go! | Drive & Camp
for subscribers

Then & Now: Sri Lanka, 120 years later

The muddy streets of Diyatalawa,
where Boer prisoners of war were
kept during the Anglo-Boer War.
Known to some as “Boer Town”, the camp was originally built to house 2500 prisoners and 1000 guards and staff.
The muddy streets of Diyatalawa, where Boer prisoners of war were kept during the Anglo-Boer War. Known to some as “Boer Town”, the camp was originally built to house 2500 prisoners and 1000 guards and staff.

Imagine an island brimming with  tea plantations and sprawling jungle, surrounded by palm-lined beaches. 

Every now and then you see an elephant lumber past with a rider on its back, as women in bright saris float across the green plains like jewel-coloured mirages. But what’s this – a street called Boer Road?

Indeed, the island of Sri Lanka might be the last place on earth you’d expect to find such a place, but the street is real – each of the paving stones was laid down by Boer prisoners of war! My fiancée Simone Zents and I travelled to Sri Lanka in 2019 to visit her parents, and we designed the trip so we could simultaneously follow the trail of some of the Boer prisoners on the island.

There’s more to this story
Subscribe to News24 and get access to our exclusive journalism and features today.
Subscribe
Already a subscriber? Sign in