Sri Lanka sketching and painting holiday

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18 Nov 2020
excluding flights
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Single use plastic-free:
Avoiding plastic is relatively easy in Sri Lanka where tasty, fresh, local food is served everywhere without it. Takeaway food, where it exists, tends to be wrapped in banana leaves for example.
The hotel I have partnered with is completely with us on the plastics issue. The water provided in rooms is tap water (which comes from a well) and is tested as well as filtered through a clay pot. There are no disposable shampoos etc. in the rooms.
The water is usually safe to drink, I drink it myself which helps to reassure my guests. Our hotel can always fill up our reusable water bottles and there is always an abundance of delicious fresh fruit juices and world class tea served in glass and china. Even familiar brands of soft drink are easily available in glass bottles. We will always refuse a plastic straw, of course.
While plastic carrier bags are still used in places such as vegetable markets, it's perfectly acceptable to present your own which you can bring with you or, better still, buy locally.
Change making:
I make an effort to ensure that none of the art materials I provide involve single use plastic. I always opt for fair trade and handmade when it comes to sketch books and after Responsible Travel got in touch about their plastics campaign, I contacted the UK supplier of my sketch books to see if something could be done about the plastic wrap they were posted in. They were very obliging and said they would get in touch with their Indian supplier who I am pleased to say have revised all their packaging and ditched the plastic!
'Free from' Food:
We are happy to say that we are able to cater for vegetarians and vegans. Being a dairy-free vegetarian myself I know how difficult it is to explain your dietary requirements in different countries. That is why we make sure we are able to cater for vegans and vegetarians.

Responsible tourism

Sri Lanka sketching and painting holiday

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.


Environmental and wildlife concerns are my passion and I travel as sensitively and sustainably as I can, with and without clients.

Small group size limits our environmental and cultural impact generally, while I always encourage the group to make wiser environmental choices wherever possible.

On joining a sketching holiday I provide my clients with a sustainably-produced sketchbook from Khadi paper imported (and fairly traded) from India.

Littering is a particular bugbear of mine and can be a problem in developing countries. I come down very heavily on any client or driver who litters in front of me. I am currently seeking local anti-litter organisations/campaigns to become involved with and the recent appearance of recycling facilities in Sri Lanka is a welcome sight which I go out of my way to use and support.

I drink tap water whenever and wherever it is safe to do so in a concerted effort to avoid plastic bottles and I encourage my clients to do the same. Where this is not possible I discourage the buying of small size bottles and advise the use of reusable water carriers into which we can decant from a large vessel.


All clients are issued with a 'Facts about the country' information sheet at or before the time of booking which outlines cultural considerations such as what to wear and how to handle the inevitable attention received while painting.

I am always quick to point out whose country we are visiting and that we have a responsibility to adapt as far as possible to the culture of the host country and not expect them to adapt to us (beyond common politeness and decency of course!) Cultural differences are very much part of the fun and interaction is always encouraged. This is pointed out in the pre-booking literature where travelling with an open mind is always emphasised.

On joining the trip I supply clients with a hand-woven pencil-case from a colourful co-operative in Colombo which seeks to help rural village women. A visit to the shop is recommended to those who are passing through Colombo.

Visits to local craft co-operatives and small art-related businesses are always included where possible and I always encourage buying items such as souvenirs and snacks from the smallest establishments and neediest people.

I emphatically discourage donating to child-beggars which is nearly always perpetrating an undesirable and unnecessary lifestyle in the places we visit. I would always suggest giving an endearing child onlooker a quick sketch rather than a pen!

the hotel we stay in on this trip is Sri Lankan/English owned and staffed exclusively with locals who are paid a fair wage. The menu includes Western as well as Sri Lankan dishes but all the ingredients are sourced locally.

Outside of the hotel the restaurants we eat in are locally owned, locally run and employ local staff. They are all small establishments and not part of a large chain or franchise. The food is local in style and uses home-grown produce, cooked in the traditional way.

I use only local, self-employed drivers and guides and like to support new enterprises started by young people struggling to raise themselves out of poverty. These enterprises are emerging all the time and I aim to identify them as they appear and where possible, incorporate them into the itineraries.

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