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Sri-Lanka

Experiential Tours of Sri-Lanka

Though tiny compared to neighbouring India, Sri Lanka still packs plenty in. Vibrant cities, intriguing traditions, beautiful landscapes, perfect beaches and incredibly friendly people combine to make a destination that we loveand don’t hesitate to recommend it to you.

Sri Lanka is a truly remarkable country. Tiny in size when compared to its near neighbour, India, it contains a diverse landscape of golden beaches, rolling hills, forests, verdant tea plantations and rugged heathland.

 

The Cultural Triangle

The Cultural Triangle comprises a succession of ancient capitals and Buddhist sites where intricate carvings and towering stone monuments are scattered throughout the forests. Huge man-made lakes, tanks, have kept the area irrigated for millennia and continue to provide water for both the paddy fields and thirsty wild elephant that regularly leave the shelter of the jungle to drink.

 

Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Galle

The busy lakeside city of Kandy still attracts thousands of devotees to the Temple of the Tooth, while the island’s rich colonial legacy can be seen in Nuwara Eliya - the tea-growing country where the golf course has been challenging players for over a century - and fortified Galle where the Portuguese walls defend Dutch churches and the former homes of British merchants.

 

National Parks

Diverse flora and fauna thrive in the plains, wetlands and rainforests, often protected in the national parks scattered throughout the island. Wild elephants are frequently sighted in the parks while the forests and scrub of Yala National Park provide a habitat for one of the world’s densest leopard populations.

 

Special Knowledge

Whilst many see Sri Lanka simply as a beach destination, head inland and you will be rewarded with a hidden world of reclining Buddhas, spice and tea plantations, Kandyan drummers and elephants.

 

Getting Around

All tours are accompanied by private chauffeur guides who are proud of their country’s remarkable history and who will be keen to help you get the most from your tour. As they also act as driver, you can learn a great deal about everyday life whilst on the road, take advantage of restaurant suggestions, or monitor the cricket score. All the vehicles are air-conditioned with saloon-style cars usually provided for couples and minivans for groups of friends or families.

The British-built train network is a wonderfully nostalgic and sedate way to travel, while the ‘tea plantation’ train between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya is highly recommended for its stunning hill scenery and ambience.

 

Accommodation

The past few years have seen numerous new hotels opening in Sri Lanka, with tea planters’ bungalows, private beach villas and small boutique hotels providing comfortable character accommodation. Many historical buildings including gentlemen’s clubs and private homes now take in guests, and a number of distinctive hotels and beach villas designed by Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most famous architect, offer elegant and luxurious options.

For those interested in wildlife, we can suggest hotels where wonderful birds and the occasional elephant are likely to be seen.

As always, it is our first-hand experience which will help us to guide you in your choices.


Language

The constitution now designates Sinhala, a language of Indo-Aryan origin spoken by the majority of the population, and Tamil as the official languages. English is widely spoken. Place names and signboards are in English and Sinhala, or English and Tamil, and sometimes all three.


Food & Drink

You will find a huge variety of dishes across Sri Lanka. Rice and curry - often fiery hot but usually quite mild in hotel restaurants - are the staple, but the term 'curry' conceals an enormous variety of subtle flavours. Coriander, chillies, mustard, cumin, pepper, cinnamon and garlic are just some of the common ingredients. Mallung, a dish prepared with grated coconut, shredded leaves, red onions and lime, is an alternative to try.

Hoppers, a snack unique to Sri Lanka, are similar to a pancake served with egg or honey and yoghurt. The country has a wide variety of tropical fruit throughout the year. Pineapples, papayas and bananas are particularly good.

Visitors should not drink the tap water. The local mineral water is safe to drink, but always check the seal. Alcoholic drinks are widely available, though imported wines and beers are very expensive. There are some good local varieties.

PLEASE NOTE THAT AROUND THE MAJOR FESTIVAL DAYS AND THE MONTHLY FULL MOON POYA THE GOVERMENT MAY IMPOSE A BAN ON THE SALE OF ALCOHOLIC DRINKS. CONSUMPTION IS ALLOWED IN THE PRIVACY OF THE ROOM IF BOUGHT IN ADVANCE.

 

Social Conventions & Etiquette

Ayubowan (May you have long life), said with the hands folded upwards in front of the chest, is the traditional welcome greeting among the Sinhalese. Use your right hand for giving, taking, eating or shaking hands as the left is considered unclean.

Modest dress is appreciated even in formal situations: jeans, trousers or skirts at least knee-length is appropriate on the streets, and cleanliness is highly valued. Tight or scanty clothing and displays of intimacy in public can offend local sensibilities and will probably draw unwanted attention. In rural areas women do not shake hands with men. Nudity and topless bathing are prohibited and heavy fines can be imposed.

As shoes must be removed before entering temples, it is a good idea in hot weather to carry a spare pair of socks to protect against the heat of the stone floors. You may need to cover your head in Hindu temples but uncover it in Buddhist temples. Some places, like the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, do not allow visitors to enter wearing shorts.

Always ask before taking photographs and videos of people and don't pose in front of religious images and paintings. Photos within airports and of military installations and bridges are not permitted.

 

 

 

 

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