Ampersand's Unusual Escorted Journey to Sri Lanka
11 days from £5,100 per person
A mango-shaped Indian Ocean island, a bountiful and spirited nation, overflowing with natural wonders, abundant wildlife, sumptuous cuisine, ancient UNESCO World Heritage sites and a rich cultural legacy; Sri Lanka is at the very heart of what we do at Ampersand. We have created Ampersand's Unusual Escorted Journey to Sri Lanka to offer clients the exceptional opportunity to see the country through the eyes of our Sri Lankan founder and managing director, James Jayasundera. A one-off journey focusing on architecture, food, style and wildlife, James will introduce you to the places, experiences and people he loves best. This is a special insight to the country he calls home; you can expect a varied tour with adventurous elements and lots of laughter in true Sri Lankan style!
The journey begins in the sleepy beachside town of Bentota, but there is so much more to discover here than sweeping bays and lovely beaches. “People often think of Sri Lanka as 'India light' and they come for the beaches and hot weather,” says James, “But Sri Lanka also has a strong modern design and architectural history that’s often overlooked.” Bentota has a strong Bawa connection; for 60 years from 1929, the bon vivant, artist and sculptor Bevis Bawa worked on his labour of love, a five-acre plot of beautiful landscaping, artful vistas and a famously convivial house, which he called Brief Garden. His brother Geoffrey Bawa, the country's most famous architect, designed his own haven nearby, Lunuganga, combining vernacular styles, local materials and Modernism for the first time, putting Sri Lanka (and Asia) on the architectural map.
With stops at the famous Dutch built Galle Fort, one the most sought after seaside spots in Asia, and Wallawaya, the gateway to the Hill Country, venture further east to Kumana National Park, our favourite hidden gem in Sri Lanka with possibly the best wildlife experiences in Asia. Here, whilst you camp out under the stars, it's not rare to spot a leopard or elephant! There are some wonderful treks too, where you will stumble across ancient temples that have been hidden deep in the jungle for over 1,000 years. Kumana Mobile Tented Camp has the best guides and naturalists in the business, and the camp is comfortable and the food delicious – we guarantee it will be the most special and unique wildlife experiences on offer! “There are certain places that have such a strong energy, the feeling cannot be translated into mere words,” says James, “they have to be experienced first-hand!”
The final stop will take you back to Sri Lanka’s underrated city of Colombo. Often described as the ‘Garden City of the East’, Colombo is well known for its charming lakes and canals, tree-lined boulevards, busy open-air markets, temples and colonial buildings. And contemporary Colombo is incredibly good fun! It has excellent shopping, vibrant upmarket restaurants, a thriving art scene at the Sapumal Foundation Art Collection and some wonderful museums.
Filled with extraordinary private access experiences, using Ampersand’s and James’ contacts, this itinerary is subject to minor changes to ensure the smooth running of the tour, and due to the schedules of the private individuals hosting the group. This itinerary combines very well with an pre or post extension to the Tea Country, beaches in the East Coast and also the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Cultural Triangle. If interested, please ask for more details.
Not included in the rate: Alcoholic beverages other than when provided, meals at leisure or those indicated as independent, personal expenses, trip insurance, Tourist Visas.
11 days from £5,100 per person
- Day 1 - In transit.
Overnight flight from London Heathrow to Colombo.
- Day 2 - The Villa Bentota - Bentota
Arrive and transfer to Bentota (approx. 2 ½ hours). Spend the afternoon at leisure with dinner on the beach.
- Day 3 - The Villa Bentota - Bentota
Morning guided visit of Bevis Bawa’s home, Brief Gardens. Drive to Geoffrey Bawa’s estate, Lunuganga for lunch. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
- Day 4 - Galle Fort Hotel - Galle
Morning Express Train to Galle and Tuk-tuk transfer to hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore the fort, cafés, boutiques and galleries. Sunset guided walk around the Fort ramparts followed by dinner on the terrace.
- Day 5 - Galle Fort Hotel - Galle
Morning visit to Galle market followed by cooking class in paddy field and lunch. Spend the afternoon at leisure with optional activities such as local temples or tea plantation visit, or take a bicycle tour.
- Day 6 - Jetwing Kaduruketha - Wellawaya
Morning drive to the Elephant Transit Home (approx. 3 ½ hours) for lunchtime elephant feeding. Drive onward to Buduruwagala (approx. 2 hours) visiting Buduruwagala temple en-route. Spend the afternoon at leisure with private dinner in the paddy fields.
- Day 7 - Kumana Mobile Tented Camp - Kumana National Park
Early morning drive to Kumana National Park (approx. 5 hours). Have lunch at the campsite followed by afternoon game drives. Evening campsite dinner.
- Day 8 - Kumana Mobile Tented Camp - Kumana National Park
Morning game drives followed by a 1 hour trek to Bowathagala for the Brahmin inscriptions. Head back to the campsite for lunch. Afternoon game drives and dinner at camp.
- Day 9 - Galle Face Hotel - Colombo
Morning transfer to Ampara airport (approx. 4 ½ hours) for flight to Colombo. Afternoon visit Bawa House at No. 11, followed by visits to galleries and lifestyle shops that capture the “Sri Lanka Style”. Sunset drinks on the terrace of the Galle Face hotel followed by a special hosted dinner in a surprise location.
- Day 10 - Galle Face Hotel - Colombo
Morning visit to Sapumal Foundation Art Collection and a guided walking tour of Colombo. Afternoon visit Good Market for shopping and lunch. Afternoon at leisure followed by dinner at Gallery Café.
- Day 11 - In transit.
Morning transfer to the airport for onward flight to London Heathrow.
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Susan Ford, India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Matthew Nicklin, North India