After a couple of weeks travelling across Sri Lanka, photographer Nori Jemil shares why this Indian Ocean island is a perfect subject. Here are 16 of her favourite pictures of Sri Lanka. 

From a photographer’s perspective, Sri Lanka’s hard to beat. Compact and accessible, this verdant, tear-drop island really punches above its weight. Its lush interior of temples, tea-infused hills and wildlife-rich national parks urge you to keep moving, with so much to see and experience. Yet, the pretty towns, beaches and retreats entice you to stay in one place for longer than planned.

There’s something special about the quality of light by the Indian Ocean here, too. Capturing the early dawns and sunsets on the east coast in particular, you might be accompanied by no-one other than a fisherman or the sound of a falling coconut. It’s a great feeling when you’re one of only a few visitors, watching local life unfold.

The country has a lot of history, and cultural diversity’s everywhere; in the delicately spiced food, the spectacular architecture and, of course, the smiling faces. A cliché perhaps, but without doubt it’s the people and their distinctly different cultures that make this island so unique. Like most visitors, I was planning my return long before leaving.

It’s in these cerros that Valpo’s real magic, and the chance to appreciate the creative, liberal leanings of its residents, are found. Cerro Bellavista’s sprawling walls of street art culminate in the Museo de Cielo Abierto (the Open Sky Museum): a poignant collection of murals defiantly proclaiming artistic freedom. Started in 1973, they were only completed in the early 1990s after the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Valpo’s excellent nightlife also secures this city as the trendiest spot on the Chilean backpacking trail. Dancing until dawn is guaranteed in the student-favourite super club El Huevo, while the seafront La Piedra Feliz bundles every type of live music into four rooms. For a more relaxed evening, Casa Cervecera Altamira offers refreshing craft cerveza and mellow jazz in a cosy setting.