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Natural & Cultural Splendors of Sri Lanka

Total Days : 13 Days

Tour Destination : Colombo, Pinnawela, Habarana, Sigiriya, Pollunuwara, Dambulla, Kandy, Ella, Yala, Galle

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Namaste! - We welcome you with folded hands

Day 01: Arrival / Colombo

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met by your guide for a private transfer to your hotel in Negombo.

Please note standard check-in time is 14:00.

Once a trading port for the Dutch and British, Negombo has developed into a bustling modern town with a handful of reminders of its colonial past. Situated close to the international airport, it makes a convenient rest stop before heading inland to explore or before an onward flight. The wide golden sand beach is dotted with fishing boats and the inland resort road offers a selection of restaurants and bars.

Overnight at Jetwing Lagoon (Deluxe Room)

Day 02: Colombo / Pinnewala / Habarana

This morning you will leave your hotel after breakfast and drive to the ‘Cultural Triangle’.

En route you will stop to visit the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. Set up by the Sri Lankan government to safeguard one of its national treasures and now a popular tourist attraction, Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage looks after orphaned calves and rehabilitates injured elephants. Today the orphanage is home to more than 60 elephants and twice a day they are led to the nearby river for bathing.

Continue the drive to your hotel in the Cultural Triangle and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Commonly referred to as the ‘Cultural Triangle’, the central plains area boasts ruined temples and ancient cities combined with national parks and glistening reservoirs. UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the striking rock fortress of Sigiriya, Dambulla’s Royal Rock Temple and crumbling archaeological treasures of Polonnaruwa. The stunning setting and historic interest means a stay in this region is sure to be a highlight of any trip to Sri Lanka.

Overnight at Habarana Village by Cinnamon (Superior Room)

Day 03: Habarana / Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa / Habarana

Set off this morning for Sigiriya, also known as the ‘Lion Rock’.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Sri Lanka’s major attractions. A spectacular pillar of rock visible from miles around, geologically Sigiriya is a hardened magma plug of an extinct volcano. Historically, the origins of the remains are disputed and thought to have been either a royal fortress built under the reign of King Kashyapa (477 - 495 AD) or a Buddhist monastery.

You might like to start your visit with a visit to the Sigiriya Museum to learn more about the site, before wandering through the vast landscaped gardens to the base of the rock. The walk to the top is steep with many steps and there are some sections where the path or staircase is very narrow with steep drops protected by fences. We do not recommend this for those without a head for heights or the less mobile. The hike up and down again will take 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on your fitness.

You will pass beautiful frescoes and a sheer ‘mirror wall’ before arriving at the massive stone lion’s paws, which lend the rock its nickname ‘Lion Rock’. The old stairway to the top led through the mouth of a crouching lion but today only the huge paws remain giving an indication of the massive proportions of the head. The summit, covering an area of 1.6 hectares, was originally completely covered by buildings, but only remains of the royal citadel can be seen today.

On completion, you will return back to your hotel to freshen up and drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa.

The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 AD to reunite the country once more under a local leader. Over the following three centuries Polonnaruwa became a thriving commercial and religious centre, reaching its zenith under King Parakramabahu I in the 12th Century. He created beautiful parks, huge buildings and an enormous tank (reservoir) which acted both as a defensive border against intruders and as an important water source.

Today the archaeological park contains many well-preserved ruins within a compact area. Start with a visit to the Polonnaruwa Museum where you can learn about the site in more detail, before heading out to Gal Viharaya, a Buddhist shrine where four statues of Lord Buddha are carved out of the rock. Other stops include Nissanka Latha Mandapaya which boasts well-preserved stone columns, the impressive Lankathilaka Temple and the ruined stone walls of the Royal Palace.

After your visit to Polonnaruwa return to your hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight at Habarana Village by Cinnamon (Superior Room)

Day 04: Habarana / Dambulla / Kandy

Today you will drive towards Kandy with a stop to visit the Dambulla cave temples en route.

The Dambulla cave temples are another UNESCO World Heritage Site which date back to the 1st Century BC. This amazing complex of five caves was first used as a refuge by an ancient king who upon regaining his throne commissioned magnificent images to be carved from the rock. Later kings made further improvements and the caves contain over 150 images of the Buddha painted upon the walls of which the largest is a colossal figure spanning 15 metres.

The hike up to the caves is short but steep (approx. 15-40 mins depending on route taken. At the top you can explore the caves and enjoy spectacular far-reaching views over the surrounding countryside.

Continue the drive to Kandy.

Sri Lanka’s second largest city, Kandy was the capital of the last Sinhalese Kingdom and enjoys a scenic setting around a lake surrounded by green hills. Home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, said to house Buddha’s tooth, each August the city also hosts the spectacular Perahera festival featuring dancers, firebreathers and lavishly decorated elephants.

Late afternoon you will head to a local hall to watch a show of traditional Sri Lankan music, dance and drumming. Afterwards you’ll visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, known locally as Sri Dalada Maligawa, the most sacred temple in the whole of Sri Lanka. This important shrine boasts intricate carvings and beautiful Sri Lankan art. During the evening ‘puja’ throngs of pilgrims visit the temple to line up to glimpse the golden casket said to hold the sacred relic and to make offerings of flowers.

Overnight at Ozo Kandy (Sleep Room)

Day 05: Kandy

After breakfast enjoy a tour of Kandy, including a walk by the lake, a visit to the bustling local market and a stop at the British Garrison Cemetery, which from 1822-1873 was the final resting place for resident British nationals. Continue to the Ceylon Tea Museum located just outside the town, set in the old Hathane Tea Factory, where you can learn more about the history of tea growing in this region.

Later head to the beautiful Peredeniya Botanic Gardens to enjoy a leisurely stroll among the orchids and royal palms.

Surrounded on three sides by the Mahaweli River, these botanical gardens were founded in 1824 and are still home to one of world’s largest collections of plants and trees. Giant ficus trees, palms, an orchid house and a vast array of trees such as ebony, teak, satinwood, mahogany and tamarind can be seen here.

Overnight at Ozo Kandy (Sleep Room)

Day 06: Kandy / Nuwara Eliya

This morning leave your hotel after breakfast and head off to Nuwara Eliya. You will board the train at the Peradeniya railway station.

Board a local train for a journey through the hill country. A ride by local train to the little England is one of the most picturesque rail journeys in the world! You journey through dark tunnels on winding tracks, past the beautiful Devon & St Clair waterfalls to the home of the famous Ceylon Tea. The rolling mountains are a carpet of velvety green tea plantations, interspersed with gushing streams and tumbling waterfalls… no doubt a memorable experience!

Arrive at the Nanu Oya railway station where you will be picked up by your chauffeur and proceed to your hotel in Nuwara Eliya.

Please note – the train journey from Peradeniya to Nanu Oya willdepend on the availability. Kindly also note that the train tickets can only be confirmed 14 days prior to your travel date to Nanu Oya as the Railway Authority will only issue the tickets at this time. If tickets are unavailable you will travel by road. The train departure and journey time can be subject to delays.

Overnight at Jetwing St Andrew’s (Superior Room)

Day 07: Nuwara Eliya  / Horton Plains / Nuwara Eliya 

Early this morning you will depart from your hotel for the drive to Horton Plains National Park. It’s best to depart as early as possible as the mists build up as the day continues, obscuring the view from World’s End. We suggest you ask your hotel the night before if they can prepare a packed breakfast for your journey.

Horton Plains National Park sits on Sri Lanka's highest plateau at over 2100m above sea level in the central mountains and offers an astounding variety of scenery – from misty mountains to grasslands, from marshes to ice cold streams, lakes and waterfalls. The park is home to colourful butterflies, many species of birds and other wildlife including sambar deer, bear monkeys, barking deer, giant squirrels, fishing cats and wild boar.

On your 2-3 hour hike (approx. 9km) you will stop at the beautiful ‘Bridal Veil’ Baker’s Falls and stop at the World’s End escarpment, where the plateau plunges almost 1000m in a sheer drop. If the weather is clear this spot affords spectacular views. This is a relatively easy hike but over uneven terrain with some steep sections. You should wear sensible footwear and take drinking water.

Drive back to your hotel around lunchtime and spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight at Jetwing St Andrew’s (Superior Room)