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.
Meet your group and Tour Manager at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel in Colombo, 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 4 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 5. 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 7 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 coach from Nanu Oya to Tissamaharama. From the windows, we admire the enchanting cascading waterfalls. On arrival in Tissamaharama, we transfer to our hotel.
Early on Day 9 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 10 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 12 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 13, 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.
Make your way to the airport for your flight back home.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
We recommend that for this tour you arrange flights to Bandaranaike Airport, approximately 20 miles from your base in Colombo. Our recommended departure airport is the Bandaranaike airport, approximately 26 miles from your final base in Colombo.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; this is where you will meet your Tour Manager.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Discover the astonishing heritage of Sri Lanka