Introduction To 2014 Special Tour
A CHANCE TO JOIN A VERY UNUSUAL ACCOMPANIED TOUR IN 2014
THE 2014 ACCOMPANIED TOUR
I have just received applications from several people to arrange a tour to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) early in 2014, probably 9th. February. The start date for the tour will be advised once I have sufficient applicants who have confirmed their interest. I have already arranged five of these accompanied 17 - 18 day tours which seek to give a unique and varied insight into the country its teas, products, history and culture.
This is an individual experience as shown by the responses given in the testimonials section. Although commercial tour operators offer similar tours at what appears to be a lower cost, in fact their tours are based on a 10 night coach trip and then a stay at the beach which comes at an extra cost. The beach element is always a costly part of a tour especially at the best time for good weather in February.
In comparison, we offer a 17 day trip with a private driver and car and use a varied range of good hotels to give the experience of both a Colonial atmosphere and modern 5 * graded hotels. You are accompanied at all times by two of us who have a great deal of working experience and family background in the island. We stop at local family run businesses to show you unusual projects producing different foods along the route to give a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the island. The estate visits are to completely different types of tea estate that we work with, demonstrating different types of manufacture and allowing you a leisurely visit to observe every aspect of estate life. These are not roadside estates open for tourist visits.
The tour usually uses the services of Sri Lankan Airways which has a direct flight from Heathrow to Colombo. However we are looking at other options this year as airlines are becoming less flexible. It may even be a better option to allow individuals to book their own flights which should allow those on the tour to be in Colombo by about 10.00 A.M. in the morning as there is an optional visit in the afternoon to a highly respected Tea brokers in the city by special arrangement with the directors who will give you a full background to all the types of teas that the island produces along with tastings.
The bookings of hotels and visits to the various sites of interest, provision of vehicles and selected drivers/guides is handled by Jetwing Travels who also own several excellent hotels in the island. Robert Wilson's 'Ceylon' Tea provide Jetwing with the required itinerary and we will arrange the very special visits to the rubber estate, tea estates and the Tea Research Institute (TRI). We value the invitation by the TRI as those on the tours have always complimented us on the experience of being able to visit such an interesting body that does so much valuable research for the tea industry.
We do not travel in a group coach! Travel is by individual cars and usually we have a luxury mini van for those who wish that form of travel, and it is used to take any extra luggage or items that accumulate along the way.
During the first 6 days the tour climbs from Colombo into the scenic central hills. We visit a top rubber estate situated along the Southern lowland area, three very different tea estates, including one practising Biodynamic production. These are some of the top estates in the island and way off the tourist trail. We always receive a wonderful reception and are invited to view all aspects of estate life including their production facilities and worker welfare provision. These are not road side stops at a factory looking through a glass viewing window but comprehensive experiences which the estates put themselves out for.
There is an option for those on tour to climb Adam's Peak, starting at midnight in order to reach the peak for the breaking of dawn on the East coast and the spectacular view of the whole island from East to West. Those making the climb are provided with an old planter's bungalow which today is used by the directors of a plantation company whom have kindly offered us this facility with staff to look after you. An alternative option is to walk across the Horton Plains situated at well over 6,000 feet in elevation with an interesting flora & fauna. The Horton Plains are the catchment area for rainfall feeding all the island's main rivers including the Mahaweli Ganga which the Sinhalese harnessed some 2,500 years ago for their ancient Northern cities in the Cultural triangle.
After the estate visits we descend from our base at over 6,000 feet in the hills down a winding road to the beautiful hill capital of Kandy (World Heritage site), travelling through some really wonderful scenery. This year we have changed our hotel for the Kandy visit which is an old Colonial hotel which has been totally refurbised this year to give a taste of colonial times.
From here on the tour concentrates on the history & culture of the island staying in the cultural triangle with visits to some spectacular World Heritage Sites, the island posesses 7 in all. We visit the usual main sites such as the world famous Royal Botanical gardens, the Maligawa temple of the tooth (World Heritage site) and the Tea museum if there is interest in this. Kandy is an excellent centre for shopping and we provide a free day for you to wander through this beautiful city that was the last stand of the Sinhalese King. During our drives we will stop and introduce you to some interesting foods cultivated by local families.
One of the most important World Heritage sites is the city of Anuradhapura which gave birth to the Sinhalese culture in the 5th.Cent B.C.. UNESCO have been funding extensive archaeological work which includes sympathetic renovation of some areas and the investigations appear to have raised the possibility that the city dates back as far as 1,000 B.C. It is of interest that nothing earlier than this is to be found in the whole of India and that it was a tribe called the Sakyans from Benares in India who travelled to this island and were also behind the development of India and its ancient cities. The city is vast and situated in the arid Northern region of the island supported by an amazing feat in the harnessing of the main river which then feeds hundreds of Tanks (reservoirs) across the flat arid Northern area.
We also visit the amazing Sigiriya rock fortress another World Heritage site within the Cultural triangle in the North of the island whilst we stay in the area for three nights. The rock contains a King's fortress, beautiful frescos and extensive gardens below the rock. For those who wish to climb to the top of the rock they can climb the ladder and look out at the gardens and flat jungle country below. One view is into the distant mountains of Kandy and the other view is right out to Colombo on the horizon. The rock appears to be a volcanic plug some 650 feet (200 Metres) high rising out of a flat jungle area. King Kasapaya fled here in 477 A.D. to make his fortress against the attentions of his brother.
The tour visits the Dambulla caves (World Heritage site). There is provision within the programme for you to visitand the Pinnawela elephant oprhanage during your stay at Kandy. Pinnawela was in its early days was an extremely interesting visit but tourism has its has had its effect upon the visit which is why I have included it as an option.
I have already mentioned how we travel with individual cars in the third paragraph above. Evenings provide a relaxed atmosphere with my old Sinhalese planting friend accompanying the tour this adds an extra dimension to our party with stories of 'The Old Days' as the drivers often remark to us.
Finally the group will be taken to a special experience at my planting friend's family land gifted many centuries ago by the King where you will be able to observe some ladies preparing various traditional curries with a tasting session.
Afterwards travelling with a separate option to your superb 5 star hotel at the beach on the Southern coast at Galle. Galle has a very large fort enclosing a town, originally Portuguese but re-built by the Dutch and this again is one of the 7 World Heritage sites. We have the tour in two sections like this so that anybody not interested in the beach option can opt out.
There are two options available at the beach area A) An option to observe whales off the Southern coast and option B) to travel to the Yala wildlife reserve for a night and observe wildlife including leopard
A full itinerary of the tour with pictures of the hotels is available on application. Due to the recent popularity of the area now that the long standing conflict is resolved we need to finalise numbers as early as possible if I am to keep the group together in the hotels that we have selected for your experience. I am looking to close applications for the tour as soon as possible. By booking early you will avoid any increases in the price that may take place due to the value of sterling, fuel taxes or any other reason. Please be aware that this is a very individual experience that we are able to arrange and is nothing like the normal tourist experience. Those who wish to extend their stay at the beach area may do so.
For more details about the tour contact either Tel No: 00 44 (0)1460 - 77508 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org!!
Cost basis for 2014 tour
For the full programme and details please contact:
Tel: 44 (0)1460 77508 or E-mail: info @wilstea.com
A very individual and unusual tour, you will be accompanied by two people with a long background of living and working in the island and the comments I have received from those on previous tours is that this adds enormously to the overall experience. My family were in the island for six generations and we have some interesting discussions on the background to the places you visit.
For those who wish to try the special experience of climbing Adam's Peak at midnight (which can only be arranged at this time of year) we can include this at no extra cost. The directors of a planting company that we deal closely with, very kindly loan their Director's bungalow in a beautiful setting for you to stay in while undertaking the midnight climb. I have received a letter of appreciation from every member of the last tour in February 2010 and some of them have placed a blog about the trip on the Jetwing site. I have repeated some of their comments below but the 'Testimonial' button on the left of the home page contains these and other testimonials.
A SELECTION OF TESTIMONIALS FROM THE 2010 TOUR:
"My wife Wendy and I were on Robert Wilson's February 2010 tour of tea estates and sights. Jetwing organised the travel. I give both Robert and Jetwing absolutely full marks. We had a wonderful time and I congratulate Robert on assembling an interesting and worthwhile selection of people. I now know more about tea than I could ever have learned without spending twenty years in the trade. We saw a lot of the island as well. Jetwing organised a car and driver for each couple on the tour with a minibus for others. This worked well. I recommend a tour organised in this way rather than in the ubiquitous tourist coach. It didn't seem to add much to the cost. I would be very happy to use Jetwing again for a tailor made holiday but my advice to anyone considering one of Robert Wilson's tours is to seize the opportunity. You will not regret it!
Just to say thank you for organising, such a marvellous trip, with so many memorable indeed, unforgetable occasions, and looking after me so kindly.I had a fantastic time and enjoyed the group dynamics immensely.
What fun we had and what a lot I learnt too.
J. B-C - Mar-2010
Thank you both very much for all your hard work prior to and on the trip. All I can say is that I enjoyed myself thorughly and that I can think of nothing else that we could have actually done that would have improved the trip. Perfection indeed!
J. P - Mar-2010
Airlines are becoming less flexible in allowing persons to return on different dates and therefore I have posted below a complete tour price which includes a short stay at a 5 star beach hotel at Galle which we have used before. Depending on how long it takes people to come forward and for me to collect the minimum of 10 persons to qualify as a group will depend on whether the airfare will change in price.
In order to book accommodation in one hotel it is vital that I receive any interest by the end of May this year.
The cost of this 17 day very individual experience inclusive of flight, accommodation on half board, transport, transfers & entry fees as listed:
Per person where 2 persons in a double room, plus car with driver / guide £3,157 Airfare correct as of 3rd. April 2013 but can be liable to change until confirmed.
Per person where 2 persons in a double room, plus luxury mini bus with driver / guide £3,075 with airfare as above.
Unfortunately for single persons requiring single room accommodation there is a single supplement. Details are available on application and can add at least £750 or more to a tour of this nature unfortunately.
Two Optional Trips whilst you are at the beach Hotel
* A trip in a special boat will take you on a 45 minute trip to observe the various whales that pass the Southern tip of this island on their route to the East. Leave your hotel at 5.30 a.m. The cost of the trip is £147 per person.
Yala Game Reserve
* Spend a night in a new hotel at Yala Game reserve in the South East of the island where Leopard and elephant can be observed by jeep either in the early morning or the evening. The area supports a growing number of Leopard. Cost £230 per person which includes transfer to Yala, one nights stay on half board, a jeep to visit the reserve. Those opting for this will receive a reduction for one night at their beach hotel.
The above costs include:
* Return economy flight
* Accommodation at hotels specified in the tour programme or similar on dinner bed & breakfast basis = Half board every day.
* Transport in an air conditioned car or luxury mini van with the services of an English-speaking chauffeur/guide.
All entrance fees listed below.
* Visit to Tea Brokers & the Tea auction plus a tea tasting at the beach hotel when my colleague will bring teas for you to sample straight from manufacture at the estate factories in this South West quality production period when the best teas are made.
* All visits to Rubber & Tea estates plus visit to the Tea Research Institute headquarters.
* Visit to local families who produce interesting products such as Jaggery, spices etc.
* Visit the Maligawa temple of the Tooth & an exhibition of traditional Singhalese dance & music from Kandy and the low country.
* Visit to the Dambulla rock caves occupied as early as 700 B.C. but paintings date from 1st C B.C. when King Valagama sought the sanctuary of teh monks here. Some of the paintings were renovated at a later date.
* Visit and climb Sigiriya rock, a King's fortress in 477 A.D. The rock rises some 500 feet above a flat jungle area. This is an extremely interesting and fascinating visit.
* Visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura Circa 1,000 B.C. which is 50 hectares in area and the cradle of the Sinhalese culture PLUS Polonnaruwa which was settled later at 1,000 A.D. Both visits are included in the costs of the trip but you may choose only to visit one if you so wish.
* 4WD Safari Jeep hire at Minneriya National Park where there are herds of elephant, interesting birds and other animals. The tank was created by King Mahasen in the 3rd. Cent. A.D. and covers nearly 9,000 hectares in extent. Between 300 - 700 elephants gather here in the dry season from a large area as far South as Matale near Kandy to Trincomalee in the North East.
* Visit to my colleague Manthi Delwita's family inherited land at Kurunegala where he grows a range of spices, vanilla, coconuts & rice. Here some local ladies who care for his land will give you a demonstration on how they prepare traditional local curries and you will be able to sample the results.
The above cost does not include:
* Visa which is now required and can be obtained from the Sri Lankan High at No: 13, Hyde Park Gardens, London and costs £20 at present for tourists.
* Lunch on tour.
* Camera & video permits at cultural sights where these are required.
* Charges to play Golf.
* Sometimes an entrance fee is charged to the Gadaladeniya and Ambekke temples but no charge was made on the last two tours.
* All expenses of a personal nature, tipping or porterage.
* Please note that the cost includes a very good allowance on mileage for the trip which allows you to make extra trips into the towns where we are staying for shopping or sightseeing plus diversions. So far no person has been charged a surcharge for extra mileage.
This web site is owned and operated by Robert Wilson's 'Ceylon' Tea in the U.K. who are completely dedicated to sourcing and delivering teas to your total satisfaction. If you have any suggestions or comments or if you need to contact us, please email us using the link on the store page or use the details below.
A business with direct access to Individual estate manufacture for very high quality Ceylon teas, locally harvested fresh spices & quality whole Cashew nuts (Kadju nuts).
Our Contact details:
Robert Wilson's 'Ceylon' Tea.
TA18 7SX. U.K.
Phone: 44 (0)1460 77508
Fax: 44 (0)1460 77508
VAT Tax Reg: GB 723 4483 40
Certification to import Organic & Biodynamic products: GB-ORG-06
Business Branch Sri Lanka:
Robert Wilson's 'Ceylon' Teas (PVT)., Ltd,
Certification to export Organic & Biodynamic products: CU International - Skal.