CLASSIC SRI LANKA - FEATURING TRINCOMALEE
AIRPORT – HABARANA -TRINCOMALEE – KANDY – NUWARA ELIYA – YALA – GALLE- AIRPORT
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Local Village Tour
Minneriya National Park
Dambulla Cave Temple
Matale Spice Garden
Temple of Tooth Relic
2 Yala National Park
Galle Fort Tour
AIRPORT/ HABARANA – CINNAMON LODGE
Upon arrival in Colombo, you will be met by your guide & transferred to the region known as the Cultural Triangle, home to five of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Stretching from Anuradhapura at its northern point, to Polonnarawa in the east and Kandy in the south, Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle covers approximately one thousand square miles, with the Sigiriya rock fortress and the cave temple of Dambulla sitting at its arid heart.
In addition, there are literally scores of other temples, ruins and dagobas which, despite not holding the much revered UNESCO status, are still very much worth a visit.
Check in to the hotel for overnight stay.
HABARANA/SIGIRIYA/HABRANA – CINNAMON LODGE
After breakfast you will proceed to Sigiriya, the 1.5 thousand years old rock fortress built by one King Kasyapa, as his heavily fortified pleasure palace.
There are many legends surrounding King Kasyapa, many of which explain why he needed such a hard-to-access palace; the main story describes King Dhatusena, whose two sons were Kasyapa, the elder, born of a commoner, and Mogallana, the younger, whose mother was of royal blood. Mogallana was of course favoured by his father to take over the throne, but Kasyapa seized the kingdom by force, whereupon his little brother fled to India. Kasyapa believed his father possessed hidden treasure and demanded this from his royal dad, who refused, only - legend has it - to be cemented alive into the wall of the Kalawewa Reservoir by his angry son.
In response, Mogallana rallied an army in India and returned to the island, but when Kasyapa went forward to meet his brother in battle, the elephant he was riding sensed a hidden swamp and turned away. His troops saw this and, thinking the king was turning back, fled the battlefield. Kasyapa realised he was defeated and slit his own throat, rather than fall captive to his (presumably vengeful) brother.
Despite the misgivings you may now be having about Kasyapa's ethics, the view from the summit of his rock fortress is undeniably spectacular. Enjoy it while your guide regales you with details of the many legends surrounding King Kasyapa and his fortress in the sky.
In the late morning you will have the chance to experience traditional, rural life, away from the ruins. You will have the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with typical village life, meeting farmers and their families. Start with a bullock cart ride, passing through lush green paddy fields as far as a small village where you will be served tea with ‘jaggery’ – an ingredient used in many sweet dishes throughout the region.
You will learn about the various seasonal crops being harvested and how the local farmers protect their land from wild animals. There will be an opportunity to enjoy a short catamaran ride at a nearby lake, before joining a village family for a traditional farmer’s lunch, made using authentic Sri Lankan cooking methods.
Return to your hotel where the remainder of your day is at leisure.
HABARAMA/MINNERIYA/POLONNARUWA/PASSEKUDAH – MAALU MAALU
After an early breakfast, check-out of your hotel and make an early morning visit to Minneriya National Park, famous for its annual elephant gathering, for a safari drive with one of the park rangers. The park is home to 24 species of mammal, including sambar & spotted deer, the admittedly very elusive leopard, sloth bear & toque monkey. The star of the show is the elephant, with approximately 200 living in the park. Wardens from Minneriya - & neighbouring Kaudulla & Wasgomuwa National Parks - monitor the elephants' whereabouts on a constant basis, ensuring a high chance of spotting them during your safari, albeit you may find yourself being driven between parks when the elephants are located!
Other inhabitants of the park with a high chance of being spotted include water monitors & the Sri Lankan swamp crocodile. There have been approximately 160 species of bird recorded in the park, including endemics such as the Sri Lanka jungle fowl, hanging parrot & brown-capped babbler.
Continue on to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, a World Heritage site built over one thousand years ago alongside the spectacular, carefully-engineered reservoirs that provide the region's water to this day. Sightseeing in Polonnaruwa will include the statue of the great Sinhalese King Parakramabahu, who built the reservoirs, and the city's ancient ruins, including the fascinating area known as the Quadrangle, densely packed with ancient monuments and ruins like Thuparama Image House, the Gal Vihara, the fine detailed granite sculptures of the Lord Buddha, the Lankathilaka, and the 12th century Lotus bath, just to name a few.
Depart Polonnaruwa and head further east to Passekudah and your beach resort, arriving in the late afternoon.
PASSEKUDAH/ TRINCOMALEE/ PASSEKUDAH – MAALU MAALU
With a packed breakfast leave for your Whale & Dolphin watching in the morning.
Rest of the day is free to enjoy.
Return to the hotel in the evening for overnight stay.
PASSEKUDAH – MAALU MAALU
Your day is at leisure.
PASSEKUDAH – MAALU MAALU
Your day is at leisure.
PASSEKUDAH/ DAMBULLA/ KANDY – THEVA
Morning departure for the sacred city of Kandy, stopping en route to visit the 1st century BC Dambulla Rock Cave Temple. Legend tells us that, during an invasion from South India, the Sinhalese king took refuge in these caves & through meditation gained the strength to drive the invaders away. Having declared the caves as a sacred area, he built the first cave temple, with the others added by the rulers who followed him. Today, the caves are an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from around the world.
Also stop at a Spice and Herbal Garden. Sri Lanka is world renowned for its valued spices and healing herbs such as Sandalwood, Citronella and Jasmine. When visiting the garden, you will also learn first-hand how the likes of nutmeg, cinnamon and saffron are grown in their natural surroundings. (Please note that despite the sometimes pushy nature of the sales staff here, there is certainly no obligation to make a purchase, unless of course you wish to).
Continue to Kandy, arriving in the afternoon. This ancient sacred city was capital of Sri Lanka from 1592 until the rule of the British in the 19th Century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Kandy is best known for its Temple of the Tooth Relic, and as host to the most important festival in Sri Lanka's calendar; the Esala Perahera. It's an extremely picturesque city with steep, green valley-side running away from it in all directions, making your first descent into the city a very special moment indeed.
KANDY – THEVA RESIDENCY
Today is spent exploring Kandy’s highlights. Your guide will be happy to personalise your programme, however there are some sites we suggest you don’t miss.
The must-see highlight is, unquestionably, the Temple of the Tooth. Situated inside Kandy's Royal Palace, the temple houses the tooth of the Buddha and attracts an endless stream of pilgrims. It’s best to visit in the afternoon for fewe r crowds.
In the morning take a walk through Kandy’s bustling market where fruit sellers sit beside butchers, intermingling with craft stalls. A visit here offers an insight into local life. After the chaotic buzz of the market, escape to the tranquillity of the delightful Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Modelled on Britain's Kew Gardens, all the plants and trees are marked with their botanical names, and in many cases the name of the famous visitor or dignitary that planted it. The gardens house the largest variety of orchids found in Sri Lanka.
If it’s culture you crave then the ancient temples of Gadaladeniya, Lankathilaka & Ambekke are found in a picturesque setting just outside Kandy. Built in the 14th century they are known for their intricate carvings.
As the sun sets we suggest heading to the 88 foot tall Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue that looms protectively over the city. It takes about 20-minutes to reach the statue from the hill base, but worth the effort for the panoramic views over Kandy. For even better views, climb the staircase at the Buddha’s back. Soak up the views before returning to your hotel.
KANDY/ NUWARA ELIYA – TEA FACTORY HOTEL
Morning transfer to Kandy’s train station for a scenic train ride through the tea country that surrounds the city. From the comfort of your carriage, you will pass through mile after mile of some of the world's finest tea, being picked by the colourfully dressed expert Tamil tea pickers. The region is dotted with numerous waterfalls & deep, picturesque valleys.
Nuwara Eliya itself, rather ambitiously known as ‘Little England’, by some people, makes for a pleasant day or two, especially if your stay coincides with a race day. The town does have a lot of Colonial character, with a village post office, an English church & the St Andrew’s golf club, along with the race course.
Upon arrival you will be met by your guide for a tour of Nuwara Eliya and a nearby tea factory, learning about the history and modern-day production methods of this region's most valuable commodity.
NUWARA ELIYA – TEA FACTORY HOTEL
Your day is at leisure
NUWARA ELIYA / YALA – CINNAMON WILD
Morning departure south, leaving the rich hill-soils of the tea country and descending to the more arid lands of the south east and, in particular, Yala National Park.
Passing through Tissamaharama and on to the visitor centre at Palatupana, where you will meet the local team who will accompany you during your time in the park. You will also be assigned a tracker, and a far more suitable soft-top jeep, which affords the best outlook for viewing wildlife.
Yala National Park covers an area of around 129,700 hectares, with 14,000 hectares open to visitors. The park's two main sections are Yala West (also called Ruhuna) and Yala East. Yala West, or Ruhuna National Park, is considered to have the world’s highest density of leopards, with a approximately 35 leopards believed to reside within the park's boundaries. Other animals that can be seen in the park are elephants, sloth bear, spotted deer, barking deer, mouse deer, toque monkey, mongoose and crocodiles. Bird lovers will favour Yala East, with its huge array of bird life - over 130 recorded avian species, including the Crested Serpent Eagle and White Bellied Sea Eagle. There are significant numbers of water birds, too, like the Lesser Flamingo and rare Black Necked Stork. During the north-east monsoon, the park’s lagoons are visited by vast numbers of migrating waterfowl.
Join your guide & tracker for a dusk drive through the park; dawn & dusk are the most popular times for dozing leopards to leave their rocky outcrops & hunt.
Return to main gates as darkness falls and make the short journey to your nearby lodge to share stories of the day's viewings.
YALA/ GALLE – FORT PRINTERS
Rising early, join your guide and tracker once again for a dawn drive through the park spotting for wildlife. For many, the morning is the most exhilarating time, watching and listening a s the park's inhabitants noisily greet the new day.
Having returned to your lodge for breakfast, depart for Galle, driving the picturesque route along the south coast. En route stop at Weligama Bay, famous for its ‘stilt fisherman’ with their unique manner of fishing whilst perched on stilts.
Arrive in Galle in the early afternoon and having checked in at your hotel, the remainder of your day is at leisure.
Another of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Galle is a charming fortified Colonial town, with its history of Portuguese, French & British occupation showing through in the architecture and wonderful interiors found throughout Old Galle. New Galle, outside the walls, is more reminiscent of a miniature Delhi or Mumbai, but is still worth a poke around, for its markets if nothing else. Our favourite recommendation for Old Galle is astroll around its ramparts, which extend nearly all the way round the town, and offer fantastic views into the streets, out across the ocean, & of the town's cricket ground. You'll find the same recommendation in all the guidebooks, but don't let that put you off - it really is special, particularly if you get chatting to the locals who're usually up there with you.
GALLE – FORT PRINTERS
Enjoy a morning tour of the historical city, visiting a few key highlights and exploring the famous Galle Fort & walking its impressive ramparts.
The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Your day is at leisure until your transfer to Colombo Airport for your onward flight
From £1725 per person sharing, subject to change & availability
Welcome and assistance on arrival in Sri Lanka by a representative.
Transport in air-conditioned car, as mentioned above.
Accommodation for 11 nights on BB basis at all hotels.
Entrance fees to sites as mentioned in the itinerary.
Taxes applicable locally.
Mineral Water at disposal
Airfare & Visa.
Tea / coffee, soft drinks, alcohol or any other beverages
Tips and gratuities
Video / photo permits at the sites visited
Laundry, telephone or any other services obtained from the hotels
Expenses of a personal nature
Services other than those specified.