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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.
Morning at leisure. Afternoon proceed on sightseeing tour of Colombo driving through the Commercial area of the “Fort.” Drive passed “Pettah” – a noisy Oriental bazaar with a hotchpotch of Humanity, ancient vehicles, bargains, mosques & temples. Visit Hindu temple & drive pass Jumi-UL Alfar Jumma Mosque. Continue the tour through the Wolvendaal Dutch Church, Hultsdorf Law courts, to the residential area of Cinnamon Gardens and on to the Independence Square and Bandaranayake Memorial International Conference Hall. We also visit the national museum with its fine collection of antiques and local art. (Fridays the museum is closed.
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.
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, 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.
Morning Leave for Colombo via Kithulgala. This is an area of rolling hills, tropical rainforests and winding rivers. The sleepy riverside village of Kitulgala owes its popularity to the Kelani River which offers exciting Grade 3 and 4 rapids for rafting. The breathtaking scenery here was used for the filming of the Oscar-winning classic “The Bridge over the River Kwai” by David Lean.
Departure transfer to the airport.