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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your holiday! Arrive Colombo, included transfer to hotel. This afternoon enjoy a sightseeing tour of Sri Lanka’s capital include; the Fort, 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.
Departing Colombo, drive to Giritale and check into hotel before an afternoon visit to Polonnaruwa - an 11th century city of compact size. Polonnaruwa features 12th-century stone sculptures, an old irrigation system with huge tanks, and the Gal Vihara – comprising of three enormous Buddha figures - one reclining (it’s 44 ft/13 m long), one standing and one sitting. The statues, located in a cluster along a dirt road, are revered as being amongst the most sacred monuments in Sri Lanka. There are also palace ruins, great bas-reliefs and friezes. Spend some time exploring the site, before later returning to Giritale. Overnight at the Giritale Hotel.
Leaving Giritale, drive to Sigiriya, the elevated and mysterious 5th century fortress ruins of King Kasyapa, where you view the stunning frescoes. The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. Next visit the impressive Dambulla Rock Temple. Dambulla is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of five caves with over 2000 sq. metres of painted walls and the ceiling is the largest area of paintings found in the world. Leaving Dambulla, the final stop of the day is Matale en route to Kandy.
Today we visit the elephant orphanage in Pinnawela. This orphanage is the home for about 60 elephants, out of which some are baby elephants found abandoned or orphaned in the wild. Afterwards we go to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Back in Kandy, a scenic lakeside town, visit the lake, bazaar, gem museum and lapidary. In the evening, visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic and then enjoy a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Departing Kandy this morning we leave for Udawalawe National Park. This national park was established in 1972 to protect the catchment area of the Uda Walawe reservoir, crucial to the livelihoods of the farmers in the south east dry zone. With the land only recently reverting back from cultivation, the park has some fascinating characteristics that make it well worth a visit. Not least of these is the large elephant population.
Uda Walawe is the most reliable place to see elephants in their wild habitat year round. Some 400-500 elephants live in the park and herds of up to 50 are commonly seen. The variety in habitat makes for a rich variety of wildlife including leopards (though you will be very lucky to spot one), toque monkeys, grey langur, spotted deer and sambar. The Elephant Transit Home, a home for baby elephants separated from their herds in the wild, is also here. In the transit home they are treated by vets and fed until they are ready to be released into the park aged about 3 or 4 years. Once released they are tagged and monitored until they gain acceptance into a herd. Enjoy a morning and evening game drive today.
Leaving the national park behind this morning we will transfer you by road to the coastal town of Negombo for your overnight stay. Hotel check in and the remainder of the day to enjoy at leisure. Overnight at the Goldi Sands Hotel.
After breakfast and hotel check out this morning we will transfer you to the international airport for your flight to Male, capital of the Maldives. Arriving into Male you will be met and transferred by speedboat to your paradise island setting and hotel for check in.
Relax on the sandy white beaches, swim in the clear blue sea or try many of the sports available at the resort. The next 8 days are completely at leisure.
Today marks the end of your holiday. After breakfast and hotel check out you will depart the hotel by speedboat and return to Male international airport for your onward departure flight.