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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your journey through Indian Ocean Paradise! Arriving into Colombo Airport, meet with our local team who await to whisk you off to your hotel in Wattala which will be ready for early check-in.
En route on our drive this morning 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. LAst stop for the day is a visit to Mihintale, said to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
En route to Giritale, we visit the stunning Aukana Buddha statue and the impressive Dambulla Rock Temple which contain beautiful frescoes of Buddha (Entry will be by the higher entrance gate for ease of access). 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.
This morning we head to Kandy, along the way we will stop to see the views of Sigiriya Lion Rock Fortress (not climbing up or entering the site) We then drive to a spice garden. Here we learn about some of Sri Lanka’s famous spices, how they are grown and what they are used in. You’ll also have the opportunity to buy some. This evening in Kandy we visit the world famous Temple of the Tooth Relic, home to one of Buddha’s teeth before attending a traditional cultural evening complete with fire walkers!
This morning we visit the famous Pinnawala elephant orphanage where we meet some of the 89 abandoned elephants, many of which are babies. On our return to Kandy we stop by the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens home to an amazing variety of plants, flowers and trees. Once back in Kandy itself we embark on a city tour, drive around the lake and visit local bazaars and a local gem museum.
After breakfast we visit a tea plantation. Tea is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest exports and they are very proud of it. Learn about the manufacturing process and how they grade it before enjoying a delicious cup of pure Ceylon tea in the factory. Next we drive to Nuwara Eliya, the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country and home to the country’s highest mountain, Pidurutalagala. Later on we embark on a sightseeing tour of the area including a drive through ‘Little England’.
Today we head south to Embilipitiya, our base for exploring Udawalawe National Park.Udawalawe is probably one of the best places to spot the famous Sri Lankan Elephant, the biggest of all the Asian Elephants in the wild. It is thought that there are around 400 elephants here. The park is also home to the elusive leopard, the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear, the cheeky Langur monkey and lots of types of deer. We take an afternoon game drive here before returning to the hotel for the night.
This morning we drive to Ratnapura, home of Sri Lanka’s famous gem trade. There are around 200 gem pits in Ratnapura and many lapidaries where the mined stones are dressed, cut and polished. You’ll tour some pits, a lapidary and the museum. When ready we continue onto your hotel in Galle.
For today and tomorrow explore on your own, why not take in the UNESCO listed Fort, just wander around through the colonial area or if you fancy relaxing on the beach, it is closeby!
Sadly your time exploring the Tear Drop Isle has come to an end, hotel check-out for all rooms (only 2 twin rooms booked for late check-out) and we will transfer you to the airport in time for your flight home.