopping at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on our way to Kandy served as a much needed break from the trip. Mini-me couldn’t contain her excitement. It’s nice how kids don’t get bored doing or seeing the same thing over and over rather they enjoy it analogically every time. Enjoying the predictability is unique to children I guess. Having seen elephants in the untamed and wild in National Parks in India, my husband and I were not really interested in Pinnawala. However, we were definitely interested in cherishing our daughter’s happiness and excitement while feeding an elephant. Pinnawala is a beautiful nature reserve where children can have fun spending time with one of the most gigantic and intelligent yet humble creatures.
Kandy looked beautiful and serene, drenched in rain. Our driver stopped the car for us to admire the bird’s eye view of Kandy from Arthur’s seat (Kandy view point) before dropping us at the hotel. We had a wonderful time breathing in the mesmerizing views from our room balcony while sipping tea (One of my favorite parts of traveling) while mini-me snapped hundreds of pictures in the air (One of her favorite parts of traveling.)
Our evening was graced with a wonderful performance at the Kandy Sri Lankan Cultural Show. It is full of life and colorful extravaganza. Performers with their energetic performances, vibrant costumes, compelling folklore stories, perpetual whirling, swirling and outdoor grand finale act make you jump in the blink of an eye. The children and adults alike enjoy this graceful spectacle.
We ended our day with a visit to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. An evening ceremony at the temple is truly worth witnessing. Although we could not see the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha because it is housed in a decorative gold structure, but the all-encompassing experience was beautiful. Walking the streets of Kandy was the highlight of our first day in Sri Lanka. Despite all the hustle and bustle, Kandy caught my eye for its tasteful classic Kandy and colonial buildings. Busy and lively markets are worth a stroll. Mini-me fell in love with tuk-tuks that it became our preferred mode of transport in Sri Lanka.
Day 2: Kandy to Sigiriya/Dambulla / Overnight at Kandy
If you want to do Dambulla and Sigiriya in a day, you have to wake up early enough. We started for Dambulla at 5 in the morning. But you wouldn’t regret getting up crazy early after visiting Dambulla cave temple and Sigiriya Lion Rock. The trek is not as difficult as we thought. A visual treat awaits when you reach the top. Eyes are confused whether to admire the ruins or to take pleasure in the wonderful surrounding views.
Day 3: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya / Overnight at Nuwara Eliya
Enough has been written about the scenic train journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and I would love to travel by train but somehow I prefer road trips as they give freedom to pause wherever and whenever you want; touch and enjoy the amazing views; click pictures as and when you wish and give a chance to connect and get to know the local side. It’s just a matter of preferences.
The road trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya turned out to be one of the most dramatic road trips I have ever experienced. With each turn, magic unfolds. I breathed in the fresh air and savored the enchanting views of the magical hill country winding by rolling hills covered in vividly colored flowers mocking the variegated color palette and lush tea plantations, many waterfalls and streams. Drinking in the beautiful countryside makes you thirsty, craving more.
We had lunch at a restaurant in Ramboda Falls Hotel. It was truly lunch with a view. Eating authentic Sri Lankan cuisine as you feast on the beautiful views of Ramboda falls, which have shadowy mountains in the background surrounded by luxurious tea gardens. Isn’t it inviting? An absolute soul and belly experience.
There are many tea factories on the way to Nuwara Eliya and in Nuwara Eliya. You can visit any of them to see the entire tea production process from picking to withering to drying. The tour of the tea factory led by a graceful girl staff is a learning experience for children. Mini-me was surprised to know that six to seven types of tea such as green tea, black tea, white tea and many more can be obtained from the same tea plant just by changing the combination of different leaves of the same plant. At the end of the tour, they make you taste all the varieties of tea so you can buy the one you liked best. My experience says that the price of tea in the factory is relatively higher than it is at outside shops. So, just experience the tea process and buy it from outside.
It was wonderful to take an evening walk on the streets of Nuwara Eliya. Meandering through Victoria Park, Golf Club and a walk away encircling Gregory lake; it was time for dinner. Araliya Green City eatery was a perfect choice to eat while listening to the live band.
Day 4: Nuwara Eliya to Horton Plains / Overnight at Nuwara Eliya
At exactly 5 in the morning, we started a 1 hour journey to Horton Plains. It is better to reach before 6 in the morning and start the tour as soon as it opens because it gets quite crowded especially on weekends and also foggy and foggy mostly after 10. It takes about 3-4 hours to the World’s End and back and is. quite an easy hike. We stood on the cliff looking down at the valley in utter amazement at having reached the World’s End. A deep ravine shows small villages with beautiful tea plantations and it is said that you can see the south coast on a clear day. That is rare though. It was a wonderful experience. If time permits, you can enjoy the longer treks to Mt Kirigalpoththa and Mt Thotupola.
On our way back to Nuwara Eliya, our driver suggested visiting Moon Plains which is a few km from Nuwara Eliya as we still had half a day to go. Although afraid, we asked him to take us to the Moon Plains. As soon as we reached Potato Seed Farm, which is the beginning of the Moon Plains, our fears melted into the mist. The drive along the twisting and turning paths became enchanting as the breathtaking terrains unfolded before us. A view of the Second World End was seductive. Yes! Mountains disappearing in the distance, forests covered in the dancing fog, absolute tranquility overcome by the sound of birds from time to time, and the views that give a new definition to the beauty sum up Moon Plains. One can see the colossal mountains of Sri Lanka ie Pidurutalaga (tallest), One Tree Mountain, Kikiliyamana Mountain, Great West Mountain, Conical Hill Mountain, Kirigalpoththa Mountain, Thotupola Mountain, Hakgala Mountain and Namunukula Mountain from the Bomuruella Plains. One word. Enchantment
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya to Udawalawe National Park / Overnight at Udawalwe Resort
We prefer to get up as early as possible when we travel. It’s always easy and hassle-free to reach and gain entry at major attractions that are otherwise crowded at peak times. As always, following our strategy, we started for Udawalwe National Park at 4 in the morning and reached there at 8. The best time to visit Udawalwe for a safari is at dawn (gate opens at 6 am), when you can also witness the mesmerizing sunrise. . We missed that, however, the park was relatively less crowded and mini-me enjoyed the 4 hour safari with an expert guide arranged by our resort at Udawalwe. We saw a herd of elephants with a beautiful baby elephant, crocodiles, water buffalo, lizards, spotted deer, monkeys and different species of birds. Spotting the beautiful lively toucan was the highlight of the safari. We ended our day with a beautiful sunset at Udawalwe, which washed away my regret of missing the sunrise.
Day 6: Udawalawe to Galle (en route Mirrisa) / Overnight at Galle
Finally, it was beach time, the main reason people visit Sri Lanka. We headed to Galle with a highly recommended stop at the beach town, Mirissa. It took us a little over 3 hours to reach Mirissa. Mirissa beach lived up to our expectations. A nice and quiet beach with a calm aura. My little girl was a little disappointed because we couldn’t do whale watching because of the bad weather. I was also sad because she was all excited just thinking about seeing friendly dolphins in the ocean and I guess it’s the best thing that kids can enjoy in Sri Lanka. We promised to bring her back to Sri Lanka during whale watching season.
Day 7: Explore Galle / Overnight at Galle
Galle is a dreamy little Dutch colonial town. The dazzling mix of colors and architecture dazzled us. We explored the beautiful city on foot but our eyes and feet never felt tired. The beautiful white lighthouse, lively streets with vivid shades of flowers, bizarre shapes of windows and doors and old Dutch Galle fort, which is the most important attraction in Galle, make it a perfect place to be. I would recommend keeping Galle as a base for most of a Sri Lankan trip. We spent our evening at Unawatuna beach watching the sun set in the ocean leaving the perfect shadows to color our moments at Galle.
Day 8: Galle to Bandaranaike Airport (en route Bentota/ Negambo) / Night flight to Delhi
It was our last day and we wanted to make the most of it. Our flight was at midnight, so we had plenty of time on our hands. The only reason to indulge in the Madu Ganga River Safari in Balapitiya was to see the point where the river meets the ocean but the cruise surprised with its multitude of experiences. Stopping at the old Kothduwa temple inside the river, making a way through wonderful Mangroves, tasting the authentic cinnamon tea at Cinnamon Island, enjoying fish therapy and witnessing the river ending in the ocean; Madu Rivero has a lot to offer.
We visited the Tortoise Hatchery with pure excitement, but left early sad. I imagined turtles walking along the shore and it seemed like a real visual treat to witness these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. But as we entered the hatchery, I felt that this was not what we had imagined. It was shivering and terrifying to see dozens of turtles of various sizes and ages being squeezed into the small ponds with dirty smelly water. “When would you release these turtles into the ocean?” I asked. “Some after a few days and some after a few months, it depends.” guide replied. Mini-me denied holding the little turtle in her hands. Harassing them just because of a picture is not the right thing to do, even a girl her age could understand. What is wrong with us then? The whole thing seemed like a money making project rather than a conservation project. They literally torture little animals for their own interest. I would never recommend anyone to visit Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka. Animals are better off in the wild as we are always happy in our homes. Let them be. please
We stopped at different beaches (Hikkaduwa, Bentota, Mount Lavinia, and Negombo) on our trip from Galle to Bandaranaike International airport. There is no such thing as too much beach right! Negombo is a pretty perfect place while you wait for your flight back home because of its proximity to the international airport (20 minutes journey)
Before you leave, don’t forget to indulge in some shopping pleasure as Sri Lanka has a lot to offer in terms of local and traditional handicrafts. I also brought back a piece of Sri Lanka in the form of wonderful souvenirs.
Sri Lanka, we will be back soon to enjoy the places we missed!
Sri Lanka has all the elements that make it a good destination for children. I hope our 8-day itinerary will help you enjoy and explore Sri Lanka better with kids.
Are you tempted enough to add Sri Lanka to your list? What would you change in our itinerary if you had already been to Sri Lanka?
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