Travel Bureau is proud to be a Kuoni Partner Store as we share their passion for using personal experience to create exceptional holidays. Recently the team at Kuoni have collaborated with the founders of ethical fashion brand, Gandys, to create an incredible journey inspired by their stirring story.
Rob and Paul Forkan are brothers and orphans. Along with their two younger siblings they found themselves alone in Sri Lanka when they lost their parents in the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. This catastrophe struck just three years after the family had sold all their belongings and set off to travel around Asia, volunteering at projects along the way. Despite experiencing such tragedy at a young age, Rob and Paul never lost the sense of adventure and need for social responsibility that their parents instilled in them.
The brothers founded travel clothing company, Gandys, as a way to honour their parents’ memories and give back to the world, repaying the kindness and care they received following the Tsunami. As well as being committed to ethical production, the Forkan brothers set up the Orphans for Orphans initiative, which receives 10% of all the company’s profits, and have now opened two Kids’ Campuses in Sri Lanka and Malawi to provide a safe and nurturing space for vulnerable children.
Inspired by the brothers’ remarkable story, Kuoni have designed a car and driver itinerary based on Rob and Paul’s love of Sri Lanka. The journey includes some of their favourite destinations, from the Cultural Triangle, across breathtaking landscapes, to an ancient city by the Indian Ocean.
Sigiriya – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Ella – Yala – Galle
One of Rob and Paul’s favourite sites in Sri Lanka is the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, ancient remains standing 660ft above the jungle below. The views over the ruined royal gardens from the top of the immense column of rock are well worth the 1,200 steps you have to climb to get them! The brothers highly recommend soaring over Sigiriya in a hot air balloon for an unforgettable experience. Head over to the nearby Minneriya National Park to see the large population of Asian elephants.
Overlooking the beautiful Kandy Lake and embraced by misty slopes, this vibrant, cultural city is more than just a gateway to Sri Lanka’s Hill Country. Kandy is famous for the sacred Temple of the Tooth, but Rob and Paul think the Bahirawakanda Temple, with its amazing views over the city, is not to be missed. From Kandy, travel up into the clouds, past villages and tea plantations, on the Kandy-Ella train – one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world.
Standing at the hill station of Nuwara Eliya, you know you couldn’t be anywhere else in the world but Sri Lanka. A bustling centre surrounded by mountain peaks and sprawling tea plantations are iconically Sri Lankan, but the town is also known for its beautiful mock-Tudor architecture, grand mansions and afternoon tea and is often referred to as ‘Little England’! Rob and Paul’s most vivid memories from Nuwara Eliya are of watching blazing sunsets from near the train tracks that turn the vivid green landscape to a valley of glowing embers.
Nestled amid the same stunning Sri Lankan Hill Country scenery as Nuwara Eliya, Ella is perhaps best known for its sweeping Nine Arch Bridge. This architectural marvel (made only with brick, stone and cement when the steel planned for use in its construction was requisitioned by the British Army) is a great relic of colonial-era railway construction and a real sight to behold. Follow in the footsteps of the Forkan family and take the hike up to Little Adam’s Peak for vistas so spectacular they will quite literally take your breath away.
Rob and Paul believe that the only way to see animals is in the wild and one of their favourite places to do this in Sri Lanka is Yala National Park. Located in the south east of the island, bordered by the Indian Ocean, Yala is known for its incredible variety of wildlife and is unofficially known as ‘leopard country’. While not everyone is lucky enough to spot the big cats in Yala, you’re almost guaranteed to see elephants (this is where the brothers first saw them in the wild!), crocodiles, buffalo, and monkeys.
The Forkan brothers always return to Galle when they visit Sri Lanka and it’s not hard to see why! Character abounds in this enchanting fortified city, whose rich history can be seen in its 17th century walls and narrow streets lined with Dutch-built buildings. The city is surrounded by the Indian Ocean on three sides and it’s fascinating to watch the local fishermen haul in their catch. Wile away the hours sipping Sri Lankan coffee in cute cafés and browsing through boutique shops.
This suggested itinerary is fully flexible, so you can decide how long you want to spend in each destination, choose your own hotels and pick which experiences you include. An experienced driver-guide will enrich your journey, sharing their wealth of knowledge along the way. To start planning your Sri Lankan adventure speak to one of our Personal Travel Experts by calling 0191 285 9321 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.