On arrival transfer to the Mount Lavinia where you have some time to relax before your welcome dinner hosted by your tour leader. Here you’ll get to meet your group and ask any questions you may have in regards to the itinerary. Stay: Mount Lavinia. D.
Today drive to the Sigiriya area, your base for the next three nights. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in Dambulla before enjoying an excursion to the 12th Century Sinhalese capital, Polonnaruwa to see the ruins of the Royal Palace and Gal Vihara where three giant Buddha statues are carved out of rock. Stay: Sigiriya Hotel. B, L, D.
Leave after breakfast for the staggering rock fortress at Sigiriya, where those of a more active disposition may experience this wonderful climb. The gallery of preserved frescoes and the view from the top is quite breathtaking and well worth the exertion. After lunch take an excursion to Minneriya National Park where you can spot herds of elephant, leopard and many species of monkey. You’ll also find it home to a vast array of bird and butterfly species, so bring your binoculars. Stay: Sigiriya Hotel. B, D.
This morning leave for Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka and visit the immense Buddha shrines. After lunch, which is at your own arrangement, you’ll move on to the Dambulla rock cave temple, where some of the finest preserved ancient frescoes can be found. The site has been in continuous use for over 22 centuries, when it was occupied by a Buddhist monastic establishment, following the arrival of Buddhism on the island. Remains of 80 rock-shelter residences established at that time on the site have been identified. There are also copious carvings, paintings and statues to be found within its caves. Stay: Sigiriya Hotel. B, D.
to Kandy Early start for Hiriwaduna Village and a nature trek where you will be guided to a nearby reservoir frequented by many species of bird. Continue to Matale where you will visit a local spice garden before stopping for a traditional Kamatha lunch at the Ranweli Spice Garden. Continue to Kandy where you will stay for two nights. This Royal city enjoys a picturesque lakeside setting, beautiful views, plenty of shopping and sightseeing. This evening, witness a Kandyan dance and cultural show. Stay: Hotel Suisse. B, L.
After breakfast you will continue on to Paradeniya to visit the Botanical Gardens which offer a kaleidoscope of colours amid the diversity of tropical flowers and shrubs. In the afternoon visit the famous Temple of the Tooth famed for housing Buddha’s tooth relic, see also a gem and jewellery factory and showroom, where you could pick up a Sri Lankan treasure to take home. Stay: Hotel Suisse. B.
Today you have a unique opportunity to travel by train from Kandy to Nanu Oya followed by a drive to the celebrated hill station of Nuwara Eliya located some 6000 feet above sea level and offering spectacular views of beautiful green hillsides, rushing waterfalls and tea plantations. On the way don’t miss the visit to a tea plantation and non-working factory to enjoy the superb views of the countryside. Stay: Jetwing St Andrew’s. B, D.
This morning you’ll travel to the Horton Plains, a national park home to sambhar deer and leopard as well as many species of bird and monkey. You’ll have the whole morning in the beautiful area during which you will partake in a three hour hike to the World’s End precipice. Head back to Nuwara Eliya where you have the entire afternoon to explore. There is an optional excursion to the botanical gardens in Hakgala if time permits. Late afternoon enjoy high tea in the gardens of Jetwing St Andrew’s. Stay: Jetwing St Andrews. B, D.
Day 9: Nuwara Eliya to Hambantota
After breakfast leave for Udawalawe National Park where you will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the Elephant Transit Home. The home caters for juvenile elephants that have been orphaned and raises them until they are four years old before releasing them back into the wild. As they do not wish the elephants to become used to humans to protect them from poachers, this visit is not interactive. Carry on to Hambantota where you will stay for two nights. Stay: Peacock Beach Hotel (2015 departures); Mandara Rosen (2016 departures). B, L, D.
This morning enjoy some time at leisure at the hotel, perhaps chilling out by the pool. After lunch, you’ll head over to Yala National Park where you may see boar, crocodiles, deer and wild elephants roaming free. As Yala also has the highest density of leopards in Sri Lanka, there is also a relatively good chance of spotting one. Stay: Peacock Beach Hotel (2015 departures); Mandara Rosen (2016 departures). B, D.
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK. If you have chosen to extend your stay in Sri Lanka leave for Galle to visit the Dutch Fort and enjoy lunch at Lady Hill before transferring to your chosen beach resort.
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