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Sunrise Sri Lanka Karpaha Emma Hero


Emma’s Sri Lankan Escapade

Pelorus Travel Designer, Emma, was among the first to traverse the land known as ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ since the pandemic. With its culturally rich history, unbelievable tea plantations and unrivalled gastronomy, it’s no wonder Emma had the trip of a lifetime. We chat to Emma about her recent recce, as we continue to enhance our Pelorus knowledge, make new contacts and build world-class experiences across the globe.

Following the positive news that Sri Lanka had been removed from the UK’s ‘red list’, Pelorus Travel Designer, Emma, set out to explore this beautiful country on an adventure that saw her moving between a “striking diversity of landscapes” from the historic hub of Sigiriya, along the east and south coast, into the tea country, and through flourishing national parks. Throughout her journey, Emma spent her days checking out a host of luxury properties, uncovering Sri Lanka’s captivating culture, discovering nature’s wonders, and of course, sampling the local flavours.

Emma Sri Lanka

“With Sri Lanka getting geared up to welcome visitors once again, it felt a real privilege to be one of the first to discover this fascinating country following the pandemic.”

Emma Higgins
Travel Designer


Emma’s journey began in the historic hub of Sigiriya where she set out to climb the UNESCO World Heritage Sigiriya Rock. Also known as ‘The Lion Rock’, the imposing fortress dates back to the 5th century when it was the grand home of King Kashyapa I.

One of the most impressive features of Sigiriya is the carefully constructed gardens, whose ancient design is reflected today in the fabulous hotel Water Garden Sigiriya. In the evening, Emma tasted the local spirit Arrack. Crafted from the fermented sap of coconut flowers, this is just one example of the many ways that Sri Lankans use this versatile fruit.

East Coast Beach 

Departing Sigiriya, Emma headed towards the East Coast to explore Sri Lanka’s untouched beach scene. The journey signified a crossing of provinces and with this, a change in culture to the Tamil community, who warmly welcomed Emma into the recently opened Karpaha Sands. A secluded haven of beach paradise, Karpaha Sands is just footsteps away from the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. This evening, Emma was indulged with a private beach BBQ, dining on freshly caught seafood under the star-studded sky.

Arugam Bay

Heading further down the coast, it was time for Emma to check out the surfing scene at the world famous Arugam Bay. Emma grabbed her board to test out her skills at the remote bay of Peanut Farm. Emma was thrilled when a Tuk Tuk turned up, strapped her board to the roof and set off on an exciting journey down winding roads, passing by laid-back surf shops and even an elephant sighting en route!

Waking up early the following day, Emma set out on a sunrise hike to the Kudumbigala Monastery, nestled inside the vibrant Kumana National Park. A dramatically different landscape, Emma became encompassed by luscious flora and fauna that stretched below her for miles, meeting with the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean to create an astonishing scene. Reaching the summit and surrounded by beauty, this moment was made even more special by a “humbling exchange with a practicing Buddhist Monk”. Emma was incredibly lucky to cross paths with a monk where she learnt about his values alongside his experiences living at this remote monastery.

Elephant crossing Sri Lanka Emma Buddhist Monastery Sri Lanka Emma
Surfing Tuk Tuk Emma Sri Lanka Tuk Tuk Sri Lanka Emma


Leaving the coast behind, Emma headed back in land to the charming city of Kandy. The dramatic 18 hairpin-bend track rewarded striking scenery at each turn.

With well-preserved customs, culture and art, Kandy contains a fascinating history which Emma uncovered at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The Temple is said to be the location of Buddha’s tooth, dating all the way back to the 4th century, making it a significant Buddhist shrine. Following a beguiling tour, Emma arrived at the captivating Kandy House, a unique manor house dating back over 200 years. Yet again, Emma was taken aback by the burst of flavours as she indulged in the local cuisine.

The Tea Country

Departing Kandy, Emma became encompassed by luscious tea plantations from every angle and witness to the humbling sight of female workers trekking into the hills to pick the tea leaves. She then arrived at the captivating Ceylon Tea Trails hotel, which is surrounded by luscious vegetation and overlooks the calm waters of the Castlereagh Lake.

First stop was the Dunkeld Factory for a fascinating tour into the production of pure Ceylon tea from bud to brew alongside resident tea planter Bernard Holsinger. After this marvellous insight into one of Sri Lanka’s largest exports, it was time to relax on a boat ride along the Castlereagh Lake before returning back to the hotel.

 “The chef produced an outstanding five-course tea infused tasting menu, combining local ingredients to create fanciful flavours.”

Yala National Park

Venturing yet deeper into the Sri Lankan wilderness, Emma arrived at Wild Coast Tented Lodge just in time for a bush walk, followed by sundowners as the sun disappeared below crashing waves and luscious forestry. Emma rose before sunrise to head out on safari accompanied by a knowledgeable local ranger, ready to encounter a host of charming species including a family of elephants, water buffalo and a whole host of colourful bird species. Her most memorable meeting was with a leopard who had set out on the prowl for her morning meal.


As her trip drew to an end, Emma’s final evening was spent at the fabulous Amangalla. Here she was treated to an “endless array of colourful and flavoursome local dishes”, marking the perfect end to her Sri Lankan adventure.


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