sri lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a truly remarkable country. Tiny in size when compared to its near neighbour, India, it contains a diverselandscape of golden beaches, rolling hills, forests, verdant tea plantations and rugged heathland. The Cultural Triangle comprises a succession of ancient capitals and Buddhistsites where intricate carvings and towering stone monuments are scattered throughout theforests. Huge manmade lakes, tanks, have kept the area irrigated for millennia and continueto provide water for both the paddy fields and thirsty wild elephant who regularly leave the shelter of the jungle to drink. 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. 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.
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.
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.
Sri Lanka has two annual monsoons, one bringing rain to the southwest lowlands and central hills from late May to late September, and a weaker second that affects the northeast of the island from November to February. March to mid-April is generally dry throughout the country, followed by a short pre-monsoon period. The summer months from June to September are hot in the Cultural Triangle and humid on the west coast, although pleasant sea breezes provide some respite. Cyclones may occur from late September to late November, bringing with them heavy rains. At about 2,000 metres above sea level, the hill country around Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains and Bandarawela is always cooler.
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 firsthand experience which will help us to guide you in your choices.