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Sri Lanka: Temples & Tea

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Discover the astonishing heritage of Sri Lanka

You are viewing the 2021 itinerary. Select your departure year
20202021
15 days From £2,495 per person
Flexible Booking

Book your 2021 holiday before 31st October and you can transfer your holiday for free - no questions asked. T&C's apply

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2021 Tour code: SLG21

About the tour

We explore Sri Lanka, a land of pristine beaches, coconut and cinnamon plantations, peaceful lagoons, and of course tea. Its many glorious attractions, from its charming coastal cities, elusive leopards, ancient palaces and magnificent Buddhist monuments come to life on this holiday.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Days 1-2 - London to Colombo

We depart from London Heathrow on our overnight flight to Colombo, travelling via Doha. Arriving on Day 2, we transfer to the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, which enjoys a great location next to the ocean, overlooking Beira Lake. The rest of the day is free to settle in.

Colombo
Day 3 - Colombo sightseeing

We take a sightseeing tour of Colombo, Sri Lanka's largest city and its capital, this morning. The city boasts beautiful temples and open green spaces amongst the grand Colonial architecture and towering skyscrapers. We visit some of the main sights, including the magnificent Colombo Museum, Ganagrama Temple, and Independence Square. 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 2 nights at the Cinnamon Citadel Hotel in Kandy.

Includes
  • Guided City Tour
Colombo
Day 4 - Kandy

This morning we visit Peradeniya botanical gardens in Kandy. Previously reserved exclusively for royalty, these beautiful gardens are Sri Lanka's largest and most impressive. We stop for lunch ahead of a guided city tour of Kandy. On our tour we discover the Temple of the Tooth Relic, said to be the home of Buddha's tooth, as well as the city's market square. Here, friendly vendors sell a variety exotic tropical fruits, spices, and locally made masks.

Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
Days 5-6 - Dambulla and the Lion's Rock Fortress

On Day 5, we travel to Dambulla by coach and visit the UNESCO-listed Dambulla Cave Temples. These are a magnificent series of 5 cave temples dating back to the 1st century BC, which are all concealed by one vast overhanging rock. There are about 150 statues of Buddha in these caves, along with murals depicting the various stages of his life. There are also a few statues of Hindu deities, including Vishnu and Ganesha. We transfer by coach to Habanara village for 2 nights.

On Day 6, We visit Sigiriya, or the 'Lion's Rock Fortress', one of Sri Lanka's most awe-inspiring sights. A steep climb to the top takes us past well-preserved frescoes and we are rewarded with stunning views of the ancient 'mirror walls' that were polished thoroughly for the king to see his reflection. For the less energetic at lower levels you can discover the ruins of the royal palace and the elegant gardens. In the afternoon, we visit Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that was once the ancient capital of Sri Lanka. A thriving commercial and religious centre, the archaeological remains tell us tales of its glory days. We explore the incredible rock shrines, mighty monuments, and vast dome-shaped stupas that line the once-bustling streets of this ancient city.

Lion's Rock Fortress
Days 7-8 -Nuwara Eliya

Today we travel by coach and rail to Nanu Oya, along a route that is famous for its picturesque scenery. From the train, we admire plains of paddy fields lined with palm trees before climbing into the mountains where the train navigates a series of slopes in preparation to cross the stunning Mahaweli Valley. On arrival, we transfer to nearby Nuwara Eliya, known locally as 'Little England' and set against a backdrop of soaring mountains, verdant valleys, and mighty waterfalls. Its moderately cold climate made Nuwara Elia a favoured retreat for British civil servants and planters and we spend the next 2 nights at the iconic Grand Hotel, a landmark of the town set in an Elizabethan-style mansion with beautiful gardens. On Day 8 we take a tour of the tea plantation and factory in Ramboda, where we get a hands-on experience plucking tea leaves. In the afternoon, we enjoy high tea at our hotel.

Nuwara Eliya
Days 9-11 - Yala National Park and to Beruwela

Today we travel by coach to Ella, where we have free time before continuing to Tissamaharama, home to one of the largest Buddhist Stupas in Sri Lanka. Early on Day 10, we visit Yala National Park, the largest park of its kind in Sri Lanka and featuring a diverse landscape of monsoon forests, dusty planes, and marine wetlands. Here we take a game drive, searching for elephants, leopards and wild boar among many other rare species. To increase our chances of spotting these animals, we take a second game drive this afternoon.

On Day 11, we drive to Beruwela, an idyllic coastal town where we spend 3 nights. Along the way, we stop in seaside Galle for a guided walking 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 white-washed houses and grand religious buildings that jut out along the peninsula.

Yala National Park
Days 12-14 - Beruwela and whale watching

Days 12 and 13 are free for relaxing in Beruwela, famed for its white sandy beaches. On Day 13, 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. Alternatively, you could visit a nearby turtle hatchery to participate in their baby turtle release programme, enjoy an excursion to a nearby cinnamon plantation, or participate in a cooking demonstration at our hotel (all payable locally).

We transfer to Negambo, a city on the west coast of Sri Lanka, on Day 14. We stay at the 4-Star Jetwing Lagoon Hotel, set between Negombo Lagoon and the Indian Ocean.

Mirissa Harbour
Day 15 - London

We travel to Colombo airport today to join our flight back to London Heathrow, travelling via Doha.

Flying home

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Cinnamon Bey Hotel, Beruwala

Cinnamon Bey Hotel, Beruwala

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Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo

Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo

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Habarana Village by Cinnamon

Habarana Village by Cinnamon, Habarana

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Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy

Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy

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Jetwing Lagoon Hotel, Negombo

Jetwing Lagoon Hotel, Negombo

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The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

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Chaarya Hotel

Chaarya Hotel, Tissamaharama

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Upgrades

London Hotels
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Reviews

100% of travellers would recommend this tour

Based on 8 verified reviews

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Dr A Hill

Submitted 22/12/2017

No problems, Good hotels Good itinery

Mr R Beavan

Submitted 06/12/2017

Above expectations, had a brilliant guide, Shelia was just wonderful sorted out any issues and prempted any potential problems. Great group of travellers, a real cross section, but all bonded helping each other when necessary. I have worked in SriLanka and had the flexibility to meet many friends. Hotels could not have been better and the food excellent....you can't beat three curries a day. Even those who were adverse to curry tried the wonderful egg hoppers we were served. Any changes to the trip? Probably Yalla game reserve , too much cover Udawalla a better reserve in all probability is better, more open so viewing wildlife might be better. Will use Great Rail again, not touching our suitcases from putting on the coach at airport on arrival until leaving at airport was brilliant. The key to the trip was without doubt our tour guide we would go anywhere with her again, a real gem

Anonymous

Submitted 06/12/2017

All went to plan, the destination was great and our tour manager and local guide were superb.

Anonymous

Submitted 06/12/2017

The itinerary was very good and enjoyable, but some of the hotels were definitely not up to standard

Anonymous

Submitted 08/11/2017

Well managed tour, with a lovely group feel. We have used GRJ twice, and each group has been very welcoming and not too large. Some minor issues with changes to itinerary and hotels used, but alternative accommodation was to same or higher standard. Both tour manager and tour guide were well presented and knowledgeable.

Anonymous

Submitted 08/11/2017

The tour was good: the information beforehand was too imprecise.

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Worldwide Holidays by Rail 2020/21

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Sri Lanka: Temples & Tea

Discover the astonishing heritage of Sri Lanka

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Luke Simpson
Luke
Lynne Broadley
Lynne
Helen Laverack
Helen