“Welcome to Sri Lanka!” was one of the first greetings I heard in Colombo, the country's bustling big city. A local graced me with those lovely words from across the street. Not a storekeeper, nor a hawker. Just a person who wanted to pass on a warm hello.
Even by the pearl-studded standards of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a jewel. Visitors flock here for the rich and diverse culture, beautiful sand-sprinkled beaches and astoundingly varied wildlife. Elephants, monkeys, leopards and sloth bears are the stars of the show on land, while whales and dolphins vie for attention off-shore.
After a tumultuous two decades of political instability and civil war, calm has returned to Sri Lanka, and visitors are flooding back. This Indian Ocean island has a deserved reputation as a top spot for adventurous backpackers, but going for a family holiday – was that a step too far?