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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your holiday! Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to the hotel in Habarana, where we will check you in.
Our sightseeing today takes in 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.
Today we visit Polonnaruwa-where you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya – where 4 splendid statues of the Buddha in ‘Upright’, ‘Sedentary’ and ‘Recumbent’ postures carved out of rock, the Audience Hall, the Lotus Bath, king Parakramabahu’s statue, and the Parakrama Samudraya lake. We proceed to Sigiriya and climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 meters from the scrub jungle. We also visit the frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya.
This morning we leave for Kandy visiting the Dambulla Rock Temple en route. Dambulla is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples with over 2000 sq. meters of painted walls. The ceiling is the largest area of paintings found in the world. You will also visit a spice garden in Matale, where you will tajke part in a cooking lesson at the Spice Garden and then enjoy the fruits of your labour! On arrival in Kandy we check you into the hotel.
This morning we visit the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala, home for about 89 elephants, some of which were found abandoned in the wild. The best time to visit is during the feeding times, when you will see the baby elephants being bottle-fed. Thereafter proceed on an afternoon visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, built by a Sinhala king and expanded by the British to the full 147 acres it is today.We then have a sightseeing tour of Kandy. Drive around the Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town and Bazaar. This evening we visit Temple of the Tooth Relic and enjoy traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Today we head to Nuwara Eliya, with a stop along the way at a tea plantation and be told all about the process of manufacturing tea. You can also see how tea is graded. Taste a cup of pure Ceylon tea in the factory. On completion, proceed to Nuwara Eliya which, because of its invigorating mountain climate and scenery, is Sri Lanka’s most popular hill resort. Sri Lanka’s highest mountain Pidurutalagala (8282 feet) is located here.
Today we travel to Yala via Elle and Wellawaya. On arrival in Yala we check into out hotel and take an afternoon visit to Yala National Park on a jeep game drive. The park has 44 species of mammals and 215 species of birds. The park has one of the highest concentrations in the world and around 350 Asian elephants. Also present are sloth bears, golden palm civets, Sri Lankan krait and crocodiles. The coastline around the park is visited by leatherback and loggerhead sea turtles. Yala National Park has a variety of ecosystems including moist monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, semi deciduous forests, thorn forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches.
Yala National Park is famous for its high density of leopards, perhaps the highest in the world. You are also sure to see elephants – grumpy loan males during the dry months and large herds in the wet season. Sloth bears are also a big draw. As is common in Sri Lanka there is a huge diversity of stunning birdlife including migratory species such as the flamingo. It is also one of the few places in the world where the severely endangered black necked stork can still be seen. On completion return back to the hotel. Late afternoon you will have another jeep safari to Yala National Park.
This morning we drive you to Koggala for your beach stay.
We head to Galle for a city tour. One of the main highlights is Galle Fort, which offers a charming reminder of the Dutch colonial era. Constructed in 1663, the fort was named a World Heritage Site in 1988. There is also the Galle National Museum, with a selection of ornamental objects made of ebony, tortoise shell, ancient wood and lace on display. Later we board a canopied boat for a scenic cruise along the Madhu River, passing dozens of mangrove covered islets and stopping off at sites along the way – such as a 200-year old temple, and to watch locals farming cinnamon. We may also get the chance to see traditional Sri Lankan fishing techniques in action.
Today our arrangements in Sri Lanka end with a departure transfer to the airport and many amazing memories.