Discover the astonishing heritage of Sri Lanka
Discover the fabulous diverse scenery of exotic Sri Lanka on this spectacular journey through the country's cultural heritage. 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.
We depart from London Heathrow on our overnight flight to Colombo. Arriving on Day 2, we transfer to the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, which enjoys a great location overlooking the ocean. The rest of your day is free to settle in.
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 takes us through some truly beautiful landscapes, including dense woodlands and valleys of lush green vegetation, as we climb into the hills. We spend the next two nights at the Cinnamon Citadel Hotel in Kandy.
This morning we take a guided tour of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On this tour, we discover the Temple of the Tooth Relic, which is said to house the tooth of Buddha. We then go on to visit Peradeniya Botanic Gardens. Previously reserved exclusively for royalty, these beautiful gardens are Sri Lanka's largest and most impressive. This afternoon, there is an optional excursion to the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela, a remarkable project that protects the island's abandoned or orphaned elephants (payable locally).
On Day 5 we drive to Dambulla, where we visit the UNESCO-listed Dambulla Cave Temples. These are a mangnificent 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.
We visit Sigiriya, or the 'Lion's Rock Fortress', one of Sri Lanka's most awe-inspiring sights, on Day 6. 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. In the afternoon, we visit Polonnaruwa, whose ancient centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, we explore the incredible rock shrines, mighty monuments, and vast, dome-shaped stupas that line the streets.
Today we travel by coach and rail to Nanu Oya, the last part of our route being widely regarded as one of the world's most scenic railway journeys. From the train, we admire the splendid panoramas as we pass 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.
On arrival, we transfer to nearby Nuwara Eliya, known locally as 'Little England' - set against a backdrop of soaring mountains, verdant valleys, and mighty waterfalls. We spend the next two nights at the iconic Grand Hotel, a landmark of the town, set in an Elizabethan-style mansion with beautiful gardens.
On Day 8 we visit a local bazaar, before enjoying afternoon tea at our hotel - one of the most pleasant ways to experience the region's tea-growing heritage.
Today we take a guided tour of a tea plantation. Later, we travel by rail from Nanu Oya to Ella. From the windows, we admire the enchanting cascading waterfalls, before the line plateaus on a forested train. On arrival in Ella, we transfer by coach to Tissamaharama.
Early on Day 10 we transfer to Yala National Park, the largest park in Sri Lanka with a wonderfully diverse landscape, including monsoon forests, dusty planes, 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 11 we drive to the coastal town of Beruwela, where we spend three nights.
This morning we visit Galle, for a guided tour. Boasting a gorgeous natural harbour, a labyrinth of quaint narrow streets, and a delightfully preserved, UNESCO protected, fortress area, Galle has much to recommend it. On our tour, we explore the whitewashed houses and grand religious buildings that jut out on the peninsula.
Day 13 is free to relax in Beruwela, which is famed for its white sandy beaches. Alternatively, you may wish to join the optional whale-watching 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. There is also an optional cooking demonstration at our hotel (payable locally).
We transfer to the colonial Mount Lavinia Hotel on Day 14, where you are free. Mount Lavinia offers a lovely beach, where you may relax and soak in the ambient atmosphere of Sri Lanka on our last day in the country.
Alternatively, you may make use of the excellent hotel facilities on offer. This evening, we enjoy a farewell meal together overlooking the sea.
We take our flight back to London, arriving later today.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
Discover the astonishing heritage of Sri Lanka