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13 Nights Srilanka

Destinations Covered
Colombo – Pannawala – Dambulla – Sigiriya – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Yala – Bentota

Day 1  Arrival in Colombo

On arrival at Bandaranayke International Airport you will be met by our representative and assisted to the designated coach/car booked for you.

Transfer and check-in at selected hotel.

Rest of the day at leisure to relax.

Sri Lanka's modern day capital, Colombo, is a port city with rich colonial heritage. Colombo is a potpourri of races, religions and cultures, and is also the country's commercial centre. Colombo came into prominence with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505. During the British period, in 1815, it was developed as a major harbour. The remains of buildings from Portuguese, Dutch and British time are found in every area of the city. Despite its small size, Colombo offers a varying selection of experiences.

The capital is an excellent start to your Sri Lankan adventures.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 2  Colombo – Pinnawala – Dambulla (200km/4hrs)

Post breakfast, checkout and set off for half-day sightseeing tour of Colombo city.

Visit The Independence Memorial Hall, which was built to commemorate Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule in 1948; The Gangaramaya Temple, one of the city's most important temple, is not only a place of worship, but also a school of Buddhist learning, and a museum housing a huge collection of Buddhist relics from around the world; and The Jami Ul Alfar Mosque in the Pettah, whose garish exterior of red and white stripes, checkers, spirals and other patterns makes it one of Colombo's most recognizable religious landmarks. We’ll drive past the commercial district, also known as The Fort; it was used to protect trading resources during the Dutch and Portuguese colonial times.

Afterwards, resume to Dambulla.

En-route, visit The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Department near the Maha Oya River. The orphanage provides care and protection to orphaned and abandoned elephants found in the wild. Pinnawala is notable for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. Twice a day, the elephants are taken to a river for a bath, and baby elephants below three years of age are bottle-fed by the mahouts and volunteers. From the riverbank, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the elephants feeding and bathing; you can watch as the members of the herd interact together.

Continue journey to Dambulla. On arrival, check in at the hotel.

Dambulla is a small town situated right in the middle of Sri Lanka. It was once the cultural and spiritual centre of an ancient kingdom. Today, it is a hub to visit some of Sri Lanka's ancient ruins and national parks.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 3  In Dambulla

Post breakfast, set off for half-day sightseeing tour of Dambulla. Visit The Rock Cave Temples, a UNESCO world heritage site, founded in the 1st century BC by King Valagamba. Legend has it that during an invasion from South India, the Sinhalese King took refuge in these caves, and through meditation gained the strength to drive away the invaders. Having declared the caves to be a sacred area, he built the first cave temple, with the others being added by the rulers who followed him. Today, the caves are an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world. The temple is a perfect location to view the evolution of the Sri Lankan arts.

Later in the afternoon sightseeing tour of Polonnaruwa. This is a Unesco World Heritage Site built over one thousand years ago, alongside the spectacular, carefully-engineered reservoirs that provide the region's water to this day.

Polonnaruwa was a thriving commercial and religious centre, and was declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu. This ancient city remains one of the best-planned archaeological relic sites in the country. You’ll also visit Rankot Viharaya, the largest stupa in Polonnaruwa. Gal Potha (stone book) is a massive slab of granite where King Nissankamulla’s heroic deeds were chiselled by scribes of that time. Also see the impressive Gal Viharaya, one of the best-known sites in Polonnaruwa, where four magnificent Buddha images are perfectly sculpted from one large piece of granite.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 4  Dambulla - Anuradhapura - Dambulla (64km/2hrs one way)

Post breakfast, take a day trip to the ancient Sacred City of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's capital back in the 4th century BC, lies adjacent to ruined buildings, ancient temples, cobbled streets, and crumbling fort walls, which are interspersed with all signs of modern life, in this bustling and thriving city.

Visit UNSECO-protected ruins of gigantic stupas, second in size only to the Pyramids of Egypt. Also see the Sri Maha Bodhi, said to be the oldest documented tree on earth. Buddhists from around the world come to pay pilgrimage by offering lotus flowers at this sacred place.

Later in the afternoon, return to Dambulla.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 5  Dambulla to Kandy via Sigiriya (72km/2hrs)

Post breakfast, check-out and depart for Kandy. En-route, you'll visit The Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fortress was constructed under the guidance of King Kashyapa, who built it as a safe house and laid the intense defences there with amazing artistry. This site contained geometrically laid out gardens, pools and fountains. Many consider Sigiriya to be the eighth wonder of the world. The conduits here use pressure to distribute water; even today, when there is enough rainwater accumulated in the upper ponds, the system continues to function. Frescoes drawn on rock walls, depicting Sri Lankan maidens, have become world famous.

Afterwards, resume journey to Kandy.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Kandy was founded in 1592 by King Vimaladharmasuriya I. It was the last seat of royal power, lasting until it was captured by the British in 1815. Fortified by the mountainous terrain, it was difficult to approach, and was the last bastion of the Sinhalees Kings. Kandy offers a rich collection of arts, crafts, and historical buildings: including ancient temples, handicrafts, souvenirs, rich cultural practices and rituals. UNESCO has declared the city a world heritage site, partly due to the main temple.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 6  In Kandy

Post breakfast, take a morning sightseeing tour of Kandy, visiting the Old Royal Palace and the Temple of Tooth Relic.

The Royal Palace of Kandy is the last royal residence of the Kingdom of Kandy. The last King to reside in it was King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, who ruled there until he was overthrown by the British in 1815, with the aid of Kandian chieftains. Surrounded by stunning greenery on all sides, the magnificent palace complex comprises many buildings scattered around the premises. After the British invasion, the palace was used by the British government agents. Today only the front entrance of the old palace remains, situated on the left hand side of the Temple of Tooth Relic; this building houses the Museum of the Department of Archaeology. The building known as Palle Vahala houses the National Museum, and was used by the Queen and princesses during the reign of the final King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1797 – 1814). Meda Vahala, used by the King’s relatives, houses the Folk Museum. Maha Gabadawa (the royal stores) and the Aramudale (treasury) of the final King were probably destroyed by the British, and a new building built afterward. This building now houses the High Court.

Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic) is a UNESCO world heritage site, and is also a part of the palace complex. The temple houses the legendary Buddha’s Tooth, which arrived here in the sixteenth Century, after various peregrinations around India and Sri Lanka. Nothing remains of the original temple, built around 1600. The main shrine of the current temple was originally constructed during the reign of Vimala Dharma Suriya II (1687–1739). It was further embellished during the reign of Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, who added the moat, gateway and Pittirippuva. The eye-catching golden roof over the relic chamber was donated by President Premadasa in 1987. Since ancient times the relic has played an important role in local politics, because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Rituals are performed here three times daily: at dawn, noon, and in the evenings.

Free time in the afternoon to relax.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 7  Kandy – Nuwara Eliya (77km/2hrs)

Post breakfast, check-out and depart for Nuwara Eliya through stunning rolling hills, en-route visiting a tea estate and factory.

Sri Lanka’s pure tea leaves, hand-plucked from the lush hills in the central region, are famous throughout the world. Take the opportunity to stroll around a tea plantation and watch “ceylon tea” as it makes its way to that warm cup you’ll enjoy amid the glorious Sri Lankan hills. In the factory tour, see how the leaves are dried, sorted, graded and packed.

Afterwards, resume journey to Nuwara Eliya.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Nuwara Eliya or “Little England” is a charming little town, nestled in a valley beneath the mist-clad Pedru Mountain Range (Piduruthalaga). It was the prime sanctuary and retreat of the colonial British Civil servants and planters of Sri Lanka. This little town retains its old English charm, in a modern way, with mock Tudor-style cottages dotting the city slopes, alongside the colonial-era buildings.

In the afternoon, visit to Hakgala Botanical Gardens, founded in 1860 by the eminent British botanist Dr. GHK Thwaites. In 1860-1880, Hakgala was the site for experiments with cinchona; its mean temperature of 16ºC is perfect for temperate-zone plants, both ornamental and useful. These include conifers and cedars from Australia, Bermuda and Japan, and cypresses from the Himalayas, China, and as far as Persia, Mexico and California.

New Caledonia donated Hakgal, a special variety of pine, and there are specimens of this genus from the Canary Islands as well. It’s the highest-altitude botanical gardens in the world, with panoramic views of the great South plains below. Among many other attractions, it boasts 100 year-old monetary cypress trees from California, Japanese cedars, Himalayan pines and English oak.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 8  In Nuwara Eliya – Horton Plains – Nuwara Eliya (28km/1hr)

Post breakfast, proceed for half-day visit to Horton Plains National Park, a misty grassland plateau and Unesco World Heritage Site at an elevation of more than 2,000 metres. Sri Lanka’s second and third-highest mountains, Thotupola Kanda (2,357 metres) and Kirigalpota (2,389 metres) rise from this plateau. The grassland is interspersed with patches of forest, and some unusual vegetation which grows only at high altitudes.

The trees are encrusted with lichen; giant ferns and rhododendrons also flourish. The dense forests are home to deer, jackal, the shaggy bear-monkey, sambar (a large deer) and the occasional leopard.

Walk around

In this national park, visitors are permitted to walk on their own. From the main entrance you walk up to a “Y” junction, then turn right and walk 4 km to reach World’s End. If you continue walking along the same trail, you will come to Baker’s Fall, then continue back to the entrance. The round trip is 9.5 km, and takes about three hours at a leisurely pace.

Note

  • A guided walking tour can also be arranged on request.

World’s End

The plateau comes to a sudden stop at World’s End, an escarpment that falls for nearly 1 km. There are glorious views all around, here at the edge of the Horton Plains.

Later in the afternoon, return to the hotel.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 9  Nuwara Eliya – Yala (192km/4hrs)

Post breakfast, check-out and depart for Yala, leaving the rich hill-soils of the Nuwara Eliya and descending to the more arid lands of Yala National Park.

Yala National Park covers around 129,700 hectares, with 14,000 hectares being open to visitors. The park's two main sections are conveniently known as Yala West and Yala East. Yala West, or Ruhuna National Park, is considered to have the world’s highest density of leopards, with approximately 35 leopards believed to be residing within the park's boundaries. Besides leopards, other animals that can be seen in the park include elephants, sloth bears, a variety of deer, monkeys, mongoose, and crocodiles. Bird lovers will favour Yala East, with its huge array of bird life: over 130 recorded avian species. There are significant numbers of water birds too, such as the lesser flamingo and the rare black-necked stork. During the Northeast monsoon, the park’s lagoons are visited by vast numbers of migrating waterfowl.

On arrival, you will be picked up by your host at the pick-up point near the camp, then driven to the campsite in a soft-top jeep affording the best outlook for viewing wildlife.

After check-in and a delicious alfresco lunch at the campsite, your host will give a short briefing and introduction.

In the afternoon, a naturalist will go with you in a jeep for a wildlife drive.

Refresh yourself with a hot or cold shower, and relax while your dinner is being freshly prepared.

Enjoy dinner under the stars, an unforgettable experience in the jungle, and sit around the campfire to swap stories about the amazing wildlife seen during the day.

Overnight stay at the campsite.

Day 10  In Yala

After an early morning wake-up call, enjoy a quick tea or coffee, then head off for a morning wildlife drive in a jeep. A naturalist will show you signs of leopards and point out other wildlife; this lasts for about three hours. This gives a chance to explore the variety of animals residing in the park.

Afterwards return to the camp for breakfast. The rest of the day is free to relax.

Dinner and overnight stay at the campsite.

Day 11  Yala – Bentota (241km/5hrs)

After an early breakfast, check-out and depart for Bentota, visiting Mulkirigala Rock Temple and Galle Fort en-route: both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Mulkirigala Rock Temple is perched on an enormous boulder, more than 200 metres up. Mulkirigala consists of a series of rock temples carved from the face of a huge rock outcropping. These were built in the 2nd century BC.

According to ancient inscriptions carved on the rock, this was the site of an old Buddhist monastery. The temple complex consists of ancient murals, a recumbent Buddha statue, devalayas and several cave temples, all of which are found at different levels while ascending to the peak of the rock.

Galle Fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century as a way to protect Galle city from invading Tamils. In 1640, it was further expanded and strengthened by the Dutch. The fort occupies a total land area of 36 hectares, and is encircled by a continuous rampart that is interrupted by 14 massive bastions. The Galle Fort is a World Heritage Tourism Site, and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European invaders. It shows the influences of both Dutch architecture and South Asian traditions. The Galle Fort houses a number of museums, a clock tower, places of worship, a lighthouse, and over a hundred residences including hotels, guest houses and restaurants.

Afterwards, resume journey.

On arrival, check-in at the hotel.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 12  In Bentota

Post breakfast, day at leisure to relax.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 13  In Bentota

Post breakfast, day at leisure to relax.

Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 14  Departure from Bentota

Depending on your flight schedule, our representatives will escort you to Bandaranayke International Airport, 3 hours prior to your flight.

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