DAY 1: AUSTRALIA TO NEGOMBO VIA COLOMBO Fly to Colombo. Upon arrival, your National Escort or Local Guide from Wendy Wu Tours will meet you at Bandaranaike Airport in the Arrivals Hall and transfer you to Negombo for an overnight stay. Together with any other group members who may be arriving at a similar time, you will transfer 45 minutes to your hotel and check-in.
Destination Information Negombo – Negombo was once an important commercial trade centre, well known for offering the best cinnamon in the world. Negombo was one of the first towns taken by the Portuguese, only to be captured by the Dutch in 1640 and then recaptured by the Portuguese some months later. The British eventually took control of the town in 1796.
DAY 2: NEGOMBO TO SIGIRIYA This morning a tour introduction will either be held in the hotel or on the coach. After breakfast, travel approximately five hours to Sigiriya for a three night stay. This road is bumpy at times due to continual road construction. Upon arrival, tour the Rock Fortress, also known as Lion Rock. There are many steps, most with railings leading up to the top of the Rock Fortress and the ascent involves a very steep climb so extra care is needed here. Please ensure you bring plenty of water with you today and you wear a hat for sun protection. Beware of local ‘helpers’ as they may charge a fee for their assistance. You will spend approximately two hours here climbing the Lion Rock and touring the surrounding gardens.
Destination Information Sigiriya – The ancient city of Sigiriya lies at the 180m summit of the granite peak known as the ‘Lion’s Rock’. One of the most dramatic sites in Sri Lanka, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982. Rock Fortress – Built by King Kashyapa, the rock fortress is also known as the ‘Lion Rock’ because a massive lion carved out of the rock once sat at the entrance to the palace. Today only the lion’s paws remain. On the summit are the foundations of the Royal Palace built for King Kashyapa, along with a pool, sunrise-facing throne constructed from solid rock and panoramic views of the town below. You will also see the three distinct landscaped gardens; the Water Gardens, Boulder Gardens and Terrace Gardens.
DAY 3: SIGIRIYA TO POLONNARUWA Drive approximately one and half to two hours and discover the UNESCO World Heritage listed site of Polonnaruwa this morning. There will be approximately two hours of easy sightseeing on foot while exploring the palace and temples – refer to Appropriate Dress section below. Return to Sigiriya.
Destination Information Polonnaruwa – Polonnaruwa was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to the 13th centuries and is a well-preserved city of stupas, frescoes and statues. Visit the ruins of the Royal Palace, Audience Hall and the Bathing Pool in the Royal Palace group, along with the Thivanka Image House, which possesses the best frescoes from the Polonnaruwa period. Also tour Gal Vihara, a magnificent group of rock temples consisting of four separate statues; a meditating Buddha, a smaller Buddha said to be visiting heaven, a standing Buddha and the reclining Buddha entering Nirvana, which is 14 metres long.
DAY 4: SIGIRIYA TO ANURADHAPURA Drive approximately three hours to Anuradhapura and explore the magnificent ancient city. Exploration of this ancient city involves approximately four hours on foot. Visit the Bo Tree before returning to Sigiriya, where the remainder of the afternoon is free at leisure.
Destination Information Anuradhapura – One of Sri Lanka’s most ancient cities. The city’s greatest treasures are its dagobas; domes enshrining sacred relics. The most notable is the Ruvanveliseya Dagoba, dating back to the 2nd century BC. Also visit the Jetavanaramaya, the largest dagoba in the world, and the Thuparamaya, said to contain the collarbone of Buddha, and the first dagoba built in Sri Lanka. Bo Tree – The most renowned Buddhist relic is the sacred Bo Tree. It is said that Emperor Asoka’s daughter brought to Anuradhapura a branch of this tree, under which Buddha is said to have gained enlightenment. Planted over 2,250 years ago, it is the oldest surviving historical tree in the world.
DAY 5: SIGIRIYA TO KANDY Depart Sigiriya this morning and drive approximately 45 minutes to view the Dambulla Rock Temple. The temple is made up of five decorated caves and has two main viewing areas consisting of approximately 800 steps. You will spend one and a half hours sightseeing on foot with light climbing of steps involved. Continue one and a half hours to the town of Kandy, stopping to visit a spice garden in Matale, where there is easy sightseeing on foot for approximately one and a half hours. Drive a further hour to Kandy and check into your hotel.
Destination Information Dambulla Rock Temple – Dating back to the 1st century BC, the famous Dambulla Rock Temple is made up of five caves that have been converted into shrine rooms containing around 150 Buddha statues and colourful frescoes. In the first cave you will see the 14m statue of Buddha cut out of the rock. At the Buddha’s feet are Ananda, the most loyal disciple, as well as other seated Buddhas nearby. The second cave is the largest, also known as the Cave of the Great Kings, where there are 16 standing and 40 seated statues of Buddha. The frescoes on the ceiling depict scenes from Buddha’s life and important events from the country’s history. Inside the cave is a spring created from the drips from the ceiling, which is said to have healing powers and is used in sacred rituals. Spice Garden – Sri Lanka is famous for its spices, and today you will visit a spice garden where cinnamon, cardamom, pepper creepers and other spice trees are planted. Kandy – Kandy is situated 500m above sea level and is known for its culture and beauty. It is a sacred Buddhist city, famous for the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Dalada Maligawa. Each year the tooth relic is honoured in Esala Perahera, a religious parade with elephants, drummers and dancers performing in the streets.
DAY 6: KANDY Drive approximately one hour to the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, the largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka. After some time to explore the beautiful grounds, there will be a picnic lunch served within the grounds. Later tour the city of Kandy, which involves approximately four hours sightseeing. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic before continuing to the remains of the Royal Palace. The temple can be very crowded during daily prayer services. This evening watch a cultural dance show.
Destination Information Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens – The largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka. Here you will see a collection of ornamental plants used to produce spices. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – The temple houses an important Buddhist Relic, a tooth of the Buddha. Stolen at his funeral, the tooth was smuggled into Sri Lanka hidden in the hair of a princess who fled from India. The relic of the tooth is kept in a two-storey shrine fronted by large elephant trunks. Remains of the Royal Palace – Now the National Museum, the primary exhibits are in the Palle Vahala, the former Queens Palace, and consist of weapons, jewellery, tools and other artefacts.
DAY 7: KANDY TO NUWARA ELIYA Say goodbye to Kandy as you begin the three hour drive to Nuwara Eliya, visiting a tea plantation and tea factory on route. In the afternoon explore Victoria Park and wander the city centre to see the colonial buildings.
Destination Information Nuwara Eliya – Situated at 2,000m above sea level, Nuwara Eliya is the main hill station of Sri Lanka and is known as ‘Little England’, as it resembles an English country town. It is considered to be an excellent location for tea production due to the cool climate, which creates tea with a unique flavour
Tea Factory and Tea Plantation – During your visit you will observe the process of manufacturing tea, and learn how tea is graded. You will also have the opportunity to taste a cup of pure Ceylon tea. Victoria Park – A beautiful public park located in Nuwara Eliya. The park is also an excellent place for bird watching, as there are a number of rare birds here.
DAY 8: NUWARA ELIYA TO YALA NATIONAL PARK Depart the green hills of Nuwara Eliya and travel to approximately five hours to Udawalawe, where the Elephant Transit Home is located. Here you will tour the area and learn about the care of orphaned and abandoned baby elephants. Drive a further two to three hours to Yala National Park and check-in for the next two nights. The road leading into the park is very bumpy and full of potholes, and has the National Park surrounding the road. This evening is free at your leisure.
Destination Information The Elephant Transit Home – The home cares for abandoned and orphaned baby elephants, providing them with food, shelter and medical care before they are released into the Udawalawe National Park.
DAY 9: YALA NATIONAL PARK Today there will be a morning and evening jeep safari through Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s most famous national park, each safari is approximately three hours in length. Please note there are no toilets available during the park excursions. Please note: Your passports are required in order to gain entry into National Parks so please ensure you bring them with you today.
Destination Information Yala National Park – Yala is the largest National Park in Sri Lanka, and is most famous for its herds of elephant. It is also home to a large number of other wild animals, including boars, buffalos, leopards, bears, dears and crocodiles.
DAY 10: YALA NATIONAL PARK TO AHUNGALLA Depart Yala and drive approximately four and half hours to Ahungalla. On the way, stop and visit the Hummanaya Blowhole, Mulkirigala Rock Temple and Dikwella Wewurukannala Temple. After lunch stop to view the famous stilt fisherman at Welligama. Upon arrival in Ahungalla, check into your hotel for a two night stay.
Destination Information Hummanaya Blowhole – The second largest of the six large blowholes in the world, located at the top of a fissured cliff about 20m above sea level. Mulkirigala Rock Temple – This cave temple contains Buddha figures surrounded by wall paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha. Dikwella Wewurukannala Temple – One of the most remarkable Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The temple is dominated by the largest Buddha statue in the country, which stands at 50 metres high. Weligama – Stop to view the iconic stilt fishermen of Sri Lanka. A tradition kept alive by only 500 families, the fishermen balances two metres above the water on a cross bar tied to a vertical pole, planted underwater. With one hand, they hold the stilt and the other their fishing rod. A truly remarkable sight! Ahungalla – A small coastal town located in the Galle district, Ahungalla is the perfect spot to relax and admire the sandy beaches.
DAY 11: AHUNGALLA TO GALLE Drive approximately half an hour to Galle to embark on a walking tour of this fascinating city. Visit such sites as Galle Fort, the lighthouse, the Dutch Museum and the Dutch Reformed Church. Today will include easy sightseeing in the Old Town and Dutch Fort, consisting of approximately two hours on foot.
Destination Information Galle Fort – Built by the Portuguese in 1588, it was fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. Covering 36 hectares, the fort contains an amazing number of buildings from over the years. Considered one of the best examples of a fortified city built by Europeans in Asia, it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in 1988. Galle Lighthouse – Stunningly located on the edge of Galle Fort, the lighthouse is one of 14 left in Sri Lanka and is considered the oldest. The Dutch Reformed Church – Originally founded in 1640, the present building dates from 1752 to 1755. The floor of the church is covered with granite tombstones and there is a small graveyard on the premises.
DAY 12: AHUNGALLA TO COLOMBO Enjoy the morning at leisure before driving approximately one and a half hours to Colombo, stopping en route to visit Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. Upon arrival in Colombo, check into your hotel for an overnight stay.
Destination Information Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery – Home to Sri Lanka’s pioneering sea turtle conversation, established in 1981. Colombo – The formal capital city and the business and commercial centre of Sri Lanka. Originally a small sea port, Colombo became prominent in the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese. The Dutch later arrived in the 16th century but it wasn’t until the British arrived in the late 18th century that Colombo developed into a major city.
DAYS 13-14: COLOMBO TO AUSTRALIA Tour the vibrant city of Colombo today. Discover the Fort District, stroll Pettah Market and visit the Dutch Church of Wolvendaal. Also explore the Kelaniya Buddhist Temple and the Colombo and Natural History Museums. This morning will entail easy sightseeing, approximately three hours. The remainder of the day is at leisure A late check out until 18:00 is included, this evening you will be a met and transferred to Bandaranaike Airport to board your overnight flight to Australia.
Destination Information Fort District – Having been ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, the Fort District is a treasure trove of grand old colonial architecture. Now the city’s cosmopolitan central business district, the Fort District was the centre of both the British and the Dutch administrations of Sri Lanka. Many of the grand old buildings built during these times are dotted throughout the area and still in use as government buildings today. Pettah Market – A colourful series of open air markets and bazaars located in the Pettah district, selling everything from fruit, vegetables and fabrics to household goods. Dutch Church of Wolfendhaal – Built in 1749, the Dutch Church is one of the most important Dutch Colonial era buildings in Sri Lanka. The church is in the form of a cross, with walls one and a half metres thick and the floor includes intricate tombstones to Dutch colonists. Kelaniya Buddhist Temple – A major pilgrimage site for Buddhist devotees, who believe that the Lord Buddha visited this site on the 8th year of Enlightenment. Colombo and Natural History Museums – Located closely together, the Colombo National Museum tells the story of ancient Sri Lanka, with collections including the regalia of Sri Lanka. The Natural History Museum displays the natural history of Sri Lanka.
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