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Just Back From: Sri Lanka with Abercrombie & Kent and Aman

Our very own Kelly Hatfield recently returned from a trip to the exotic island of Sri Lanka with Abercrombie & Kent and Aman. Named one of The New York Times top places to go in 2016, the mostly untouched land of Sri Lanka is filled with remarkable history at every winding turn. Abercrombie & Kent’s Luxury Tailor Made Journey offered a curated look into the lives of Sri Lankan locals, with one wonderful resident guide escorting Kelly’s group to many of Sri Lanka’s hidden gems and 5-star accommodations.

 Accompanied by three journalists and Ashoka, A&K’s extremely knowledge and extraordinary guide, the first destinations Kelly visited on this 10-day journey were in Colombo and Dambulla. In Dambulla, the group encountered one of the first of many historical treasures at the Cave Temples, a site that continues to be one of the best-preserved edifice in Sri Lanka dating back to 1st century B.C.

Spotted in Dambulla: the world's largest buddha statue in the Dharma Chakra posture.

Spotted in Dambulla: the world’s largest buddha statue in the Dharma Chakra posture.

After a winding drive to Sigiriya, Kelly & her crew prepared for a breathtaking hike up Lion Rock – not for the faint of heart! At the summit, climbers can explore the remains of King Kasyapa’s 5th century palace and find some of the most magnificent frescoes in South Asia within hidden caves. Next on the itinerary, the group traveled to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa – declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 – to view the stunning ruins.

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One of the trip highlights included a cruise on the Madu River, which included a stop on Cinnamon Island to learn how to make high-quality cinnamon, of course! And for some R+R, the quiet fisherman village of Tangalle and Amanwella provided a tranquil retreat.

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The final destination included a picturesque drive down the southern coast to the quaint, colonial town of Galle and a stay at the charming Amangalla. Galle is the only place in the world to sell white tea. And so a tasting of the town’s top 20 exclusive teas at the Handunugoda Tea Museum, and learning some insight about the manufacturing process behind the scenes was a must.

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Kelly’s highlight of the trip was the opportunity to embrace an entirely new culture – including its history – and connect with locals.

“Everyone wanted to tell us their own story and were always genuinely friendly. As we drove down the southern coast, there were many memorials set up in honor of the 2004 tsunami victims. Even though it is 12 years later, being in a place where something that tragic has happened and speaking with locals who endured this natural disaster, that alone really changes you. Changes the way you view travel and the world outside your own.” 

Honoring the 2004 tsunami victims.

Honoring the 2004 tsunami victims.

A life-changing travel experience, indeed.

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