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Sri Lanka: The Enchanted Island

Sri Lanka: The Enchanted Island

13 days & 12 nights, Escorted Discovery Group

Colombo, Dambulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Yala & Ahungalla

The island nation of Sri Lanka has a wealth of cultural, archaeological and natural treasures. This comprehensive tour visits both the popular and some of the lesser-known sites in northern, central and southern Sri Lanka, offering a full flavor of the rich diversity of this enchanting island.

  • Day 1
    Arrive Colombo

    You will be met and taken to your hotel.

    Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo - 1 Night
  • Day 2
    To Dambulla

    Drive from Colombo to Dambulla, a journey time of approximately 4 hours.

    Heritance Kandalama - 3 Nights (B)
  • Day 3
    Anuradhapura- Mihintale

    After breakfast travel to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. It was the first capital, and undoubtedly the grandest city, of ancient Sri Lanka. Today Anuradhapura is the location of two world heritage sites. There is an archaeological museum, artificial lakes and various monastic buildings and palaces. Amongst the many sites of interest is the sacred Bo-Tree, Sri Maha Bodhi. The tree is reputedly a cutting of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment, and was brought to Sri Lanka as a sapling over 2,200 years ago.

    From Anuradhapura you will drive the short distance to Mihintale. Mihintale was the place where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka and is regarded as the cradle of Buddhism on the island. On this rock are many shrines and dwellings, originally used by monks. A grand stairway of 1,840 steps made by granite slabs 15 inches wide leads to the summit, from where there are good views of the surrounding countryside.

    Heritance Kandalama (B)
  • Day 4
    Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa

    This morning you will drive to Sigiriya where you will be able to climb the 5th century Rock Fortress, founded by King Kassyapa (473 - 491 AD). The Lion Rock citadel rises 655 feet from the scrub jungle below and was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. At the base of the rock are a moat, ramparts and the extensive world-renowned water gardens.

    Following lunch you will be driven to Polonnaruwa to visit the 11th and 12th century ruins of the 2nd capital of Sri Lanka. Here your sightseeing will include the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya - where 3 splendid statues of Buddha in 'Upright', 'Sedantry', and 'Recumbent' postures are carved out of the rock, the Audience Hall, and the Parakrama Samudraya Lake, built by King Parakramabahu the Great.

    Heritance Kandalama (B)
  • Day 5
    To Kandy

    Today you will be transferred from Dambulla to Kandy via the Dambulla caves, a distance of approximately 50 miles and a journey time of about 4.5 hours including stops.

    The rock caves at Dambulla are 490 feet above the road and have a history that is thought to date back as far as the first century BC when King Valagam Bahu took refuge here, having been driven out of Anuradhapura. Upon regaining his throne he converted the caves into a rock temple, with further improvements being made over the years by subsequent rulers. You will be able to explore these and also visit the rock temple on the vast, sloping rock. Some of the caves have fine frescoes and there is a 50-foot-long reclining Buddha image in one cave. From the level of the caves you will have superb views over the surrounding countryside.

    This evening, enjoy a cultural show with performances of traditional dances from the different regions of Sri Lanka. Following this, visit the Temple of the Tooth in time for the evening puja. The Temple of the Tooth dates from the 16th century and is entered via two doors showing mythical beasts. The Udmale houses the relic behind gilded bars. There is a large casket and seven smaller ones each made of gold and studded with jewels. The relic is normally only shown to royalty or very important religious persons.

    Earls Regency Hotel - 2 Nights (B)
  • Day 6

    The Royal Botanical Gardens are located 4 miles out of Kandy. The gardens, which cover 60 hectares, had some of the original rubber trees smuggled out of Brazil, until they were wiped out by a storm in 1980. Prior to the arrival of the British this was a royal park and it is today the largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka. There is a fine collection of orchids and a stately avenue of royal palms that were planted in 1905.

    Earls Regency Hotel (B)
  • Day 7
    To Nuwara Eliya

    This morning you will be driven from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, a distance of 60 miles and journey time of 3.5 hours (including stops). On the way you will stop at a tea factory/plantation where the process of tea producing and grading will be explained. You will also be able to taste a cup of pure Ceylon tea.

    Heritance Tea Factory - 2 Nights (B)
  • Day 8
    Horton Plains

    The Horton Plains National Park, formerly the hunting grounds of the British Raj, is an area characterized by a beautiful landscape of rolling lush grasslands over 6,500 feet above sea level. Interspersed amongst the grasslands are sections of forest, waterfalls, lakes and rocks creating a mystical world with perfect opportunities for walks and hikes. Panoramic views over the spectacular escarpment, known as World's End, which drops a sheer 3700 ft are jaw dropping. The park is also home to a variety of wildlife including elk, deer, giant squirrel and wild boar, a wide variety of flora endemic to Sri Lanka and endemic birds such as the yellow-eared bulbul, the fan-tailed warbler and the Ceylon blackbird. This excursion involves a trek of approximately 2.5 hours, depending on the distance and pace.

    A fleece or warm jacket is recommended as temperatures can get quite cold. Due to the high altitude and uneven terrain, the Horton Plains trek requires a good level of fitness.

    Heritance Tea Factory (B)
  • Day 9
    To Yala National Park

    Travel from Nuwara Eliya to Yala National Park.

    This drive takes approximately 5 hours, and en route you will have the chance to admire one of Sri Lanka's finest views, and visit the Rawana Ella Falls. The dramatic Rawana Ella Falls are 160 feet high and located just to the south of Ella. Here the water cascades down the mountainside in a series of mini waterfalls and through clear rock pools. The adventurous may climb up over the boulders that lie beside the waterfalls for some distance to appreciate the falls at closer quarters.

    Jetwing Yala - 2 Nights (B)
  • Day 10

    Explore Yala National Park by jeep. Yala is one of Sri Lanka's largest national parks and its terrains consist mainly of dry woodlands with patches of light forest, grasslands and lagoons, which provide residence for the park's main attraction - the leopard. Although leopard sightings cannot be guaranteed, the density of leopards is considerable, so much so that Yala is one of the world's best parks to spot these elusive cats. A wildlife drive in the park also offers the chance of sighting other wildlife such as elephants, wild boars, wild buffaloes, sloth bears, monkeys, mongoose, deer and crocodiles. Large flocks of migratory and indigenous birds are also found here such as jungle fowl, peacocks and orioles.

    Jetwing Yala (B)
  • Day 11
    To Galle- Ahungalla

    This morning drive from Yala National Park to Galle for a visit; a distance of approximately 110 miles and taking up to 5 hours.

    Galle was once the chief port of Sri Lanka and nowadays it is still well known for its hand-made lace. This visit will include the Galle Fort, which spans an area of 36 hectares and was originally built by the Portuguese before being extended by the Dutch in 1663. It is now an acclaimed world heritage site.

    Continue to Ahungalla, a distance of approximately 37 miles and taking up to 1 hour

    Heritance Ahungalla - 2 Nights (B)
  • Day 12

    Day at leisure.

    Heritance Ahungalla (B)
  • Day 13
    Depart Colombo

    You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.

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