Sri Lanka with Ceylon Tours

Sri Lanka is an often forgotten but absolutely fascinating travel destination. A friend and I were most fortunate to travel there for 10 days in April ’03 with Ceylon Tours, Ltd. (8A Sir Ernest de Silva Ave., Colombo 07, Sri Lanka; phone +94-75-531611, e-mail

We covered most of the large and diverse island in an air-conditioned auto with the same driver/guide throughout. All the hotels were the equivalent of 3- or 4-star hotels in the U.S., and the tour provided for dinner and breakfast daily. The land price was $859. With a consolidator’s ticket, our international air round trip from Los Angeles was under $1,000.

Ed Lifset at Baker’s Falls, two kilometers from “World’s End,” Horton Plans, Sri Lanka.

We began in Colombo with a tour of the Fort, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Also in Colombo we saw the National Museum, the Bandaranaike Memorial, temples and markets.

After a pleasant 4-hour drive northeast, we visited Sri Lanka’s first and oldest capital, (fourth century) at Anuradhapura. There, besides magnificent ruins and baths, we saw the sacred Bo Tree, Sri Maha Bhodi, grown from a branch of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. It is said to be 2,550 years old. We visited another sacred Buddhist site in Kandy, the Temple of the Tooth, where a reliquary holds what is said to be one of the Buddha’s teeth.

After visiting Polonnaruwa, the 11th- to 13th-century capital, we continued to Sigiriya, where we climbed the Lion Staircase to the royal rock fortress, a treasure trove of fine art, with a great view of the surrounding area.

We then drove through winding roads in the mountains and the tea-growing country. The British-built town of Nuwara Eliya was cool at an elevation of 1,890 meters and reminiscent of a village in England’s Lake District.

A day’s excursion to the Horton Plains and a 12-kilometer trek to Baker’s Falls took us to the spectacular sheer drop known as “World’s End.” We saw much wildlife and birds. On a private jeep safari in the Yala Game Park we viewed crocodiles, elephants, bison, peacocks, monkeys, sambhurs and more.

We spent two days in Bentota with its seemingly endless beautiful beaches and succulent seafood. A day trip to Ratnapura, the city of gems, gave us a chance to see rubies, sapphires, topaz, amethyst, beryl, spinel and more in the museums and the large gem market.

I cannot say enough for Mr. Tapas Banerjee of Tinetra Tours Pve., Ltd., and Ms. Niluka Siriwardena of Ceylon Tours for their diligence and attention to detail and their care for our needs in preparing and presenting this memorable tour of Sri Lanka.

Oceanside, CA