The good news is that Tour Allocations are starting to come through for 2021, holding out the promise of returning to work, and travel, at last. I decided to do a series of posts about the Tours that I have pencilled in. The aim is to inspire you to join me on Tour, and in the process see some remarkable places (and trains).
My first Tour for 2021 is a very, very exciting journey by rail with the Railway Touring Company around the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, leaving the UK on 13th February 2021. The Tour is called Sri Lanka – The Viceroy Special and it features travel around the island by chartered train, comprising of two air-conditioned lounge cars and a restaurant and bar car, hauled by B1 class 4-6-0 steam locomotive No.340 ‘Sir Thomas Maitland’. I’ve put a map of the route below.
The hotels are beautiful and the food promises to be as good. Places visited include an Elephant Orphanage, a Tea Plantation and factory, Botanical Gardens, the Temple of the Tooth, housing one of Sri Lanka’s most important relics – a tooth of the Buddha, and the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya ‘Tree of Enlightenment’, alleged to be the oldest living tree in the world. There are of course Guided Tours of all the major cities and places of interest that we visit, and plenty of Free Time to just lie on the beach or explore at your own pace. The entire island is a photographers dream – the scenery ranges from the central highlands to palm fringed beaches and lagoons. The colonial history also offers some surprising architecture and heritage.
Best of all there are the Sri Lankan people who are renowned for their charm and friendliness.
Oh, and there’s elephants, lots of elephants… Did I mention the elephants yet?
One of the reasons that I like Tours such as this is that it’s a Tour that suits not only the rail enthusiast, but husbands/wives/partners as well. People have varying levels of enthusiasm for trains and a Tour that concentrates exclusively on locomotives and rolling stock but offers no other pleasures is a mistake. Those, such as this one, that highlight rail travel as the best way of actually seeing a country stand the best chance of succeeding.
Obviously, this Tour isn’t cheap. Luxury trains and hotels on the other side of the world aren’t the same as a quick trip over to France for a long weekend. I would love it if you came with me. If you do, there is an add-on option for a three night Beach Extension at the end of the Tour that I would recommend. Your chance to kick back, do nothing and relax at a beautiful beach resort without a Tour Manager chasing you on and off trains, buses, jeep safaris and elephants. If you’ve gone that far already, you might as well take 3 days to yourself!