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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your holiday! Arrive Colombo at just past midnight, included transfer to hotel.
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). Tonight, enjoy Sri Lankan cuisine at our Welcome Dinner.
En route to Anuradhapura, 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.
En route to Giritale (overnight at Habarana), we visit the stunning Aukana Buddha statue and the impressive Dambulla Rock Temple which contain beautiful frescoes of Buddha. Then 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.
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. 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, 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 buildings. 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.
Relax on the palm fringed beach for the rest of your time in Sri Lanka.
Today we will transfer you to the airport in time for your departure flight at 01:30 this morning.