SRI LANK’S SECRET SIDE

Experience

SRI LANK’S SECRET SIDE

NEGOMBO I ANURADHAPURA I TRINCOMALEE I PASIKUDA I GAL OYA I KANDY I COLOMBO

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

15 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

7


Offering the perfect mix of culture and relaxation, Sri Lanka’s Secret Side explores not only historical cities but also the lesser visited east coast of Sri Lanka. Still a little raw around the edges, the east coast is one of Sri Lanka’s upcoming areas with beautiful beaches and warm waters. It is only fair to dedicate some of your time to experiencing these caramel coloured sands,swaying palms and have the sea breeze in your hair as you watch the sun set behind the horizon.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

NATURE

Journey from Negombo to Anuradhapura and travel around the ancient citadel by bike to discover the ruins of its monastic complex all whilst learning about the lives of its inhabitants. Climb the famed Sigiriya Rock Fortress ahead of a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park which allows you to observe nature and its diversity from the comfort of your seat.

BEACH

As you head east to Trincomalee and Pasikuda, the days and nights are spent at leisure for you to take in the tranquil atmosphere and relax. The beaches of Trincomalee –mainly Nilaveli and Marble Bay offer white soft sandy beaches that stretch for miles whilst Pasikuda is known to have one of the longest stretches of shallow coastline in the world. At select times its possible for people to walk at least half a kilometre into the sea at certain points due to the water being only a few inches deep, with the current relatively weak compared to the rest of Sri Lanka’s coastline. 

CULTURE

Soak yourself in local culture as you visit Gal Oya, one of Sri Lanka’s most remote and least visited wilderness areas – here a walk in the forest with the ‘Veddas’, the forest dwelling indigenous community of Gal Oya, offers an insight as to how they live off the land and be at one with nature.Travel inland to Kandy and discover sacred spaces and listen to intriguing tales of the city before heading to Colombo for your last night.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

BIKE RIDE IN ANURADHAPURA I SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS EXPLORATION I JEEP SAFARI I A WALK WITH AN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITYBOAT RIDE I KANDY CITY TOUR I CULTURAL COLOMBO TOUR


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GEOFFREY BAWA: AN ISLAND VISIONARY

Experience

GEOFFREY BAWA: AN ISLAND VISIONARY

NEGOMBO I DAMBULLA I KANDY I COLOMBO I BENTOTA I GALLE I TANGALLE

WHEN TO GO

NOVEMBER – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

13 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

7


This tour draws pure inspiration from the late, great and talented Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa. Sri Lanka is often visited for its dreamy beaches and balmy weather, but it also holds a strong modern design and architectural history that’s often overlooked. Bawa helped give Sri Lanka an individual and sophisticated sense of style and produced sustainable architecture long before it became a fashionable trend. On this exciting and stirring itinerary, not only will you visit the places he lived in, designed and drew inspiration from but you will also stay in some of these places. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

ARTIST

Start your Bawa journey in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle where you will visit such sights as Dambulla, Anuradhapura and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Granted World Heritage status by UNESCO, the rock fortress is possibly one of Sri Lanka’s most extraordinary and mesmerising sights. From Dambulla to Kandy, explore this historical and cultural city. As Sri Lanka’s artistic heart, here you will meet two of the island’s best and most captivating artists.

ART & FOOD

Next, head to the capital city of Colombo and visit Geoffrey Bawa’s home and architectural studio, now transformed into Colombo’s most loved restaurant, The Gallery Café. Whilst Bawa’s office has been transformed into a bar, the space has been kept much as it was during Bawa’s time with an open courtyard and a reflecting pool.

COAST

Continue on to his country house estate Lunuganga, close to the beach resort of Bentota. This masterpiece was a true labour of love, a 50 year project which documented his ability to tame wild tropics and turn them into a cultivated vision. Follow the coast and explore the fort in Galle where quaint boutique stores are found within lovingly restored old houses. End your stay relaxing in the beach resort of Tangalle at ‘The Last House’, which, as the name suggests, was Bawa’s final architectural creation.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

NEGOMBO CITY TOUR I SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS I LOCAL VILLAGE TOUR I THE THREE TEMPLE LOOP TOUR I ART & PHILOSOPHY TOUR DRUMMING LESSON I COLOMBO’S CULTURE TOUR I EXPLORATION OF BAWA’S WORKS I THE LUNUGANGA ESTATE I MASK MAKING


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TAKING THE ROAD LESS BIKED

Experience

TAKING THE ROAD LESS BIKED

NEGOMBO I KANDY I DAMBULLA I POLONNARUWA I ANURADHAPURA I COLOMBO

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER – MARCH

IDEAL LENGTH

7 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

6


Where else can you tick off five off the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in one go? Consisting of Kandy, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, these three great, ancient capitals form the Cultural Triangle. Crammed with monuments and ruined cities, there is so much to see in this one area, it’s an obvious ‘not-to-miss’ on this small group cycling tour. Cycling offers the opportunity to see things close up, cycle the many back roads and absorb a grassroots feel of the country. 

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

OLD TOWN

The ride commences on the road to the beautiful old town of Kandy. Sweet-sounding Kandy lives up to its name, deep in the heart of the island and in perfect proximity to explore Adam’s Peak, which is known by a multitude of different names and brings together four separate strands of religious beliefs. Kandy is home to the famed Temple of the Tooth Relic and located around an atmospheric lake.

TEMPLES & WILD

The following day pedal through open countryside to see the ancient Buddhist cave temples of Dambulla or the city of Polonnaruwa (which you may recognise from Duran Duran’s ‘Save a Prayer’ video if you are a fan). Pedalling out of Dambulla head to Sigiriya, it’s dominating rock fortress will be in continuous view as you cycle towards it. It’s well worth the climb to explore its green slopes and holy summit. Taking a 4×4 through Minneriya National Park, home to herds of elephant, a sprinkling of leopards, buffaloes, boar, spotted deer,sloth bear, crocodiles and jackals, is another Sri Lankan treat and a generous slice of safari adventure. 

ANCIENT JUNGLE

After an adventurous morning, cycle back to Polonnaruwa, an ancient former capital with 800 years of history and with fascinating ruins rescued from the jungle’s grip. Cycle through and explore this historic complex. The last stop is the even more ancient heritage site of Anuradhapura, the centre of Theravada Buddhism and the most continuously inhabited city in the world.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

CYCLE THE SCENIC BACK ROADS I ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS VISIT I GOLDEN TEMPLE OF DAMBULLA I SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS JEEP SAFARI AT MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK I ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF POLONNARUWA I RUINS OF ANURADHAPURA


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VIETNAM: AN ART FUELLED DISCOVERY

Experience

VIETNAM: AN ART FUELLED DISCOVERY

HANOI I HALONG BAY I HOI AN I HO CHI MINH CITY I MEKONG DELTA

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER –AUGUST

IDEAL LENGTH

12 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

5


Gain an insight into Vietnam’s art, history and culture – from great works inspired by the spiritual world to modern contemporary art, there is something to appeal to all tastes. This 12 day journey is thoroughly recommended for art enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike. The adventure begins in the bustling capital city of Hanoi at the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius and built in the 11th century.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

HANOI’S ART CULTURE

Take the opportunity to sit and capture the beauty of the temple by sketching this monument and its surroundings in charcoal. Across the street is the Museum of Fine Arts, here learn about the French Indochina influence on educating and encouraging Vietnamese artisans to explore the concept of self-expression. Visit the Vietnam Art Gallery with its focus on contemporary artists before exploring a local district of Hanoi. Your time in Hanoi also includes a special visit to one of the villages where Vietnamese water puppetry originated for a behind the scenes experience. Visit But Thap Pagoda, well known for its wood carvings, followed by Dong Ho Village famous for its long-preserved art of wood block painting

STUDIO TO MUSEUM

Spend the next day with a lacquer artist in his studio, creating your own lacquer ware piece before you take an evening flight to Hue. Explore the fascinating Imperial Citadel, Royal Tombs and local markets with a second day set aside to visit local art centres including Le Ba Dang Art Centre with its densely textured mixed-media paintings of moulded pasteboard and limestone; the Diem Phung Thi Art Museum; and the famous Truc Chi Art Centre. Truc Chi is the art of making objects from imprinted bamboo paper.

WORKSHOPS

It’s then onto Hoi An, recognised worldwide not only for its ancient beauty, but also its colourful lanterns – visit the home of a family who have been making lanterns for generations and construct your very own lantern. A day at leisure in Hoi An also allows you to wander through the cobblestone streets. Continue to Ho Chi MinhCity and explore the colonial-era Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum. This elegant building is filled with art, including thoughtful pieces from the modern period. The final day is spent with fun artistic classes and evening cocktails at a local studio.

MORE

HANOI FOOD TOUR I HANOI CITY EXPLORATION I VIETNAM MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS I WATER PUPPETRY EXPERIENCE I WOODCUT PRINTS I LAQUERWARE STUDIO I HUE HERITAGE MODERN ART OF HUE I HOI AN LATERN MAKING I HO CHI MINH FINE ARTS MUSEUM I FULL DAY ART CLASS I COCKTAILS AT LOCAL STUDIO



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LAND OF ART

Experience

LAND OF ART

TOKYO I NAOSHIMA I TAKAMATSU I OSAKA I MIHO I KYOTO I HAKOME

WHEN TO GO

MARCH – MAY

IDEAL LENGTH

12 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

11 HOURS 5 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

7


Designed especially for art lovers, this 12 day tour is full of arts from the ancient days to the modern times, ranging from the conventional to avant-garde.

Explore the art scene in Tokyo including a visit to 21-21 Design Sight. Continue on to Naoshima Island where distinctive works such as the ‘yellow pumpkin’ can be admired. Visit the Shikokumura Art Village in Takamatsu before discovering the museums of Osaka. Enjoy a day discovering Miho and the Miho Museum, ahead of taking in the arts of Kyoto. Enjoy the open-air museum in Hakone and some last-minute sights back in Tokyo.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

DESIGN

Experience the vibrant city of Tokyo before immersing yourself in a day of design. Hit 21-21 Design Sight, a design museum created by architect Tadao Ando and fashion designer Issey Miyake, Senso-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo, Nakamise Shopping street and enjoy the view of the Tokyo Skytree from Azuma Bridge. In the afternoon visit the National Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park designed by Le Corbusier housing over 5,500 works.

ISLAND

Go by the exciting bullet train to Naoshima Island by local train and ferry. Located in the Seto Inland Sea the relaxed island is dedicated to art with many installations, museums and works of modern art. Explore Naoshima Island before visiting the intersting Art house Project where artists have turned empty houses scattered about residential areas into works of art. Continue to Chichu Art Museum sympathetically constructed to blend into the landscape and containing artworks by Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria. Also see the Ando Museum also designed by Tadao Ando one of Japan’s most famous architects. Admire the Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kasuma a symbol of the island.

ART VILLAGE

Depart for Takamatsu by ferry and spend the day discovering Shikoku-Mura Art Village housing over twenty buildings from around Shikoku dating from the Edo period through to the Taishō period (1600s to 1920s). Spend time in Ritsurin Koen Garden divided into a Japanese style garden in the south and western style garden in the north and set in front of wooded Mt. Shiun. It is said that the garden deserves a spot on the list of the three most beautiful gardens of Japan.

MUSEUMS

Travel to Osaka via Okayama. In Osaka your guide will take you on a private tour including The Mint Museum housed in a historical Meiji era building and the little Kamigata Ukiyo-e Museum unique for being the only permanent collection of local wood block prints from the area, many based on kabuki theatre. Osaka is known as the nation’s kitchen, ensure you sample some of the local street food this evening. Visit the stunning and unusual Miho Museum set in the forest in the mountains of Shiga Prefecture. Entry is by way of a tunnel, the entrance having been designed by architect I.M. Pei. Most of the museum is underground showcasing the private collection of the founder Mihoko Koyama containing ancient and modern works from Japan and wider Asia.

WORKSHOP

Chose between going to the Garden of Fine Art where masterpieces such as Monet’s Waterlilies have been reproduced on ceramic tiles set in striking surroundings. If you are intersted in pottery the Raku Museum is not to be missed explaining the origins of this destinctive pottery style. Kyoto International Manga Museum is part museum part library exploring the development of Manga culture and Ryukoku Buddhist Museum explores the expansion of Buddhism into Japan.

GALLERIES

Explore Hakone including Hakone Open Air Museum set in the mountains featuring sculptures and works of art by Picasso, Henry Moore, Taro Okamoto, Yasuo Mizui, Churyo Sato and many more. Continue to Okada Museum of Art in spacious galleries to view Japanese, Chinese and Korean works of art ranging from ancient times through to the present age. Finish with the Nezu Museum and its impressive gardens. Continue to the Meiji Picture Gallery where large works, a mixture of Japanese and western style painting show the events from the birth to the demise of the Meij’i Emperor.


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FOCUS ON SRI LANKA

Experience

FOCUS ON SRI LANKA

COLOMBO I ANURADHAPURA I SIGIRIYA I KANDY I NUWARA ELIYA I NEGOMBO

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER – MARCH

IDEAL LENGTH

9 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

15 HOURS 45 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

6


Sri Lanka is a country just waiting to be photographed! Offering diversity with tranquil locations, ancient temples, colonial architecture, wildlife parks and pristine beaches, endless photo opportunities abound here. Get your creative juices flowing engaging with traditional culture and contemporary scenes.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

VIBRANT CAPITAL

Work on your weaknesses and enhance your skills as you chat with a local professional photographer. Begin in Colombo, the vibrant and cosmopolitan capital of Sri Lanka. The city offers a constant buzz of activity perfect for snapping up the local culture. Take a step back in time as you discover the ancient city of Anuradhapura. Explore its culture and heritage through its architectural marvels.

HISTORIC

With your first taste of Sri Lanka’s illustrious history in Anuradhapura, continue on to its second capital, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa to see some of the island’s most dazzling ruins from its next significant era. As you head to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an early start offers a morning hue resulting in a different filter altogether for landscape photography. Offering fantastic moody images, the cave temples of Dambulla will surely excite, ahead of arriving into Kandy where a picturesque lake setting with delightful stalls and buzzing street market await.

SCENIC HILLS

From Kandy, travel up the verdant green hills that surround the city and venture further into Sri Lanka’s most beautiful and magical region, the Hill Country – proceeding to the town of Nuwara Eliya. With its cool air, magnificent waterfalls and thriving tea culture, the enchanting allure of these hills has to be seen to be believed – have your camera ready! With winding roads through the gorgeously lush tea plantations – see tea pluckers amid the well-maintained tea bushes that look like green sculptures stretching up and down the misty hills as far as the eye can see.

GOLDEN HOUR

The last part of your journey will see you relax in the coastal town of Negombo. Watch the sunset over the tropical landscape and marvel at its rich pinks and ambers, the ideal end to an enchanting journey.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU

TIPS FROM A LOCAL PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER I COLOMBO CITY TOUR I ANCIENT RUINS OF ANURADHAPURA AND POLONNARUWA I EARLY MORNING SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS CLIMB I KANDY CITY TOUR I DRIVE THROUGH THE TEA PLANTATIONS OF THE HILL COUNTRY


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C FOR CONSCIOUS IN VIETNAM

Experience

C FOR CONSCIOUS IN VIETNAM

HANOI I HUE I HOI AN I DANANG I MEKONG DELTA I SAIGON

WHEN TO GO

DECEMBER – FEBRUARY

IDEAL LENGTH

10 DAYS

FLIGHT TIME

16 HOURS 30 MINUTES FROM AUCKLAND

DESTINATIONS

6


Here at Black Lotus we’re all about nurturing the meaningful sense of community and opening your eyes to different cultures across Vietnam. A place that never fails to surprise us, and one destination full of interesting characters. Come and meet some of our favourites. A country quite like no other, our want to give back to Vietnam is the inspiration behind C – for Conscious in Vietnam.  Make that positive impact in supporting the local communities and projects for the less privileged on this truly unforgettable and meaningful experience. You’ll touch lives at a personal level. Providing help to flower growers, sponsoring good causes or gifting a cow are just a few things you will do to give back to this beautiful country. Lifestyle, workshops, creative community. Indulge in it all.

MAKE THIS ITINERARY YOURS

Inspired by what you see? Remember we design each itinerary around you, so this suggested itinerary is a starting point that we can tweak or transform into something that is entirely you. If we need to start from scratch, lets start with a conversation.

CAPITAL

Your Vietnam journey starts off in the country’s capital Hanoi, for four nights. A city with a cultural combination of contemporary and traditional. The 1000 – year old city will astound and amaze, boasting beautiful colonial buildings and boulevards, palm trees, oddly angled streets and lakes with names like White Silk and Bright Heavens, before you stumble into modernity in its more sleek and chic districts.

FLORAL

Next, we’ll drive you south west to meet a group of flower growers. You will have an authentic experience and gain an understanding of the passage from seed to sapling to matured bloom. You will be helping to cut, trade, compose and enjoy the account of an elegant exchange between hard work and nature. Then, we will head back to Hanoi to have dinner and meet with a non- governmental organization where you will have a first-hand conversation about the poverty and current humanitarian projects in Vietnam. To really get under the skin of these communities we’ll arrange a one on one with one of our favourites non – government organizations “Hold the Future”, there’s something simultaneously ethereal and grounding about them.

CRAFT

The following day take a quick flight to Hue for cultural stimulation. Hue is the old imperial capital, fit to bursting with tombs, temples and palaces and host of a biennial arts festival, the Festival of Hué. You’ll be invited to join in for a few creative classes, hand-building workshops, and make your very own unique, one-of-a kind paper lotus piece based on an ethos of simplicity, functionality and sustainability.

Moving south, it’s time to take to the sky. 500 metres above sea level, the Hai Van Pass is a picturesque perch from which to take in the incredible views of the South China Sea and the Annamese Mountains. Stop in Hoi An, a charming and jaw-dropping coastal town. The place is a living version of Vietnam’s history with many of the town’s wooden buildings dating from the 18th century or earlier. But to really get to know the destination, you need to see it from the local’s point of view, and we know the best people in town to show you around. We will introduce you to some interesting characters who will share with you how they survive in their small single craft villages. After learning the art of lantern making, and you’re looking for a challenge, there’s the opportunity to design your own signature lantern and take home your very own hand made artisanal piece from Vietnam.

BUZZING

Next day fly to exciting Ho Chi Minh City. Explore ancient temples, Chinatown and a private residence and school for blind children, founded by a benevolent blind musician.  Meet the children and the Sister nuns who will want to sing and perform music for you – a raw beautiful talent show. This evening enjoy dinner at Noir, Dining in the Dark, its more than just a meal. It is a sensory journey that will make you re-evaluate your perception of taste and smell. Be one of the first to try this one of kind dining experience for a unique date in Saigon.

RIVER

Wake up early and get a unique taste of life in the Mekong Delta. The Mekong’s myriad of tributaries and canals is the only region in Vietnam where boats are the main form of transport. Sampan boats are crucial to make a living but often families cannot afford to buy one. Make a difference to a family and be part of buying them their own Sampan in a specially arranged ceremony. An overnight homestay experience will be the highlight of your Vietnamese holiday, providing you with an authentic slice of local life in the Delta’s lush surroundings. One of our fondest homestay memories is of lying in a hammock as the sun went down and listening as herds of buffalo were herded back into the village for the night – their bells clanking all the way. Leaving the Mekong behind, you’ll then return to Saigon for another spot of urban exploration before you fly home.


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