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Activities & Transport
- Meet the Locals
- Whale Watching
- Wildlife Watching
- Bird Watching
- Traditional Medicine
- City Tour
- Car with driver
Main travel focus
Tour of Sri Lanka
- Climb up the Sigiriya Rock fortress
- Train journey past beautiful waterfalls and hilly tea estates
- Whale and dolphin spotting at Mirissa
- Private elephant safari in Minneriya National Reserve
On first glance, Sri Lanka might look like a little country, but that's only because you haven't been here yet. Sri Lanka is a wildly diverse land, packed full of a kaleidoscope of delights. This trip will guide you through its many treasures: from ancient cities, sprawling tea estates, unique wildlife reserves and enchanting beaches. Sri Lanka has a bit of everything, and this personally-tailored trip with give you the best taste of it all.
- Accommodation as per itinerary
- Entrance fees to all sites as per the itinerary
- Meals as per itinerary
- Transport in a private air-conditioned van/car
- English speaking chauffeur guide for all sightseeing
- Train journey on day 7
- All currently applicable taxes
- International airfare
- Visa fees, airport tax or any kind of insurance cover
- Items of personal nature (drinks, laundry, telephone)
- Tips to guide and drivers
- Peak season surcharge (20Dec – 10Jan)
- Festival season surcharge (Literary Festival, Easter, Chinese New Year)
- Travel in the observation train carriage on Day 7
Example Trip to customize
Welcome to Sri Lanka!
You've arrived! At the airport, you'll be introduced to your cheerful local guide and driver for the trip that is about to follow. Take a load off. Today you'll simply be checking into your hotel, giving you the rest of the day to relax.
Negombo Fish Market & The Cultural Triangle
Sri Lanka is a country surrounded by the glittering ocean, and one of the many delicious consequences of this fact is that seafood is in plentiful supply - both in regards to quality and quantity. You’ll soon work this out for yourself this morning, when you’re deep in Negombo Fish Market, a raucously bustling phenomenon of a place filled with brightly saronged, sun-beaten fishermen. It's bound to thrill seafood enthusiasts from anywhere around the globe. If you’ve managed to stagger out of your bed before 6, you’ll catch a glimpse of the fishing boats returning ashore heaving with their daily catch, spectacularly backdropped by the sun rising over its golden beach.
After you’ve got yourself sufficiently fishy, it’s time to head to the very heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, where you'll check into your Sigiriya hotel to take it easy for the rest of the night.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Once you're done with your sumptuous breakfast, you'll be taken up to The Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Jutting out 200 metres above the plains, Lion Rock is home to an ancient citadel with a curious history. Rumoured to have been built in a mere 7 years, King Kassapa retained his throne here for just six years after it was completed. Despite this, it was a rather spectacular feat of engineering, with the palace structures built on the summit; meaning that all the materials would have been manually carried and hoisted up the sheer rock face. Although little remains of this ill-fated palace on the summit, it is still impossible not to marvel at the effort, nor at the incredible views of the surrounding pleasure gardens and the Sri Lankan countryside.
After lunch, you'll continue to Minneriya National Reserve (best visited between June – October, as the elephants generally migrate to Kaudulla at other times), on the search for elephants. Ancient water tanks built here by the Ceylonese kings, attract giant herds of wild elephants - it's not uncommon to see more than fifty of these mighty beasts gathering for a drink and bath. You'll be able to enjoy the same when you return to your hotel for the night.
Relive Sri Lanka's medieval past
Pick up your packed breakfast, and then take the opportunity to take another Minneriya safari. From there, it's a hop, skip and a jump to Polonnaruwa, Ceylon's famous medieval capital. After visiting the museum, the morning is given over to an exploration of the city itself. Today, the ancient city’s ruins remain in remarkably good repair, with palaces, treasuries, meeting halls and temples still easy to make out. The most impressive are the ancient sculptures of Lord Buddha at the Gal Viahara, cut into granite stone back in the middle of the 12th century. Ruminate at all you've seen in your hotel when you get back there early in the evening.
Magnificent hidden Buddha frescoes
Your breakfast of excellence this morning is followed by a trip to see something rather special. As you head to Dambulla, it will be kind of impossible for you not to notice the imposing rock towering over the plain. It is to this rock you're now heading, to discover the carved treasures that hide within it.
The World Heritage-recognised Dambulla Cave temples were carved out of the rock by the crafty King Valagambahu back in the first century BC, and are nothing short of Buddhist magnificence of the highest order. Don't miss the 14-metre-long carving of Buddha - really, though, it would be kind of hard to.
From here, you'll get to put a bit of spice in your life when you visit a fragrant Matale plantation, before heading off to Kandy for the night.
Join in sacred tooth ceremonies
Today is a day for you to relax. If you are feeling a little fidgety, why not take out the complimentary mountain bikes to explore this beautiful tea-growing region? There's a gorgeous Botanical Gardens to check out, too.
A good option to consider after lunch is to check out the top-quality gem and jewellery shops found in this neck of the woods (Premadasas Gem & Jewellery could well be the pick of them); or else have a walk around Kandy Lake. Whatever you do, don't forget to pay your respects at the Temple of the Tooth. It's not just anybody's tooth, you see: this coveted canine once belonged to Buddha Himself. Do this in the evening, and you'll also be present for the puja, where hundreds of pilgrims pass through the temple beautifully lit by fairy lights and candles on their way to the blessed fragment. Then, head back to the villa for a divine dinner.
Up into Hatton's tea hills
Today is devoted to getting nose-deep into Tea Country. After a final villa breakfast, you'll jump on the train, offering a panoramic view of your sublimely verdant surrounds. Once you get to Hatton, you'll be picked up by your exclusive driver, who will drive you up to an altitude of 4000 feet, where your hideaway bungalow is nestled. This will be your picturesque base for the next couple of nights.
A tour to fit you to a T
This morning, as you soak up the aroma of your breakfast cup of tea, pause a moment to wonder about how this cuppa got to be so delicious. You won't have to ponder for too long, however; as today you'll be guided about a tea estate by none other than the head planter, who will clue you in on this crucial - and delicious - process. You'll meet the Tamil women who work in the fields, watch as this precious crop is weighed, and then be given an insight into the drying, fermenting, and packing process. Of course, there will be plenty of time for a right-proper tea tasting at this stage. You'll then head back to your peaceful little bungalow, in just the right mood for relaxing. There are plenty of trails for a delightful stroll before your aptly-named high tea.
Elephants and leopards galore
After your day of high tea culture yesterday, today is all about getting back to nature. There's no better place in which to do this than the enormous Yala National Park, home to an impressive range of wild animals. This is where the important work of elephant preservation is taking place, where leopards abound, and it is also packed with hundreds - 215 at last count - of bird species. You can also glimpse traces of a number of ancient civilisations who once made this unique habitat home. In other words, you've come to a pretty special part of the world.
Among the leopards of Yala
In most parts of world, leopards are pretty sneaky characters, lurking around at night to avoid their predators. As you may have already noticed, Yala is a bit different. Here, leopards rule the roost, and they're pretty cocky about it. You'll see them strolling all over the place, apparently unperturbed by the jeep-loads of people madly clicking their cameras away at them. In fact, the population density of these graceful big cats is higher here than anywhere else in the world, and today is your chance to watch them as they strut. Another amazing sight to watch out for are the herds of elephants wandering about the place, on their way to have a bath at one of the park's many watering holes. Needless to say, today offers endless amazing photo opportunities, so get your clicking-finger ready.
Coastal colonial reminders at Galle Fort
Grab your flip-flops; it's time to get on a beach. Yes, today your chauffeur-guide is whisking you away to Galle, a coastal town full of echoes of colonial times. When you get there in the afternoon, you'll take a tour of the Fort, which the Portuguese, Dutch, and British have all had goes at occupying. Walk along the beautiful old, Dutch-built ramparts jutting out to sea; where you'll be more than likely to be treated to a sunset of beautiful proportions.
The finest tea at its source
Handunugoda is one big, delicious mouthful for a number of reasons, and today you're going to learn all of them. Handunugoda is giant of a plantation: you'll find tea, rubber, cinnamon, pepper and coconut sprouting up all over its 200 delicious acres. Standing this close to the sea, the climate here is more reminiscent of a rainforest than anything else, which makes it the perfect home for the peacocks, monkeys, porcupines and mouse deer crawling all over. Your tour starts with a complimentary cup of tea fresh off the tree; and you'll also be tempted by the finest leaf known to man in the ultra-modern tasting salon. Be warned though: this temptation will be a tough one to overcome.
Back to Negombo
Today, after a morning at leisure, you'll be zipping down to Negombo on the brand-new Southern Expressway. Before you know it, you'll be laying back in your new hotel, living the dream.