Sri Lanka is looking to be an irresistible location in 2019 and it's not hard to see why. Endless beaches, fascinating culture, beautiful people and exquisite cuisine; the island has it all.
In Sanskrit, Sri Lanka means ‘resplendent land’, more commonly it is referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. A wonder of beautiful beaches, religious architecture, lush landscapes and pungent spices. The rich religious history of the island permeates daily life, customs, and the arts.
The island nation sits fewer than 20 miles off the coast of India. Covering over 25,000 square miles, it is slightly larger than West Virginia. About 32 per cent of the land is forested, with the north and east being flat and requiring irrigation to cultivate rice. The nation’s south-central region is mountainous.
Sri Lanka has a tropical climate; temperatures average 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Highland areas are cooler but also receive more rain than lowland regions and seasonal monsoons occur.
The nation’s official languages are Sinhalese and Tamil. The constitution also designated English as a ‘link language’, or unifying language. It is widely spoken and is the primary language of commerce. Forms of greeting vary between ethnic groups but the traditional greeting of placing one’s palms together in front of the chest and bowing the head slightly is widely practiced.
Sri Lankans are warm and friendly people with the two greatest values in society being family and education.
Rice and curry are staple foods, with each ethnic group having contributed dishes to the overall cuisine. A variety of curries are popular and the locals typically consume little meat and large amounts of fish.
The people have long delighted in the dramatic arts, and both live and puppet theatres are popular. Theatre and dance are closely related and frequently promote traditional values. Elaborate, brightly coloured costumes and graceful hand, foot, and body motions are integral to the performance, and the folk theatre often includes masks and traditional ritual and lore.
Buddhism has had a visible impact on the arts of Sri Lanka. Ancient Buddhist ruins are seen as architectural treasures. Temples and shrines dot the country. Decorative, carved facades, statuettes and devotional items are a source of inspiration to contemporary architects and artists.
Abbotts Travel is also a big supporter of a new wave of tourism in Sri Lanka with a strong focus on providing unique concepts through experiences and ‘emotion’ to visitors.
Going beyond typical tourist movements and introducing concepts relating to local lifestyles, elements of Sri Lankan culture and engagement with local people was something that hugely appealed to us and was exemplified in the presentation from our guests from Authenticities at our recent showcase event.
With careful deliberation, a hand-crafted adventure awaits those who want to engage and integrate with local people, the Sri Lankan culture, heritage and typical folklore.
Guests can embark on a personalised city walk through the city of Colombo, where they can experience firsthand the borrowed words from the Portuguese to the amazing architecture the Dutch/ English left behind. See the vision and love the Englishmen had for this land, all while learning and experiencing what being “Sri Lankan” is all about.
The 5th-century rock citadel of King Kasyapa and World Heritage Site Sigiriya doesn’t only boast of ancient Sri Lankan engineering and urban planning supremacy but also claims to be one of the finest monuments of art and culture. Step through the gigantic “Lion Pals” overlooking the symmetrical royal gardens below to comprehend the absolute splendour that once dominated this rock fortress.
Let’s not forget the image most people have when they think of Sri Lanka: the elephant. An early breakfast could be followed by a visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to witness the morning Elephant feed. As you enter the 25-acre coconut property, you can witness baby elephants being bottle fed or moving around freely.
Udawalawe National Park could also be on the agenda, as it was for Danny Sperling - Abbotts Travel's Business Development Manager - and his children. A true sanctuary for the big footed and tusked, the park was marked by relatively large herds of elephants and proves to be one of the best places to observe them in their natural habitat. Head into the park on a safari jeep, where you could spot not just elephants, but deer, sambur, water buffalo and jackal.
Aside from tradition, culture and wildlife, Sri Lanka is also known for being one of the world’s top surfing destinations, as well as a hotspot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
Our colleagues at Authenticities also see tourism as an opportunity to give something back to the rural communities that they interact with. Their approach is simple: to identify and develop communities through engaging with them, developing their skills and providing job opportunities. They believe that this approach contributes to their social and economic stability.
The birth of their community project, Connect, complements the spirit of the company to enrich lives and be true and genuine in everything they do. Connect’s educational projects provide occasions for their clients to touch the h