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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, visit the Hindu temple and drive past Jumi-UL Alfar Jumma Mosque, tour through the Wolvendaal Dutch Church, Hultsdorf Law courts, Cinnamon Gardens and Independence Square. We also visit the National Museum.
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 and a Hindu Temple.
This morning we depart from Habarana. En route we visit 13th century Dambadeniya, once a royal capital. Its principal surviving ruins are the Dalada Maligawa temple and the Dagoba, locally revered thanks to some corporeal relics of 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. Later a visit to Mihintale.
Today we visit the stunning Aukana Buddha statue and the impressive Dambulla Rock Temple which contain beautiful frescoes of Buddha. This evening we 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.
Today we depart for Kandy, en route exploring 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. At Matale, we visit an exotic spice garden.
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, to visit the lake, bazaar, gem museum and lapidary. Tonight, we visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic. After, we 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.
This morning we depart early for Horton Plains, an ecosystems of Montane evergreen forests, grasslands and marshy lands. 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.
Today we continue onto Yala National Park, en route we visit the Mahayana Buddhist rock sculptures at Buduruwagala. This evening, we enjoy a jeep safari in the largest national park in Sri Lanka; Yala is home to elephants, wild boar, buffalo, leopards, crocodiles and myriad bird-life.
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 buildings. We then continue to Hikkaduwa, 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.
Today we travel via the coast road to Colombo and onward departure transfer to the airport.