Asia

Sri Lankan Journey Itinerary

Duration
13 Days Itinerary
From
USD $2,495 Dates/Prices
Day
Day 1
1

Negombo: welcome to Sri Lanka

Welcome to Sri Lanka, where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes, and nature’s beauty remains relatively unspoiled. Stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and wildlife experiences await!

Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. Rest up, our touring begins tomorrow!

[Dinner]

Day 2
2

Negombo: city tour and seafood galore

Welcome to the coastal town of Negombo, set alongside a picturesque lagoon and home to an impressive network of canals built in Dutch colonial times. Negombo was an important strategic outpost for the trade of cinnamon in colonial times and has been ruled at varying times by the Dutch, Portuguese and British empires.  

Our day begins after breakfast with a city tour of Negombo. We explore the city, learning about its history and culture before enjoying our afternoon at leisure to explore further, or make use of our hotel’s amenities.  

Special Experience

We enjoy a walking tour of some of Negombo’s best seafood restaurants this evening. Discover Negombo’s night fish market, learn about the city’s strong seafood culture and meet some of the locals as you taste your way through delicious dishes of pan-fried king prawns, Negombo style crab curry, calamari and more, yum!

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 3
3

Negombo to Anuradhapura: Wilpattu National Park

Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka and the capital of the North Province, is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed city. Known for its many ruins of temples, ancient pools and dagobas, the fascinating city is our destination today. We arrive in Anuradhapura and visit a local school. Here, we learn about the school and have a chance to connect with the teachers and students.

Cameras at the ready! Anuradhapura is the gateway to Wilpattu National Park, home to approximately 30 species of mammals. This afternoon we jump in jeeps and head into the national park for a safari drive through its stunning jungle landscape. Keep an eye out for the elusive leopard, elephants, deer, a variety of birds and more as we explore the national park.

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 4
4

Anuradhapura to Habarana

We continue north into the Sri Lankan highlands to Habarana today. Habarana is the gateway village to Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle and national parks.

This morning we take in the sights of Anuradhapura, gaining insight into its rich history, before making our way to Habarana. Upon arrival in Habarana we enjoy a sundowner on a river bank in Sigiriya, before dinner at our hotel.

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 5
5

Pidurangala and Polonnaruwa: sweeping views and medieval ruins

Sri Lanka is home to no less than 8 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites. Five of these ancient sites are situated in what is known as the cultural triangle, in the center of the island. Polonnaruwa lies at the triangle’s easternmost point and became Sri Lanka’s second capital in the 11th century.

This morning we enjoy an early morning breakfast on top of Pidurangala Rock. Offering panoramic views of the landscape below and uninterrupted views of the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress. We return to our hotel and enjoy the rest of the morning and lunch at our own leisure.

We visit Polonnaruwa this afternoon where we see well-preserved ruins of palaces, bathing pools, stupas and exquisite rock sculptures of Buddha at the Gal Vihara.

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 6
6

Sigiriya and Minneriya National Park

Regarded as one of Sri Lanka’s most impressive sites a visit to the famous rock fortress of Sigiriya is a must. The remains of a fifth-century fortress lie perched high atop a rock plateau with views upon a vast plain and dense jungles. Built by King Kasyapa, an impressive 5-acre fort sat astride the rock and a city nestled at its base, but now the city is gone and the fortress is in ruins.

We depart our hotel early this morning to visit Sigiriya. We brave the spiral staircase to see the 21 frescoes of female nature spirits (Apsaras) painted beneath an overhang about 90 meters up the rock. The frescoes are beautiful – their colors still vibrant after 1,500 years. A wall covered with 1,000-year-old graffiti and poetry (left by visitors who recorded their impressions of the painted women) lies just above the frescoes.

Special Experience

Our small group tour enjoys a cooking demonstration and lunch today at a local house. It is an opportunity to get acquainted with Sri Lankan culture and spend time with local families. We watch how they prepare their meals before enjoying a traditional lunch together.

This afternoon we travel to Minneriya National Park for a thrilling jeep ride through evergreen forest and scrub. The park is home to sambhur deer, elephants and huge flocks of cormorants and painted storks. The central feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank (built in the 3rd century AD by King Mahasena). During the dry season (June to September), this tank is a fantastic place to observe the wildlife coming to drink and graze.

[Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner]

Day 7
7

Habarana to Kandy: Cave Temples and Spice Plantations

Dambulla is home to the best-preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka and is another key site of the cultural triangle. The cave temples were built in the 1st century BCE and the gigantic granite outcrop towers more than 160 meters above its surrounds. We explore the caves covered by ancient frescoes and their interior where hundreds of statues of Buddha (157 in fact) are housed, some carved from the rock itself.

Our small group continues to the spice plantations of Matale. Here we visit a spice garden where a variety of spices such as cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg are grown.

We continue to the southern tip of the cultural triangle to the sacred city of Kandy, the final UNESCO World Heritage-listed site of this area. Kandy is a sacred Buddhist site and each year home to the Kandy Festival which pays homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha. This evening we enjoy a guided night walk through Kandy before dinner at a local restaurant. 

Note

Today we visit the cave temples of Dambulla which has approximately 500 stairs to enter the caves. If you choose not to enter the cave complex, you may wait at the coffee shop at the main entrance. Bring an old pair of socks to wear into the temples—when you are required to remove your shoes you may find that the ground is quite hot to walk on. Also wear clothes that you will be cool in as you will likely get a little warm climbing the stairs into the caves. 

[Breakfast and Lunch]

Day 8
8

Peradeniya and Kandy: Botanical gardens and local dance

Kandy is a truly charming town, set around an artificial lake and amidst rolling hills covered by forests and tea plantations. Our destination this morning is the luscious Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya. It was initially designated a Royal Park but in 1821, under British colonial rule, it became a Botanical Garden. Exotic crops including cinchona (quinine), rubber, nutmeg, coffee and tea were all first tested here, all of which became a major part of the country’s economy. A beautiful orchid house sits within the Botanical Gardens with over 300 species of orchids. There are also a large number of bird species in the park for the keen birders amongst us.

We then explore the city sights of Kandy on a tour. The former capital of Ceylon and the last seat of the Sinhalese Kingdom, Kandy is known as the country’s cultural capital. The city has a distinctive style due to the impressive colonial architecture that still survives today. This afternoon we are treated to a cultural show and traditional Kandyan dance performance before we visit the famous pilgrimage site, the Temple of the Tooth Relic. We visit the temple that has housed Buddha’s tooth after it was purportedly smuggled in to Sri Lanka more than 400 years ago.

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 9
9

Kandy to Nuwara Eliya: Time for tea

Nuwara Eliya, the main hill resort of Sri Lanka and heart of the lush-tea growing region, is our destination today. Founded by the British explorer Samuel Baker in 1846, Nuwara Eliya was a sanctuary to the colonialists keen to escape the humidity and heat of Sri Lanka. The region’s temperate climate makes this the coolest area in the country.

Special Experience

We enjoy a scenic local train journey from Kandy to Nanu Oya Station before we continue by road to Nuwara Eliya. We pass through some of Sri Lanka’s incredible scenery throughout the train journey and have the opportunity to mingle with the locals who ride the train daily.

We then continue to our hotel before our dinner this evening.

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 10
10

Nuwara Eliya: a city tour

Set at an altitude of 1,800 meters, Nuwara Eliya has more to offer than respite from the heat of the lowlands. It is today a bustling town and the major food-producing region of the country. We learn more about this old colonial town on a city tour. We visit the city’s bustling markets, where vendors sell fresh fruit and vegetables, clothing and other produce.

Next, we tour a tea plantation learning about the tea estate and its laborers. Upon arrival we are treated to a freshly brewed cup of tea with the Superintendent before we are taken on a tour of the plantation. We enjoy lunch at the estate.

Our afternoon is at leisure to allow us to personally connect with our surrounds.

[Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner]

Day 11
11

Nuwara Eliya to Galle

We travel south this morning before arriving at the coastal walled city of Galle, capital of the South Province. Galle is best known for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Galle Fort, a fantastically preserved colonial sea fortress. Built by the Portuguese in the late 16th century, the old trading port was further fortified by the Dutch and British colonialists. The narrow streets of shuttered mansions and churches are protected by the stone walls, bastions and ramparts, and are a delight to stroll along. We enjoy a tour of the Galle Fort this evening before enjoying free time for dinner.

[Breakfast and Lunch]

Day 12
12

Galle to Colombo: Journey to the capital

Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, the ‘Garden City of the East’, faces the Indian Ocean and stretches along almost 9 miles of the island’s western shores. A bustling city crowded with buses and minivans has overtaken the once quiet roads laden with bullock carts. Tree-lined boulevards, colonial buildings, open air markets, temples, lakes and churches add great character to this city.

Today we journey from Galle to the capital, Colombo. We stop en route at the Tsunami Monument that remembers the 35,000 people who lost their lives in 2004 when the tsunami hit. We learn more about the natural disaster and the devastating effect it had while also witnessing significant renewal in the country.

Special Experience

Upon arrival in Colombo, we embark on a city tour in open-top WW2 4x4 Jeeps. We drive around the city streets immersing ourselves in the atmosphere of Colombo before visiting some key sights including the famous Gangarama Temple. This Buddhist temple combines an eclectic mix of architectural styles with Sri Lanka, India, Thai and Chinese influences. We also see the historical Museum of Colombo, a stunning example of British colonial architecture in the city. Importantly it houses the throne and crown of the Kandyan monarchs and many ancient Sri Lankan artifacts.

Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner at Colombo’s Gallery Café.  Housed in the former offices of world-renowned Sri Lanka architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa, the internationally acclaimed restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy our last group meal together.

[Breakfast and Dinner]

Day 13
13

Depart Colombo

Our tour concludes after breakfast this morning. We bid farewell to our new friends and to the wonders of Sri Lanka.

Note

You need to be at the airport three hours prior to your scheduled flight departure due to Sri Lanka’s security screenings.

[Breakfast]

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