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The Best of Sri Lanka

Total Days : 09 Days

Tour Destination : Colombo, Pinnawela, Habarana, Sigiriya, Pollunuwara, Dambulla, Kandy, Bentota

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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 Colombo.

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

With amazing cuisine and luxury hotels, Colombo has been earning itself a well-deserved reputation as a top destination for international travelers.

Colombo is a city with a rich history. Known to the Greeks, Arabs, and Chinese for over 2000 years because of its natural harbour and as a centre of trade, it was colonised by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and then the British between 1505 and 1948. Each colonial power left a distinctive mark and contributed greatly to the character of the city.

Overnight at Ozo Colombo (Dream 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: Habrana / Sigriya / Pollunuwara / Habrana

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.

Later in the afternoon 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: Habrana / Dambulla / Kandy

Today you will drive towards Kandy with a stop to visit the Dambulla cave templesen 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, stopping to visit one of the spice gardens in Matale on the way. A guide will show you around the garden, explaining about various plants and spices native to Sri Lanka. You will arrive in Kandy in the afternoon.

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)