Escorted by Cathi Burnett-Cosgrove, September 2015

Sri Lanka is a country that many Australians know little about.  Yes some still think of it by its former name, Ceylon, but Sri Lanka quite literally translates to “Sacred Beauty” and what an appropriate name it is.

So let’s start with a few facts about this fascinating country:

  • Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean and is very similar in size to our own island state of Tasmania.
  • It is diverse in both history and culture.
  • Buddhism is the major religion which is followed by Hinduism, Christianity and Muslim.
  • It has a population of over 20 million people.
  • Many refer to Sri Lanka as a ‘soft India’.

Now let me give you a personal overview of this warm and welcoming country.

There are few places you can travel to in this busy world where the locals want to not only smile but suggest that their young children stop and wave.  The welcome was quite overwhelming.  The ease with which these people go out of their way to be helpful cannot be taught; it is simply from the heart.

The wildlife was astonishing but really it should not have been surprising. Sri Lanka has had huge areas of their Country preserved for over 2000 years. In fact, the world’s first reserve was created here as the Royal Families of Sri Lanka were mindful of conserving areas for future generations. That’s definitely forward thinking.

Herds of wild elephants graze unperturbed by the our group in jeeps. What is it about these gentle giants? What is it that they know and we don’t? They really could not have cared if we were there or not,  which was just what we wanted as this gave us the opportunity to observe without concern of being in anyway invasive.

Along as elephants, we saw buffalo, deer, peacocks, crocodiles, monkeys and land and water monitors (large lizards). We also discovered that Sri Lanka attracts avid bird watchers from all over the world.

Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and some I believe would rival places such as Angkor Wat. We walked through the Ancient Cities of Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa. We stepped back in time and walked the roads of past spirits.

Australians do have a very common link with the Sinhalese and that is our love of cricket! It didn’t matter where we travelled on the Island and nor the terrain, as long as they could create a pitch of grass, dirt or even stones, they played cricket. It was great to stop and watch the local impromptu game with both children and adults testing their skills.

Accommodations simply astounded. The standards were high and the quality exceptional. We were treated to many three night stays and these varied from being right on the beach, to individual bungalows in National Parks, one historical hotel was very typical of the English Colonial style and we even stayed in a converted tea factory complete with the original machinery and tools! All were in outstanding locations.

The food? This was nothing less than a melting pot of many cuisines from throughout the world. The quality and freshness of the foods was exceptional. Specialty dining in Caves, Railway Carriages, barbeques on the beach and candlelight dinners under the trees. How lucky we were…

Next time you are wondering where to travel in the world, please give Sri Lanka some serious consideration. This tour was fully escorted and it was my aim to portray the “Secrets of Sri Lanka” and the lucky guests who joined me on this tour were certainly treated to sharing the very best of this truly amazing destination.