23 October 2016
Sri Lanka is a gem of a holiday destination . . . an island that has stunning natural beauty and a wonderful colonial history. Now that the threat of terrorism is a thing of the past, it is a great time to visit and see for yourself the stunning landscapes and meet the friendly people who live on this tear drop shaped island that hangs like an earring off the southern tip of India. On this adventurous eight day tour you will visit Dambulla, the majestic Lion Rock fortress of Sigiriya, the fascinating city of Kandy and the cool tea plantations around Nuwara Eliya. And above all, you will have plenty of 'hands on' experiences at many of your destinations as you prepare meals and eat with local villagers.
After arriving in Sri Lanka you will be collected at the airport and driven to Dambulla. Located in the north central part of the island, Dambulla is a part of Sri Lanka’s dry zone, but thanks to the genius of the country's ancient kings this area is anything but dry, with hundreds of lakes and reservoirs which are connected by an elaborate network of canals making up an old but great irrigation system. Aside from the benefit for agriculture and industry, these waters provide some of the island's most breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Spend the rest of the day at leisure and relax after the flight at Thilanka Resort and Spa.
Leave early morning and trek to a small local village. Begin with an awesome walk beside a reservoir surrounding scrub jungle and marshland. The amazing bird life, butterflies and possible sightings of crocodile add to the charm of seeing the villagers as they go about their early morning tasks of fishing, or washing clothes at the edge of the lake. In the afternoon, visit an exciting agricultural farm with its vast mango and banana plantations then carry on to a buffalo farm and see two different breeds and also the process of manufacturing ‘curd’ out of their milk.
After breakfast, take an optional visit to the stunning rock fortress of Sigiriya before continuing to Digana where you will stay at Tamarind Gardens on the banks of the Victoria reservoir near Kandy. Tamarind Gardens is a collection of chalets which have been built to be similar to local village homes. The entire experience is designed to allow you the opportunity to interact freely with the local community and to volunteer in as many local activities as you like. Traditional meals are cooked in an open kitchen by villagers and you can either watch the preparation or join in and help cook the meals.
Today you can watch or take part in the many projects around the village and community or help around the local farm. In the late afternoon you are taken on a sightseeing tour of Kandy including the Royal Botanical Gardens, to see the world renown collection of orchids and the Temple of the Tooth. Kandy is a lovely city and was the last stronghold of the Sinhala Kings. It retains an aura of grandeur and is encircled by hills, with a tranquil lake in its centre. Kandy's traditional dances are the most spectacular in the country.
Today at Kitulgala enjoy a white water rafting excursion on the Kelani River. After this short but exhilarating excursion travel to Nuwara Eliya driving past rolling tea mountains and cascading waterfalls. Nuwara Eliya is Sri Lanka's premier hill resort with a fine bracing mountain climate. It is also the heart of the island's tea country, producing some of the world’s best tea. The mountain slopes and valleys are a carpet of velvety green plantations, interspersed with streams and waterfalls. English country style homes and hotels with lovely flower gardens, a fine 18 hole golf course and a racecourse give Nuwara Eliya a decidedly British character. Tonight you stay at Pranavan Villa where you learn all about the local cuisine.
Leave today for Udawalawe, stopping on the way at Bandarawela to explore this small hill country town. Take a short walk through the town and the vegetable gardens which surround it. Continue to Udawalawe and enjoy an afternoon game drive at the Udawalawe National Park. Surrounded by mountain ranges, the terrain of the park is a mixture of grassland, shrub jungle, wild teak plantations and rivers. Internationally renowned for its large herd of elephants, the park is also known for several species of deer, wild boar, the dangerous wild buffalo, jackal and leopard.
A morning at leisure to explore the surroundings. Then in the afternoon there is a game drive in the Yala National Park, watching out for elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile and wild boar. Yala has the world’s highest concentration of leopard per square mile and the park is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and fresh water lagoons. The area popular with leopard are rock strewn hillocks with dense shrub in which the animals hide.
Today your wonderful 'hands on' tour of Sri Lanka comes to an end. Time for some more adventures in Yala National Park before you are picked up and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. You also have the option of extending your holiday by staying at one of the island's many beautiful beach resorts and relaxing by the ocean after you eight day adventure.
Standard fr £976pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated