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Sri Lanka Encompassed

Discover the pearls of ancient Ceylon, from colonial cities to buddhist relics, lush tea plantations, tumbling waterfalls, dense jungles and palm filled beaches   

A extraordinarily beautiful island in the midst of the Indian ocean, the tropical nation of Sri Lanka has a rich history which has spanned over a thousand years, greatly influenced by the British, Indian, Portuguese and Dutch colonists but always grounded by the strength of the local Buddhist faith, making this teardrop country incredibly rich in diversity and contrast.  From the coastal capital of Colombo, travel to one of the ancient colonial cities Anuradhapura, sampling its wealth of palaces, temples, ‘dagobas’ (Buddhist monument) and Buddha statues. Continue south to explore the depths of the Dambulla Cave Temple to the hedonist retreat of the formidable Sigiriya  Rock Fortress, before visiting Polonnaruwa – the medieval capital of Sri Lanka and its prominent historical buddhist sites.

This journey leads deep into the rainforests of central Sri Lanka, exploring the lush botanical gardens, tea plantations and hill stations of old world Kandy. Considered to be one of the most scenic train journeys on the planet, board the train from Kandy to the bohemian town of Ella, where we spend time exploring nearby waterfalls, temples and forests. We track elusive leopards and rambling elephants on a jeep safari in Yala and Udawalawe National Parks before heading to the fortress coastal city of Galle, famous for its stilt fisherman and winding cobbled streets and colourful markets. Spend your last days shaded under swaying coconut infused palms and lapping turquoise seas in the coastal resort town of Bentota.

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Trip Duration: 22 days
Grade Adventure touring: light adventure
Summary:
 21 nights in tourist class hotels 

On the way from the airport stop for a delicious Tambili (King Coconut) to quench your thirst and rehydrate after a long flight.You will be picked from the hotel. Then proceed to your beach hotel in Negombo.In the evening if you wish visit the Z spa at the Walawwa or take a sightseeing tour of Negombo including a visit to a fishing village.Return to hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, we take a long drive to Anuradhapura with a stop at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala. Established in 1975, it operates as a nursery, orphanage and captive breeding ground for elephants. Unlike many other elephant orphanages such as Udawalawe, visitors at Pinnawala are able to observe elephants, especially the baby Elephants up-close in their pens, being bottle-fed and bathed. You can even feed the baby elephants upon paying a small fee for a feeding ticket!Arrive in Anuradhapura.In the evening take a tour around this ancient city, Anuradhapura (from the 4th century) to visit the Isurumuniya, Sri Mahabodhiya and Ruwanwelisaya, which are the highlights of this city.Overnight at the hotel in Anuradhapura.
Breakfast at the hotel and proceed to Mihintale to visit the Mihintale rock, which is an important religious site of Buddhists as it is considered the place where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. We then visit the Aukana Buddha statue (from 5th century B.C) which is a well preserved and a magnificent ancient effigy in Sri Lanka.Return to Anuradhapura and overnight at hotel.
Breakfast and hotel and check out.Set off to Dambulla for a 3 night stay.Located in the Matale district, Dambulla is part of the cultural triangle.We will visit the Dambulla Cave Rock Temple dated from First Century B.C.The cave temples complex that lies atop a massive hill on the edge of the town is one of the eight UNESCO world heritage sites in the country and is renowned for its unique mural paintings and sculptures.The remainder of the day is at your leisure, however if you wish you could go for an elephant ride towards late afternoon.Overnight at the hotel in Dambulla.
After breakfast proceed to Sigiriya to climb the Rock Fortress.The marvellous rock fortress of Sigiriya is a rare jewel among the many treasures in Sri Lanka. The site was the domain of King Kashyapa whose aim was to build an impregnable fortress and within it, a heavenly abode. On the way to the top one can observe the famous Sigiriya frescoes of the buxom, wasp-waisted maidens bearing flowers, amidst the wilderness and ancient ruins. The smoothly glazed ‘Mirror Wall’ located a few steps away has sealed the expressions of ancient visitors, inspired by the vibrant frescoes.Transfer to Polonnaruwa in the evening to witness the ruins. Once was Sri Lanka’s second medieval capital; Polonnaruwa enthrals its visitors with a timeless reflection of the country’s glorious history.The quaint landscapes studded with sites of archaeological importance are all well-preserved and lie on the east shore of the ancient man-made lake – Parakrama Samudraya (literal translation – sea of Parakrama). Peddling one’s way around the sites is the best way to observe and appreciate their antiquated glory.Return to the hotel in Dambulla for an overnight.
Breakfast at the hotel, we take a tour to visit a local village for an experience of tradition, culture and simple life style.
Afternoon is free to either relax or go for bird watching. Overnight at the hotel in Dambulla.
Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Kandy.Arrive in the Hill country capital Kandy, which is the last stronghold of Sinhala Kings and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha.Located at the heart of the Kandy town, right before the green waters of the Nuwara wewa, the temple’s white washed walls with tops shaped like that of clouds surround the temple grounds. Within the wall, the ancient temple stands majestically surrounded by a moat. Its golden roof gleaming in the sunlight as white-clad pilgrims bearing lotus blossoms throng to revere the sacred tooth-relic of Lord Buddha.Wander around the lake and the streets of Kandy exploring this wonderful city and its markets.For those interested in shopping for gems, antiques, clothes and leather use our shopping guide and explore the local markets, shops. If you are interested in great architecture, we recommend you visit the Trinity College Chapel; a Kandyan pavilion that is open on three sides featuring murals painted by renowned Ceylon artist David Paynter. It is the only church (built circa 1800) with no walls.Overnight at the hotel in Kandy.
Breakfast at hotel and then proceed to Ella with an en-route stop at the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya and see its treasures of tropical flora.Its origin dates back to the era of medieval times, while bearing a rich history punctuated by colonialism and industrial change. The splendour of the gardens is further uplifted by the river that flows through its fringes.(Optional activity)Then take a train ride from Kandy to Ella. Overnight at hotel in Ella.
Breakfast at hotel and proceed to Nuwara Eliya for sightseeing.Take a tour around the Nuwara Eliya city and pay a visit to Hakgala Gardens.Nuwara Eliya is a land of tea-laden hillsides, gurgling waterfalls, stirring mountains and clear hill-country air. Here, the temperature is similar to a beautiful English summer’s day.Return to Ella for an overnight stay.
Take a half day jeep safari at the Udawalawe National Park.Nourished by the Udawalawa reservoir, the park is located between the Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces, stretching over 30,000 hectares. It is most popular for elephant sightings as the verdure shelters close to 500 elephants. The riches within the park do not end there; flocks of sambar deer, wild buffaloes, bandicoots, foxes, water-monitor lizards, crocodiles, sloth bears, the occasional leopards and a wealth of reptiles and birds can also be observed in their natural habitats. Check in at hotel in Udawalawe for an overnight stay.
Leave Udawalawe after an early breakfast and proceed to Yala National Park for a half day jeep Safari.Apart from the rare sightings of varied animal species, which includes elephants and leopards, the visitors can also enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach in the beautiful setting of unspoilt beaches, as the Southern park border lies along the South-eastern coastal line.Overnight at Yala hotel.
After an early breakfast take a full day jeep safari to witness elephants, crocodiles, deer and amazing birds and depending on the timing and luck you may get a glimpse of a leopard or a bear too.We recommend two game drives – early morning and at dusk when the animals come out to the water bodies. Yala National Park, with a total protected area of 126,768 hectares, consists of scrub plains, lagoons and rocky sections and offers the broadest cross-section of the country’s flora and fauna.In terms of game-viewing this is probably the best place to see all of the ‘big three’ – elephant, leopard & water buffalo.
After breakfast proceed to Galle.Explore the city before you check in to the hotel.Galle city is a living time capsule. It is home to the largest occupied Fort in Asia and its quaint beauty extends beyond its golden beaches and cerulean waters. One can bask in the picturesque views and the rich history while walking through the narrow, cobbled streets within the Fort.Overnight at hotel in Galle.
The next few days you will have time for rest and relaxation.(Optional Activity) : You can visit the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. Kosgoda Turtle hatchery, in the south, established in 1981, was one of the earliest attempts to safeguard local turtles from extinction. Managed by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Protection Society, the hatchery offers a wildlife experience of a different kind.Return to Galle for an overnight stay.
Wander on the ramparts and explore the historic town of Galle and the 17th century Dutch Fort, a UNESCO-protected World Heritage site. Walk down Galle Fort’s narrow streets lined with Dutch and British colonial era buildings which are still in use, sturdy ramparts looking out to the sea, the lighthouse, and a growing collection of art galleries.There is so much to discover and it is best to take a walk around the city.
After breakfast you can choose these suggested excursions.(Optional Acitivities ) : Spend some time by the beach engaging in water sport activities or go to Koggala for Para motoring.A tandem paraglide is a wing that can take two people. In the safety of a qualified instructor you will fly over the beautiful coast line and inland. Your instructor will fit you with your own harness attached to a main body for you to the glide and step into the air for a breath-taking experience. The flight lasts between 15minutes to half an hour but it may seem like a lifetime. It is the newest and latest development in Adventure air sports in Sri Lanka.Overnight at Galle hotel. 
After breakfast enjoy a relaxed morning. Then proceed to Bentota hotel.There are many water sport activities in Bentota to keep you engaged.The little Southern coastal town of Bentota has benefitted well from its prime location in the lagoon and the wide spans of turquoise waters that lie before it, enabling it to be renowned as an excellent water-sporting location.Sports and adventure enthusiasts are offered the chance to engage in a wide selection of water sports including water-skiing, diving, windsurfing, wave boarding, speed boating, jet skiing, banana boating as well deep-sea fishing. Even if you are a first-timer or a novice, fret not, as professional diving instructors are available to assist the visitors.Bentota is also one of the safest locations to engage in water sports, as it benefits from a large flat estuary at the mouth of the Bentota River.Therefore even during the Monsoon months, safety is guaranteed for those who eager to venture into water sports.
Breakfast at hotel.(Optional): If you wish to do some sightseeing you can visit the Kande Vihare Buddhist temple.Located atop a hill overlooking the Bentota and Beruwala coastal towns, is the Kande Vihara – one of the highest visited Buddhist temples in the country.Its history dates as far back as 1734 and is most renowned for the largest seated Buddha statue at the temple complex which is about 120 ft. high and created to perfection.
Breakfast at the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure or there are many excursions that you could select from our excursion list.(Optional):You can also take a cycle tour if you wish. Bentota Cycle tour is one of the most interesting cycling experiences available in Sri Lanka. The striking landscapes that cyclists pass while on the tour along the quiet, shady lanes include the Bentota Bridge, several beautiful Buddhist temples and the gorgeous Lunuganga House and its gardens.The tour participants are bound to be intrigued by the crickets and birds that chirp against the still backdrops of the rural villages and the breath-taking waterscapes en-route.
Breakfast at the hotel.You can either enjoy the rest of your day by the beach or reading by the pool.(Optional) :You could also select an excursion from our excursion list. If you feel up to some adventure you can take a rafting tour to the famous city of Kitulgala.It is located some 87 km away from Colombo on the edge of the country’s wet zone. The area is also constantly visited by many birders as it is mostly inhabited by rainforest bird species. April – November is known to be the best time to visit Kithulgala as the climate is ideal to engage in all the adventure sports.White water rafting is a popular adventure sport in Sri Lanka as its geographical settings have created perfect locations for the sport.The main site for rafting is located in Kitulgala comprising of five rapids of grade 2 – 3. The rafting stretch here is ideal for beginners and takes about an hour to complete.
Breakfast at the hotel and then proceed to Kotugoda.Arrive in Katugoda and check-in at hotel.Enjoy yourself in the refreshing pool or spend the afternoon relaxing with a good book and a cup of Ceylon tea in the beautiful gardens.Rest of the day at leisure.Overnight at hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight..

 

Featured Accommodation or highlight

sigiriya

SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS  

UNESCO World Heritage Site – remnants of a fifth century royal rock fortress, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka 

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TEMPLE OF THE SACRED TOOTH RELIC

This Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha.

The Next Step…

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