Discover the sights of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle, take the train to the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya and spot wildlife in Udawalawe National Park before witnessing the cultural display of Navam Perahera with whip crackers, torch bearers, dancers and elegantly decorated elephants in the capital city of Colombo on this special festival tour.
Day 1 Welcome to Sri Lanka
Thursday 25 January 2018. Upon arrival at the airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel where the rest of the day is free to spend at leisure. Our start hotel is situated on the sea front and is just a short walk away from Galle Road and other of the city’s highlights.
Overnight: OZO Colombo, Colombo
Day 2 Dambulla & Sigiriya
Colombo – Dambulla – Sigiriya. We start the morning with a visit to a local market in the capital before beginning our journey to the UNESCO-listed cave temple of Dambulla. Perhaps the most impressive Buddhist temple of its kind in all of Sri Lanka, this complex of caves features over 150 depictions of The Lord Buddha, the largest being a 14-metre long figure of Buddha carved out of cave rock. After checking into our hotel, we’ll process in the later afternoon to the famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Rising 200 metres out of the jungle undergrowth, this impressive citadel is surrounded by a moat and extensive manicured gardens. The summit is reached via a steep staircase winding up the side of the rock and on the way up you can see the world-renowned frescos of the Heavenly Maidens.
Overnight: The Paradise Resort & Spa, Sigiriya
Day 3 Polonnaruwa & Spice Garden
Sigiriya – Polonnaruwa – Kandy. Our first stop today is the World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa, an ancient city that was once the second capital of Sri Lanka. Some of the key sights to see here include the ruins of the Royal Palace, the four statues of Buddha at Gal Viharaya, the Audience Hall and several famous places of worship such as the Shiva Temple and remains of the former Temple of the Tooth. After exploring the treasures of Polonnaruwa we continue our journey to a rural village. Here we take a jeep ride along the village paths to a lake which we’ll then cross by canoe before arriving at a family home. Here we’ll take part in a cookery demonstration and enjoy the spoils prepared.
Continuing our journey we make our way towards Kandy, stopping en route at a spice garden in Matale, before arriving in Kandy in the evening.
Overnight: Kandy | Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4 Kandy & tuk tuks
Today we explore the UNESCO-listed hill city of Kandy, the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. We start the day with a drive around Kandy Lake, an artificial body of water that was created in 1798, followed by a visit to the city’s bazaar, the arts and crafts centre and a gem museum. Next up is a tuk tuk ride around the city streets before heading to Giragama to visit a tea plantaion and factory. Returning to the hotel in the afternoon, enjoy some free time to kick back and relax before our evening visit to the Temple of the Tooth. Here we’ll witness a cultural show displaying traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Overnight: OZO Kandy Hotel, Kandy
Day 5 Train ride & tea plantations
Kandy – Nuwara Eliya. This morning we transfer to the railway station for our scenic train journey to Nanu Oya, which takes us through picturesque tea plantations and past thundering waterfalls. Upon arrival here we’ll switch trains for our onward travel to the popular hill resort of Nuwara Eliya. Not only is Nuwara Eliya right at the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country, but it is also home to the highest mountain on the island and one of the finest 18 hole golf courses in southern Asia. In the late afternoon we’ll embark on a sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya, driving through an area known as Little England.
Overnight: Jetwing St Andrew’s, Nuwara Eliya
Day 6 Udawalawe National Park
Nuwara Eliya – Udawalawe National Park. Leaving the tea country of Nuwara Eliya behind we continue south to Udawalawe National Park where there’ll be some free time relax upon arrival. Established in 1972, this national park offers the best opportunity to see Sri Lankan elephants in the wild, as well plays home to grey langur, spotted deer and the elusive leopard. Udawalawe National Park also plays an important role in the livelihood of local farmers. In the late afternoon we embark on a jeep safari in the park allowing you to spot its exotic inhabitants.
Overnight: Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort, Udawalawe National Park
Day 7 Colombo Festival
Udawalawe National Park – Ratnapura – Colombo. This morning we depart Udawalawe National Park and begin our journey back to Colombo. On our drive back to the capital we stop off in Ratnapura to visit the Gem Mine and Museum where we’ll learn about the gems and precious stones that Sri Lanka is famous for. Upon arrival in Colombo we embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the city, taking in the Fort area in the north of the city, the buzzing Oriental Bazaar, Wolvendaal Dutch Church, the residential area of Cinnamon Gardens and the Independence Square. This evening we head into the streets of Colombo to witness the cultural display of Navam Perahera. Since its beginnings in 1979, this Sri Lankan festival has continued to draw locals and visitors alike in their throngs to witness the vibrance of Sri Lankan culture. An extravagant procession of whip crackers, torch bearers, dancers and elegantly decorated elephants set out from Gangarama Temple into the streets of Colombo to the rhythm of drummers.
Overnight: Colombo | Breakfast
Day 8 Goodbye Sri Lanka
Thursday 01 February 2018. Today our touring arrangements in Sri Lanka come to an end. A departure transfer will take you to the airport for your onward flight.