This journey will reveal some of Sri Lanka’s lesser-known gems. Stay in a variety of unique accommodation, in a range of settings, with local experiences and activities. This trip takes a novel route through Sri Lanka and includes guided walks and gentle activities, destination stays and boutique accommodation to allow you to experience Secret Sri Lanka.
Repeat visitors to Sri Lanka or for travellers wanting to experience the country away from the crowds.
You will be met upon arrival and transferred to your accommodation – an astutely renovated plantation bungalow. Set on 50 acres of lush grounds and agricultural land, this boutique, colonial bungalow is an ideal introduction to Sri Lanka.
Enjoy the day at Horathapola. Take a guided walk through the property and nearby village, or use one of the estate’s bicycles and enjoy a ride through the plantation and paddy fields. You may also discover the secrets of Sri Lankan cooking by helping prepare lunch or dinner.
Drive to Dambulla in the heart of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, with its enviable collection of statues, stupas, carvings and breathtaking paintings packed together in a small space. The five dimly-lit cave temples tell exquisite stories of Lord Buddha.
Make an early visit to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, avoiding the crowds and heat of the day. For those who wish to, climb the 1,200 steps up this magnificent rock. Halfway up you will see the famous cave frescoes of Sigiriya. The afternoon is at your leisure or, if you are feeling adventurous, you may choose to climb the nearby Kalundewa Mountain Range.
Drive to Madulkelle and stay two nights at Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge. Enjoy picturesque views of the Knuckles Mountain Range from the private deck of your luxury, eco-tented chalet on stilts. Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the surroundings.
Enjoy a full day at Madulkelle. Uncover the ‘Story of Tea’ with a morning tea tour. Join the ladies picking tea in the plantation, visit a nearby tea factory and spend some time sampling the different varieties of tea. Afternoon is free to read a book on your verandah, enjoy a freshly brewed cuppa or lounge by the property’s impressive infinity pool.
Set off for Gal Oya – Sri Lanka’s least-visited national park. The park is set around a large reservoir and series of islands, and is the only place in the country where you can take a safari by boat. Here you will stay at the only lodge near the park, with an inviting swimming pool and individual bungalows set amid long grasses.
Take a morning boat safari in the park, stopping along the way to enjoy a picnic breakfast on a remote island in the park. Spot elephant, monkey, deer and crocodiles from your boat. In the afternoon, relax by the pool or visit the lodge’s wildlife research centre and learn about the studies being conducted onsite.
Rise early to hike to Monkey Mountain, the large rocky mountain visible from the lodge, if you choose. Later proceed to Koslanda and stay at a forest retreat located on the border of Sri Lanka’s hill country.
Take a guided walk through some of the property’s 80 acres of forest and jungle. Learn more about pepper and coffee cultivation during the colonial period and participate in the forest rejuvenation program by planting a tree if you wish.
Drive to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Galle, one of Southeast Asia’s best- preserved, colonial-era cities. Its cobbled streets have seen more than 400 years of history through various controlling empires. Stay in a boutique, restored merchant villa inside Galle Fort.
The morning is free to relax or to explore Galle Fort. Its mostly-car-free streets are easy places to wander and there are many inviting boutiques, galleries and cafes to enjoy. In the afternoon, a resident guide and character will take you on a guided walking tour and reveal to you some of the stories and some of the locals who make Galle unique.
Drive to Colombo this morning, an easy drive of less than three hours. Spend the day in Colombo with the option to do some last-minute shopping and enjoy a leisurely dinner before transferring to the airport for your late international flight.
Perhaps the best testimony is the fact that this is my third trip and hopefully not the last.
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