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Sunrise Sri Lanka Karpaha Emma Hero

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Emma’s incredible Sri Lanka Experience

With its incredible cuisine, rich history, and gorgeous tea plantations, Emma, a Pelorus Travel Designer, had an incredible journey across the island country often referred to as ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. We spoke to Emma about her scouting trip of Sri Lanka, part of Pelorus’ commitment to ever-enhancing our destination knowledge, developing our contacts network, and designing world-class experiences anywhere on the planet.  

What first struck Emma, our Pelorus Travel Designer, while traversing this remarkable island was its  “striking diversity of landscapes”. This island crams it in, from historic Sigiriya to its fabulous coastlines, and on to its verdant tea country and national parks. Emma’s adventure also involved scouting luxury properties, delving into the enchanting culture, and sampling the aromatic and spicy Sri Lankan cuisine.

Emma Sri Lanka

“It felt a real privilege to be one of the first to discover this fascinating country following the pandemic.”

Emma Higgins
Travel Designer

Sigiriya

Emma began in Sigiriya, the location of the UNESCO World Heritage Sigiriya Rock. This impregnable 5th-century fortress—once the residence of King Kashyapa I—rises from the plains like a cross between Ayers Rock and Machu Picchu.

Later, at the sumptuous Water Garden Sigiriya, Emma admired how the hotel’s elegantly laid gardens are inspired by Sigiriya Rock’s own timeless grounds. That evening, Emma tasted a Sri Lankan spirit called Arrack made with fermented coconut flower sap. It was an introduction into the creativity of the island cuisine, as well as the first of many guises in which coconut features deliciously.

East Coast Beach 

On from Sigiriya to the East Coast and its many paradisical (and quiet) beaches. This next phase of the journey also took her into the territory of the Tamils, among whom Emma found a heartfelt welcome as she reached the new Karpaha Sands. A serene luxury resort close enough to the water to hear the breakers sizzle through the soft sand, Emma settled into life here with a private beach BBQ beneath the stars with dinner freshly caught from the adjacent Indian Ocean.

Arugam Bay

Emma’s next destination toom her south to explore the Sri Lankan surfing scene at the renowned Arugam Bay. With her board strapped to the roof of a tuk-tuk, Emma was taken on a minor adventure along dusty roads, past sleepy surf shacks, and even an elephant while on her way to the secret surf spot of Peanut Farm.

The next morning lit the sky over Emma’s trail in soft dawn colors as she hiked into Kumana National Park towards the Kudumbigala Monastery found within. The park is a flourishing landscape, imbued with incredible wildlife and exotic flora, and with a dramatic border where park and ocean fuse.

Reaching the monastery, encircled by the park’s pristine vistas, she had a“humbling exchange with a practicing Buddhist Monk.” She learned about his life at the monastery, about his values, and came away treasuring it as one of those profound encounters that occur while traveling through countries with markedly different cultures.

Elephant crossing Sri Lanka Emma Buddhist Monastery Sri Lanka Emma
Surfing Tuk Tuk Emma Sri Lanka Tuk Tuk Sri Lanka Emma

Kandy

Her next stop (via an 18 hairpin-bend track) was Kandy—a charismatic city in the island’s jungle-tousled interior.

A visit to Kandy’s Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic was an introduction into how Kandy acts as a repository for the island’s culture, art, and traditions. This shrine has been a major Buddhist site since the 4th-century AD, ever since the relic considered to be the Buddha’s canine arrived there.

With the temple tour still resonating, Emma transferred to the gorgeous 200-year-old manor, Kandy House, where she had another extremely positive encounter with the island cuisine.  

The Tea Country

Departing Kandy, Emma became encompassed by luscious tea plantations from every angle and witness to the humbling sight of female workers trekking into the hills to pick the tea leaves. She then arrived at the captivating Ceylon Tea Trails hotel, which is surrounded by luscious vegetation and overlooks the calm waters of the Castlereagh Lake.

First stop was the Dunkeld Factory for a fascinating tour into the production of pure Ceylon tea from bud to brew alongside resident tea planter Bernard Holsinger. After this marvellous insight into one of Sri Lanka’s largest exports, it was time to relax on a boat ride along the Castlereagh Lake before returning back to the hotel.

 “The chef produced an outstanding five-course tea infused tasting menu, combining local ingredients to create fanciful flavours.”

Yala National Park

Journeying further into the more untamed side of Sri Lanka, Emma made her way to Wild Coast Tented Lodge. A nature walk through the forest familiarised her with this new untouched locale, before she enjoyed watching the stormy surf along this beautiful, elemental coastline with cocktails and another scintillating Sri Lankan sunset. A sunrise safari followed the next day. In the company of a local ranger, she crossed tracks with elephants, water buffalo,, and even a leopard slinking through the bush in search of breakfast.

Galle

Reaching the conclusion of her Sri Lankan odyssey, Emma used her final evening wisely by checking into the lavish and historic Amangalla. The trip ended on a gastronomic high as Emma sat down to an indulgent evening characterized by an “endless array of colorful and flavorsome local dishes.”