Meet Mark Forbes of Colombo City Walks – a curator, researcher, photographer, wildlife enthusiast and the man behind the brainchild ‘Colombo City Walks’, founded to introduce the hidden treasures of the commercial capital of Colombo to locals and foreign guests alike.
Meet at the Dutch Hospital Shopping precinct and enjoy three exciting hours as Mark takes you through the streets, alleyways, passageways, shops, hotels, churches and buildings of Fort and Pettah.
While on your walk you will find the oldest clock-tower in Asia, see the original colonial era emblem of HSBC and learn about the budget allocated and spent by the British government to build the Grand Oriental Hotel.
You will end your walking tour back at the Dutch Hospital where you may enjoy a beer (or two) reminiscing on the days’ events.
Colombo City Walks is a personalized city walk through the old city of Colombo, an unforgettable experience with your host as you walk through the picturesque streets of Fort and the mayhem of Pettah. It has been over 8 years now, since Mark Forbes, the man behind Colombo City Walks, started to share his love and knowledge enabling guests to spend an evening in beautiful colonial Colombo, submerged in the beauty within the city that just cannot be experienced by whizzing through in a vehicle. Continuous research goes into the areas you will visit and we truly believe that we learn something new every day.
When contacting us via phone or email, you will either speak with Mark or his wife Ruvi as we are a company that feel personalization is key, hence we have just three others Shenelle, Sri & Lakshmi who work with us.
Colombo City Walks is a leisurely 2-3 hour walk that takes you through the city’s commercial heritage in terms of reflecting on the times and the ways of the Portuguese, Dutch and English, which in turn, gives these citizens a unique accent, a way of conducting their day-to-day business and unique palette.
The main focus however, to all of this is that this walk takes you through a myriad of buildings that date back from 17th century to the 90’s that were erected mainly during the Dutch & British rule (but we are tremendously lucky to still have a few of Dutch Architecture to gaze upon). Nothing of the Portuguese rule remains, sadly. With the dawn of the post-conflict times, we see the tremendous effort being put into this area to refurbish and bring these buildings to their hay-day wondrous state.
It is an opportune time to visit the capital on foot, before some of these buildings are taken over by well recognized companies and are no longer in their shabby-chic comfort zone.
You will hardly come across a person who is not willing for their picture to be taken… ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ is also being coined as a ‘Land of Many Smiles’ making one second guess if it is Sri Lanka or Taiwan that should get this nickname.
Visiting Pettah with us is also an option during this walk. This market place is older than the buildings you will see and as non-touristic as you will get. An area best explored with a local.
We meet at the cement tables outside Colombo Fort Café / Ministry of Crab. These restaurants are situated within the Old Dutch Hospital Precinct in Fort.
My family went on a Colombo City Walk with Shanelle. She was excellent! Not only was she informative, filled with interesting and knowledgeable information, but she was delightfully fun to be with! She explained the history of a building while playing entertaining games with my nine year old son. By the end of the tour we felt like she was a close family friend and we did not want to say goodbye! Highly recommend her tours!
Our travel agency arranged a walking tour in Colombo. We were not sure we were going to like it, but it was a very good surprise. Mark B. Forbes knows a lot about the old buildings in the area of fort. We is an enthusiast of architecture and loves his city. The walk was informative and fun and he even took us for a drink at the old Grand Hotel. He also knows people who work in the area and talks to everyone. We loved it and recommend it.
What a wonderful way to see the old parts of this City! With Mark's passion for preserving so much of these wonderful Colonial buildings, together with his photography background, I couldn't think of a better way for us to see this city than through his eyes, experience & detailed research, especially when you throw in his quirky sense of humour. A very entertaining afternoon, & Mark's certainly "up there" with the best tour guides we've had around the world.
We really enjoyed the city walk which we did last Tuesday afternoon with Mark, our very knowledgeable guide. As well as meeting other travellers in our group of 16 people we discovered much about the buildings in the Fort area, the history of the city as well as visiting the Pettah markets, with their hustle and bustle, via tuk tuk in the evening. The stop to taste some local food and the drink at the Grand Oriental Hotel made for an interesting rest point. We highly recommend.