Earlier this month, a group of four staff members from Bunnik Tours Adelaide office travelled to Sri Lanka on an educational trip accompanied by four staff members from their Sri Lankan office.
The team from Adelaide flew Singapore Airlines, with a stopover in Singapore and then flew direct to Colombo. Upon arrival, the team were met at the airport by our guide and received a warm welcome with champagne, cake, a brand and even a red carpet!
The destinations we visited were Colombo, Galle, Weligama, Yala, Udawalawe, Ella and Nuwara Eliya.
In true Bunnik Tours fashion, each member of the group had an extra seat on the coach for their luggage to spread out and ensure everyone had a window seat. We travelled from Ella station to Nanu Oya station via train and then continued on to Nuwara Eliya via coach. It was an incredibly scenic journey and was undoubtedly a highlight.
The group explored the south of the island and followed a similar itinerary to the second part of Bunnik Tours’ ‘Sri Lankan Discovery’ and ‘Sri Lanka In Style’ small group tours. We stayed at the same hotels we use on our tours and enjoyed some special experiences that are included in our itineraries.
The Adelaide group also spend a couple of days in the Bunnik Tours Sri Lanka office training staff and getting to know the team.
The next internal famil to Sri Lanka will take place in late November this year, where the group will explore the north from the first half of the Sri Lankan Discovery tour.
The four staff members from the Adelaide office had never visited Sri Lanka before so it’s hard to compare to what it would normally be like. We did hear from our guide and from various locals they haven’t had many tourists visit the country in the past few months. From what we experienced, it is a great time to visit Sri Lanka and would recommend visiting to all travellers.
The hotels we stayed at included the following:
This historic and iconic hotel is centrally located in Colombo and is renowned for its colonial charm and heritage. The hotels rich history dates back to 1864 when it was first opened by four British entrepreneurs. It is also situated on Galle Road, adjacent to the Galle Face Green, a popular oceanfront urban park. The rooms are spacious and complementary with a modern feel.
This five-star hotel was undoubtedly our most luxurious stay. Located on a beachfront in Welligama, the resort has direct access to the beach, three outdoor swimming pools and a spa. The rooms were modern and spacious with private balconies offering spectacular water views.
Staying at Cinnamon Wild in Yala was certainly the group’s favourite stay. Ideally located only a five-minute drive from Yala National Park, the property features chalets with private balconies, an outdoor pool and restaurant. The resort has a rustic luxury feel, resembling a game lodge, which gives a camp look and feel. On our first night we had dinner right by the lake where we could see a few crocodiles at a safe distance. A couple of us were even lucky enough to spot a wild boar outside our Chalet one morning.
Staying at this opulent Grand Hotel was like stepping back in time to Nuwara Eliya’s colonial past. This hotel dates back to 1891 and is the former residence of the Governor of Sri Lanka, Sir Edward Barnes. Features included elegantly furnished rooms, a panoramic bar, luxurious pool and spa, and stylish high tea served on manicured lawns.
Some of the activities we participated in included a Colombo Jeep Tour, where we discovered the hidden parts of Colombo via open-top Land Rover jeeps. We explored lesser-known neighbourhoods and off the beaten path attractions that aren’t commonly visited by tourists.
We visited a tea plantation and factory where we discover how Sri Lankan tea is produced, from the picking of the leaves to the selling of the tea. We got to sample the local produce while overlooking lush tea gardens. This is included on both of our Sri Lanka small group tours.
Speaking of tea, we also enjoyed a lovely high tea at the historic Grand Hotel.
A visit to the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe saw us observe elephants during feeding time from the designated viewing area. This was a unique opportunity to see these majestic animals up close.
Throughout May in Sri Lanka you can expect periods of rain and increased humidity in many parts of the country. Our group was lucky to experience minimal rain. When there were short periods of rain, the sun would be back shining in no time, and it was as if it hadn’t just been pouring.
Sri Lanka is one of those often overlooked destinations but from our experience, not only can we not understand why, we can’t wait to go back ourselves.
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