Gal Oya National Park in Sri Lanka
Credit: Ariadne Van Zandbergen/Getty Images

After the Sri Lanka bombings on Easter Sunday, travelers have been wary — and understandably so. Tourism to Sri Lanka essentially halted, with Reuters reporting that bookings to the island were down 186 percent on average the week following the attack compared to the previous year. It’s no surprise that the entire economy — including many small, family-run businesses —have taken a hit as once-desired hotel rooms, restaurants, and beaches sit empty.

Not long ago, the island was one of the world’s most desired vacation destinations, with Lonely Planet naming it the No. 1 country to visit in 2019. And now, over two months after the attacks, the U.S. Department of State has eased their travel restriction to Sri Lanka, letting travelers know that the “ordered and authorized departure status of U.S. government employees and their family members has been lifted.”

The easement is good news for companies like Audley Travel, who partner with local people and organizations in Sri Lanka to provide bespoke travel experiences. With concerned travelers and the local economy in mind, Audley Travel has curated places and experiences that can support local partners and rebuild the country.

Stay on a 50-acre Organic Farm

It’s situated within Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, but Jim’s Farm Villas also provides weary guests with mountain views and a countryside-feel. Travelers can help the local economy by booking an Ayurvedic treatment (natural medicine) with a local doctor, taking cooking classes, or go explore local temples.

Get a Taste of Village Life

The stunning Horathapola Estate provides an encounter with rural Sri Lankan life where guests can bike through the nearby plantations or visit local temples. For a purely local experience, travelers can visit an organic coconut oil manufacturer or swing by the local “pola” (farmers market) to buy regional food and get to know the people who are benefiting from your purchase.

Let the Local Tribe Guide You Through the Jungle

At the Gal Oya Lodge you’ll find a safe, comfortable home base, but the real show stopper is the nearby Gal Oya National Park, where you’ll have the ability to explore the park alongside the area’s local Vedda tribe. On the prized excursions, guests are guided through the jungle, learn about the tribe’s use of medicinal plants, and see ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings.