Secrets of the Spice Island

The stunning island of Sri Lanka, affectionately known as the spice island, offers a vast range of sights and experiences and we have picked 5 of our favourites that are on the ‘must do’ list.

The Secret Garden Experience offers a Kandy garden visit with a twist. An hour travel will have you arrive at your hosts’ enchanting hill top estate, where the ancestral home, built in the mid-19th century by the hosts grandfather awaits. You will be greeted by your host at the retreat and then enjoy a guided walk through the 45-acre estate, exploring the historic plantations of cinnamon, vanilla, pepper, rubber, and spice, as well as the chance of seeing some of the local forest animals, including wild boar, macaque monkeys, barking deer, and porcupines. The day is wrapped up with a Planter’s lunch cooked on an open fire and washed down with a cool G&T.

Located 188km north-east of Colombo, Ritilaga is known for its rich history in Buddhism, in fact there are 700 acres of monastic areas in this region. Ritilaga Mountain sits at 766m above seal level and is covered with dense jungle, making an ideal habitat for its local residents of wild elephants, leopards, and bears. On your guided walk you will hear the secrets of the forest dwelling monks who once inhabited this extraordinary landscape.

The Elephant Freedom Project focuses on providing a sanctuary for captive elephants who have previously been exploited for tourism or hard labour. A small family run operation, the emphasis is on caring for the elephants, not a money-making tourism business, so the number of visitors per day is limited in order to maintain the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere for the elephants.  A visit here will allow you to experience these beautiful animals up close, but be forewarned, there is absolutely no riding of the elephants.

The Leopard Research Station and Udawalawe Elephant Transit is located in the Udawalawe National Park in the south of Sri Lanka. Regarded as possibly the best place in Sri Lanka to see elephants year-round, the park is home to a few hundred elephants and you can frequently witness a herd of females bathing in the wild. The Elephant Transit Home is a sanctuary to rehabilitate elephant calves before returning them to the wild. Approximately 30-40 rescued orphan elephants are homed here until they turn upon which they can be returned to the wild.

No trip to Sri Lanka would be complete without experiencing the culinary delights. Two of our favourites, easily, are King of the Mambo in Colombo and Ceylon Tea Trails. King of the Mambo is a seaside restaurant known for its superb Mediterranean cuisine, Cuban soul, cocktails, and of course dancing. Ceylon Tea Trails, which sits at 1250m above sea level in the Ceylon tea region, is part of the Relais & Chateaux group and offers a unique tea infused dinner, a signature of this fine dining restaurant.

We also have three new packages added to our Sri Lanka tours. The Dilmah Resplendent Ceylon package offers the “best of Sri Lanka” circuit and provides the upscale traveller a range of authentic cultural experiences. Featuring three distinctively different resorts, Ceylon Tea Trails, Cape Weligama, and the Wild Coast Tented Lodge, these are Sri Lanka’s only members of Relais & Chateaux. This tour is luxury at its finest. Learn more here: https://www.dilmahtea.com/dilmah-tea-company/leisure-and-hospitality.html

Next Stop: The Best Train Journey of All Time! This 18 day trip takes you from Colombo to the historic cities of Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya, while staying in some of the most beautiful hideaways and visiting one of the Eight Wonders of the World. Find out more here: https://activeasia.co.nz/tours/next-stop-the-best-train-journey-of-all-time/

Tasting Notes. Sri Lanka is renowned for its spices, and the culinary delights of this amazing island showcase them beautifully. As you travel the island you will experience the gastronomic delights of Sri Lankan cuisine. Learn more about this tour here: https://activeasia.co.nz/tours/tasting-notes/

Sri Lanka is easily one of our favourite places on earth and we have an abundance of tour options for this stunning island. Contact our Sri Lanka expert, Lance, on 09 360 7669 or email sales@activeasia.co.nz to discuss your adventure to the Spice Island!