With a 2500 year history, an exotic combination of cultures and an abundance of wildlife, Sri Lanka really does offer something for everyone! There are few places in the world which can offer so much in such a small area. Packed into its 65,000 kilometres lies eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, 13,300 kilometres of coastline, 15 national parks, 500,000 acres of tea estates and 250 acres of botanical gardens. It’s easy to see why it was once called the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
With this in mind, and the fact that Sri Lanka is not on most people’s bucket list of places to visit, Jemma Wilson, from Keystone Journeys, thought it was the perfect destination for one of their women only tours.
“Keystone Journeys,” Jemma says, “is about paving the way to some of the most far flung corners of the planet and crafting journeys that provide amazing opportunities to connect with incredibly diverse places, cultures and people.” Jemma believes, by providing women’s only tours to countries like Sri Lanka opens up a world of opportunities and unique experiences that would otherwise not be considered by many women.
“I have always wanted to do a women’s only tour, but I didn’t want it to be all about shopping,” says Jemma. “I thought Sri Lanka would be the perfect place as it has everything.” Jemma says they have a lot of single clients that come to themus who want to go out of their comfort zone and their 20 night tour of Sri Lanka means they can do this all in a safe and fun environment while still being able to venture off the beaten track.
And off the beaten track you will go! From a bullock cart ride through a village to a banana plantation where you can taste the fresh fruit straight from the trees to discovering the workings of a chena cultivation, lunch in a paddy field prepared by a local family or a safari to see everything from leopards, and elephants to wild boar and crocodiles.
Unique experiences include a visit to and lunch at the ancestral home of legendary batik and embroidery artist Ena de Silva, dubbed Sri Lanka’s grand dame of batik. Visit the oldest historically documented tree on earth (over 2,200 years old) and have a gourmet dinner by candle light in a cave, not to mention some amazing spa and Ayurvedic treatments.
A trip to Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon, would not be complete without a visit to a tea plantation. Keystone want to ensure you get the real experience though and have you spend a day immersed in the tea process from plucking the precious leaves at first light alongside the local workers to watching the leaves being processed in the factory.
What Jemma loves about the itinerary for this tour is the perfect mix of cultural experiences, splashes of luxury, exotic cuisine and as much adventure as you would like. A lot has been packed into the 20 days but there are still plenty of opportunities to simply explore on your own or relax on the beach. The small size of the group ensures ease of travel and has meant the use of beautiful boutique accommodation is possible.
Keystone Journey’s 20 day Boutique Women’s Tour of Sri Lanka departs 2nd May 2015.
Visit www.keystonejourneys.com for more details.
Sri Lankan food naturally reflects the island’s geography with the abundant use of spices as well as rice and coconut, but also illustrates Sri Lankan’s rich history as a trading post with influences from all over the world from the Dutch, Portuguese, English, Arabs, Malays, Moors and Indians. Jemma says the food is a huge highlight for her and loves being able to meet the various street vendors, taste their wares and learn the history and stories behind their dishes.
Get hands on and really learn about Sri Lankan food with two cooking classes, one from the chef at Amaya Bungalow Garden, the other in a local village after visiting and collecting our ingredients from the market.
Ayurveda, meaning ‘the science of life’, is considered to be the oldest healing science in the world. It is practiced extensively in Sri Lanka, having being preserved through the ages by oral tradition as well as written form. This ancient practice focuses on prevention of disease through a deeper connection between the mind and the body.
The tear drop island of Sri Lanka is colourful, chaotic and diverse. Reclining Buddha’s, spice and& tea plantations, intriguing traditions, perfect beaches and incredibly friendly people make Sri Lanka a near perfect destination.
This fabulous itinerary includes easy trekking, nature safaris, a tea plantation experience, cooking immersions and Ayurvedic sessions. An excellent all round introduction to Sri Lanka.