Wonders of Sri Lanka

Tour Highlights

Known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, the lush, tropical island nation of Sri Lanka is a land of amazing diversity and fascinating attractions, including 8 incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites.  
It is a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes; vibrant mountains and valleys, emerald lagoons, turquoise seas and pristine white sand beaches. Beyond its obvious natural beauty, Sri Lanka offers some of the world’s most exciting wildlife, national parks, unique gardens, ancient cites, sacred temples and centuries old forts.

Our tour will feature the major highlights this compact island country has to offer, including; the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the rock fortress of Sigiriya, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the old town of Galle with its impressive fortifications, the sacred city Kandy and the national wildlife parks of Minneriya and Yala.  We will experience the extraordinary flora of the country with visits to a Spice Garden, Tea Plantation and Botanical Gardens.  There will be opportunities to explore the museums, art galleries and colour festivals, as well as relax at the tropical resorts and beaches the island is famous for.  Best of all we will meet the smiling, hospitable people of Sri Lanka and return with a lifetime of fond memories.

This tour is suitable only for the fit and active traveller.

Tentative Itinerary

We depart for Sri Lanka via Dubai.
We arrive in Colombo and transfer to our hotel in Negombo.
Our tour of Negombo will begin with the Fish Market - the bounty supplied by local fishermen who take their oruvas (outrigger canoes) out in the early mornings in search of fish. The catch is primarily from the nearby lagoon, renowned for its lobsters, crabs and prawns. We then visit the ruins of the Dutch Fort with its lovely gateway. Afternoon at leisure.
We depart for Dambulla to see the incredible World Heritage Cave Temple - a Buddhist complex established in the 3rd century B.C. and occupied continuously to this day. The remains of 80 rock residences have been identified, and transformations over the centuries include extensions into the sheltering rock, construction of brick walls to screen the caves, and sculptures on the upper terrace echoing the rock carving that preceded it. It is an extraordinary and unique complex with many rock paintings and over 150 statues of various sizes.
Today we visit the equally unique rock fortress of Sigiriya, another World Heritage site and one of Sri Lanka’s major attractions. The most impressive features of this unique complex are the Water Gardens, the Frescoes of beautiful maidens, the Mirror Wall with ancient graffiti, the Lion platform and the summit reaching 1.6 hectares.
We travel to Minneriya National Park, home to a vast reservoir built in the 3rd century. The elephants here form enormous herds and gather at the tank to graze in the lush grass, and drink and play in the water. We then visit the medieval city of Polonnaruwa, knowns for its lagoons in which monuments are well preserved (providing clear evidence of the glory of Sri Lanka's past). We see the Royal Palace, the Quadrangle and the spectacular Gal Vihare complex of four massive images of the Buddha cut from a single slab of granite – a highlight of ancient Sri Lankan rock carving. We then continue to the coastal resort town of Pasikuda for a 2-night stay.
A day at leisure to relax at one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful white sand beaches.
We depart for Kandy, stopping en route to visit a spice garden along the ancient spice route where we can see the trees and shrubs of original herbs such as pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and turmeric. This evening we attend a cultural dance performance and visit the golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth that houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic (a tooth of Buddha!)
Our sightseeing today begins with the Royal Botanic Garden in Peradeniya, one of the finest botanical gardens in Asia. Although the origins of the park date back to the fourteenth century, its official founding was by the English in 1843. Today it is known for its impressive collection of orchids, a majestic avenue of palm trees and an arboretum planted by visiting celebrities. En route to Nuwara Eliya we pass beautiful scenery of tea fields and visit a planation. Sri Lanka has become the world's third largest tea exporter to the world and the local Ceylon variety is renowned for its signature taste and aroma.
We depart for Yala at the southeast end of the Island, on the way visiting the Hindu Temple Seetha Amman and Ravana Falls. Upon arrival at Yala National Park we embark on a jeep safari to look for elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile and wild boar. The park is characterized by open terrain with salt and fresh water lagoons. It has received much recognition recently for its leopard research, conservation and identification project.
A scenic drive today as we travel along the coast to Galle. Keep an eye out for “stilt fishing” - a local technique where fishermen sit perched far from shore atop crude crucifixes of sticks and twine, dangling rods into schools of fish. In Galle we visit the famous fort, first built in 1588 by the Portuguese and extensively fortified by the Dutch from the 17th century onwards. An architectural treasure, much of the fort was laid out on a grid pattern and adapted to the configuration of the terrain. We then continue to our tropical resort on the golden coast of Beruwala, our home for the next 3 nights.
A day at leisure to enjoy the hotel’s lovely pool, tropical gardens and full service spa.
We first visit a Turtle Hatchery where we will learn about the local conservation efforts. Our visit will be followed by a boat ride along the Madu River - a wetland estuary and protected World Heritage Site. We will journey past massive mangrove forests and see how cinnamon is cultivated. Keep a lookout for unique species of fish and birds.
A day at leisure until our late check-out from the hotel. This evening we transfer to the airport for our flight home via Dubai.
Arrival home with fond memories of Sri Lanka.

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