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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your holiday! You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel in Negombo, the rest of the day is at your leisure. The 21st December has been booked so you can check straight into your hotel on arrival early morning of the 22nd December.
This morning we depart for Anuradhapura a fascinating ancient city and one of Sri Lanka’s most important archaeological sites. It contains vast artificial lakes, temples, statues including the Samadhi Buddha, dagobas (solid hemispheres topped with spires), royal baths and museums. We also visit Mihintale, where Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka and the holy Sri Maha Bodhi tree under which Prince Siddharta attained enlightenment. It is also the oldest historically documented tree on earth.
After breakfast we travel to Trincomalee where the remainder of the day is at leisure. A major port that lies on the east coast of Sri Lanka and known as ‘Trinco’ to the locals, the city is built on a peninsula that divides the inner and outer harbours. It is one of the main centres of Tamil speaking culture and the name Trincomalee means ‘Lord of the Sacred Hill’, a reference to the famous Koneswaram temple. Several historical Buddhist sites are situated around Trincomalee and along the road to the city are a number of hot springs. The unspoilt and clean scenic beaches are perfect for swimming and relaxing. Tonight enjoy a compulsory Christmas Eve Gala dinner at the hotel.
Today is spent at your leisure.
Today we leave for Kandalama stopping en-route to visit ancient Polonnaruwa, an 11th century city of compact size and also a world heritage site. We explore the ruins of the Royal Palace, Gal Vihara which boasts 3 enormous Buddha figures carved out of rock, the Audience Hall and Lotus Bath. There are also monuments of famous places of worship such as the Shiva Temple, the Watadage, the Galpotha, the Kiri Vehera and the remains of a former Temple of the Tooth Relic. Overnight Heritance Kandalama
Enjoy a visit to Sigiriya, the elevated and mysterious 5th century fortress ruins of King Kasyapa. The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. Visit the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster. Continue on to Dambulla Rock Temple which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. Situated in a cave, view the painted walls and ceilings comprising of over 150 images of the Buddha. Overnight Heritance Kandalama
Continue on to Kandy, stopping enroute to a spice garden in Matale, to see the different spices which Sri Lanka is famous for. You’ll see firsthand how cinnamon, cardamon, curry leaves, saffron and other exotic spices are grown in the wild and then processed for consumption. After hotel check in we drive around the Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town and Bazaar, the arts & crafts centre and a gem museum and a lapidary. In the evening visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic and witness a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Today, we visit the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela, home to around 89 elephants, out of which some are baby elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild. Later we visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens first built as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala king and was expanded by the British. It covers 147 acres and provides an amazing variety of trees, plants and flowers.
Leaving Kandy behind we proceed to Galle where this afternoon we enjoy a tour of the city. The Galle fort was built first by the Portuguese, and then modified by the Dutch during the 17th century. Even today, after 400 years of existence, it looks new and polished with reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. Today Sri Lankan government and many Dutch people who still own some of the properties inside the fort are looking at making this one of the modern wonders of the world.
Travel to Mount Lavinia a leafy beach resort immediately south of Colombo, famed for its ‘Golden Mile’ of beaches. See the New Year in tonight with a compulsory New Years Eve Gala dinner at the hotel.
Today is spent at your leisure.
We return to Colombo today, spend the remainder of the day at your leisure to explore independently.
Your tour with us comes to an end today. Tonight you will be transferred to the airport in time for your onward flight. We truly hope you have had a great time, collecting many wonderful memories of our beautiful country.