Sri Lanka and Maldives Gay Travel Luxury Cultural Tour

baby elephant makes his way up a riverbank with a elephant audience at pinnawala park in sri lanka

 2018  March 16 to 24

A Gay Travel Sri Lanka Cultural Tour

Physical Challenge:

Enjoy timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants and the famous Ceylon Tea trails on our magical travel experience to the amazing country that is Sri Lanka.  We will do our best to uncover all of her ancient secrets (and there are many) in an epic trip across misty mountains and tranquil lakes, while exploring wildlife preserves and Buddhist Temples.

$5498

  • Discover the hidden secrets of ancient Buddhist temples
  • Frolic with baby elephants in a sanctuary
  • Visit spice farms and sip tea reserved for royalty
  • Explore the legendary Ceylon Tea Trails and visit with locals
  • Shop in world famous bazaars
  • Enjoy a jeep safari in a national park teeming with wildlife
  • Marvel at the world’s oldest tree and learn it’s relationship to Buddha
  • Ride on what’s considered by many to be the most beautiful train route in the world
  • For those of you who want to keep the adventure going, we invite you to join us on our extension to the amazing Maldive Islands!

With a history expanding over 3000 years, Sri Lanka holds some of world’s most ancient cities with once-glorious palaces, temples and monasteries. Many of these intricately carved stone structures are surrounded by centuries of undergrowth, but are now waiting to be uncovered in the lush jungles, and uncover them we will! This mysterious land is filled with wonders and wildlife, tea and temples, plantations and pachyderms, and UNESCO World Heritage sites galore! Among our unique lodgings are colonial tea plantation houses surrounded by vast hillsides of tea bushes. We will expand our minds and our hearts as we travel back in time to the fascinating land that is Sri Lanka!

Day 1: Welcome to Sri Lanka

lovely terrace looking over the ocean at heritance negombo in sri lanka
Sri Lanka, the tear-shaped island off the southeastern coast of India, is remarkable in its richness and beauty. From mountain ranges dotted with plantations cultivating Ceylon’s famous tea to the beautiful Indian Ocean coast, it is a delight for the eyes. Culturally, Sri Lanka is rich with dance, music, and art: each day is a public parade of color, music, and imagination: masked dances, processions of elephants, and locals dressed in brilliant hued saris and adorned with jewels and dyes. We invite you to Sri Lanka, a place like nowhere else in the world!

Upon arrival, you will be met at Bandaranaike International Airport by our representative and transferred to our comfortable hotel in Negombo to get settled. Tonight we will gather for our Welcome Dinner and get to know our fellow adventurers!

 

Day 2: Elephants Galore!

a guest bottle feeds a gentle elephant in pinnawala park in sri lanka

Sri Lanka is well known for it’s large elephant population, and today we are in for a special once in a lifetime experience, a visit to the world-renowned Pinnawela Elephant Sanctuary. Since 1975 this facility has taken care of orphaned elephants and elephants that, for one reason or another, cannot go back to living in the wild. We will get up close and personal with them, watching them bathe and frolic, and most visitors to Sri Lanka say this is one of the highlights of their trip!

group of elephants trots through blue water in pinnawala park in sri lanka

Later we drive on to Anuradhapura and Ulagalla, our home for the next three nights and once the ancestral estate of local Anuradhapura nobility.

 

Day 3: Time Travelers Wanted…

tourists eagerly make their way up sigiriya for a fantastic view in sri lanka

Today we go back in time with a visit to the 5th century rock citadel of King Kasyapa and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sigiriya. As we step through the gigantic ‘Lion Paws’ we will marvel at the symmetrical royal gardens below and walk past the many frescoes and works of art, taking in the absolute splendor that causes many to refer to this as the mythological ‘City of Gods’

On our way to the amazing rock fortress Sigigiya we take a nature walk in the rural village of Hiriwaduna, winding down a gravel path through wild flowers and past butterflies until we come to a beautiful blue reservoir where we hop on our catamaran. We’ll enjoy a cup of Ceylon tea on a local farm and even take a ride in a bullock cart, transportation that is centuries old and still in use today!

 

Day 4: Enlightenment and more Elephants!

sly leopard creeps out of the forest in sri lanka

Safari time! We’re off to Wilpattu National Park, home to herds of deer, sloths, leopards, mongoose and ample birdlife. On our jeep ride we will see many sights, including herds of our favorite pachyderms!

beautiful birds bathing in a river during sunset in sri lanka

Not that we could get tired of elephants, but we must move on to the first Kingdom of Anuradhapura, one of the oldest civilizations in the world boasting 113 kings and spanning 1300 years. The sapphire of its crown is certainly the Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred Fig tree said to be grown from a sapling from the famous tree under which the first Buddha became enlightened. It was planted in 288 BC, and is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date. Take some deep breaths and maybe even let out a relaxing “Ohm” or two…

colorful flags hanging from the thuparamaya dagoba in anuradhapura sri lanka

 

Day 5: Temples, Tea and Teeth!

buddhas and paintings adorn the walls in the dambulla cave temple in sri lanka

We check out of our hotel and get ready for an action packed day! Our first stop is the Dambulla Cave Temple where we will marvel at it’s 150 statues of Lord Buddha and the magnificent cave paintings dating back to 1 B.C, cherished by Kings and commoners alike.

giant darmachakra buddha greeting guests in sri lanka

On to a spice plantation in historic Matale, where we will observe the therapeutic values of spices over a refreshing cup of herbal tea!

lush towering plants in the matale spice garden in sri lanka

banana leaf bundles of colorful spices in sri lanka

Tonight we stop in Kandy, a small lakeside town cradled by misty mountains and home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, another UNESCO World Heritage Site where an actual tooth of Buddha has been carefully preserved for centuries! Afterward we will wander through the streets and markets before taking in a cultural show featuring traditional music and drumming, showcasing the rich and vibrant culture of Sri Lanka.

temple of the sacred tooth relic stands proud in sri lanka

 

Day 6: Trains and Tea Trails…

verdant wonderland of trees and plants in the peradeniya botanical garden in sri lanka

We start our day blissfully exploring the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, originally a pleasure garden for Royalty with 147 acres of magnificent pavilions, manicured terraces, giant trees and even an orchid house.

Up next we will pass through lush tea lands and misty mountains on an epic train adventure from Peradeniya to Hatton, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world. It’s colorful too, with sellers hustling treats like freshly cut pineapple and mango with cinnamon, corn with salty butter, freshly made rice and curry, chili fritters and crispy papadums at station stops along the way, yum!

passenger train makes it's way through the countryside in sri lanka

At the Hatton station, we will meet our driver to follow one-lane roads that meander between vast hillsides of tea bushes to our home for the next three nights, Tea Trails plantations! Our rooms will be in colonial plantation houses, including gourmet meals in the grand dining room or on an outdoor terrace with views of the surrounding fields and mountains.

 

Days 7 and 8: Relax, Relax, Relax

romantic torchlit dinner overlooking verdant garden at ulagalla resort in sri lanka

Together we will visit a tea factory where you can learn how the seemingly infinite number of leaves around us become the delicious beverage in our teacups. In addition, there will be plenty of free time to explore the lush surroundings of our cottages nestled in the misty mountains of beautiful Sri Lanka. Unwind, discover, have a spa treatment, enjoy a tour of the tea plantation, take a mountain walk, or hop on one of the lodge’s mountain bikes to explore the paths winding among the rows of tea plants.

gorgeous variety of offering flowers in sri lanka

 

Day 9: Goodbye to Sri Lanka

vibrant clothing adorns dancers at a festival in kandy sri lanka

After breakfast we will transfer to the Colombo airport (about 2.5 hours) to begin your trip home, or fly to Male to join our extension to the Magical Maldives!

Maldives Luxurious Bunglows March 24 to 27, 2018

In the Maldives our rooms are over-water bungalows on a pier over the shallow lagoon. All meals and boat transfers between Male Airport and our resort are included, but since the resort offers a wide variety of activities, we are leaving it to each guest to select his or her activities.

 

Arrive early and visit Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos!

a flower seller pushes a bike on the HE Travel gay tour of Vietnam and Cambodia

Our friendly gay group will visit several regions of lush and historic Vietnam, as well as Cambodia’s mystical Angkor Wat. Explore the Paris-inspired architecture of Hanoi, sail in a junk on Halong Bay, relax on a tour of the Mekong River delta, and wander among ancient temples and ruins reclaimed by the jungle, all while lodging in deluxe hotels that reflect the character of their surroundings. Join our optional extension to beautiful Luang Prabang, Laos.

Sri Lanka March 16 to 24, 2018

Price includes: Transfers between airport and hotel; Unique accommodations for 8 nights; 8 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners; Knowledgeable local tour guide(s); All entrance fees for sites specified in the itinerary; HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage. The tour will be led by a professional HE Travel Tour Director (subject to minimum group size).

Not included: Airfare to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka; Video or camera permits at certain sites; Items of a personal nature; Gratuities to guides; Meals not specified in the itinerary

Optional Tour Choices:

$1600 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)

 

Maldives Extension March 24 to 27, 2018

Price includes: Transfers between airport and hotel; Overwater bungalow accommodations for 3 nights; All meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage. The Maldives Extension may not be accompanied by an HE Travel tour director, but will feature knowledgeable local tour guide(s).

Not included: Airfare to and from Male, Maldives; Video or camera permits at certain sites; Items of a personal nature; Gratuities to guides; Meals not specified in the itinerary

$2250 Per Person in a Shared Room

$3850 Solo travelers in a private bedroom with private bathroom

“Sri Lanka offers a perfect mix of history and natural beauty, coastlines and mountains, cities and villages – all without needing to travel long distances. During my visit there, I was inspired by watching the Sri Lankan people optimistically invest in a new future together after decades of civil war, followed by the 2004 tsunami.” – Phil Sheldon, President of HE Travel

Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.

For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.

 

To fully enjoy this tour you should feel comfortable walking on hills, steps and uneven surfaces.

 

To fully enjoy this tour, you should be prepared to walk on uneven surfaces when we visit historical sites for 1-3 hours each day. On some days we will be driving 2-4 hours on winding, narrow roads. Optional activities such as mountain biking will be available at some locations.

This tour starts and ends at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

 

For guests joining the Maldives Extension, plan to depart toward home from Malé International Airport, Maldives.

On this tour, we will stay in deluxe, mostly locally-owned hotels that reflect their surroundings. During three nights in the mountains, we will stay in colonial Tea Trails plantation houses, surrounded by hillsides adorned with tea bushes.

For answers to your additional questions, please email info@hetravel.com or call 305-294-8174


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