Explore Sri Lanka on this classic itinerary. Starting in Colombo, you will take in the city's key sites and then travel to the rock fortress of Sigiriya and the Dambulla cave temple with a stop at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage en route. Travel to Kandy and enjoy a visit to a historic Buddhist temple and then watch a fascinating cultural show. Spend some time in the hill country scenery of Nuwara Eliya and then head to the coast and relax on the beaches of Hikkaduwa with a day trip to see the Dutch fortress in Galle before heading back to Colombo to end your tour.
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The above is simply a list of highlights and does not represent all of what you will (and can) see on this trip.
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Upon arrival in Colombo, you will be met by your local guide in the arrivals area holding a name-board. After a warm welcome & brief introduction, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
Today explore the city by wandering through the sprawling collection of ancient artifacts and colonial-era relics at the must-see National Museum, beautiful Buddhist & Hindu temples, the historic Wolfendhal church, Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, the New Parliament in Sri Jayewardenepura, the Folk Art Centre, Art Galleries, Parks, Independence Square, and more.
After breakfast, drive through lush green countryside, a mix of coconut palms, paddy fields and banana plantations to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Established in 1975, this orphanage is now home to about 60 elephants, many of whom are baby elephants that were found orphaned in the wild. They are cared for, fed and trained by wildlife authorities.
The best time to visit is during the feeding times, when you can see baby elephants being bottle-fed. Then accompany the elephants as they venture to a nearby river for their daily bath. This is a delightful sight, and provides insight into the close bond between humans and elephants in Sri Lanka.
Afterwards, we drive to Sigiriya and check-in to the hotel. The remainder of the day is free at leisure.
Depart for the rock fortress of Sigiriya, the impressive 5th century UNESCO World Heritage Site that rises 600 feet from the plains overlooking the surrounding countryside giving far-reaching views. Used as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top is up a series of steep steps and gangways. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, we ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are remains of the King's Summer Palace from where there are breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
After lunch, take a short drive to Dambulla for a tour of the magnificent Cave Temple, one of the most impressive sites in Sri Lanka. The caves walls are alive with frescoes of religious and secular scenes and beautiful geometric designs in warm oranges and golds. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a perfect location to view evolution of ancient Sri Lankan art and is an important historical site due to the amalgamation of the material from many eras.
Travel into the hills to the picturesque town of Kandy. On the way we stop at a spice garden near Matale where you can see various spices and herbs growing and there is a chance to stock up on massage oils, spices and Ayurvedic medicines. Kandy was the last royal capital and it is one of the most charming towns in Sri Lanka, famous for its gorgeous setting beside a lake, cradled by hills and surrounded by the sinuous lines of tea plantations. It is home to the gold-roofed Temple of the Tooth, with its guardian elephants, a deeply significant Buddhist site that contains a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre and draws thousands of pilgrims from across the world. Nearby in Peradeniya, beside the Mahaweli Ganga, are the Perdeniya Botanical Gardens where the British pioneered the growing of exotic plants such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona (quinine). The gardens stretch over 60 hectares and feature an arboretum, orchid house and huge colonies of flying foxes.
After your arrival in Kandy, visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic. The Tooth of Buddha was taken from the funeral pyre in 543 BC and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD.
Thereafter enjoy the Kandyan Cultural show at the Kandyan Arts & Cultural Centre. The show features the graceful and rhythmic dancers and drummers culminating in an impressive fire walking display.
Visit the famous Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya and view a rare collection of tropical exotic and indigenous flora including the famous Orchid House. Here exotic crops such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona (quinine) – all of which later became important to Sri Lanka’s economy – were tested. Sights include a palm avenue planted by the British in 1905. Another British import was the enormous spreading Java fig, which sprawls across the lawn, grown from a sapling brought from East Indies.
Afterwards, you will head towards Nuwara Eliya via the Ramboda Falls, visiting a tea factory en route for a cup of chai and to gain insight into the production of tea.
Located at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) in the heart of Tea Country, Nuwara Eliya is a picturesque town which boasts a temperate climate all year round. It was known as ‘Little England’ as the colonials used to retreat here for their quintessentially British pastimes such as hunting, polo, golf and cricket. Many landmark buildings still retain touches of this era, including their colonial style architecture and furniture, as well as immaculately kept lawns and hedges.
After breakfast, you will be driven to Hikkaduwa, a seaside resort town in southwestern Sri Lanka. It’s known for its strong surf and beaches, including palm-dotted Hikkaduwa Beach, lined with restaurants and bars. The shallow waters opposite Hikkaduwa Beach shelter the Hikkaduwa National Park, which is a coral sanctuary and home to marine turtles and exotic fish. The rest of the day is free at your leisure.
After breakfast, we set off today and drive along the southern shores of Sri Lanka to Galle to visit the 17th century Dutch Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a Turtle Hatchery. Galle city on the southern coast is a must-see for colonial architecture buffs. Its main attraction is a 17th-century Dutch fort, one of the most extensive monuments left by European colonialists. Although many of the structures that made up the fort are in serious decay, the outer walls are completely intact. If you walk along the top of the walls at dusk, you'll see dozens of cricket games, an old lighthouse, beautiful views of the town's harbor and hundreds of Sri Lankans out socializing. Within the fort, visit any of several old churches (including a Dutch church dating from the mid-18th century) or simply stroll the narrow streets to get a good look at the old buildings.
Meet at the hotel at the appointed time and transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Day 3: Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
Gain insight into local traditions .
This itinerary has been tried & tested and can be booked as-is. However, should you wish to customize your tour, you may contact us here.
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