Embark on an exciting 10-day journey in Sri Lanka filled with adventure, mysticism, and a flashback into history. For the nature oriented, Peradeniya and Yala National Park portray ancient colossal trees with herds of Asian elephants and other wildlife. As for the spiritually thirsty, within the Sigiriya Rock Fortress lie Buddha statues which are centuries old, with the serene atmosphere still surrounding them. Additional surprises await you as you walk along the once great trade hub of the world in the city of Colombo. So get ready to immerse yourselves with splendid handcraft and the Sinhalese culture.
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, our representative will meet you for your transfer to Dambulla. On the way, you could go on an optional visit to the Dambulla Cave Temple, a vast cave complex which was converted into a rock temple. Also known as “the Golden Temple of Dambulla,” this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been a sacred pilgrimage site for 22 C and is one of the largest and best-preserved cave temple complexes in the country. Covering the rock ceiling is the largest collection of paintings in Sri Lanka within a cave temple, and this is where you will see the highest number of Buddha statues found in one single place!
Overnight in Dambulla.
After an early breakfast at your hotel, you could go on an optional tour to the ancient Singiriya Rock Fortress. This UNESCO World Heritage site is built on a boulder rising up 200 m out of the surrounding jungle, serving as a royal citadel with Sigiri graffiti and famous frescoes. Complete with a fully-functional swimming pool at the top, it’s one of the best-preserved examples of ancient urban planning, so make sure you get to the top for some breathtaking views of the ruins, jungles and hills!
Later, there will be another optional tour to explore the 2nd kingdom of Sri Lanka, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will find an interesting blend of archaeological monuments such as the iconic manmade reservoir named “the Sea of Parakrama” (Parakrama Samudra) due to its enormous size. Look out for the famous “Rock Temple” (Gal Viharaya), where you can see 4 colossal statues of the Buddha cut into stone, reflecting peace, serenity and strength. Polonnaruwa also boasts ruins of ancient palaces, intricately carved moon stones and royal baths. If you are feeling a bit more energetic, this whole site can also be explored on bike, your guide will be more than happy to arrange this for you at an additional cost.
Overnight in Dambulla (Breakfast).
Dambulla - Kandy
Today you could go on an optional guided tour of Kandy, which was the last Kingdom of Sri Lanka. You will see all the main landmarks and monuments of this UNESCO World Heritage Site from the historic Kandy Lake, to the Royal Botanical Gardens and the scenic Victoria Golf Club. Also, keep an eye out for silverware, brassware and gem-studded jewelry; here the arts and crafts of the Sinhalese have been kept alive, from the art of mat weaving, silver crafts, and lacquer ware to wood carving. The Kandyan craftsmen produce the most exquisite items and consequently, entire traditional craft villages are set up in the area.
Later on, there will be another optional visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic – where, according to tradition, a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha was enshrined within the temple and has been the symbol of sovereignty for Sinhalese kings. The resident monks demonstrate this age-old tradition 3 times a day, surrounded by the sound of drums and the smells of lotus, jasmine flowers and incense, and a visit during this time is quite an experience. In July and August, the whole city comes to life as the Kandy Esala Perahera pageant takes place in honor of the Relic.
Overnight in Kandy (Breakfast).
Kandy –Nuwara Eliya
After a delicious breakfast, you could go on an optional visit to Peradeniya’s Royal Botanical Gardens, the largest botanical garden on the island, where you will find some of the most valuable collections of plants and trees in the world. Bordered by the beautiful Mahaweli River, which is the longest in Sri Lanka, it is home to over 4,000 species of plants, ferns, shrubs, palm trees, spices and medicinal plants, all complemented by an array of butterflies and bird species. While you’re there, make sure you check out the spice garden as well as the orchid house with more than 300 varieties of exquisite orchids. A leisurely stroll through the immaculate lawns and along the quiet paths, perhaps stopping to enjoy a sumptuous picnic, is the best way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Afterwards, you will proceed to Nuwara Eliya for your overnight stay, and will have the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Nuwara Eliya (Breakfast).
Today you will drive to the heart of Nuwara Eliya where you could go on an exciting optional tour of the city; bicycles could be arranged for this tour on request based on availability at an additional cost. The drive itself is a photographer’s paradise, with gushing waterfalls, vast tea terraces, old tea factories and expansive vegetable fields. Upon arrival, you will notice a sudden drop in temperature due to the high altitude, so make sure you plan accordingly. Here you will see the charming log fires in the Victorian-style bungalows and the beautifully kept flower gardens, which is why Nuwara Eliya is nicknamed ‘Little England.’ The rest of your day will be at leisure to wander through the fruit and vegetable markets, strike a bargain at the night ‘bale’ market, or sip on a freshly brewed cup of Ceylon tea.
Overnight in NuwaraEliya (Breakfast).
Nuwara Eliya - Tissamaharama
Today you will go on a 5.5-hour drive to Yala, passing through the Ella Gap from where, on a sunny day, you can get wonderful views of Sri Lanka's southern coastal plains.
Overnight in Tissamaharama (Breakfast).
In the early morning, there will be an optional tour to the Yala National Park, which is mostly open parkland, making it easier to spot wildlife. With a landscape varying from rock outcrops to scrub jungle, lagoons, rivers and even beaches, Yala is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where you can spot a leopard, strolling beside the track or, with luck, draped elegantly on a tree branch. There are estimated to be around 35 leopards and 400 wild elephants, as well as wild buffalos, mongeese, pangolins, black bears, macaques, jackals and numerous species of bird. As the 2nd largest national park in Southern Sri Lanka, Yala has one of the richest ecosystems on the Island so make sure you have your camera on stand-by!
Overnight in Tissamaharama (Breakfast).
Tissamaharama – Kalutara
On this day, you will proceed to the city of Kalutara through the coastal line of Sri Lanka. After check-in formalities at your hotel, you will have the rest of the day at leisure to relax and unwind by the beach or wander around on your own.
Overnight in Kalutara (Breakfast).
This morning you could go on an optional sightseeing tour of Galle which mixes the exotic with the colonial, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. On this tour, you will see the imposing Fortress, originally built by the Portuguese and the Dutch, which is an impressive example of the interaction between European architecture and South Asian traditions during the 16th to 19th C. Later on, you will have time at leisure to grab a bite to eat or check out the Maritime Museum, the Old Dutch Reformed Church, the Sun and the Moon bastions or the lighthouse. The early evening is the perfect time to climb the ramparts and sip a refreshing cup of Ceylon tea as you watch the sun go down.
Overnight in Kalutara (Breakfast).
Kalutara - Colombo
Today you will leave Kalutara for the city of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital and largest city. With an intricate blend of both historic and modern vibes, Colombo was a trading hub for sea merchants and colonial rulers, dating back over 600 years. Here you could go on an optional guided tour of the city; one of the first things you will notice is how diverse the city has become, from Buddhist to Hindu temples, mosques and churches reflecting the various beliefs which coexist on the island. Your panoramic tour will take you past the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, the Pettah Bazzar area, the Wolfendhal Dutch Church, the Old Parliament complex, Nelum Pokuna Theatre, Viharamahadevi Park, and the National Museum. Before heading back to your hotel, you could have afternoon tea or sip on a sundowner as you take in the views across the glistening Indian Ocean from the iconic Galle Face Hotel, one of the oldest in South Asia.
Overnight in Colombo (Breakfast).
After a delicious breakfast and check-out formalities, you will be transferred to the airport (which is approximately an hour away) for your flight out.