Sri Lanka, the pearl of the Indian Ocean, is one of the world's most fascinating and beautiful tourist destinations. There is so much to experience, see and do here from visiting 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 comprehensive 15 day tour you are guaranteed to capture the essence of this stunning island and be left with lots of great memories.
Welcome to Sri Lanka, or Ayubowan as the locals say - a traditional greeting wishing you long life. On arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, on the outskirts of the capital Colombo, you will be met by one of our tour guides, and driven the five hours to your first hotel in Habarana in the island's cultural triangle. Check in then relax after the journey and soak up some tropical sunshine before hearing about all the great places you are to visit over the coming days.
Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa
After an early breakfast you are taken to climb the spectacular Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of the country's major tourist attractions. This UNESCO World Heritage site has so many unique facets including water gardens, frescoes of beautiful maidens, a mirror wall with ancient graffiti and the Lion platform from where you have breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside. Then it's on to the medieval capital Polonnaruwa, a city known to have been the pinnacle of the Golden Age of Sri Lanka.
Today you are driven for an hour to Anuradhapura, another world heritage site in the north central part of the island. This is the equal to any 'buried city' in the world and boasts the oldest historically documented tree on Earth. Pleasure gardens, beautiful stone baths and ponds and a superb system of reserviors and canals are some of the main attractions here along with the largest brick-built structure in the world, which you will see along with Mahasena's Palace.
A five hour drive today when you travel through the countryside to Arugam Bay for three days of fun and relaxation. Lovely Arugam Bay, a moon-shaped curl of soft sand, is a favourite spot for surfers with its famed point break and many regard it as Sri Lanka's best surfing destination. It's a tiny place, with a population of a few hundred, and everything is dotted along a single road which runs parallel to the coast and makes a great base for exploring the surrounding hinterland.
A full day to relax in the tropical sunshine, and if you are not a surfer you will find plenty of other water sport activities to keep you fully occupied and they can all be booked from your hotel. There are some great restaurants at Arugam Bay and you will enjoy the mellow, swing-another-day-in-a-hammock kind of vibe for which the whole area is renowned. As well as water sports, there are a whole range of tours and activities that can be booked to add to your fun stay here.
Another day to make the most of this popular resort on Sri Lanka's east coast. A-Bay, as it is often known, has long been popular with surfers from all over the world who come to ride the island's best waves, and you can watch them in action. It is also a good launching pad from which to explore the surrounding countryside and its varied attractions, from the elephant-rich Lahugala National Park and the little visited Yala East National Park to the atmospheric forest hermitage at Kudimbigala.
Arugam Bay to Ella
Today you say farewell to the relaxing delights of Arugam Bay and begin the three and a half hour journey to Ella, stopping along the way to visit the Ravana Falls and the Ella Gap. This spot is steeped in local history and here you will be told tales of kidnaps by demons and ancient queens being hidden in caves behind the waterfalls. Great scenery throughout the journey to Ella and on arrival check in to your hotel - the 98 Acres Resort and Spa - and the rest of the evening is free for you to go out and explore
A whole day to relax and appreciate all that this luxurious boutique hotel has to offer. The 98 Acres Resort and Spa is an elegant chic hotel that stands of a scenic 98 acre tea estate site, surrounded by a stunning landscape. The resort blends well with nature and consists of charming chalets made from all sorts of recyclable materials adorned with thatched roofs which add to the rustic charm. And all around are exciting nature trails for you to explore.
Ella to Nuwara Eliya
Say farewell to the relaxing delights of Ella today and head off to Kitulgala, the location of the blockbuster movie The Bridge over the River Kwai, and take part in an exciting white water rafting excursion where you tackle seven rapids with names like Virgin's Breast, Butter Crunch, Killer Fall and Rib Cage. After your river adventure you carry on to the plush hill town of Nuwara Eliya in the cool heart of Sri Lank's famous tea plantations.
You are in tea country, and today you will visit one of the many plantations and a factory where some of the world's best tea is produced. Here you will be told about the process of manufacturing tea and also be invited to taste a cup or two. Pure Ceylon tea begins its journey as raw green leaves in the hills here and ends up as a final golden brown graded product. After your visit return to Nuwara Eliya and relax in the cool temperatures of the hill country.
Leave Sri Lanka's beautiful hill country today and drive for around four and a half hours through the tea plantations and down to Sinharaja on the edge of a rain forest where you check in to your next hotel with the rest of the day free to explore on your own. Sinharaja Rain Forest is a world heritage site and major eco tourism destination. This is a rich treasure trove of nature with a great diversity of habitats where so many of the island's endemic species live.
Sinharaja Rain Forest
This morning you are taken to visit the Sinharaja Rain Forest, which is one of the least disturbed and biologically unique lowland rain forests in Sri Lanka. This beautiful region was declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and has been recognised by UNESCO being declared a wilderness area in 1988 and more recently a world heritage site. After a fascinating day exploring this unique spot with a local guide you are driven back to your hotel.
After all the travelling around Sri Lanka you have been doing, today you are rewarded with a two night beach resort stay. . After a two hour drive from the rainforest you check in to you final hotel of the tour. This green globe certified resort has been a prime destination along the south coast of Sri Lanka for generations and all the 133 rooms and suites have stunning views of the Indian Ocean or the Benthara River.
Another day in paradise, and a great way to round off this Sri Lanka tour. At this resort hotel you have a variety of dining options that will leave you spoilt for choice. The pool, which is built into the rock, is magnificent, and one of the main features of any stay at this retreat are the array of watersports on offer. Popular excursions from here include taking a boat ride through the river mangroves, visiting the turtle hatchery in Kosgoda or taking an hour's drive to explore the Dutch Fort at Galle. To truly relax, you can also chill out in the spa.
End of tour
Today your wonderful tour around Sri Lanka comes to an end. Make the most of the facilities at Cinnamon Bey, Beruwala before being picked up and driven the two and a half hours back to the international airport to connect with an onward flight or to be begin your journey home. This comprehensive trip around Sri Lanka is the best way of seeing all the country's many highlights and you will take home so many memories of the places you have visited and the people you have met.