Two remarkable journeys and a raft of destinations await when luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent and Gourmet Traveller team up to present special small-group tours to Sri Lanka and the Mekong River this year.
Chef and author Christine Manfield hosts the Gourmet Traveller Siem Reap to Saigon by A&K cruise departing 12 October 2017. She will host culinary events, including a visit to a produce market and cooking demonstration, and design on-board menus, highlighting the heritage of the delta's cuisines, and reflecting her favourite flavours and techniques.
The nine-day tour starts in Cambodia's gateway to the temples, Siem Reap, and ends in Vietnam's bustling Ho Chi Minh City. Along the way guests can explore villages by foot or bicycle and aboard sampans, spot wildlife, meet artisans and mingle with locals in markets and floating villages. A maximum of 28 guests ensures an intimate experience.
The 14-day Gourmet Traveller Sri Lanka by A&K tour has two departures this year: 15 March and 2 October, taking in the island's extraordinary natural beauty, ancient sights and complex cuisine.
As well as having local expert guides at hand, the first tour will be hosted by Gourmet Traveller travel editor Helen Anderson, who has charted the revival of the nation's tourism industry since the end of the civil war in 2009. "On my first visit I fell in love with the island's extraordinary beauty and diversity, but also with the remarkable energy of its residents and the resilience of their culture," says Anderson, who has returned to the island several times. "The mix of old and new is addictive," she says, "and so are egg hoppers and a cup of fine Ceylon tea for breakfast."
From Colombo, the Sri Lankan tour, with a maximum of 24 guests, heads to the island's Cultural Triangle, a collection of World Heritage temples, fortresses and cities. Among them are the clifftop citadel of Sigiriya and the caves of Dambulla, both known for ancient frescoes. Visit the lively city of Kandy and its Temple of the Tooth, take a train into the tea estates of the central highlands, a game drive through an elephant corridor in Minneriya National Park, and explorations of Galle's old fort and Colombo's colonial-era quarter.
Expect lessons in cooking kiribath, or milk rice, a visit to a local family to try homemade specialties, and chefs' cooking classes covering traditional kottu roti, egg hoppers and curries.
Gourmet Traveller Siem Reap to Saigon by A&K with Christine Manfield
12-20 October 2017.
Twin share per person $14,295, single supplement $9,925.
Gourmet Traveller Sri Lanka by A&K
15-28 March 2017 and 2-14 October 2017.
Twin share per person $7,795, single supplement $2,925.