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Sri Lanka: Temples & Tea

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Discover the astonishing heritage of Sri Lanka

14 daysFrom $2,455 per person

2020 Tour code: SLG20

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 vacation.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - To Colombo

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.

Colombo
Day 2 - Colombo sightseeing

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, Ganagrama Temple and Independence Square. This afternoon, we travel by rail to Kandy, in central Sri Lanka. Our train 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.

Includes
  • Guided City Tour
Colombo
Day 3 - Kandy and Dambulla’s cave temples

This morning we take a visit to Kandy's botanical gardens. Previously reserved exclusively for royalty, these beautiful gardens are Sri Lanka's largest and most impressive. This is followed by lunch and a guided tour of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On our tour, we discover the Temple of the Tooth Relic, said to be the home of Buddha's teeth, as well as the city's market square. Here local food sellers and craftspeople ply their trade.

Pinnawela Elephants
Days 4-5 - Dambulla and the Lion's Rock Fortress

On Day 4 we drive to Dambulla, where we visit the UNESCO-listed Dambulla Cave Temples. These are a mangnificent series of 5 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 lower levels you can discover the ruins of the royal palace and the elegant gardens. In the afternoon, we visit Polonnaruwa, whose ancient center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, we explore the incredible rock shrines, mighty monuments, and vast dome-shaped stupas that line the streets.

Lion's Rock Fortress
Days 6-7 - Nanu Oya & a tea plantation

Today we travel by coach and rail to reach Nanu Oya, the last part of our route and being widely regarded as one of the world's most scenic railroad journeys. From the train, we admire the splendid panoramas as we pass through plains of paddy fields lined with palm trees. Climbing 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' and 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 tea plantation and factory in Ramboda, followed by high tea at our hotel.

Nuwara Eliya
Days 8-10 - Yala National Park and to Beruwela

Today we travel by coach to Ella, where we have free time before continuing to Tissamaharama.

Early on Day 9 we visit Yala National Park, the largest park of its kind in Sri Lanka that features 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. To increase our chances of spotting these animals, we take a second game drive this afternoon.

On Day 10 we drive to the coastal town of Beruwela, an idyllic coastal town, where we spend three nights. Along the way, we stop in Galle for a guided walking tour. Boasting a gorgeous natural harbor, 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 on the peninsula.

Yala National Park
Days 11-13 - Beruwela & whale watching

On Day 11 and 12 you are free to relax in Beruwela, famed for its white sandy beaches. On Day 12, you may wish to join the optional whale watching trip from Mirissa Harbor. 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 program, enjoy an excursion to a nearby cinnamon plantation, or participate in a cooking demonstration at a local restaurant (all payable locally).

We transfer to Negambo on Day 13. A city on the west coast of Sri Lanka, we stay at the 4-Star Jetwing Lagoon Hotel, set between Negombo Lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Tonight there's a farewell dinner to celebrate our vacation experiences.

 

Galle Beach
Day 14 - Return Home

Make your way to the airport for your flight back home. 

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.

Recommended Airport

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.

Visa Requirements

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.

Departure times

You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; this is where you will meet your Tour Manager.

Hotels

Eden Resort & Spa

Eden Resort & Spa, Beruwela

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Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo

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Mount Lavinia, Colombo

Mount Lavinia, Colombo

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Habarana Village by Cinnamon, Habarana

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Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy

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The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

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Chaarya Hotel, Tissamaharama

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Reviews

100% of travelers would recommend this tour

Based on 8 verified reviews

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Dr A Hill

Submitted Dec 22, 2017

No problems, Good hotels Good itinery

Mr R Beavan

Submitted Dec 06, 2017

Above expectations, had a brilliant guide, Shelia was just wonderful sorted out any issues and prempted any potential problems. Great group of travelers, 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 Dec 06, 2017

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

Anonymous

Submitted Dec 06, 2017

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

Anonymous

Submitted Nov 08, 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 Nov 08, 2017

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

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