2018 March 16 to 24
A Gay Travel Sri Lanka Cultural Tour
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.
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
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!
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!
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…
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!
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!
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…
Day 5: Temples, Tea and Teeth!
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.
On to a spice plantation in historic Matale, where we will observe the therapeutic values of spices over a refreshing cup of herbal tea!
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.
Day 6: Trains and Tea Trails…
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!
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
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.
Day 9: Goodbye to 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!
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.
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.
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)
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174