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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.
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, 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 on day 10, 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 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 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 remaining time you have at your leisure.
This morning after breakfast we will transfer you back to the airport for your onward flight home.