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DESTINATIONS SRI LANKA INDIAN OCEAN


SAMPLE PRODUCT


Kuoni’s 10-night, bespoke tour of Sri Lanka inspired by


Gandys costs from £3,136. It includes flights from


Heathrow, half- board four-star accommodation, transport and a private driver-guide, all breakfasts and some dinners, and entry fees. £50 from each booking goes to the Gandys


Foundation for its Orphans for Orphans projects. kuoni.co.uk


and the temples and museums were our history lesson,” Rob explains. Their plan was to sell enough flip-flops to help fellow orphans, and today they donate 10% of their profits to the Gandys Foundation, which supports their Orphans for Orphans Kids Campus in Sri Lanka, with more such venues set to follow. Last year, the brothers teamed up


with Kuoni – the first partnership of its kind for the operator – to create a tailor-made tour of Sri Lanka inspired by Rob and Paul’s favourite spots in the country, accompanied by a driver-guide.


 CULTURAL KINGDOM As my driver swerved around tuk-tuks, dogs and potholes, the view from the window was a kaleidoscope of local life. We passed families on rickety bicycles, ladies in vibrant saris and a crocodile of giggling schoolchildren, as well as ornate Hindu temples, green-domed mosques and outsized Buddhas. My first stop was Sigiriya and my


first glimpse of its namesake rock fortress was from the Water Garden Sigiriya, a boutique hotel set around


I climbed the 1,200 steps of ancient citadel Sigiriya for a glimpse of ancient frescoes and breathtaking countryside


landscaped, lily-filled water gardens, complete with a tree frog chorus to serenade you at night. Up close, the ancient citadel seems


to rise like a sculpture out of a vast dusty plain. I climbed its 1,200 steps for a glimpse of ancient frescoes and breathtaking countryside views. Our next stop was Kandy in the heart of the Cultural Triangle. The last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom, it is home to a vast complex of red- roofed temples built four centuries ago to house a single tooth – Buddha’s left canine, to be precise – one of Buddhism’s holiest relics. At the evening puja, a time of


worship, the door to the tooth – heavily guarded by orange-robed monks – was opened and I was swept forward in a throng of diminutive white-clad devotees to view the golden casket. And every night in Kandy they celebrate their royal heritage with dazzling displays by dance troupes clad in traditional dress, twirling and stomping in jangling silver breastplates, accompanied by fire-eating acrobats and drummers swinging white-tasselled turbans.


 TEA TIME Taking the slow train from Kandy’s art deco-style station was the perfect way to reach tea country. I hung out of the window to savour the cooler, fresher air as it wound slowly upwards, passed elephant-ear palms, supersized ferns and ramshackle stilt houses, stopping off at immaculate stations that looked like they’d been plucked straight from the British countryside circa 1930. Nuwara Eliya was dubbed ‘Little England’ for the cool, damp climate that made it a favourite summer retreat for the British escaping


Sigiriya 60travelweekly.co.uk21 March 2019


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