27 September 2016
Sri Lanka, an island hanging off the tip of India like a pearl earring, is one of the world's most fascinating and beautiful tourist destinations. There is so much to experience, see and do here from seeing world famous sights and colourful towns, stopping at tea plantations in the cool hills, and relaxing on beautiful sandy beaches and soaking up the sun. And on this short tour you capture the essence of this stunning island and will be left with lots of great memories.
Ayubowan! On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, just outside the capital city of Colombo, you will be met by one of our tour representatives and driven the 20 minutes to your hotel where you can relax and recover from your journey. The rest of the day and evening is free for you to go out and see some of the local sights and eat at one of the nearby restaurants, or stay in and enjoy dinner at the luxurious Wallawwa Hotel at Minuwangoda.
After breakfast you are picked up from your hotel and driven the five hours to Anuradhapura where you check in to the Ulagalla Resort. In the afternoon you take a jeep safari at Minneriya National Park, which is situated between Habarana and Polonnaruwa. The huge park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to favourites such as sambar deer, leopards and elephants. The main feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank - a good place to spot the elephants as well huge flocks of birds.
One of the highlights of the tour today when visit the Lion Rock, one of the seven World Heritage sites of the island. Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress and ruins of a castle, which was once the home to King Kasyapa. The entrance to the original fortress was through the mouth of a lion, however the ravages of time has resulted in only a part of the massive paws remaining today. Sigiriya has many attractions including an iron staircase to the top, its gardens, world renowned frescos and mirror wall.
After breakfast depart for Kandy stopping on the way at the Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, which dates back to the 1st century BC, is an amazing complex of five caves, first used as a refuge by an ancient king who commissioned magnificent carved images within the living rock. The caves contain more than 150 images, the largest a colossal figure spanning 15 meters. Later stop at the Matale Spice Gardens and find out about homeopathic remedies. Overnight at Kandy House, in colourful Kandy.
Today you are taken on a tour of Kandy visiting the celebrated Temple of the Tooth. Sri Lanka's hill capital, stronghold of the Sinhala Kings, is the country's most beautiful town and the focal point is the golden roofed Dalada Maligawa. The highlight of the year is the Esala Perahera, when a replica of the relic casket is taken in procession accompanied by exotic dancers, drummers and elephants. You also visit Kalapuraya in the beautiful Dumbara valley with its many shrines and temples, where you see paintings, frescoes, and carvings.
Today after breakfast at your hotel in Kandy you set off for Hatton, a drive of around three and a half hours. On the way stop at a tea plantation and factory where one the best teas in the world is produced. You will be told all about the process of manufacturing and also gain first-hand experience on the manufacture of some of the best teas in world. Then you can taste a cup of pure Ceylon tea which begins its journey as raw green leaves in the hills and ends up as a final golden-brown graded product. Overnight at Mandira Bungalows, Hatton.
Today you head to Yala for your last night in Sri Lanka. After the five hour journey enjoy a game drive at the Yala National Park. Sri Lanka’s most famous national park is a great place to see elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile and wild boar. Recently the park has received lots of fame through the Discovery TV channels, which focused on a leopard conservation project. Vegetation is primarily grassland and shrub jungle and fresh water lagoons are a haven for a large variety of birds. Overnight at Cinnamon Wild Yala in a jungle chalet.
Today your wonderful tour of Sri Lanka's highlights comes to an end when you are driven from Yala back to the international airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. This short tour is a great way to see some of the major sights in this fascinating and safe country, but you may well decide to extend your stay in the capital city Colombo or spend a week or two at one of the many luxurious beach resorts that can be found all over the island.
Double Room fr £1202pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated