Sri Lanka Origins
Unravel the origins of Sri Lanka, one of nature’s great playgrounds and a pearl of historical fascination. A land of legends – you will find giant buddhas sitting peacefully in ancient caves, hidden palaces and the ruins of wondrous worlds. When you tire of the tales of old, there are mighty elephants to scrub, local children to run wild with, and breathtakingly beautiful boutique hotels to fall in love with. This journey is a sensory explosion; feel the kiss of cinnamon on your lips, touch the silver folds of elephant skin, and fill your eyes with blooming skies and lavish landscapes; this is Sri Lanka.
Historic Homes and Colonial Gardens
Fragrant flower garlands and cool drinks are waiting to welcome you as soon as you step foot off the plane in Sri Lanka. A country renowned for its warmth, the smiles of local’s seep right into your skin. Start your winding journey through these wild and complex lands close to the colonial garden roots city of Colombo.
A historic country residence in the tropical thickets of green is waiting to embrace you and heal any trace of jet lag. The Wallawwa Hotel is a vision of pillars and exposed beams, ancient grounds, and a shimmering gem blue pool. Collapse in a four-poster bed, lose yourself in lavish afternoon tea, and let an Ayurveda massage work its magic.
Hidden Castles and Cosmic Mountains
The Cultural Triangle guides you slowly and serenely through some of Sri Lanka’s most majestic historical sights. Meander through scattered coconut estates and lost villages, stopping now and then to sample a cup of chai. Embrace sunset climbs of mythical rock fortresses, one foot in front of the other beneath a blooming sky of rose and gold.
Tooth Relics and Wild Elephants
Discover the Tooth Relic temples and tantalizing history of Polonnaruwa. Wander through the ruins of the dense walls of the Kings Palace, admire the intricate carved elephants in the audience hall, and let your imagination run riot as you gaze upon the emerald green waters in the baths.
Take lunch with the locals, in a simple home boasting rich panoramic views over the sprawling paddy fields. Spoon delicious homecooked food from earthen clay pots, and relish the rarity of such a close personal encounter, before visiting a modern rice mill.
Finish the day with a journey back through the Minneriya National Park. Whizz around the verdant landscape in a 4X4 swerving out of the path of trundling elephants, watching for crocodiles wading in the shallows, and witnessing the deer and birds flock the land and air.
Small Children and Gentle Giants
Experience the heart of the cultural triangle with a visit to the Habarana area, and the chance to visit a local rural school. Laughing with the village children, sharing a few words of English, and learning about the local charity takes your experience in Sri Lanka a few feet deeper.
As the late afternoon sunlight slants across the countryside, you can climb the Dambulla Cave Temple. Five separate caves sit high on the road to Dambulla, inside each one you enter a spiritual plain adorned with over a hundred statues of the buddha, resting peacefully beneath intricate ceilings filled with frescoes.
The wonder doesn’t end with the dwindling of the afternoon. Before the sun fully sets on Sri Lanka, you are invited for a rare and up close personal experience with elephants. These highly intelligent and gentle giants are an integral part of local life. When the festivities flock to town, the elephants don bright costumes and parade alongside dancers and drummers. Every care is taken to ensure that all encounters are free from animal exploitation.
From a remote village, take the catamaran boat to the Kandalama Tank where two bathing elephants will greet you. Help scrub the thick elephant skin with coconut husks and witness the intimate bond between man and beast. Afterwards, you can treat these stunning creatures with an array of fresh fruit, before climbing aboard a tractor and waving farewell to the shimmer of the Kandalama Lake.
Spices and Sacred Rituals
Visit the private spice gardens of Sri Lanka and inhale the fragrant sweet delights of crushed cardamom, dusted cinnamon, and split vanilla pods. Watch a local chef whip up a delightful feast using an array of carefully handpicked spice and select a few special pinches to take back home.
Move on to Kandy and the last capital of kings. The UNESCO Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is waiting to bathe you in splendor with their daily fragrant water healing rituals.
Take an in-depth tour through the temple, exploring the cloaked gardens, the priceless art, and the peaceful corridors. Witness the bowed heads of pilgrims praying to Lord Buddha and let the heady scent of incense soak you to the bone.
Fire Walking and Ancient Furniture
The Kandyan Dance is a feast of fine craft, and at the local Sri Lankan dance school you can be bewitched by the moves of the Cobra, the color of the Mask Dance, and the crescendo of the Ginisila act of walking on fire. Let the sound of drums carry you on an ancient tide. At the end of the show you can even dress up, drum and dance yourself before catching your breath with a hot cup of tea.
Take lunch with a French professor well versed in Sri Lankan history and tour the grounds of his home, brimming with rare books and ancient furniture.
Scenic Tracks and Flowers in Bloom
Enter the gateway to the highlands with a bright and bountiful tour of The Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. An expert botanist will lead you through this elevated Eden, flanked on three sides by the by the winding Great Sandy River.
Climb aboard a local train and settle in the observation deck as you take a spellbinding journey into tea country. Passing jade green plantations adorned with workers in colorful garb picking tea, racing beneath tumbling waterfalls, and passing soaring peaks is enough to make your heart burst.
Hike the infamous Ceylon Tea Trails and stay for a couple of days in the sweetly sophisticated Summerville suite, where picture windows provide first class views onto the evening mist cloaking the shimmering peaks. This is your chance to learn about the complexities of the tea industry, to visit plantations and cycle the trails that criss cross the mountains.
Discover Singapore – A City of Contrasts
Before touching down on home turf take a few days to discover the bliss and bright lights of sultry Singapore. A city that is quickly tearing down and rebuilding our vision of the Far East – Singapore seamlessly blends a land of ancient temples with shimmering skyscrapers, fine art with gorgeous street food, and blissful botanical gardens with a flurry of cultural chaos.
In this chic city you can stroll the glitzy riverside and quays, take rickshaw rides to admire the majestic temples of Little India, and head to Chinatown to hear fascinating fables and tales of Chinese prayer and paper houses.
Splurge on designer delights in the hub of Orchard Road and duck into one of the oldest bakeries left in the fringes of the city. As you can tell, sassy Singapore is a city of contrasts.
6 nights’ accommodation, meals as indicated by travel agent, transportation in air-conditioned car; Guided visits: Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Polonnaruwa Archeological site, Visit to a Rice Mill, Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, Minneriya National Park, Dambulla Cave Temple, Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic, Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya; Venture Emotions: visit to a local school, Kep Ela Elephant Experience, visit to a Private Spice Garden followed by a Cookery Demonstration, visit to a local dancing school, Royal Botanical Gardens with an expert in botany, lunch with a professor at the Sooriyakantha House, Galle Fort Walk, lunch at Priyamali Gedara + Government Tax.
Few islands in the world offer the diversity of Sri Lanka. From the vibrant + chaotic capital of Colombo, the central plains of the Cultural Triangle, tea plantations, exotic wildlife in national parks to coastlines of palm-fringed crescent shaped beaches.
On a different latitude but just as diverse and a little more cosmopolitan, Singapore has redefined itself as one of the great culinary cities of the world to be enjoyed over several days + not just a stopover.
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