This eight day private guided tour takes in some of the main cultural and scenic highlights of Sri Lanka. Visit the Dambulla cave temple with its ancient Buddha sculptures, climb to the top of the ruins of the Sigiriya rock fortress soaring high above the rainforest, visit the Gal Vihara temple in the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa in the Cultural Triangle and spot Asian elephants in the wild at Minneriya National Park. Discover Kandy on a city tour, learn all about tea at Geragama tea plantation, marvel at the beautiful collection of orchids at Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and see the colonial influence in Galle’s architecture before unwinding on the beach in Unawatuna.
Including international return flights with Sri Lankan Airlines, private transfers, the services of English–speaking representatives and guides, and all accommodation on a half board basis.
Early morning climb to the ruins of the rock fortress in Sigiriya for outstanding views of the surrounding landscape. The safari in Minneriya National Park to see wild elephants; the dry season, May to September, is usually the best time to observe elephants that come to drink, bathe and feed at the Minneriya Tank during what is known as ‘the Gathering’, the largest meeting of Asian elephants in the world.
Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Colombo
Late morning arrival. Be met by our English-speaking representative at Colombo airport and be transferred to your hotel in Negombo. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure and dinner at your hotel. Stay at Pledge Scape, Negombo for 1 night on a half board basis.
After breakfast leave for Sigiriya, and on the way stop at the beachside Fish Market where the fishermen lay out their catch of the day to dry in the sun along Negombo’s shores. En route to Sigiriya visit the 1st century Dambulla cave temple with ancient sculptures and paintings of Buddha and various Hindu deities located in five central caves. Arrive in Sigirya, the centre of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, in the afternoon, enjoy free time and dinner in the hotel. Stay at Aliya Resort & Spa, Sigiriya for 2 nights on half board basis.
Morning departure for the ancient Sinhalese city of Polonnaruwa, once the medieval capital of Sri Lanka and home to the vast man-made reservoir Parakrama Samudra covering over 23km and the outstanding Gal Vihara temple boasting beautiful rock carvings of Buddha. Continue to Minneriya National Park in the afternoon for a safari accompanied by a naturalist. The park is one of the best places to see wild elephants and with scrubland, park and wetlands it also provides shelter for buffalo, sambar deer, toque macaques, crocodiles and leopards as well as attracting a great number of birds. Depending on the movement of elephants the visit may be to Kaudulla or Eco Park.
Rise early for a morning hike to the ruins of the rock fortress in Sigiriya. Built on the orders of King Kashyapa in the 5th century it is the exceptional architectural, artistic and engineering landmark of ancient Sri Lanka. Near vertical granite walls soar above the canopy of the rainforest to the ruins of an almost impregnable ancient fortified palace. Having scaled the vertiginous staircases attached to sheer rock walls, the rewards are unforgettable: spellbinding views of mist-wrapped forests, water gardens and cave shrines. Return to the hotel for breakfast before leaving for Kandy, arriving in the afternoon. Settle in to your bungalow surrounded by mountains, dinner in the hotel and in the evening enjoy a city tour with a visit to the Sacred Temple of Tooth followed by a Kandyan cultural dance performance. Stay at Mountbatten Bungalow, Kandy for 2 nights on half board basis.
After breakfast discover the beautiful, historic city of Kandy before a visit to the tea factory in Geragama, one of Sri Lanka’s oldest. In the afternoon, depart for the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden. Established in 1812 it covers over 140 acres near the Mahaweli River, and hosts over 4,000 plant species from sub-tropical climates; the orchid collection is of particular note. Dinner in the hotel and evening at your leisure.
Morning departure to the southern coast and the town of Unawatuna, stopping at the city of Galle for a guided tour. Visit the striking fortress built by the Portuguese and Dutch in the 16th century, and as you walk along the streets you will notice the strong colonial influence of the Dutch and British, and mosques with Arabic touches. Continue to Unawatuna, check in to your beach hotel, enjoy dinner and a relaxing evening. Stay at Coco Bay, Unawatuna for 2 nights on half board basis.
A day of independent exploration, or simply spend a relaxing day soaking up the sun on the palm-lined Unawatuna beach.
Transfer to Colombo airport for your return flight to the UK. Breakfast included.
Add a beach stay to your tour and make the most of the legendary white sand beaches of Sri Lanka.