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How to make the most of two weeks in Sri Lanka

Experience Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka's most famous historic sights.

Experience Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka's most famous historic sights. Photo: Abercrombie & Kent

Sri Lanka is a compact country, but don’t let its diminutive size fool you. With landscapes ranging from postcard surf beaches to mountainous tea plantations to arid plains, and a vivid cultural and culinary scene, making the most of this Indian Ocean gem takes some careful planning.

Or you could leave all the details to somebody else, namely an Abercrombie & Kent Journey Designer, who can curate the perfect luxury itinerary full of adventure and authentic experiences but minus the friction and hassle of so much international travel.

Abercrombie & Kent’s Tailor Made 13-day Serendipitous Sri Lanka tour allows you to choose your own must-see items along with exclusive opportunities not available to other tourists.

And it goes without saying that all accommodation is high end, five-star and handpicked to suit the kind of holiday you’re seeking.

Sri Lanka Spice

Sample some of Sri Lanka’s staple foods, from flavourful curries to savoury kottus and hoppers. Photo: Abercrombie & Kent

Cocktails and cuisine

Most Sri Lankan adventures begin and end in Colombo where you’ll speed through arrivals transferring you directly to the 11-suite Uga Residence, a Victorian townhouse that once welcomed governors, maharajas and nobility.

From its secluded location you can get to know this 600-year-old city full of colonial buildings, bazaars and the expansive seaside park Galle Face.

Perhaps visit No.11 Bawa Residence, designed and built by famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, or meet a curator at one of Sri Lanka’s largest contemporary art galleries.

Sample a shot of the local spirit arrack at a speakeasy, and join a local expert to learn how the melting pot of Indian, Malay, Dutch and Portuguese influences beloved the world over.

Culture and caves

Head to Sri Lanka’s so-named Cultural Triangle, where World Heritage sites abound, including Dambulla, a cave-temple complex dating to the first century BC.

The walls and ceiling of this fascinating place of worship are emblazoned with frescos, while the inner spaces contain hundreds of statues of Buddha.

Your base for the next two days might be Anuradhapura, once the capital of the ancient Sinhalese kingdoms, where you can explore the site by bike, and receive a blessing at the sacred Bodhi tree, planted in 236BC.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan culture is shaped by Buddhist philosophy and infused with Portuguese, Dutch and English flavours. Photo: Abercrombie & Kent

Wildlife and waterholes

The secluded Ulagalla Resort is your base for exploring this region. It’s in easy reach of Sri Lanka’s largest wildlife park, Wilpattu National Park where a safari tour is an essential.

Spy elephants, spotted deer, wild boar, buffalo and wetland birds. You may even spot an elusive leopard, or sloth bears feasting on berries.

Finish your day with sundowners overlooking the Tissa Wewa water tank, an ancient irrigation system built between 250BC and 210BC.

Forts and food

No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without enjoying the sweeping views and fascinating history of the ruined fortified city of Sigiriya, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After wandering through water gardens you’ll begin your climb past mammoth carved Lion’s Paws. At the top of the 200-metre stairway you’ll enjoy 360-degree views, and will have earned a home-cooked meal in the home of a local farming family.

Sri Lanka

The lighthouse and mosque at Galle Fort. Photo: Abercrombie & Kent

Markets and music

Move on to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, where your luxury retreat, Kings Pavilion, is surrounded by mountains and greenery.

Explore the city’s markets, famous for silverware, brassware and gem-studded jewellery from craftsmen known as the country’s best.

Attend a traditional Kandyan music and dance show, and meet the performers afterwards, or experience a pooja worship ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth with VIP access to the inner ‘Shrine Room’, where the sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha is kept.

If you’re a green thumb, or just admire those who are, take a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens at Peradeniya with its collection of more than 4000 plants, including orchids and medicinal varieties.

Tea and trains

After a thorough exploration of all the cultural delights of Kandy, it’s on to Hill Country and the world of Ceylon tea.

Take a scenic train ride to the Hatton hill station and settle in at Ceylon Tea Trails, a cluster of colonial era planters’ bungalows where you’ll have your own housekeeper, butler and chef to ensure you want for nothing as you explore this region of mountains, lakes and tea fields.

History and heritage

The final days of this show-stopping exploration of Sri Lanka might be in the colonial walled city of Galle, where you could explore Galle’s famous fort, the former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company, as well as the fascinating architectural legacies of Dutch and Portuguese settlers whose buildings stand alongside traditional Sri Lankan structures.

Your accommodation, at Taru Villas Rampart Street, is a former merchant’s bungalow offering views of the Galle Fort’s ramparts and the Indian Ocean and excellent proximity to the outstanding Maritime Museum.

Abercrombie & Kent’s 13-day Serendipitous Sri Lanka starts from $9835 per person based on double occupancy.

Call one of Abercombie & Kent’s Journey Designers to customise your itinerary on 1800 161 352. Visit abercrombiekent.com.au for more inspiration.

Topics: Sri Lanka
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