Sri Lanka off the beaten track tour

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This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Sri Lanka off the beaten track tour

Environment

When traveling to Sri Lanka, you support a country that puts a lot of effort into sustainable tourism and good environmental management practices related to energy, water, waste water and solid management practices. For example, around 70 to 88% of Sri Lanka’s hotels use solar power and energy efficient lighting methods.

We work with selected local providers who are very committed to give guests the most authentic and original travel experience in Sri Lanka while leaving a lighter footprint on your trip. Our excursions maintain small-group sizes to limit the negative environmental impact in accordance to the carrying capacity of the visited site. In general, we are trying to keep the extra unneeded waste to a minimum in all our tours through our “bring it in, bring it out” policy for litter and rubbish such as food packaging and recycling wherever possible. In our UK and local offices we re-use or recycle the information booklets we provide to every client on arrival wherever possible. We also concentrate on providing information online via our website and electronically rather then producing a glossy brochure, hence reducing the use of paper and inks.

Our local partners are currently conducting audits with clients on how to make the journey more sustainable and include less plastic. There are plans to remove all single use plastic bottles from the vehicles.

- Accommodation
We select the most exclusive and responsible resorts for you, with a mix of sustainable groups and small places with local and personal character such as the Ibis in Wilpattu. Overlooking and bordering a local lake and nestled on a 2 ½ acre land surrounded and hidden by greenery, the Ibis is a four bed roomed exclusive and private ‘Villa’ styled property which lets you experience the absolute peace and serenity of rural Sri Lanka only to be broken by the twittering of over a hundred species of birds by day and at night. It gives you the impression that you could touch the moon and the stars making you feel that you are one with nature. All meals are made with local produce, sourced pre-dominantly from the surrounding home gardens, farms and lakes and cooked to traditional Sri Lankan village recipes.

Also with your stay at the Jetwing Beach you will contribute to a group that is a pioneer in Sustainable Tourism, committed to a harmonious relationship between community and environment for over 40 years. Its sustainability strategy is committed on key categories such as Energy & Carbon, Water & Waste, Biodiversity, Community & Culture, Family, Sourcing & Production. Initiatives range from the use of biomass fueled by sustainably harvested cinnamon wood, cocount shells or kitchen waste, the installation and use of photovoltaic parks and solar thermal panels, open architectural designs to maximise natural illumination and ventilation, pre-planned multiple switching circuits to reduce energy wastage from single circuit switches, the use of waste water systems, biogas digesters, and much more.

Another hidden treasure is Gal Oya Lodge. It is more than just a Sri Lanka ecolodge. Their philosophy lies at the heart of the design – to bring you closer to nature and to protect the local environment. The concept lives in every detail, from the undisturbed lush forest of the mountain site to the natural materials – such as cajan, wood and illuk – used to create the bungalows. And, of course, they use appropriate technology and recycling to preserve precious natural resources such as water and energy.

The bungalows draw their character from rural Sri Lankan villages, created using local techniques, tried and tested over time. The tables and chairs are handmade by the local village craftsmen using teak and mara wood, applying traditional skills passed down from generation to generation. The enhanced Sri Lanka ecolodge concept follows environmentally sound practices including recycling, energy conservation, growing their own produce and using sustainable materials whenever they can. They have recently installed a wildlife training and research facility to work with local conservation organisations and to help protect wildlife.

- Culture & Buildings
Your entrance fees to visit Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla will all contribute to the conservation and maintenance of those precious UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites:
- Sigiriya is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning. Being sometimes called the 8th wonder of the world, this fortress-palace was built atop a towering rock in the 5th century and is one of the most dramatic, inspiring and beautiful historical locations in the world.
- Polonnaruwa was Sri Lanka’s medieval capital from 1073 until the late 1200s, and the ruins of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa are incredibly well-preserved and include magnificant granite sculptures of Lord Buddha.
- The ancient Dambulla Cave Temple is the most famous cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, boasting the largest number of Buddha statues to be housed in one place, as well as stunning ceiling paintings.

- Nature
Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity and untouched natural habitats have been protected and nurtured for generations. For over 2,000 years, both ancient and contemporary Sri Lankan rulers have made it a priority to preserve the land and its wildlife. Hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles and birds call the island home.

You will be able to witness nature and animals in their natural protected habitats in the more remote Gal Oya National Park. Lying in the south east of Sri Lanka just west of Ampara, Gal Oya National Park has evolved naturally, untouched by the hand of man for countless centuries. Over 25,000 hectares of lush evergreen forest and open savanas thrive alongside the Senanayake Samudra lake – Sri Lanka’s largest inland body of water. To complete the scene, the water’s surface is peppered with islands, a reminder of the terraferma rising from the depths.

At Gal Oya Lodge, you will experience a safari unlike anything else you’ll find in Sri Lanka. Gal Oya National Park is the only place in Sri Lanka where safaris can be conducted by boat – giving you a truly unique perspective of nature’s majesty and mystery. The wildlife includes 32 species of mammal including the langur, toque macaque, leopard, sloth bear, wild boar, water buffalo and deer. What’s more, it’s estimated that almost 150 different species of bird grace the skies above, calling its many islands home. Gal Oya National Park is one of the best places in the world to witness the Asian elephant living peacefully in its natural habitat. You will maybe be able to watch them swim gracefully from island to island.

You will also visit the 1,317 km2 large Wilpattu National Park, which is famous for its unique "Willus" or natural lakes. Nearly 60 of those lakes and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu, and play an important role for resident and migratory water-birds. Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka, and is among the top national parks world-renowned for its leopard population. It is also home to other mammals like elephants, sloth bears, water buffalows, sambhur and spotted dear. 70% of the parc is comprised of a dense forest system. Your visits at the National Park will contribute to the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Department of Wildlife Conservation, who is the primary entity responsible for the maintenance of the national parks and wildlife reserves and the Sri Lankan Elephant Transit Home.

You will moreover have a special and personalised learning journey with botany, the science of plant life, through a guided tour with our unique local botanist. Visiting the Peradeniya Botanical Garden will help the Division of National Botanic Gardens of the Department of Agriculture to grow and conserve more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees.

Community

We strive to help our clients connect with Sri Lanka and its local population in interesting and insightful ways. Our partners have a reputation for possessing an intimate, in-depth knowledge of Sri Lanka, with purposeful dedication towards enabling guests meaningful experiences. This has benefited not only clients and operators, providing more fulfilling trips, but is also positively impacting our host communities, providing immediate income and making their lives more sustainable and productive.

Our local partners have helped many hosts to develop their experiences from a product development and pricing perspective, elevating their experience and its value. They have developed experiences from scratch with many hosts and communities to provide jobs and income to local populations e.g. The Sri Lankan Garden (also incredibly sustainable operation) and most recently with the new East Coast Project, working with an Australian NGO to develop experiences on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, employing local staff and hosts in an area where there is a significant need. We choose our partners carefully and are constantly on the lookout for grassroots conservation projects and fair trade initiatives.

For many years our partners have worked with a small collection of schools where they have arranged for clients to help construct toilets, paint classrooms and have worked with charities such as The Foundation of Goodness and Child Action Lanka.

- Supporting local community through your stays:
With your stay at the Ibis you will support a place that was built using only local craftsmen, materials and people from the village, Initially as a holiday getaway. The staff at The Ibis are extended family members who have been known to them for some time and they will take care of you like their own.

With your stay at the Jetwing Group, you support several community projects. For example the Jetwing Youth Development Programme provides free six-month programmes to school leavers with a working knowledge of hotel operations as well as English, etiquette, cultural history, and industry insights. Many of these individuals continue to be employed with the group.

Following the 2004 tsunami, Jetwing Lighthouse also collaborated with several parties to build a community swimming pool in an effort to pass on valuable aquatic life skills to local residents. To support the local communities, Jetwing have used 50 acres of paddy land to provide local farming families with seed money for cultivation. An equal portion of the resulting harvest is then shared equally between the farmer and the hotel, with excess stocks of rice being sold to other hotels in the family. The farmer is not required to repay the money given to them, enabling a steady income for the neighbouring communities in the region.

The group's resident naturalists often visit schools to conduct special workshops on sustainable development by focusing on areas such as the environment, biodiversity, and waste management among others. In general, each of the group's hotels maintain strong relationships with local schools, religious places of worship and grassroot community organisations through a series of philantrophic activities.

All hotels and villas of the group host a variety of authentic experiences including tours of tea factories, markets, and villages. The latters includes the sourcing of meals and transport from the village itself, in order to provide residents with a supplementary source of income. In addition, many local arts and crafts are featured throughout the homes – either in the form of cultural performances, or as interior decorations using natural materials such as cane, reed, palm leaves and more.

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