Seriously, we passed at least three guys at the entrance of the Sigiriya site who said to me: “I carry the baby for you?” (the kids are 5 and 3, but Sri Lankans all call them babies all the time… it drives the kids nuts).
When I said “No thanks”, each one murmured to me “One thousand two hundred steps…” in an ominous voice.
In your face, baby-carrying guys! Our kids did 1200 steps without complaint! In retrospect, this is even more amazing since they often can’t get dressed in the morning without complaint.
Sigiriya really is an amazing place. The biggest rock you’ve ever seen ( unless you’ve been to central Australia), with the craziest flight of stairs to get up there. The stairs in use now are pretty reasonable; a little steep and a lot of them. The original stairs will make you cringe; little ledges chipped out of the rock, worn away by the elements.
Obviously, heavy-duty sunscreen and hats are a must. There’s a water station halfway up where we wet down the kids’ hats, but didn’t take any chances drinking from the tank. If I had to do it again, I would bring more water. We had an almost full 1.5 l bottle, and Vero and I were skipping our turns for the last hour at least. It’s hot all the way up with very little shade but don’t despair, there’s a pool at the top!
It must have been nice back in the day, but if you swam in it today you’d come out looking like a swamp monster. Little bit of algae buildup; needs a chlorine shock treatment.
I was marveling at the quantity of bricks making up the ruins and restoration efforts and wondering who carried them up the stairs. It turns out they have a cable car type lift to bring them up these days.
We wandered around the ruins at the top for a while, ate our bananas and crackers, and then it was time to head down.
The only problem we had going down was the number of people coming up. The last section after the giant stone lion’s paws the stairs are fairly narrow; there’s definitely enough room to pass if you’re one person going up and one going down.
If you’re one adult coming down with a three year old in tow, and one older, portly British gentleman with a Sri Lankan guide/porter hauling you up the stairs by the armpit, things get a bit tight. Elliot and I did a bit of waiting around on the landings for the right time to descend.
Both going up and coming down you pass through the Boulder Gardens where I could spend a day wandering and climbing things. The Sri Lankans of Sigiriya times loved to carve steps in things. They even took the tops off of giant boulders to make Audience Platforms and such.
Climbing Sigiriya with two young kids forces you to pick and chose. Do you want to see the Water Gardens, or what’s down that trail in the Boulder Gardens? You can’t see both, because the kids are hot, hungry, tired, thirsty, oh wait, you can’t see either one. Still though, I’m so proud of them that I don’t mind missing a couple of gardens.
By the end of the day all you want to do is this: