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Sri Lanka, Temples & Tea 2013/14
From 2,245pp based on 2 sharing (2910 single)

Discover the fabulous diverse scenery of exotic Sri Lanka on this spectacular journey through the country's cultural heritage. During this South Asian adventure we explore Sri Lanka's many glorious attractions, from its charming coastal cities to its mountain temple retreats, and from its ancient royal palaces to its magnificent Buddhist monuments.

Days 1-2 - London to Colombo 

We depart from London on our overnight flight to Colombo. Arriving on Day 2, we transfer to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, which enjoys a great location overlooking the ocean. The rest of your day is free for you to settle in.


Day 3 - Colombo sightseeing 

We take a sightseeing tour of Colombo, Sri Lanka's largest city and its capital, this morning. Here the old blends effortlessly with the new; there are beautiful temples and open green spaces amongst the grand Colonial architecture and towering skyscrapers. We visit the city's main sights, including the fascinating Colombo Museum, housed in a magnificent building. This afternoon we travel by rail to Kandy, in central Sri Lanka. Our journey on the Rajadhani Express takes us through some truly beautiful landscapes, including dense woodlands and valleys of lush green vegetation, as we climb into the hills. We spend the next two nights at the Chaya Citadel Hotel in Kandy.


Day 4 - Kandy 

Nestled among a series of hills, Kandy was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings during the Colonial era, and is celebrated as the country's centre of culture. This morning we enjoy a guided tour of the city - a UNESCO World Heritage site - admiring the former palace and associated royal buildings dotted around the lake. We also see the magnificent Temple of the Sacred Tooth, one of the world's most important Buddhist sites. The rest of the day is free for you to continue exploring the winding streets of this enthralling city at your own pace. Kandy has a central core of shops and a thriving local market that are both fantastic places to wander around; otherwise perhaps take a stroll along the lake shore.


Day 5 - Pinnawela Elephants & Dambulla Cave Temple

This morning we travel to the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela, a remarkable project that protects the island's abandoned or orphaned elephants. We watch as the elephants splash and play in the river. In the afternoon we drive to Sigiriya, stopping en route at the Dambulla Cave Temple, a magnificent series of five cave temples dating back to the 1st century BC - and all concealed by a vast overhanging rock. Each cave is brimming with detailed frescoes and beautiful carvings, and the largest features 150 statues of Buddha. Later we arrive in Sigiriya for a two-night stay at the Kassapa Lion's Rock Hotel, which boasts an excellent location looking out to the ancient Lion's Rock Fortress.


Day 6 - Lion's Rock Fortress

Sigiriya, the striking "Lion's Rock" fortress, stands majestically overlooking the jungle surroundings, and is one of Sri Lanka's most awe-inspiring sights. A steep climb to the top takes you past well-preserved frescoes, and is rewarded with stunning views. For the less energetic, at the lower levels you can discover the ruins of the Royal Palace, and the elegant gardens. Following our morning visit, your afternoon is free for you to continue exploring Sigiriya and the village at its base at your leisure.

Day 7 - Nanu Oya and the Tea Plantation

Today we leave Sigiriya and transfer by coach back to Kandy. From here we travel by rail to Nanu Oya, on a route widely regarded as one of the world's most scenic railway journeys. From the observation car, we admire the splendid panoramas as the train passes through plains of paddy fields lined with palm trees. Continuing to climb into the mountains, the train navigates a series of precipitous slopes, before crossing the stunning Mahaweli Valley. We then reach Nanu Oya, where we enjoy a guided tour of a tea plantation. Later we transfer to Nuwara Eliya, known locally as "Little England" - set against a delightful backdrop of soaring mountains, verdant valleys and mighty waterfalls. We stay at the Jetwing St Andrews Hotel tonight.

Day 8 - To Yala

Leaving Nuwara Eliya behind, we travel by rail from Nanu Oya to Ella. Travelling in the observation car, we admire the enchanting views of the tea plants lining the hillsides, as well as the cascading waterfalls, before the line plateaus on a forested plain. Arriving in Ella, we continue by coach to Yala. We pass the Ella Gap, an awe-inspiring landscape where the mountains tumble 3,000ft to the eastern plains. In Yala we stay for two nights at the Mandara Rosen Hotel.

Days 9-10 - Yala National Park and to Galle

Early this morning we transfer to Yala National Park, the largest park in Sri Lanka with a wonderfully diverse landscape including monsoon forests, dusty plains and marine wetlands. Here we take a game drive, pursuing elephants, leopards and wild boar among many other rare species, including a number of reptiles and even aquatic birds. To increase our chances of spotting the animals, we take a second game drive this afternoon. On Day 10 we travel by coach to Galle, a charming port on Sri Lanka's southern shores, for a three-night stay at the Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel. On arrival you are free to begin your explorations of the city.

Day 11 - Sightseeing in Galle

Boasting an idyllic natural harbour, a labyrinth of quaint narrow streets and a delightfully preserved, UNESCOprotected fortress area, Galle has much to recommend it. Today we explore some of its main attractions on a sightseeing tour, including the whitewashed houses and grand religious buildings, such as the Jesuit cathedral, jutting out on the peninsula. The rest of your day is at leisure.


Day 12 - Whale watching

Today is at leisure to explore Galle, with its many historic landmarks and quaint reminders of its Dutch colonial past. Perhaps take a stroll along the fortress walls, for fantastic views over both the city's historic core and over the port. Alternatively, you may wish to join the fantastic optional whale-watching trip from Mirissa Harbour. This stretch of coastline offers the highest concentration of Blue Whales in the world, and is also a great place to track the Sperm Whale.

Days 13-14 - Return to Colombo and London

We return to Colombo today, travelling northwards by rail on a magnificent route that hugs Sri Lanka's western shore, with sweeping views of the glittering ocean at every turn. We reach Colombo in the afternoon, and check in for a final night at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure in this vibrant city. On Day 14
we transfer to the airport for our flight back to London, arriving later this evening.

What's Included

  • Scheduled flights from London to Colombo and return, including taxes and charges
  • 12 nights' hotel accommodation with breakfast every day
  • 11 dinners
  • Sightseeing tour of Colombo including a visit to the Colombo Museum
  • Guided tour of Kandy
  • Excursion to the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela
  • Visit to Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Visit to the Lion's Rock Fortress
  • Trip to Nanu Oya tea plantation
  • Morning and afternoon game drives in Yala National Park
  • City tour of Galle
  • All transfers
  • The services of a professional Tour Manager throughout
  • Single room prices include the supplement for single occupancy throughout: 665

To book call us on 01543 258631

 

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