Sunday, 21 November 2010

Sri Lanka First Time Visit

By guest blogger Steve Newman

In 2011, Zegrahm Expeditions will visit the country of Sri Lanka for the first time in its 20-year history. Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, coconuts, rubber and cinnamon, Sri Lanka has long been on the path of major sea routes and today is an emerging adventure travel destination.

Graced by lush tropical forests, white-sand beaches, and rich biodiversity, it’s no wonder it was once lauded by Marco Polo as the “finest island of its size.” In addition to Sri Lanka’s unspoiled natural beauty, the country has a fascinating cultural history over 3,000-years old, which is also one of the longest documented histories in the world, and is one of the few remaining centres of the Buddhist religion and culture in South Asia.

The Bay of Bengal & the Andaman Sea (Jan17-Feb 6, 2011) and India and the Maldives with Sri Lanka & Lakshadweeps (Dec 17, 2011-Jan 3, 2012) voyages explore three World Heritage Sites during the two days spent in Sri Lanka.

Visits include 1,000-year-old Polonnaruwa (and nearby Minneriya-Giritale National Park, which is home to bears, crocodiles, leopards and its most famed resident, wild elephants!); the Golden Temple of Dambulla, which is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka; and the Temple of the Tooth, which houses the tooth of Bhudda encased in gold caskets. These expeditions both overnight in the quaint village of Habarna.

Travellers aboard Splendors of India with Sri Lanka (Feb 1-17, 2011) and Southern India by Sea with Sri Lanka (Dec 7-21, 2011) enjoy a full-day exploration of Galle, including its Dutch colonial era fort—a World Heritage Site—Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum and Poorvarama Temple.

Travellers spend a second day in the Sri Lankan highlands visiting the Temple of the Tooth, one of the holiest places of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world; Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which provides care and protection to the many orphaned elephants found in the jungle (above); and the Botanical Gardens. On the Splendors of India voyage, travellers get the added benefit of an overnight in Kandy, the laid-back capital of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country.

To learn more about Zegrahm’s time in Sri Lanka and to review full itineraries for each expedition, visit http://www.zeco.com/ or call the UK's adventure cruise specialists The Cruise Line Ltd.