8 nights from R 13 640 pps
Valid from 01 Nov 2016 till 30 Apr 2017
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Yala National Park
Eight nights share twin accommodation in selected hotels
Return airport transfers and sightseeing by private air conditioned car
English speaking driver guide throughout
Half day Yala Jeep Drive
Any unmentioned services
Accommodation Supplement and Entrance ticket to witness the Kandy Esala Perahara during July / August
Day 1 Negombo – Arrival
Meet and greet on arrival in Negombo. Transfer to your selected hotel by private car. Depart for city tour of Negombo (subject to your time of arrival / time permitting). You are leisure to relax, go shopping or explore the city on your own. Overnight at your hotel.
Located fairly close to Bandaranaike International Airport, Negombo was once the cinnamon hub of the Dutch Colony. It offers some of the most exciting dive sites, a pleasant beach and lagoon where you can sample delectable seafood straight from the sea as some of the best lobsters, prawns and crabs in the country are caught here. Popular with surfers and sun lovers by day Negombo also has a vibrant nightlife scene featuring bars, disco and clubs.
Day 2 Negombo – Anuradhapura – Habarana
After breakfast, depart by private car for Anuradhapura – rich in Sri Lankan heritage and first capital city to one of the greatest and oldest civilizations in the world; reigned over by no fewer than 113 kings over some 1300 years at its zenith. The sapphire of its crown is certainly the Sri Maha Bodhi – the sacred Bo sapling extracted from the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, standing proudly for more than 2200 years. Stroll through the sacred trails of the venerated city to adore the legacy that interweaves Ruwanweliseya – the gigantic dagoba resting alongside the Basawakkulama Tank – shading the Samadhi Buddha Statue & Isurumuniya Rock Temple that empower the culture, heritage and supremacy of arguably the strongest kingdom in Sri Lankan history. Continue to Habarana, check in and overnight at your selected hotel. (B)
Day 3 Habarana – Polonnaruwa – Habarana
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel this morning. Depart on your full day excursion to Polonnaruwa by private car. After the decline of Anuradhapura, the city of Polonnaruwa became the medieval capital and crown jewel of King Parakramabahu I and remains proof of ancient culture and heritage blended with religious beliefs.
Walk across the scattered walls of this UNESCO World Heritage Site – blessed with stupas, resting Buddha statues, irrigation canals and amazingly carved Hindu sculptures while observing the relic house Watadage that boasts beautiful stone carvings. Look closer and the subtle Hindu influence on the city’s architecture and statues become apparent. Or sit by the side of Galviharaya and marvel at the beauty its huge Buddhist statues. The Nissankamalla Council Chamber is however, a mesmerizing beauty to observe with its swaying pillars reminding the aesthetics of a powerful kingdom which rests beside Parakrama Samudraya (Sea of Parakramabahu) and masterpiece of irrigation! Return to and overnight at your hotel in Haabarana. (B)
Day 4 Habarana – Sigiriya – Dambulla – Matale – Kandy
Depart for Sigiriya after breakfast. The 5th century rock citadel of King Kasyapa and UNESCO World Heritage Site at Sigiriya not only boasts of ancient Sri Lankan engineering and urban planning supremacy but also claims to be one of the finest monuments of art and culture. Step through the gigantic ‘Lion Paws’ – overlooking the symmetrical royal gardens below to comprehend the absolute splendor that once dominated this rock fortress.
The Lion Rock, surrounded by ramparts and moats, resembles the mythological ‘City of Gods’ and is coated by frescoes that relate to Gupta style paintings found in the Ajanta Caves of India. Walk in the shade of an eminent ‘mirror wall’ embracing the Western face of Sigiriya representing an artistic hundred meters laminated with graffiti. Wander into the well-fabricated museum downstairs for an epic journey of yesteryears. Marvel at how the citadel floated above the citizens with the castle, ponds and irrigation systems that had water pumped onto its summit with an ingenious hydraulic system; a colossal masterpiece of the great king and remained a wonder in Asia for centuries. Drive on to Dambulla.
The city of Dambulla was treasured by many kings as a vibrant commercial hub since the 1st Century. The iconic Dambulla Rock Temple houses unique drawings in five magnificently constructed cave temples flanking the golden temple of Dambulla. Observe how exquisitely the cave paintings are done along walls that shelter 150 statues of Lord Buddha. As you enter the retreat, look straight up to the gigantic statue of Buddha glittering in gold that today overlooks a vital junction that drives the country’s economic and cultural upliftment. Continue to Matale.
An agricultural zone in the Central Province, Matale seldom drops off the map due to its remarkable contribution to the economy through various cash crops of the island ranging from tea, rubber, vegetables to spices. Spearheading the rebellion back in 1848, Matale today takes immense pride in its story woven around the spice trade. Stop by a spice garden into which you will be most welcome and observe the therapeutic values of spices and the various processes over a refreshing cup of herbal tea or spend some time idling on the streets for a real town adventure filled with local voices, flavours and colors. Drive on to Kandy at the end of the day, check in and overnight at your selected hotel. (B)
Day 5 Kandy – Pinnawala – Kandy
This morning, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel before driving to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. First established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to feed, nurse and house young elephants found in the wild it has since grown into a tourist attraction to attract local and foreign visitors and use the income generated to maintain the orphanage. Visitors to the park can view the care and daily routine of the elephants, such as bottle feeding of elephant calves, feeding of all other elephants, and bathing in the Ma Oya River. In 1982 an elephant breeding program was launched and has seen a healthy increase in the number elephants living here. Drive back to Kandy.
Last ruled by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe before it was brought under British rule in 1815, Kandy was the last royal capital of Sri Lankan Kings. This UNESCO World Heritage Site impresses an array of culture, history and heritage upon visitors from across the globe. Experience an ancient Kandyan legacy engraved around its crown jewel, the temple of the Sacred Tooth relic of Lord Buddha.
A stroll across this small lakeside town, cradled among the misty hills ,will feature the Kandy City Centre bundled with latest and world class brands, bazaars, an arts & crafts centre, as well as a gem museum & lapidary. Drive towards Victoria Golf Course, undoubtedly one of the best golf courses in the world or walk in color as you glide through fresh fruits and vegetables in the Kandy market. Fine tune your evening by stepping to the beat of traditional music & drumming amplified by a cultural show enhancing the rich and vibrant culture of Sri Lanka. Overnight at your hotel in Kandy. (B)
Day 6 Tea Plantation – Nuwara Eliya – Hakgala – Nuwara Eliya
Depart from Kandy after breakfast for a visit to a Tea Plantation. Tea, Tourism and Ceylon are words that blend together perfectly. Visit the cool, misty hills covered in acres of lush green tea plants that are the pride of an ultimate plantation tour. Or just step into a modern tea factory processing renowned brands of Ceylon Tea to observe a rich, well-rehearsed tradition. Inhale the heady aromas as you observe the hissing machines at work. End the tour in style over a perfectly blended cup of pure Ceylon Tea. Drive on to Nuwara Eliya
Steep, misty roads winding through lush green tea plantations and the cool climate remind visitors that they are nearing this renowned British colonial retreat. Augmented by an English countryside atmosphere, the city of light, once governed by English and Scottish planters, is still studded with colonial bungalows, hedgerows and one of the finest golf courses in the world. A hike through the lush green grass and red brick walls presents breathtaking views of a buzzing countryside hamlet. Drive through green valleys of the hill country pierced by endless waterfalls and dotted by tea pickers draped in bright-colored saris or rent a bike for a gentle ride along the banks lapped by the waters of Lake Gregory. Continue to Hakgala.
Hakgala is where the pleasure garden of Ravana in the Ramayana epic welcomes all lovers of flowers. Warm jackets and gloves come into play at Hakgala due to its cool temperate climate. Listen to the bells ringing farther uphill from the God Hanuman Temple that underscore the epic tale of Rama & Sita. Whether it is the warmth of April or the cold of December, overall, Hakgala truly is bliss for all ages with an extensive variety of roses, orchids and spices. Visit the Sita Amman Temple built on the banks of a stream that Sitadevi is believed to have bathed in. Remarkably, footprints both small and large akin to Lord Hanuman’s are to be found on the rocks along the banks of this stream that allude to the immense power of Lord Hanuman, who is said to have been able to transform into any size. Return to Nuwara Eliya at the end of the day. Check in and overnight at your selected hotel. (B)
Day 7 Nuwara Eliya – Ella – Tissamaharama
Check out after breakfast and drive to Ella. A quaint hill side village offering the most amazing view in all of Sri Lanka. Ella is ideal for leisurely treks where one can trudge through tea plantations, temple sites and waterfalls through the day. Welcome the night with clear skies, twinkling stars and the distant glow of light houses in the Southern Coast. Though there are just a handful of guesthouses and hotels here, Sri Lanka’s warm and friendly signature hospitality is more than available anywhere your care to venture. Continue to Yala.
The area around Yala has hosted several ancient civilizations. Covering some 1260 square kilometres, Yala is the undisputed heartland of wildlife in Sri Lanka. There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries in the vicinity of Yala. Among the largest is Lunugamvehera National Park. The park is situated in the dry semi-arid climatic region and rain is received mainly during the northeast monsoon.
Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands that harbour no fewer than 215 bird species including six endemic species of Sri Lanka. As your jeep rumbles through the giant gates of Yala National Park , you are not only stepping into the most visited national park in the country, but also the lands of a civilization which thrived during the reign of Sri Lankan kings.
Its usual inmates cover herds of elephant, sloth bear, spotted deer, jackal, extensively populated birdlife as well as the highest density of leopards in the world that make the park to be one of the finest destinations in the country. Feel the rough track as your jeep clambers over rocks and swishes through narrow bends for an exhilarating experience blended with the cries of wilderness under the tropical sun. Drive to Tissamaharama. Check in and overnight at your selected hotel. (B)
Day 8 Kataragama – Weligama – Galle – Hikkaduwa
Depart for Kataragama. Walking on blazing fire, drums clattering away flanking the whistling music of brass flutes and men with their cheeks, arms and chest covered in ash chanting ‘Haro-Hara’ echoing the sky are common sights at the holy land of God Skanda, Kataragama. As the mysteries that surround this ‘Land of Vows’ float in clouds of incense, people irrespective of their religion flock together to venerate this pilgrimage site. However, the town becomes busiest during the months of July / August as the Kataragama Festival begins filling the streets with swiftly moving fire dancers, exotic ‘Kawadi’ dancers as well as majestically caparisoned elephants swaying their heads from side to side to the sound of exotic drums. Continue to Weligama.
Weligama is the best place to have your own way with sails and surf boards while diving enthusiasts too may feel the same bliss as they reach this small fishing town. Watch carefully how ‘stilt-fishermen’ have excelled in their patience in this photographer’s paradise while dipping your toes in gentle waves that caress these shores of golden sands. Drive on to Galle.
Galle is the epic southern capital city that’s endlessly exotic, bursting with the scent of spices and salty winds, and yet also, with its wonderful collection of Dutch-colonial buildings, a town of great beauty. Classic architecture melds with a dramatic tropical setting to create a reality that is endlessly interesting.
Above all else, Galle is a city of trade and, increasingly, art. Today the historic Fort area is crammed full of little boutique shops, cafes and hotels owned by local and foreign artists, writers, photographers, designers and poets – a third of the houses are owned by foreigners. Built by the Dutch, beginning in 1663, the 36-hectare Fort occupies most of a promontory that’s surrounded on three sides by the ocean.
Just wandering the old walls and streets at random yields one architectural surprise after another as you explore the amazing collection of structures dating back through the centuries. Its glories have earned the Fort UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition. A key part of the Fort’s allure, however, is that it isn’t just a pretty place. Rather, it remains a working community with administrative offices, courts, export companies, lots of regular folks populating the streets and a definite buzz of energy in the air. Drive to Hikkaduwa, check in on arrival and overnight at your selected hotel. (B)
Day 9 Hikkaduwa – Departure
Breakfast at the hotel and morning at leisure. Transfer to the airport by private car in time for your onward flight. Itinerary Ends. (B)