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Welcome to Sri Lanka and the start of your holiday! Arrive Colombo at 12:15am on the 4th so tonight it booked for check in on arrival.
Arriving at 12:15am this morning, you will be transferred to hotel in Negombo for a little sleep before leaving for Anuradhapura, en route visiting Mihintale. Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is now a pilgrimage site, and the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures.
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.
Leave for Trincomalee - Trincomalee is one of the largest towns in the Eastern coast and access to it was limited because of the terrorism issues. But after the end of the war thousands of people started going there and how it is turning out to be major tourist attraction. There are many places to visit near Trincomalee and lots of activities available to you as well. It boast some of the best white sand beaches in Asia and one of the few places in Sri Lanka for dolphin and whale spotting. It has some religious destinations as well such as the Koneswarm kovil, Girihadu seya (one of the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka) and it is also popular for hot water wells.
En route to Passekudaha, we stop to visit Batticaloa. There are many religious edifices of all faiths in town, Hindu temples, Churches, Mosques and a Buddhist temple. The Butterfly Peace Garden and Academy are definitely must-see places for visitors interested in Arts, Education and Culture. We visit the Batticaloa lagoon, and lighthouse which offers an amazing observation spot on the surrounding lagoon and estuary.
En route to Giritale, we visit the Medieval Capital of Sri Lanka – Polonnaruwa. The second most ancient of Sri Lanka's kingdoms, Polonnaruwa was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated the Chola invaders in 1070 CE to reunite the country once more under a local leader. This city is known to have been the pinnacle of the Golden Age of Sri Lanka, during the reign of Parakramabahu I, a ruler whose goal that no drop of water falling from the heavens be wasted led to the development of irrigation systems which are still utilized to this day.
To Sigiriya – the elevated and mysterious 5th century fortress ruins of King Kasyapa. We climb the ‘Lion Rock,’ 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.
Leave for Habarana - the scenic village of Hiriwadunna with its unpaved gravel paths and humble village folk. Take a catamaran ride! Across the reservoir awaits a chena farmer’s modest home; a setting that takes you back a few decades to enjoy a black Ceylonese tea brewed by the farmer’s wife. Experience the simple pleasures of village-life as you walk across the chena cultivations and through the nearby woods, to board a bullock cart – yet another ancient mode of the humble villagers’ transportation.
En route to Kandy, we stop to visit the Golden Cave Temples of Dambulla. Climb up to the temple, which was donated by King Walagambahu in the 1st century BC to Buddhist monks. Dambulla is a World Heritage site and is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of five caves with over 2000 sq. meters of painted walls and the ceiling is the largest area of paintings found in the world. These caves contain over 150 images of the Buddha of which the largest is the colossal figure of the Buddha carved out of rock spanning 14 meters. We also make a stop at the spice garden in Matale to see the different spices, which Sri Lanka is famous for.
En route to Nuwara Eliya, we stop at Labukelle 9 Tea Plantation so you can buy your lunch. Late afternoon leave on a sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya with a drive through "Little England.”
Morning proceed to Horton Plains on a trekking journey. The coldest and windiest location in Sri Lanka consists of ecosystems such as Montane evergreen forests, grasslands, marshy lands and aquatic ecosystem. At an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level, Horton Plains spreads across over 3,169 hectares of the highest tableland of the island. In view of the large number of endemic flora and fauna species, Horton Plains was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 30th July 2010. The escarpment with a depth of 900 meters called World’s End and Baker’s Falls are the highlights of the Horton Plains. Afternoon at leisure.
After breakfast we leave for Ella by train. Ella is blessed with some of the most beautiful views, you could find in Sri Lanka. Sights in Ella include the Ravana Ella Falls, Little Adam's Peak and Bambaragala Peak among other stunning scenery. The Ravana Ella was named after the demon ruler of Sri Lanka Ravana who is the main antagonist in the renowned epic amayana. It is believed that he hid Sita whom he kidnapped in India, in the caves situated behind the falls. The Ravana Ella falls has a main drop which is 30 feet in height, and it is ranked as one of the widest falls in the country. Your driver/guide will drop you at the train station and pick you up at the other end.
Proceed to Ella Station to board the train leaving for Haputale. This dramatic ride will give you a chance of viewing some of the magnificent country side of Sri Lanka. Continue to Beragala from Haputale station roughly 4-5 km. Your driver/guide will drop you at the train station and pick you up at the other end.
Drive to Yala National Park for a shared game drive. This Park is famous for its high density of leopards, perhaps the highest in the world. You are also sure to see elephants and sloth bears are also a big draw. You will also see mammal such as wild boars, several species of deer and wild buffalo. There is a plethora of reptilian species and platoons of crocodiles. The uniqueness of the park is the sheer diversity of the habitat: dense jungles suddenly give way to lagoons and open plain areas and the park has a simply beautiful sea front. Huge, stark boulders dominate the horizon and the elegant, languorous leopard can often be seen basking atop the sun baked rock.
Shared game drive this morning.
Drive to Rekawa; one of the places where turtles come to lay eggs and since 1996, has been protected by the Turtle Conservation Project (TCP). This non-government organization is quite distinct from the turtle hatcheries established on the south-west coast in accordance with the legislation passed in 1972 protecting the various turtle species. Instead of collecting the eggs when they are about to hatch, and looking after the baby turtles for a few days, the TCP protects the actual nesting sites without any intervention apart from discouraging predators. Turtles lay their eggs (when they also hatch) at night between 19.00 and 03.00 so this is a late excursion today.
Arriving into Galle today enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of the city. The Galle fort was built first by the Portuguese, and then modified by the Dutch during the 17th century. Even today, after 400 years of existence, it looks new and polished with reconstruction work done by Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. Today Sri Lankan government and many Dutch people who still own some of the properties inside the fort are looking at making this one of the modern wonders of the world.
Day at leisure in Galle.
Driving onto Kalutara enjoy a boat ride in Madu River. In the outset Madu Ganga is considered Sri Lanka's second largest wetland consisting of 28 islands including two main islands providing shelter to 215 families. Over the past generations Madu Ganga has played an important role in providing food and shelter and of course providing easy access to the main land via small wooden boats. The main treasure of Madu Ganga is its mangroves that act as a bio-lock to the area in giving protection to the variety of aquatic plants and animal life. Thereafter visit Turtle hatchery in Kosgoda. Kosgoda is famous for its turtle hatchery- operated by the Wild Life Protection Society of Sri Lanka. Continue to Kalutara this afternoon.
Excursion to Bentota to see toddy tapping - A Sinhalese toddy tapper rope-walks quickly (for balance) from tree top to tree top at 30 to 40 feet above ground to harvest the sweet milky sap of the cut coconut blossom. Today, we visit a small traditional fishing village on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Toddy tapping is done by members of many castes in the region. As far as I can tell, this rope-walk harvesting method is solely unique to Sri Lanka.
Driving to Colombo enjoy a late afternoon city tour through the Commercial area of the “Fort” so named, because both the Portuguese and Dutch had a Fort at this point. 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 Bandaranayke Memorial International Conference Hall. And also visit Gangarama Temple.
Day at leisure.
Day at leisure.
Check out at 2135 hours on 25/02/14 on Day 23. Leave for Colombo Bandaranayake International Airport to connect with departure flight @ 01:30 hours SQ469 26/02/14.