Apr 262013
 
Yalla National Park has a greater density of leopards than anywhere else in the world.

Yalla National Park has a greater density of leopards than anywhere else in the world.

Not an Indian Jones scene!  Climb up the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

Not an Indian Jones scene! Climb up the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

We'll enjoy one of the world's great scenic train journeys.

We’ll enjoy one of the world’s great scenic train journeys.

We have wildlife safaris in two different national parks.

We have wildlife safaris in two different national parks.

We'll see amazing ancient cave frescoes.

We’ll see amazing ancient cave frescoes.

We'll visit bazaars and spice markets filled with local produce.

We’ll visit bazaars and spice markets filled with local produce.

We visit a tea plantation and enjoy great views in the hill country.

We visit a tea plantation and enjoy great views in the hill country.

The royal palace ruins at the World Heritage site in Polonnaruwa.

The royal palace ruins at the World Heritage site in Polonnaruwa.

After much anticipation and a tremendous amount of planning, I am enormously excited to release the amazing Sri Lanka tour you are now invited to share with me, 15 – 27 February, 2014.Sri Lanka is undergoing a major transformation and is becoming one of the big new tourism destinations in the world.  Lonely Planet named it their top destination for 2013.

I had not really focused on the country and its potential until a regular Travel Insider tour member insisted I do so.  Thank you very much for your insistence and persistence, Hilda.

If you’re like I was a few months ago, you probably vaguely perceive Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) as an island of the south-east coast of India, and generically ‘tropical’, whatever that might mean.

You might remember it being where Arthur C Clarke lived for many decades, and you might be aware of its terrible and extended insurgency with the Tamil Tiger separatists (now thoroughly concluded), and none of that elevates the country to a high position on your list of must-visit countries.

But did you know that it is teeming with wildlife, birds, fish, and reptiles (and plants and trees too, for that matter)?  It has the world’s only elephant orphanage, and the greatest density of leopards of anywhere in the world.

You probably know of Ceylon as a name you sometimes see on packets of tea (assuming you drink tea), but did you know it is also a major region for a plethora of different spices?

You might know it was a British colony for 150 years, but did you know that before that, the Dutch had settled there (the English forced them out) and before that, the Portugese were there (and forced out by the Dutch).  Sri Lanka’s history goes back through time, to the Biblical times of King Solomon, and still further back, with remains of human settlements dating back 125,000 years.

Ceylon is a center of Buddhism and has a holy relic (a tooth) of the Great Buddha on display in Kandy.  It has the remains of several amazing kingdoms, and in total has six different sites denoted as World Heritage Sites of Outstanding Global Cultural value (we visit them all of course).

It also has amazing world-class hotels, great food, and a wide diversity of other sights and experiences, all crammed into an island the size of West Virginia (making it easy to get around and see all that should be seen).

February is the best time of year to visit from a weather perspective (and it’s a great time to escape the depths of our winter, too!), so that’s when we’re going, for a wonderful thirteen day tour.

A pre-tour option in Singapore and a post-tour option in Bangkok can add still further to your South East Asian touring experience.

Now for the really great part.  We have a thirteen day tour of Sri Lanka, including accommodation at some of the country’s very finest five-star and award-winning hotels and resorts, cooked breakfasts every morning, two special dinners, sightseeing every day, other activities, and all transportation (including a glorious scenic train ride), which in total comes to only $2445 per person (share twin).

I’ve seen other companies charging twice as much for almost the identical itinerary and hotels, but by going direct to the source and cutting out two layers of middle men, I’ve managed to put together a high-value and high-quality experience you are sure to love.

But wait – there’s more!  This is in effect ‘two tours in one’ – we have two guides, and when we visit sights and sites, we’ll allow you to choose between the ‘easy walkers’ and the ‘active walkers’ groups.  If you want to amble around on a more relaxed and leisurely basis, you can become an easy walker, and if you want to more actively see and do as much as possible, become an active walker.  You can choose as you wish, each time we do something.

The more I’ve been researching the country and putting together this itinerary, the more excited I’ve become.  Clearly there’s a reason that Sri Lanka is now the number one destination in the entire world (at least, according to Lonely Planet).

So – please come with me and a group of your fellow friendly Travel Insiders next February, and let’s experience Sri Lanka together.

This promises to be the best ever Travel Insider tour – the best itinerary, the nicest hotels, the broadest array of experiences, and the most ‘different’ destination compared to our usual lives and lifestyles.

The full Sri Lanka tour details can be seen here, and there’s a link from that page to the complete day by day itinerary information too.

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