28 September 2016
Sri Lanka is a wonderful, and nowadays a very safe country to explore, and on this action packed week long tour you will see so many of the highlights. A city tour of the capital Colombo, a visit to the stunning rock fortress of Sigiriya and the Dambulla caves, many of the country's ancient cities, bustling and colourful Kandy with its sacred Temple of the Tooth, world renown elephant orphanage and Royal Botanical Gardens . . . you will visit them all. And add to all this an elephant safari, a game drive and forest walks and you have all the ingredients for an exciting journey.
On arrival at Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met by one of our tour representatives who will drive you the 20 minutes to your hotel in nearby Negombo. On the way you visit a quaint fishing village to see the locals returning with their catches. After checking in to your hotel its time to relax after the journey then go out and explore and try some of the local cuisine.
Today you travel to Habarana at the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle and the most convenient base for excursions to the ancient historical cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Minneriya National Park. Though in the dry zone of the country, thanks to the genius of ancient kings there are hundreds of lakes and reservoirs connected by an elaborate network of canals making up a fascinating irrigation system which also provides some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery. Today you can go on a forest walk, bird and wildlife watching, elephant back safari, cycling, trekking and boating. Overnight at your hotel in Habarana.
Set off this morning to explore the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, rose to fame as the capital after the decline of Anuradhapura. The monuments are relatively well preserved and give clear evidence of the glory of Sri Lanka's past. Highlights are the Royal Palace area and the spectacular Gal Vihare complex of four massive images of the Buddha. In the afternoon enjoy a game drive at the Minneriya National Park which is home to sambar deer, leopards and elephants, who come to bathe at the ancient Minneriya Tank where you also see huge flocks of birds.
After breakfast you visit Anuradhapura, the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka and another world heritage site. Here you find the oldest historically documented tree on earth (more than 2,200 years old) - The Sri Maha Bodhi, brought as a sapling of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment, and the island's oldest Buddhist shrines - some dating back to the 3rd century BC. Specific places to visit are the Brazen Palace, Ruwanweli Seya, the most famous of all the dagoba’s, and the Samadhi Buddha which is regarded as the finest rock sculpture on the island.
After an early breakfast you are taken to climb the spectacular Sigiriya Rock Fortress, which is one of Sri Lanka’s major attractions. See the water gardens, the frescoes of beautiful maidens, the mirror wall with ancient graffiti and the Lion platform at the top. Built by King Kashyapa the “Lion Rock” is a citadel of unusual beauty rising out of the jungle. Remains of the handsome royal citadel are on the summit and several caves for meditation, audience platforms and baths complete the unique site. In the afternoon visit the Dambulla Cave Temples and see the amazing complex of caves with their magnificent carved images within the living rock.
Today you travel three hours to Kandy for a visit to the world famous Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage which has been operating for more than 30 years, nurturing orphaned calves, treating the feeble and rehabilitating the injured. Today, the orphanage has 60 elephants and you can watch their antics during bathing time. Then drive to Kandy and check in to your hotel before visiting the legendary Temple of the Tooth. It is an important shrine for Buddhists as it holds the tooth relic of the Buddha. In the evening you will be treated to a cultural dance show.
A busy day today beginning with a rain forest trek at Udawattakele before being taken on a city tour of colourful Kandy. In the afternoon enjoy a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens where Queen Elizabeth, Marshal Tito, Chancellor Henry Kiesinger and Yuri Gagarin, have all planted memorable trees. Later drive to the capital Colombo for a city tour. Colombo has a superb range of high quality restaurants serving food from all over the world. Overnight at Cinnamon Lakeside, which overlooks tranquil Beira Lake and is the the epitome of indulgence and elegance.
Today you can explore more of Sri Lanka's capital city either on your own or as part of an organised tour. Colombo offers some of the best shopping in south east Asia and while in the city call in at the historic old Galle Face Hotel and have tea on the terrace and have fun watching the locals of all ages playing cricket on every available open space. Overnight at Cinnamon Lakeside.
Today your wonderful eight day Cultural Tour of Sri Lanka comes to an end. Possibly time for some more sightseeing in the city or some last minute shopping before heading to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. This tour makes a great add on to any longer holiday in the country and can be combined with a beach resort stay if you want to spend some time relaxing in the tropical sun.
Standard fr £1181pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated