Saturday. Welcome to Sri Lanka! Airport arrival transfer and remainder of the day at leisure. Our start hotel located on the seafront is a short walk from Galle Road and many of the city highlights. Choose to head out and explore, take a dip in the pool or enjoy a cocktail whilst you watch the perfect sunset over the Laccodive Sea.
Colombo - Polonnaruwa - Giritale. Today we head inland to Polonnaruwa. On the way we stop a local Sunday market before arriving at one of Sri Lanka’s most impressive cave temples, the Dambulla Rock Temple. This stunning complex of 5 caves contains over 150 images of Buddha including an impressive 14 metre statue carved out of the cave rock. After exploring this ancient site we continue on to Polonnaruwa. This fascinating 11th century city is home to many interesting ruins and famous monuments including the Royal Palace and the Gal Vihara. Polonnaruwa was once the capital and is also the second most ancient city in Sri Lanka. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Overnight: Giritale | Breakfast
Giritale - Sigiriya – Kandy. This morning we head to Sigiriya and the famous ‘Lion Rock’ fortress. Built over 1500 years ago, this beautiful citadel stands 200 meters high in the middle of verdant jungle and was an important stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. It can be viewed from miles around and is definitely one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic and famous sites. You’ll be able to view the world famous paintings of the Heavenly Maidens which stand in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway.
Once we’ve fully explored the rock we take a jeep ride and short canoe trip to the village of Kayanwala. Here, we try our hand at preparing a meal of curry, dahl, spiced rice, pickle and more in the mud brick home of a local family. En route to Kandy we stop off a spice garden in Matale, to see the different herbs and spices, which Sri Lanka is famous for. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of these spices are grown and processed.
Arriving to Kandy, we attend a cultural performance of traditional Sri Lankan music and dance.
Overnight: Kandy | Breakfast
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of Kandy - the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. Our first stop will be the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Legend has it that one of Buddha's teeth was taken from him as he lay on his funeral pyre. It was then smuggled into Sri Lanka in 313AD. It now attracts daily pilgrims who come bearing lotus flowers and frangipani. After driving around the Kandy Lake - built by the last Sinhala king, visiting the local bazaar and a gem museum we take Tuk Tuk ride up into the surrounding hills.
This afternoon we visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where we meet some of the 78 elephants in their care. Some of these elephants were abandoned as babies, others born in the facility and unable to return to the wild and a few with disability - one elephant is blind. Today's highlight will be to watch the herd bathe uninhabited in the nearby river.
Before returning to Kandy we stop at a working tea factory at Geragama. Geragama Tea Factory is located in close proximity to the city of Kandy was established in the year 1903, manufacturing 'Low Grown' and 'Long Leaf' tea.
Overnight: Kandy | Breakfast
Kandy - Nuwara Eliya. This morning offers free time before transfering to the railway station for a scenic train trip. Passing kilometre upon kilometre of verdant tea plantations that hug the winding mountain passes, we'll see waterfalls, suspension bridges and tea pickers on our journey up to Nuwara Eliya - Sri Lanka’s most popular hill resort. Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country producing a significant share of the world’s best tea. Opt to sit outside, within the open viewing section of the carriage for uninterrupted views of the magnificent landscape.
This afternoon we take a beautiful drive through Nuwara Eliya - an area known locally as 'Little England'.
Overnight: Nuwara Eliya | Breakfast, Lunch
Nuwara Eliya - Udawalawe National Park. Today we head south to Embilipitiya, our base for exploring Udawalawe National Park. This national park is probably one of the best places to spot the famous Sri Lankan Elephant, the biggest of all the Asian Elephants. It is thought that there are around 400 elephants here. The park is also home to the elusive leopard, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear and lots of types of deer. We take an afternoon game drive here before returning to the hotel for the night.
Overnight: Udawalawe N.P. and Embilipitiya | Breakfast
Udawalawe National Park - Colombo. This morning with a visit to the Gem Mine and Museum at Ratnapura. Sri Lanka is famous for its gem industry and is home to 40 out of the 85 types of gems in the world.
Arriving to Colombo, we commence a city tour seeing the Fort area in the north of the city, famous for its government buildings and interesting shops. We explore the Fort area in the north of the city, famous for its government buildings and interesting shops. We'll see the stunning Gangarama Temple and take a stroll along Galle Face Green, a popular spot for kite flying and games of cricket.
Overnight: Colombo | Breakfast
Saturday. Today offers free time for you to independently explore the city, before included departure transfer to the airport.
Buddha & Beach
Extend your stay at the beach! If you want to extend your holiday and enjoy some rest and relaxation on Sri Lanka's beautiful coast, take a look at our 12 day Buddha and Beach itinerary.
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
OZO Colombo is a modern and stylish hotel, with sweeping Indian Ocean views from its rooftop infinity pool and many of its rooms. There's free WIFI access throughout the hotel and the guestrooms are bright and airy with all modern amenities. OZO is centrally located on Marine Drive, near Galle Road and just a 10 minute drive from the city centre.
The Deer Park Hotel is a luxurious collection of cottages in a gorgeous setting. All rooms are traditionally furnished with comfortable beds and also offer air conditioning, mini bar and beautiful en-suite facilities. Some rooms even come with a splendid open air bathroom.
Hotel Topaz is a charming hotel with a stunning roof top view. The elegant rooms are spacious with private balconies and good facilities.
Once the residence of the former Governor of Sri Lanka, Sir Edward Barnes, the Grand Hotel is a colonial style property set amongst very picturesque grounds. Guest rooms are large, traditionally designed with very comfortable beds. Free Wi-fi is available in the lobby and restaurants and the underground bar serves up a superb array of cocktails. Be sure to try the traditional Sri Lankan hoppers as part of the breakfast buffet. Well located in the high elms of Nuwara Eliya just a short walk from town.
Situated on 7 acres of land, the Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort is the only hotel of it's class in the area. Rooms are spacious with beautiful hard wood flooring and artwork depicting the wildlife of Udawalawe. Food here is delicious and plentiful with an extensive breakfast menu. The outdoor pool is a great place to relax by and enjoy a refreshing splash in after a good day on safari. Well located just a few minutes drive from Udawalawe National Park.
Tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures and many of us feel uncomfortable, or unsure, about when, or how much, to tip. However, in Sri Lanka, tipping makes up a significant part of many people's wages so it's important that we get it right. For this reason we've developed a very simple system to take all the hassle out of tipping. With our 'tipping made easy' policy, a nominal pre-determined amount is collected from all group tour participants to cover tips en route. This then saves you the hassle of when and how much to tip bellhops, luggage handlers, local guides and other support staff through the tour. Our 'tipping made easy' doesn't include a tip to your group tour leader. Naturally, though, the amount is up to you as tipping is an entirely personal gesture.
There is a lot of time on the coach on this tour, and I think it is too short by a couple of days. we didn't have time to look around Kandy on foot, or Colombo - not the guide's fault, but there was too much travelling in between places to allow time for this in 8 days. all the hotels were good except the one in Nuwara Eliya which was not good. (the staff were nice though) The hotel as Kandy was so out of the way that it was imparactical to go into town in the evening to have a look round independantly, and there was no time in the day for this. I would have liked more time at some of the sites, particularly Sigariya and Polonnaruwa, as I think there was more to see than we had time for. Lovely trip - but you don't do the country justice by cramming it all in.”