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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your holiday! You will be met at the airport by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Enjoy sightseeing tour of Sri Lanka’s capital including the Fort, once a colonial stronghold but now the site of many government buildings. Drive past the ‘Pettah’ – a traditional oriental bazaar and Jumi-UL Alfar Jumma Mosque. Continue on to Cinnamon Gardens, Independence Square and visit the national museum with its fine collection of antiques and local art.
After breakfast we depart for Kelaniya where we visit the Raja Maha Vihara, a temple graced by Buddha on one of his three visits to Sri Lanka. Return to Colombo and drive to Dehiwela to visit the Zoological Gardens, home to a variety of birds and animals it is also one of the oldest zoological gardens in Asia.
En route to Anuradhapura, we visit 13th century Dambadeniya, once the royal capital. Its principal surviving ruins are the Dalada Maligawa temple and the Dagoba, revered by the locals for the 60 corporeal relics of the Buddha it is said to contain. We also visit Panduvas Nuwara which features a well-preserved walled citadel, Padeniya, Arankele and the rock fortress of Yapahuwa.
Today, we visit Anuradhapura, the 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 the holy Sri Maha Bodhi tree under which Prince Siddharta attained enlightenment. It is also the oldest historically documented tree on earth.
En route to Giritale, we visit the stunning Aukana Buddha statue and 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. After hotel check-in in Giritale, we then visit ancient Polonnaruwa, an 11th century city of compact size. We explore the ruins of the Royal Palace, temples and Gal Vihara which boasts 3 enormous Buddha figures.
Continue on 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. The final stop of the day enroute to Kandy is Matale, known for its spice gardens. You’ll see firsthand how cinnamon, cardamon, curry leaves, saffron and other exotic spices are grown in the wild and then processed for consumption.
Today, we visit the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela, home to around 60 elephants, out of which some are baby elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild. Continuing on, 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, home to one of Buddha’s teeth. After, we enjoy a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Departing Kandy, we head further into Sri Lanka’s hill country to visit a tea plantation and tea factory, where the best tea in the world is produced. Learn all about the process of manufacturing tea, see how tea is graded and taste a cup of pure Ceylon tea in the factory. Continue on to Nuwara Eliya, situated at 6,525 ft/1,990 m, Nuwara Eliya is one of the highest and most attractive towns in the region. Tea pickers can be spotted all over the lush green slopes around Nuwara Eliya throughout the year. This evening take a sightseeing tour including the Hakggala Gardens and a drive through ‘Little England.’ Overnight Grand Hotel
Early this morning, we depart for Horton Plains. Located on a high windswept saddle, Horton Plains offers the walker stunning panoramic views. In view of the large number of endemic flora and fauna species, Horton Plains was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 30th July 2010. The escarpment with a depth of 900 meters called World’s End and Baker’s Falls are the highlights of the Horton Plains. Overnight Grand Hotel
Depart for Yala National Park, en route we visit the Mahayana Buddhist rock sculptures at Buduruwagala. This evening, we enjoy a jeep safari in Yala National Park. Yala is the largest National Park in Sri Lanka and is home to wild elephants, wild boar, wild buffalo, leopard, bear, deer and crocodiles. You can also see large flocks of migratory and indigenous birds.
This morning, we visit Bundala Bird Sanctuary. The parks wetland system harbours a rich bird life (approximately 197 species) and a total of 383 plant species have been recorded from the park. Continue on to visit the Galle Dutch Fortress, first built by the Portuguese, 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 the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. We then continue to Kalutara, 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.
The next 2 days at spend at your leisure to relax on the beach and soak up the sunshine.
Your tour with us comes to an end today. You will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure flight.