Sri Lanka, Temples & Tea
During this South Asian adventure we explore Sri Lanka's many glorious attractions, from its charming coastal cities to its mountain temple retreats, and from its ancient royal palaces to its magnificent Buddhist monuments.
Enjoying a sublime climate in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is a beautiful, tranquil island for a relaxing holiday that will entrance you with its verdant vistas and dazzling beaches. Home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites the island is rich in history and enjoys an increasing number of visitors to its picturesque settings. On the train from Colombo to Kandy you will experience some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. The great restaurants and diverse shopping coupled with the warmth and beauty of both the people and the country will ensure that the memories of your visit there will stay with you for many years. This is one of the most well designed tours available to this extraordinary country. Don't miss it.
Highlights and Inclusions
- The services of a professional UK Tour Manager from start to finish
- Sri Lankan Airlines Scheduled return flights from London to Colombo
- 4 scenic rail journeys
- 12 nights' hotel accommodation, including stays in two heritage hotels, with breakfast every day
- 1 lunch at a riverside restaurant
- 11 dinners, including a seafront farewell meal
- Sightseeing tour of Colombo including a visit to the Colombo Museum
- Excursion to the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela
- Excursion to Polonnaruwa
- Visits to the Lion's Rock Fortress and Dambulla Cave Temple
- Guided tours of Kandy and Galle
- Visit to Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens and trip to Nanu Oya tea plantation
- Morning and afternoon game drives in Yala National Park
Days 1 & 2 - London to Colombo
We depart from London Heathrow on our overnight flight to Colombo. Arriving on Day 2, we transfer to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, which enjoys a great location overlooking the ocean. The rest of your day is free for you to settle in. (Day 1 - L, Day 2 - D)
Day 3 - Colombo Sightseeing
We take a sightseeing tour of Colombo, Sri Lanka's largest city and its capital, this morning. Here the old blends effortlessly with the new; there are beautiful temples and open green spaces amongst the grand Colonial architecture and towering skyscrapers. We visit the city's main sights, including the fascinating Colombo Museum, housed in a magnificent building. This afternoon we travel by rail to Kandy, in central Sri Lanka. Our journey on the Rajadhani Express takes us through some truly beautiful landscapes, including dense woodlands and valleys of lush green vegetation, as we climb into the hills. We spend tonight at the Cinnamon Citadel Hotel in Kandy. (B, D)
Day 4 - Pinnawela
This morning we travel to the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela, a remarkable project that protects the island's abandoned or orphaned elephants. We watch as the elephants splash and play in the river. Later we enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Pinnawela village, before lunch in a local riverside restaurant. In the afternoon we drive to Dambulla, and spend two nights at the Paradise Resort. (B, L,D)
Day 5 - Polonnaruwa & Lion's Rock Fortress
Today we visit Polonnaruwa, whose ancient centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here we explore the incredible rock shrines, mighty monuments and vast, done-shaped stupas that line the streets. In the afternoon we continue to Sigiriya. This striking "Lion's Rock" fortress stands majestically overlooking the jungle surroundings, and is one of Sri Lanka's most awe-inspiring sights. A steep climb to the top takes you past well-preserved frescoes, and is rewarded with stunning views. For the less energetic, at the lower levels you can discover the ruins of the Royal Palace, and the elegant gardens. (B, D)
Day 6 - Dambulla Cave Temples & Kandy
We begin today with a visit to Dambulla Cave Temple, a magnificent series of five cave temples dating back to the 1st century BC - and all concealed by a vast overhanging rock. Each cave is brimming with detailed frescoes and beautiful carvings, and the largest features 150 statues of Buddha. Later we leave Dambulla and drive to Kandy. Nestled among a series of hills, Kandy was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings during the Colonial era, and is celebrated as the country's centre of culture. On arrival we enjoy a guided tour of the city - a UNESCO World Heritage site - admiring the former palace and associated royal buildings dotted around the lake. We also see the magnificent Temple of the Sacred Tooth, one of the world's most important Buddhist sites. The rest of the day is free for you to continue exploring the winding streets of this enthralling city, or perhaps take a stroll along the lake shore. We spend tonight at the Cinnamon Citadel Hotel. (B, D)
Day 7 - Peradeniya, Nanu Oya & The Tea Plantation
Our first excursion today takes us to the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens. Perviously reserved exclusively for royalty, these beautiful gardens are Sri Lanka's largest and most impressive. Later we travel by rail to Nanu Oya, on a route widely regarded as one of the world's most scenic railway journeys. From the observation car, we admire the splendid panoramas as the train passes through plains of paddy fields lined with palm trees. Continuing to climb into the mountains, the train navigates a series of slopes, before crossing the stunning Mahaweli Valley. We then reach Nanu Oya, where we enjoy a guided tour of a tea plantation. Later we transfer to Nuwara Eliya, known locally as "Little England" - set against a backdrop of soaring mountains, verdant valleys and mighty waterfalls. We spend a night at the iconic Grand Hotel - a landmark of the town, in an Elizabethan-style mansion with beautiful gardens. (B, D)
Day 8 - To Yala
Leaving Nuwara Eliya, we travel by rail from Nanu Oya to Ella. Travelling in the observation car, we admire the enchanting views of the tea plants lining the hillsides, as well as the cascading waterfalls, before the line plateaus on a forested plain. Arriving in Ella, we continue by coach to Yala. We pass the Ella Gap, a dramatic landscape where the mountains tumble 3,000ft to the eastern plains. We stay for two nights in Yala at the Mandara Rosen Hotel. (B, D)
Days 9 & 10 - Yala National Park & Galle
Early this morning we transfer to Yala National Park, the largest park in Sri Lanka with a wonderfully diverse landscape including monsoon forests, dusty plains and marine wetlands. Here we take a game drive, pursuing elephants, leopards and wild boar among many other rare species, including a number of reptiles and even aquatic birds. To increase our chances of spotting the animals, we take a second game drive this afternoon. On Day 10 we drive to Ahungalla, an idyllic coastal town, for three nights at the Heritance Ahungalla Hotel. (Day 9 - B, D, Day 10 - B, D)
Days 11 & 12 - Galle & Whale Watching
This morning we visit Galle. Boasting an idyllic natural harbour, a labyrinth of quaint narrow streets and a delightfully preserved, UNESCO protected fortress area, Galle has much to recommend it. We explore its main attractions on a guided tour, including the whitewashed houses and grand religious buildings jutting out on the peninsula. Day 12 is free to relax in Ahungalla, which is famed for its white sandy beaches. Alternatively, you may wish to join the optional whalewatching trip from Mirissa Harbour. This stretch of coastline offers the highest concentration of Blue Whales in the world, and is also a great place to track the Sperm Whale. (Day 11 - B, Day 12 - B, D)
Days 13 & 14 - Return to Colombo & London
Taking the Rajdhani Express, we travel north by rail on a magnificent route that hugs Sri Lanka's western shore, with sweeping views of the glittering ocean at every turn. We reach Colombo in the afternoon, and check in for a final night at the colonial Mount Lavinia Hotel, where we enjoy a farewell meal overlooking the sea. On Day 14 we transfer to the airport for our flight back to London Heathrow. (Day 13 - B, D, Day 14 - B)
Train and Hotel Accommodations
Heritance Hotel, Ahungalla
A beach resort in Ahungalla, the Heritance Hotel is situated on the coast of the Laccadive Sea, to the south of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. The hotel boasts an infinity pool, a putting green, fully air-conditioned rooms, and a tennis court and gym. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the Heritance.
Cinnamon Grand. Colombo
Centrally located in Sri Lanka's capital city of Colombo, the Cinnamon Grand is close to shopping and entertainment hotspots. All rooms are replete with air conditioning, mini-bar, free tea and coffee making, a flat panel satellite television, high-speed internet access, iron and ironing board, alarm clock, hair dryer, bathroom amenities and more. Complimentary local newspapers are provided. Sports facilities include tennis and squash courts, snooker and pool tables, and ground floor and rooftop swimming pools.
Mount Lavinia Hotel, Colombo
The Mount Lavinia Hotel enjoys a dominant position on the coastline to the south of Colombo, offering sweeping views of the Sri Lankan capital and the Laccadive Sea. Hotel facilities include a private beach, a spa, three restaurants, and a terrace and pool overlooking the sea. Free Wi-Fi and free parking are available on site.
Paradise Resort, Dambulla
Located in a green, picturesque region of Sri Lanka, the Paradise Resort in Dambulla offers a wide range of facilities to visitors, including a swimming pool, air-conditioned guest rooms, and a spa and fitness centre. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. Throughout their stay, guests can take advantage of the Paradise Resort's four restaurants, serving pizza, cocktails, and fine dining.
Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy
The Cinnamon Citadel (formerly the Chaaya Citadel) is located in the Kandyan kingdom - the last stronghold of the Sri Lankan monarchy, and the country's religious capital - and is built on the former site of a ministerial residence. Pool and indoor bars encourage daytime and evening socialising, and two restaurants provide a fine dining experience. Rooms feature a mini-bar, cable television, free tea and coffee making facilities, a hair dryer and complimentary toiletries, an en suite shower and a balcony with outdoor seating.
The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya
Located a short distance from the beautiful Victoria Park, and within walking distance of the Nuwar Eliya Golf Club, the Grand Hotel was built in the 19th century in the style of an English manor house. Hotel facilities include a gym, sauna, billiards table, and two restaurants. Paid Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Mandara Rosen Hotel, Yala
The 4-Star Mandara Rosen sits in the southern Sri Lankan foothills near to the Kataragama Sylvan Shrine. Relax at the spa, train at the fitness centre, take a swim in the pool with distinctive underwater acoustics, or dine at the à la carte restaurant. Rooms are individually decorated and furnished, with LCD televisions and wireless internet access.
Dates & Prices
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: Departs 9th October 2017 (£2,495), 6th November 2017 (£2,635)
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Prices are land-only, per person based on double occupancy. Prices are correct at the time of this web page going live; however are subject to confirmation at time of booking.
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