Explore Dambulla Rock Temple and ancient Polonnaruwa and visit iconic Sigiriya Rock. Sip on refreshing Ceylon tea and take a jeep ride into Udawalawe National Park before heading to the idylic beaches of Bentota for some sun, sea, rest and relaxation.
Day 1 Colombo – your way
Saturday. Welcome to Sri Lanka! Airport arrival transfer and remainder of the day at leisure. Our hotel located on the seafront is a short walk from Galle Road and many of the city highlights. Choose to head out and explore, take a dip in the pool or enjoy a cocktail whilst you watch the perfect sunset over the Laccodive Sea.
Overnight: OZO Colombo, Colombo
Day 2 Dambulla & Sigiriya
Colombo – Dambulla – Sigiriya. Today we head inland to Sigiriya. On the way we stop at weekly fruit and vegetable market held in Naramwela Town before arriving at one of Sri Lanka’s most impressive cave temples, the Dambulla Rock Temple. Dating back to the 1st Century BC, this stunning complex of 5 caves contains over 150 images of Buddha including an impressive 14 metre statue carved out of the cave rock.
After exploring ancient Dambulla we continue to Sigiriya and the famous ‘Lion Rock’ fortress. Built over 1500 years ago, this beautiful citadel stands 200 meters high in the middle of verdant jungle and was an important stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. It can be viewed from miles around and is definitely one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic and famous sites. You’ll be able to view the world famous paintings of the Heavenly Maidens which stand in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway.
Overnight: The Paradise Resort & Spa, Sigiriya
Day 3 Polonnaruwa
Sigiriya – Polonnaruwa – Kandy. Our first stop today is Polonnaruwa. This fascinating 11th century city is home to many interesting ruins and famous monuments including the Royal Palace and Gal Vihara, a monument with 4 images of Buddha, all intricately carved into the rock. Polonnaruwa was once the capital and is also the second most ancient city in Sri Lanka. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was once used as a back drop to 80s sensation Duran Duran’s 1982 video, Save A Prayer.
Once we’ve fully explored Polonnaruwa we take a jeep ride and short canoe trip to the village of Kayanwala. Here, at Kayanwala village we take part in a cookery demonstration in the mud brick home of a local woman and enjoy a freshly prepared lunch of curry, dahl, spiced rice, pickle and more. En route to Kandy we stop off a spice garden in Matale, to see the different herbs and spices, which Sri Lanka is famous for. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of these spices are grown and processed. Arriving into Kandy, we watch a cultural performance of traditional Sri Lankan music and dance this evening.
Overnight: OZO Kandy Hotel, Kandy
Day 4 Temple of the Tooth
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of Kandy – the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. Our first stop will be the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Legend has it that one of Buddha’s teeth was taken from him as he lay on his funeral pyre. It was then smuggled into Sri Lanka in 313AD. It now attracts daily pilgrims who come bearing lotus flowers and frangipani. After driving around the Kandy Lake – built by the last Sinhala king, visiting the local bazaar and a gem museum we take Tuk Tuk ride up into the surrounding hills. This afternoon we stop at the Geragama Tea Factory manufacturing ‘Low Grown’ and ‘Long Leaf’ tea.
Overnight: Kandy | Breakfast
Day 5 Nuwara Eliya & Tea Plantation
Kandy – Nuwara Eliya. This morning offers free time before transferring to the railway station for a scenic train trip. Passing kilometre upon kilometre of verdant tea plantations that hug the winding mountain passes, we’ll see waterfalls, suspension bridges and tea pickers on our journey up to Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka’s most popular hill resort. Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country producing a significant share of the world’s best tea.
Upon arrival we embark on a sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya – an area known locally as ‘Little England’.
Overnight: Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya/Jetwing St Andrew’s, Nuwara Eliya
Day 6 Udawalawe NP Jeep Safari
Nuwara Eliya – Udawalawe National Park. Today we head south to Embilipitiya, our base for exploring Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe is probably one of the best places to spot the famous Sri Lankan Elephant, the biggest of all the Asian Elephants in the wild. It is thought that there are around 400 elephants here. The park is also home to the elusive leopard, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, the cheeky Langur monkey and lots of types of deer. We take an afternoon game drive here before returning to the hotel for the night.
Overnight: Udawalawe National Park | Breakfast
Day 7 Gem Mine & Colombo City Tour
Udawalawe National Park – Colombo. We travel back to Colombo this morning with a visit to the Gem Mine and Museum at Ratnapura. Sri Lanka is famous for its gem industry and is home to 40 out of the 85 types of gems that exist in the world.
Arriving to Colombo, we commence a city tour seeing the Fort area in the north of the city, famous for its government buildings and interesting shops. We explore the Fort area in the north of the city, famous for its government buildings and interesting shops. We’ll see the somewhat unusual Gangarama Temple and take a stroll along Galle Face Green, a popular spot for kite flying and games of cricket.
Overnight: Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort, Udawalawe National Park
Day 8 Lazy days by the beach in Bentota
Colombo – Bentota. After breakfast we head south to the beautiful beach resort of Bentota. Transfer to your accommodation with the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight: Bentota | Breakfast
Days 9-11 Beach, pool & sunset cocktails
The beautiful palm fringed beaches of Bentota are without a doubt its biggest draw card, and once you set eyes on them you’ll understand why. Nestled on the Indian Ocean coast with warm crystal clear waters, Bentota offers travellers a whole host of waters ports from snorkelling and scuba diving, to waterskiing and surfing – the choice if yours. Indulge in a glass of Toddy – a local coconut flavoured tipple, head to the spa and opt for an Ayurveda treatment the area is famous for, or simply while away the days on the beach cocktail in hand.
Overnight: Bentota | Breakfast x 3
Day 12 Colombo
Wednesday. Bentota – Colombo. Today our tropical island adventure comes to an end. Departure transfer to Colombo airport for your onward international flight.