Image courtesy of Charles Pieters, Flickr

Putting a pin in Polonnaruwa

Why curiosity killed the macaque when I chose to visit Sri Lanka’s ancient temples

“Few humans have ever seen” the location for Disney’s latest nature documentary Monkey Kingdom according to the trailer. The diligent entries for Polonnaruwa in the Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor and Unesco might beg to differ.

But Monkey Kingdom did get a few things right. This is an ‘Ancient World’, a ‘Secret Land’ scattered with medieval ruins and abandoned civilizations. It’s also packed with primates. Helpfully.

Monkey Kingdom, the new nature documentary filmed in and around the ruins of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

I didn’t know about the big screen exposure when my partner and I decided to stick a pin in Polonnaruwa as one of the must-visit destinations for our upcoming summer trip through Sri Lanka. It’s nice to see where we’re heading for though, and at least I now know when to avoid the thick clouds of flying termites.

No, it was just a whim really, a half-way point between two other stops we’d sort of sketched out on Google Maps. But having spoken to the people at the Association for the Conservation of Primate Diversity where we’ll be staying, it’s now become one of the places I’m most looking forward to.

We have no real zoological background, but on this occasion curiosity killed the macaque and we had to stop. And not just for the monkeys, but also the incredible 12th century jungle ruins, the huge 26 square kilometre artificial water tank home to elephants during the dry season, the chance Airbnb discovery of cheap rooms in the Primate Research Station, the giant Buddha statues, the fresh fish sold in town every day, the chance of seeing an elusive nocturnal loris on a night time stroll back from the toilets, and the evening beers before the fierce summer sun takes a plunge in the nearby lake.

But yes. Mostly for the monkeys.
Clip from Planet Earth Live, BBC1

My partner Beth and I are planning a three week trip through Sri Lanka this July, and already it doesn’t feel like long enough. If you have any advice, tips, warnings or wanderings of your own that you’d like to share, please get in touch.

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