No wonder Marco Polo declared the atoll “the finest island of its size in the world; `Taprobane’ to the ancient Romans, `Serendib’ to the Arab traders,`Ceilao’ as christened by the Portuguese, `Ceylan’ by the Dutch followed by `Ceylon’ by the British and finally Sri Lanka to the Sinhalese.
The teardrop shaped southernmost point of mainland Asia became an indispensable port of call to the earliest travelers awaiting favorable trade winds for onward journeys. This Great; Emporium became a principal center of exchange and commerce between the Mediterranean trade of the Roman empire and the wealth of imperial China. The Portuguese came with sword and cross, the Dutch with ledger and law book and the British with roads and railways.
When Buddhism declined in the country of its birth, India, it took root in Ceylon; and here, so its adherents claim, it is still to be found in its purest form.
DAY 01 : AIRPORT –GALLE
- AYUBOWAN!!! Arrival to Sri Lanka, on arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, You will be greeted with Garlands by our tour representative and your Italian speaking chauffeur before you proceed with tour arrangements.
- Thereafter, we drive along the southern costal line toward the ancient trading post of Sri Lanka, Galle with sightseeing in Colombo en-route. (Via Airport / Colombo & southern express way).
- Transfer time – 02 ½ hours.
- COLOMBO – the trade and commercial capital has long been the traditional gateway to the Orient. Sri Lanka’s largest city, it is located on the west coast and draws together all the cultures, religions and influences of foreign lands into a pot-pourri of sounds, smells and a kaleidoscope of colour. The original traders and settlers – the Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and the British have left in their wake churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages which have been absorbed into the speech of the Sri Lankan. Today, Colombo is a fascinating city – a happy blend of east & west, past & present, with a charm of its own. A less known but amazingly true fact is that Colombo has a superb range of high quality restaurants serving food from all over the world and some of the best shopping opportunities in Asia.
- Check-in at Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle for lunch and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
- Said to be the famous Tarshish of the Bible. Historically, this award winning World Heritage fortified township was an essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Japanese and Sumatrans came later followed by Marco Polo in 1299 AD. The Portuguese arrived in the 1500’s and built a settlement with a fort of palm trees and mud. This was captured by the Dutch (and finally the British) who built the 400 year old fort with great ramparts and bastions to protect their presence. Narrow streets are lined with old houses displaying Dutch heritage, with their pillared verandahs. Government offices remain in use and the community within the fort is a bustle with daily life – a living breathing town, hidden within fortified walls of this ancient, maritime citadel.
- Approximately at 1600hrs in the evening we leave for sightseeing at Galle.
- Today evening we explore the fort, overflowing with landmarks, strolling past the Dutch church, the governor’s house, the spice warehouses, court square, the Kacheri or Town Hall, the lighthouse and ramparts. Near the old Arab mosque are streets leading to cricket fields and the district Judge’s house, surrounded by ancient frangipani trees.
- Return back to the hotel after sightseeing.
- Dinner & Overnight stay at Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle – Deluxe rooms.
DAY 02: GALLE – YALA
- Breakfast at the hotel.
- Thereafter, we leave Galle approximately at 1030hrs and continue our journey towards Yala National Park, which boasts of the highest density of leopard in Asia and home to innumerable wildlife. En route we visit the Mathara Dutch Fort & Dondra Light House – Southernmost point of Sri Lanka.
- YALA – Welcome to a world with no rules, no restrictions… welcome to Yala – untamed, mysterious, and magical. For centuries, this incredible destination has been revered as an unparalleled testament to the beauty of the wilderness, nature in its purest and rawest form. Probably the best place in the world to spot leopards, sloth bears, elephants, and a whole host of birdlife, Yala promises unforgettable discoveries and exciting adventures.
- Transfer Time – 3 ½ hours.
- We arrive in Yala & check-in at Jetwing Yala for lunch.
- Approximately at 1500hrs we set off for an exciting game drive at the Yala National park.
- Yala (Ruhuna) National Park is situated in the Arid Zone of Sri Lanka’s South East region. Comprising of five blocks, this National Park covers an area of 151,778 hectares. Currently only Block I, covering 14,100 hectares, is open to the public. Yala’s historical significance dates back to 500 B.C and evidence shows that the park was inhabited in the past. The area remained a free hunting area for sport until the 1900s, when it was declared a Game Reserve. In 1938 a section of the park was declared a National Park.
- Being in the Arid Zone Yala receives an annual rainfall of less than 1,000 mm from the North East monsoon from about November to January. The rest of the year remains dry with the period from July to September showing severe drought conditions. Mean temperature is around 27 c. Yala National Park comprises of several major habitat types including dunes, scrub forest, riverine forests, rocky out-crops, secondary forests and coastal lagoons with mangrove forests. This diverse collection of vegetation has resulted in many species of animals and birds being recorded in Yala National Park.
- Approximately at 1900hrs return back to the hotel for overnight.
- Dinner & overnight stay at Jetwing Yala, – Superior rooms.
DAY 03 : YALA – NUWARA ELIYA
- B’fast at the hotel. Check out by 0730 hrs & we depart for Nuwara Eliya – En route we visit Buduruwagala Buddha statues & Ella Water falls.
- Transfer Time to Ella – 2 ½ hours.
- Ella is a small town with an altitude of 613metrs, is blessed with some of the most beautiful views you could find in Sri Lanka.
- This small town is used as a base for plenty of trekking expeditions to the surrounding countryside. A taste of the breathtaking scenery of Ella could be had, if you just walk into the Garden of the Grand Ella Motel (Formerly Ella Rest House), where you seem to be standing at the edge of the world, and everything around you seems to disappear at your feet. Another fine view is from the Ambiente Hotel, where the wide doorway, opens out to the mountains, creating a dramatic cinematic like experience, on entry.
- You will be guided through brief excursions (If time permits) to – the Ella Gap, Ravana Ella Falls, Little Adam’s Peak and arch bridge a tuk tuk ride in the city among the other many varied pleasant walks with stunning scenery. (Excursion only take place on clients preference, time permitting).
- After sightseeing we leave for Nuwara Eliya.
- Transfer Time – 2 ½ hours.
- Nuwara Eliya is a mountain station at 1,868 m (6,128ft) of altitude, in a splendid landscape. The city pretends to be particularly well-kept and neat, and the always green grass gives to the locality an aspect of “colonial British style”. Nuwara Eliya was built entirely during the 19th century and its architecture mimics that of an English country town, with red-brick walls, country house like hill club and mock-Tudor half-timbering. Blessed with salubrious climate, breathtaking views of valleys, meadows, mountains and greenery; it’s hard to imagine that Nuwara Eliya is only 180 Km from the hot and humid Colombo. Temperatures are 14C-21C (Jan- April) 16C-18C (May-Aug) 15C- 18C (Sept-Dec).
- Followed by lunch we leave for sightseeing at the renowned hill station of Nuwara Eliya, a retreat for British Civil Servants from the heat of the plains. Also known as Little England, Nuwara Eliya is famous for its spectacularly beautiful approach, picturesque landscape and cool climate. Many of its buildings retain features from the colonial period along with a 117 year old championship golf course, one of the most scenic in the world, nestled between the town and surrounding forested hills.
- Return back to the hotel for the overnight.
- Dinner & Overnight stay at Jetwing St.Andrews, Nuwara Eliya – Superior room.
DAY 04: NUWARA ELIYA – KANDY
- After breakfast we check-out from the hotel approximately at 0800hrs and take a tour to visit a Tea plantation / Factory to have an insight of the local tea manufacturing process including the daily routing of local workers/ Tea pluckers.
- Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19the century Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. For many miles prior to reaching Nuwara Eliya from either direction you will find acres and acres of tea plantations, in fact nothing but tea estates. There are many factories open for visitor’s which also have tea sales outlets.
- Visit the Tea Factory and witness how the raw green leaf which was plucked is converted to the familiar dark brown product through a process of drying, cutting, rolling and fermentation. At the factory, also learn to “taste” tea and try to identify the subtle differences in flavor produced at the factory.
- Thereafter we continue our journey towards Nanu-oya to get on board the train that leaves to Kandy. Pic nic lunch will be served in the train.
- Your luggage will travel by car / Micro, You will then be picked up from Peradeniya train station and transferred to the hotel. (Note – the train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy will be done by the clients in a luxury carriage. The scenery en-route is magnificent and far superior to travelling in a car. Also note that the train tickets will be confirmed only 14 days prior to departure of the train as the Railways Department issues the tickets only 14 days prior to departure of the train).
- Train leaves Nanu-Oya at 1200hrs and arrives in Kandy at 1545hrs.
- You will be provided with Picnic lunch to enjoy on board.
- KANDY – a lovely exotic city, the Hill Capital and last stronghold of the Sinhala Kings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which retains an aura of grandeur, time has not affected. Encircled by hills, with a tranquil lake in its centre, it is the site of the renowned temple that enshrines the Tooth Relic of the Buddha and the Royal Botanical gardens – home to one of the world’s best collections of Orchids. A cultural sanctuary where many legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive, Kandy and its satellite villages are the centre of the islands handicraft industry (items of wood, brass & silver) exquisite silver or gold jewellery and precious gems of many varieties including the world’s best blue and star sapphires.
- In Kandy, the clients will enjoy a brief sightseeing tour of the beautiful city of Kandy including visit the famous TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH popularly known as the “Dalada Maligawa”.
- TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH RELIC – The famous Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the sacred Tooth Relic. Kandy is the most venerated place of worship for Buddhists throughout the world. Built in the 16th century, this temple houses the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha brought to Sri Lanka from the Kalinga province in ancient India in the 4th century AD. Several buildings have been added to the temple complex by successive rulers, the latest being the Golden Canopy over the inner shrine where the Tooth Relic is placed. Originally the Temple was within the King’s palace complex as it was the symbol of Royal Authority.
- Beside the sacred temple of the sacred tooth relic is another distinctive tourism place, the national museum of Kandy. Since the city of Kandy was declared as a heritage site by UNESCO has been visited by travelers from so many countries. The building of the museum was erected by the King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha. While the building was known as ‘Palle vahala’, the complex was used as an accommodation of kings and queens.
- We check-in at Amaya Hills & spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
- Dinner & overnight stay at Earls Regent, Kandy.
DAY 05: KANDY – PILIMATALAWA – PINNAWELA
- Breakfast at the hotel.
- Thereafter leave for Pilimatalawa to visit the 3 temples. (For those who are old, they could visit the closest temples with least walking).
- Transfer time – 40 mins.
- GADALADENIYA TEMPLE – was built by a minister called “Senadi lankara” during the Gampala kingdom in year 1341 – 1408. It is said Indian artists were used for building this temple and most structure was build using stones, The carved stature and the “Makara Thorana” are beautiful creations at this place.
- From Gadaladeniya temple you will do a walk towards Lankathilake temple surpassing local villages and paddy fields. This will take about 2 hours.
- LANKATHILAKA TEMPLE – The majestic Lankathilake Vihare, believed to be one of the most magnificent architectural edifices in the Gampola kingdom, was built at the crest of a large rock named Panhalgala overlooking the Hantane mountain range in the Hiripitiya hamlet in Udunuwara. Vihare has been built using granite with a plaster covering, has three storeys built on natural rock. Elegant architectural design and wall paintings rich in colours of the Kandyan peri od, adorn the inside walls and the ceiling of the main image house. Been having rice field around the temple you also could notice over 600 years old rice storage made out of solid jack wood. A natural way of keeping the insects away & keep rice dry & preserve for longer period.
- EMBEKKE – Built by King Vikramabahu-III of Gampola in the 14th century, the Devale is princi pally dedicated to Skanda or Kataragama Deviyo. It is renowned for its numerous wood carvings of human figures, fabulous animals and floral motifs. Pooja ceremony will take place at 1030 – 1100hrs in homage to God Skanda. Pax could rea ch temple on time & offering will be arranged behalf of pax and blessing will be made by Kapu Mahattaya or the Person who is a layman involved and serve activities / ceremonies in the temple. This is to bring is protection for travelers.
- In Kandy we meet a Kandyan dancing Guru to learn about traditional dancing. Clients will be given an introduction to up country dancing and thereafter teach them the basics into Kandyan dancing. Clients will also learn the basics in traditional drumming known as the ‘BERA’ drums. If clients are interested, they could get the opportunity to dress in traditional dancing costumes for a picture.
- Thereafter we head towards Pinnawela, The most famously known destination for Elephants.
- Transfer time – 01 hour.
- A little more than two hour’s drive into the journey brings us to Pinnawela, noted for its elephant orphanage center. We are invited to the private estate of the Samarasinghe’s, a distinguished family who have shared a passion for elephants over generations, creating a small private museum and a sustainability project manufacturing a variety of paper made from elephant dung. Within their private estate are 5 resident elephants which we can ride and accompany down to the river, observing daily bathing routines.
- Mrs. Carmani Samarasinghe hosts a delicious lunch of old family recipes in their mansion.
- Return back to Kandy.
- Spend the rest of the evening at leisure / free time for shopping.
- Dinner & overnight stay at Earls Regent, Kandy.
DAY 06: KANDY – DAMBULLA
- Morning hours will be spent at leisure / free time for shopping / open for you to explore Kandy on a brief panoramic tour of the city via the upper lake drive, stopping at the market square featuring the famous Batik and Gem stores including a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens.
- ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS – Believed to be one of the most beautiful gardens in South Asia and begun as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala King. Every variety tropical and temperate tree and flower is cultivated here and special houses with orchids and e cacti are too beautiful to be true. Special features are the Orchid House which displays a fine collection of over 300 varieties of Sri Lankan orchids, the fernery, spice garden, and the trees planted by distinguished visitors to the Island.
- The Royal Botanical Gardens, formerly the pleasure gardens of Kandyan kings is very impressive as is the 18 hole Victoria golf course, voted the most attractive in the subcontinent and amongst the hundred most beautiful anywhere. A round of golf can be arranged on this splendid undulating terrain, over which the holes are routed, combined with the backdrop of hills and lakes.
- Thereafter we depart for the Cultural triangle, en route stopping by in Matale, in where we take a tour in the Ranweli spice garden with expert guides, get to know the importance of spices & herbs used for cooking & indigenous medicines.
- Transfer Time – 3 hours.
- Visit a spice garden in Matale, to see many different types of spices Sri Lanka i s famous for. Matale spice gardens are among the best on the island. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of these spices are grown and processed. A processing and training unit has been set up in the area and farmers are grouped in a cooperative to ensure fair prices and you will also be able to purchase spices.
- Today’s lunch , will be served in the rice field – typical Farmers lunch known in the Singhalese language “ Kamatha lunch “at the spice garden.
- Kamatha: “Kamatha” is the traditional threshing floor of the Sri Lankan rice farmer. After the harvest, a flat area is cleared and beaten into a hard surface on which the harvest is placed for treading by a team of domestic buffalo. This location is recreated by us in a rice field for your group on exclusive basis and after the visit to identify Sri Lankan spices growing in a natural environment; a typically traditional “village” meal is served from large clay pots to the guests who sit on and around the “Kamatha”.
- Thereafter we drive to Dambulla. Along the way, visit World Heritage Dambulla, Known for its richly painted cave temples.
- Like Sigiriya, Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass and it was here that king Valagam Bahu took refuge from invasions in the 1st century B.C., later turning the caves into a rock temple. Some of its frescoes are over 2000 years old. Another highlight is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 15 meters long. The caves have a mixture of religious and secular paintings and sculptures with ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history.
- Thereafter we continue your journey towards Dambulla & check-in at Amaya Lake and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
- Dinner & overnight stay at Amaya Lake, Dambulla – Superior room.
DAY 07: SIGIRIYA – POLONNARUWA
- The Amaya estate gardens are a bird’s paradise. Morning or evening walks along with a naturalist is when you see an abundance of species such as the Golden Oriole, White Egret, Emerald Alexandrine Parrot, Blue Flycatcher, Scarlett Flame Back, Stork billed Kingfishers and Blue Indian Roller.
- Soon after breakfast we climb the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, one of the seven world heritage sites of the Island.
- Transfer Time – 15 mins.
- World Heritage giant rock fortress of Sigiriya, built in the 5th century as a bastion and palace of king Kasyapa. The most impressive facets of the unique complex are the geometrically laid water gardens, the frescoes of beautiful maidens, and the mirror wall with ancient graffiti. The lion platform and the summit of 1.6 hectares, was surrounded by buildings during the period of Sigiriya glory.
- Thereafter we take a pleasant drive through a forest reserve to the medieval city of Polonnaruwa,
- Transfer Time – 1 ½ hours.
- En-route an Exclusive lunch will be arranged by the side of a paddy field where you will be given a cooking demonstration of a typical local lunch which includes Rice with 05 / 06 authentic curries, papadam, fried lake fish and a green salad.
- A UNESCO World Heritage site, which rose to fame as a capital between the 10th to 12th century AD. A resemblance of Angkor Wat, the royal palace and audience hall, the quadrangle and spectacular gal vihare complex give clear evidence of Sri Lanka’s past glory.
- Return back to hotel after sightseeing.
- This evening we embark on a village Cycle tour, we explore the lush green paddy fields, we engage with local farmers in the rice fields, we visit few “ Slash & Burn “ cultivations. It is unique way to experience the rural village life in Sri Lanka. Going through paddy fields and traditional vegetable farming fields to a rural village house to enjoy cup of tea with local sweets in a village house.
- To make the visit memorable and we will plant few trees as service to the community.
- The cycle tour can be of 5 KM on flat terrain (Village gravel road) , if some members cannot cycle , then we can use the bus for half the distance & walk the rest of the journey. Another option would be to have two sequences of the tour, one for cycling & another for walking.
- On our way back, we stop at a local temple and meet a local monk who explains us about Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and also at a local village in where you will get the opportunity to have an interaction with the local villagers to have an insight on their local lifestyle.
- Spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
- Prior to dinner, we may wish to spend some time with the chef on the application of Sri Lanka’s various spices into its cuisine.
- Dinner & overnight stay at Amaya Lake, Dambulla – Superior room.
DAY 08 : ANURADHAPURA
- This morning after a leisurely breakfast we leave the hotel on our scheduled sightseeing for the day.
- Transfer Time – 1 hour & 30 minutes.
- Thereafter we continue to a small village – ANGAMPURA famous for its Martial arts. Here we will arrange an exclusive Martial arts performance by Master Sumedha and his students. (This is not an activity for the tourist on day to day basis).
- You will visit the ancient rural village & meet with Master Sumedha. Master profess an ancient form of martial arts known locally as “Angam” which was a dying form of arts & the master took the responsibility to keep the spirit alive by dedicating his life to protect & foster the ” Angam Techniques ” for future generations.
- After the martial arts demonstration we will arrange another meeting with Master Sumedha, “He is not a Kung Fu or Karate master, but he is our own ‘gladiator’, who has revived the great indigenous martial art – Angam is not only a martial art, but also a philosophy which produces a disciplined, healthy and self-confident man or woman.
- By 1000hrs, we proceed to a rural temple for Alms giving ceremony for the Monks. (Arranged exclusively for you). We visit the Monastery where an Alms Giving Ceremony will be arranged for about 05 to 07 novice monks (Samanera). This will include the distribution of “Atapirikara” (essential items for the use of the resident monks by the guest of the group.).
- Thereafter we head towards Anuradhapura.
- Transfer time – 1 ½ hours.
- Lunch will be served at local restaurant en-route in Anuradhapura.
- Followed by lunch we leave for sightseeing at Anuradhapura, which is the 01st capital of ancient Sri Lanka.
- ANURADHAPURA – a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the north central part of the Island was the first capital (5th century BC – 9th century AD), the centre of the island’s Buddhist civilization and undoubtedly the grandest city of ancient Sri Lanka. In antiquity and the interest, it is the equal of any ancient ‘buried city’ in the world. The oldest historically documented tree on earth (over 2,200 years old) – The Sri Maha Bodhi, brought as a sapling of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, and the island’s oldest Buddhist shrines – some dating back to the 3rd century BC, impressive white ‘dagabas’ (relic chambers) and monuments embellished with handsome stone carvings or sculpture, pleasure gardens, beautifully executed stone baths and ponds and a superb irrigation system of reservoirs and canals are the main attractions of Anuradhapura.
- Return back to hotel after sightseeing and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.
- Transfer Time – 1 hour.
- Dinner & overnight stay at Amaya Lake, Dambulla – Superior room – or similar.
DAY 09: HIRIWADUNNA – NEGOMBO
- Breakfast at the hotel
- This morning approx.0700hrs we will visit a rural village & witness the awakening of the village. Children going to school, Farmers heading to their fields, locals on the lakes bathing & washing their clothes etc.
- It is 5 Km trek and part of the trip is done by bullock carts & country boats. (Life jackets provided). Total walking is approx. 3 Km’s.
- Transfer Time – 10 minutes
- TREK THROUGH THE HIRIWADUNNA VILLAGE.
- HIRIWADUNNA is just 02 Km (05 minutes – drive from Habarana, The trek through the archetypal Sri Lankan Typical village. The trek begins with an awesome walk along a bund of a Wewa or manmade reservoir. The reservoir itself, the surrounding scrub jungle, marshland and village are a hive of early morning or an evening activity. The amazing birdlife, butterflies and possible sightings of crocodile only add to the charm of seeing the villagers as they go about their early morning tasks of fishing, or washing clothes at the periphery of the lake.
- Bullock Cart Ride
- BULLOCK CART (DOUBLE OX CART) which will transport through the next phase of the adventure. The journey continues through dense shrub forests, Paddy lands and other home to many forest birds and other wildlife including monkeys, bear, wild hares, python, Mongose, and even elephants. Sightseeing of the rural village life possible while on the cart ride. Lie back and enjoy the flashes of blue sky through the cover of the trees as the carter expertly guides his animals.
- CATAMARAN SAFARI WITH BONUS ‘CHENA VISIT’
- Catamaran Safari – (Double paired canoe joined together with seating facility) at the scenic lake & Wade through a shallow stream and the sense of adventure heightens when you need to get a Chena Cultivation via a somewhat wider tributary which needs to be crossed o n a Catamaran!! At the Chena cultivation you will stop to enjoy the farmer’s humble hospitality. Perhaps enjoy a drink of sweet King Coconut/Aromatic ginger tea or some other seasonal fruits. Chance of experiencing bird watching while on the Catamaran such like Peacocks, green pigeons, comorans, green bitters, variety of King fishers, Eagles and many more birds also land monitors even water monitors as well.
- Return back to hotel for lunch.
- Thereafter we check-out from the hotel approximately at 1400hrs and proceed towards Negombo with few comfort stops en-route.
- Transfer Time – 3 ½ hours.
- Dinner will be served at Jetwing Blue, Negombo
- Thereafter you will be transferred to the Airport in time for your departure flight.
- Wash and change rooms could be arranged at Jetwing blue (04 guests could share 01 room).
*Note: All flight details and timings are subject to change.