Over breakfast, and after some study of the bus timetables, we decided to link a couple of buses up from Anuradhapura rather than wait till 11.50am for the express bus to Trincomalee.
Buses depart more often for the small junction town of Horowupotana on Highway 12, about 60kms from Trinco (as the locals call it). From there you only need wait about 20 minutes for a bus coming from the Jaffna direction.
A word of warning though! If you choose not to wait for the express bus, you’ll have to take a “Roadside” bus like us. These buses stop at almost every bus stop along the way and pick up and let off people anywhere. Considering the bus stops are 1km apart, this can make for a tiresome experience! In the end though, we still beat the Express bus in by a good 2hrs.
Using the GPS, we got off the bus at the Trinco/Uppuveli junction and immediately got in a tuk-tuk to our guesthouse. The Secret Garden Guesthouse is a rather new establishment and will need some time for its garden to mature. The place was run by a couple of Brits, Lorraine and Ronnie, who were both fantastic. Lorraine is super organised and Ronnie has a sharp, Scottish sense of humour and quick to join in with a beer – our kind of people!
Our room was virtually new and very clean. It also had AC and a fan, a necessity considering how hot it was. The table and chairs outside the door were perfect for breakfast and for us both to work.
Trincomalee, being somewhat in the north, is mainly a Tamil town, so as we soon found out, most people understand Sinhala, but prefer to be spoken to in Tamil. Once you learn a few phrases, everybody’s happy with you. The young fella at our guesthouse had a large tiger tattooed on his forearm, a constant reminder of the tensions between north and south. He proudly showed us when he was teaching us some Tamil greetings, but we carefully stuck to the lesson at hand and avoided any references to the war.
We had no great plans for Uppuveli, just to chill out for 5 days and get some work done and the blog updated. By the evening, we’d head around to Fernando’s Beach Bar at the Aqua Hotel for sundowners and stop by any of the local restaurants for dinner. The Tuna Restaurant is very popular (for good reason), and we also enjoyed the quiet but tasty N-Joy Restaurant with its large portions.
Our only outing was a scooter ride up to see what the Lonely Planet describes as “the best beach in Sri Lanka”. Unfortunately, when you put Poms in charge of rating beaches they’re a bit clueless! Niliveli Beach could probably be Sri Lanka’s widest beach, and maybe, the longest beach, but it is a long way off being its best.
For starters, it would need a massive clean-up operation to remove tons of plastic and various rubbish, the last thing you want to see on a beach. And, just because it’s big, doesn’t mean it’s better. It lacks the “tropical feel” of the smaller, southern beaches and reminds me more of the deserted coastlines of Namibia and Peru.
The few scattered resorts are set right back and if you were laying on a banana lounge you probably wouldn’t see the waves crashing. There was literally no-one on the sand, so, if that’s your thing, then make the trip, you’ll have it all to yourself.
You don’t need to take the Express Bus from Anuradhapura to Trinco. Just take a bus to Horowupotana and wait for a connecting bus to Trinco.
Niliveli is NOT the best beach in Sri Lanka. In fact, save your money and stay at Uppuveli, it’s both cheaper and nicer.
Uppuveli and Niliveli are really for those looking to elude the crowds of tourists in other parts of the country.