24 October 2016
Sri Lanka is an island rich in fascinating ancient sites and natural beauty. On this 10-day trip you'll enjoy guided tours of its key historical landmarks, including the rock fortress of Sigiriya, the medieval capital city of Polonnaruwa and Kandy's Temple of the Tooth, as well as taking game drives through spectacular national parks to see elephants and stunning flocks of colourful birds.
Your tour begins as you arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka's main airport, to be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel in Colombo, a journey of around an hour and a half. After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day at leisure to relax.
After breakfast this morning you'll be transferred to Sigiriya, a drive of approximately four hours, where you'll check into your hotel and then visit Polonnaruwa, a medieval capital city that's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you'll be able to admire the immense man-made reservoirs and monuments including the Royal Palace complex, the Quadrangle and the spectacular Gal Vihare complex of four massive images of the Buddha, cut from a single slab of granite.
After breakfast this morning you'll proceed to Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress which was once home to King Kasyapa. The original entrance was through the mouth of a lion, although only parts of its massive paws remain today. This afternoon you will enjoy a game drive in the Minneriya National Park, a mixed environment of evergreen forest and scrub areas, where you can expect to see sambar deer, leopards and elephants, as well as the third-century Minneriya Tank. During the dry summer season, this is a great place to observe the bathing elephants, as well as the flocks of birds attracted here by the plentiful supplies of fish.
After breakfast this morning you'll be driven to Kandy. En route, you'll visit the Rangiriya Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This cave complex was first used as a refuge by a king in the first century BC. He commissioned magnificent carved images which were added to by subsequent kings, and the caves now contain over 150 images of the Buddha. Your next stop will be Matale Spice Garden, where you can learn about Sri Lanka's spices and how they're used in the national cuisine. You'll then proceed to Kandy where, this evening, you'll visit the town's most famous site, the Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Tooth, an important shrine for Buddhists as it holds the tooth relic of the Buddha, as well as many beautiful carvings and artworks. After your visit, you'll enjoy a dance performance.
Early this morning you'll visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, which has been nurturing orphaned calves for more than 30 years. You'll then return to Kandy to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. Here you'll be able to admire the lawns, shrubs and arboretum, as well as the orchid collection and an artificial lake in the shape of Sri Lanka.
After breakfast this morning you'll make the journey to Udawalawe, a drive of around five hours. Once you've checked into your hotel you'll have the rest of the day at leisure to relax.
This morning you'll take a jeep safari in the Udawalawe National Park. Surrounded by mountains, the park is a mixture of grassland, shrub jungle and wild teak plantations, all kept plentifully supplied with water by the Udawalewe Reservoir and the Walewe River. The park is renowned for its large herd of elephants, but you can also expect to see several species of deer, wild boar, buffalo, jackals and, if you're very lucky, leopards. Afterwards, you'll continue to Bentota, with a stop en route at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery.
This morning you'll head for Balapitiya, where you'll board a boat for an excursion to a small island. Here you can relax and dip in your feet in the water to enjoy a fish pedicure!
Today you'll travel to Galle, where you'll enjoy a walking tour through the hidden passageways and labyrinthine backstreets of the beautiful fort, learning more about its 400 years of history, as it evolved from a Portuguese garret to a Dutch defensive fort to a British centre of trade and finally a cosmopolitan city. Afterwards you'll return to your hotel where you'll have the rest of the day at leisure.
Your trip comes to an end today as you're transferred back to the airport for your onward flight.
Double Room fr £1195pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated