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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your holiday! Arrive Colombo, included transfer to hotel. Tonight, enjoy Sri Lankan cuisine at our Welcome Dinner.
Highlights of our sightseeing tour of Sri Lanka’s capital include the Fort – once a colonial stronghold, Galle Face Green – a seaside expanse popular for informal cricket games, the Pettah – a noisy oriental bazaar, a visit to Gamgarama temple, Cinnamon Gardens and Independence Square. We also visit the national museum (closed Friday).
At Kelaniya we visit the Raja Maha Vihara, a temple graced by Buddha on one of his three visits to Sri Lanka. Continuing our sightseeing, we visit the zoological gardens at Dehiwela.
Drive to Giritale today, stopping en route to visit the impressive Dambulla Rock Temple. Dambulla is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. This afternoon, after checking into your hotel in Giritale, visit UNESCO Listed Polonnaruwa – an incredible 11th century city. Explore the ruins of the Royal Palace, temples and Gal Vihara which boasts three enormous and revered Buddha figures.
Today is a free day to relax and explore the town at your own leisure.
This morning drive to Sigiriya and explore the UNESCO World Heritage Listed, 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 meters from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock. Discover the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. After exploring the sights of Sigiriya, stop to visit a Spice Garden in Matale, en route to Kandy.
Enjoy a wonderful excursion to the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela today. This orphanage is the home for about 60 elephants, out of which some are baby elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild. Afterwards visit Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Back in the scenic lakeside town of Kandy, embark upon a sightseeing tour, visiting the bazaar, the arts & crafts centre and a gem museum. In the evening, visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic and then enjoy a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Today, we visit the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela, home to around 60 elephants. Continuing, we visit the ruined temples of Embekke, Gadaladeniya and Lankatilleke and the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Back in Kandy, a scenic lakeside town, we visit the lake, bazaar, gem museum and lapidary. Tonight, we visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic. After, we enjoy a cultural dance show.
Departing Kandy, we head further into Sri Lanka’s hill country surrounded by tea plantations. Situated at 6,525 ft/1,990 m, Nuwara Eliya is one of the highest towns in the region. Today, we enjoy a sightseeing tour and visit Hakgala Gardens.
By jeep we depart early for Horton Plains. Located on a high windswept saddle, Horton Plains offers the walker stunning panoramic views. We’ll hike to Bakers Fall passing en route the Gem Pit Pool, the Chimney Pool, and the Leg of Mutton Pool and then return to Nuwara Eliya.
Continuing to Yala National Park, en route we visit the Mahayana Buddhist rock sculptures at Buduruwagala. This evening, we enjoy a jeep safari. The largest national park in Sri Lanka, Yala is home to elephants, wild boar, buffalo, leopard, crocodile and myriad birdlife.
This morning, we visit Bundala National Park – a bird sanctuary. We visit the town of Galle and it’s 17th century fort. Within the fort, are narrow streets filled with churches and colonial buidings. We then continue to Bentota, an ideal tropical beach holiday with it's sparkling warm blue seas and a lush fringe of palm trees, all bathed in warm golden sunshine.
At leisure on Sri Lanka’s tropical palm-fringed coast. Optional excursion to Ratnapura, home of Sri Lanka’s famous gem trade. There are around 200 gem pits in Ratnapura and many lapidaries where the mined stones are dressed, cut and polished. You’ll tour some pits, a lapidary and the museum
Today we travel via the coast road to Colombo and onward departure transfer to the airport.