FORBES: Sri Lanka among the top 10 Coolest Places To Visit In 2015

December 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

The world is enormous. And getting bigger. Every serious traveler I know says their wish list grows longer, not shorter, every time they visit a new corner of the world.

So how to prioritize? What’s newly safe or newly uncovered? What’s right at that sweet spot between sleepy backwater and developed destination? What are new takes on places we thought we knew? What must we see right now, before it changes forever?

I put those questions to Owen Gaddis, a luxury travel manager at the super-high-end experiential travel-planning company Absolute Travel.He knows what he’s talking about, having adventured through glaciers in Chamonix, deserts in Oman, rain forests in Nicaragua and rugged coastal areas in Western Africa—and retained a soft spot for nice linens, plush robes and a great bottle of burgundy. Like all the planners at Absolute, Gaddis has extensive global connections, firsthand knowledge of destinations he books, and a mandate to learn just as much about his clients’ interests and customize trips accordingly.

Sri Lanka for Wildlife

Now that the country is at peace, Sri Lanka offers tremendous value but is still often overlooked. The Aman Resorts here are as pampering as those elsewhere, but for a fraction of the cost. Absolute also arranges insider experiences such as a tour of the secret gardens of Galle Fort with author Juliet Coombe. But the main draw, Gaddis says, is the wildlife: Elusive leopards, wild elephants, boar, sloth bears and dazzling bird life from peacocks to hornbills roam this surprisingly diverse island.

“We can’t think of another country that has the variety of experiences that Sri Lanka does,” he adds. Yala National Park has been the longtime go-to, but he’s excited about the reopened Wilpattu National Park, which had been closed for years due to the civil war, and where, he says, many guests are able to enjoy their safari in private.