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Sri Lanka: Wildlife and Ancient Culture (11 days)

In July 2017 Sri Lanka was crowned with two honours at the World Travel awards - Asia's leading destination, and Asia's leading adventure destination.  
 

 This follows Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel” ranking as the #1 destination in the world to visit four years earlier remarking that the total experience in Sri Lanka is truly a life changing experience for any traveler. This is no surprise to us. We began sending visitors to the Indian Ocean Isle in the late 1980’s.  After a dip in popularity due to civil unrest, foremer Ceylon is back in the spot-light.  Travelers who seek multifaceted experiences at affordable prices will find visits to world heritage siteas and ancient pilgrim centres such as Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Anuradhpaura and Kandy especially rewarding. The newly opened East coast and less traveled areas in the Western coast are emerging hot spots in beach tourism while Kalpitiya, Puttalam lagoon, Yala Reserve and Wilpattu National Park present opportunities for eco-tourism, bird watching and wildlife viewing. This is complemented by vibrant cultural experiences, delicious cuisine and a welcoming host nation.  


2017 - 2018 Departure Dates and Costs

Private departures daily based on 2 or more persons

$ 1,990 USD /$ 2,375 CAD per person
Single supplement $ 590 USD/ $ 695 CAD  

Save 15% on bookings to Sri Lanka made between now and October 31 

Airfare add-on from South India $ 225 USD / $ 280 CAD
Customized programs can also be arranged based on your specific timeline and interests!

Add nights to extend your stay!


Itinerary

Day 01  COLOMBO – NEGOMBO (B)
Arrival and meet & greet service by a company representative. After introducing the chauffeur guide, transfer to Negombo.Overnight stay at Club Hotel Dolphin, Negombo

Day 02  NEGOMBO – PINNAWELA – HABARANA (B)
En route to Kandy, visit the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela in time to witness the bottle-feeding of the baby elephants (optional). The orphanage is home to hundreds of abandoned or injured Elephants who are looked after with affection. The Elephants at the orphanage are bathed daily in a river located nearby.

In the evening venture out on a Jeep Safari at Minneriya National Park to witness wild elephants. The Minneriya National Park covers an area of 8,889 hectares and one could enjoy the famous “Elephant Gathering” - a large herd of wild elephants gathers near the lake. At this very scenic park also Deer, Sambhurs, Monkeys, Mongoose, around 160 species of birds and more than 78 butterfly species have been sighted. Accommodation at Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana for 3 nights.

Day 03  HABARANA – POLONNARUWA – SIGIRIYA - HABARANA (B)
Optional – Early morning guided bird watching tour.
Sri LankaAfter breakfast excursion to the World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa. See the monuments including the Royal Palace & Audience Halls of King Parakramabahu I (1153-1186 AD) and King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 A.D.). Thuparama, Vata-da-ge, Heta-da-ge, Pabalu Vehera, Siva Devala, Rankot Vehera, Baddhasima-prasada, Lankatilake, Gal Vihara - to see the 4 rock-cut Buddha statues, Tivanka Image House-for beautiful 12th C.A.D. murals on the walls etc. and the old Hospital where surgical instruments were found. Return to the hotel and relax.

Late afternoon experience the World Heritage Site of Sigiriya – one of Sri Lanka’s major attractions. An UNESCO World Heritage Site - the “Fortress in the Sky” and see the remains of the Palace on the summit, Lion-staircase, Sigiri Graffiti - the verses written on the Mirror Wall, Paintings of the Damsels-Light coloured (Vijjulatha) and Dark coloured (Megalatha) in “fresco-en-secco” and the beautifully designed Pleasure Garden (Water garden, boulder garden), the caves with pre-Christian inscriptions, remains of inner & outer fortifications.

Day 04  HABARANA - ANURADHAPURA - HABARANA (B)
Excursion to Anuradhapura and visit Sri Maha Bodiya, Ruwanwelisaya, Moonstone, Abegiriya, Twin Ponds and Lankaramaya

ANURADHAPURA + ISURUMUNIYA + SRI MAHABODHIYA
For over 1000 years Sinhalese Kings with occasional South Indian interlopers ruled from the great city of Anuradhapura. It is the most extensive and important of the Sri Lankan ancient cities. Anuradhapura was found in the 4th century BC and is famous for its Dagabas (Temples), Reservoirs, and beautifully landscaped gardens, the ruins of which still remain to this day. The sacred Bo Tree “Jayasri Maha Bodhi” is one of Sri Lanka’s most sacred places found in Anuradhapura. This sacred tree is reckoned as the oldest surviving historical tree in the world. It was brought to Sri Lanka by the Theri Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka and was planted in the Mahameghavana Park in Anuradhapura in 249 BC by King Devanampiyatissa. It is said to be the southern branch of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. Isurumuniya temple, built in the 3rd century B.C., was the first repository of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The temple carved out of solid rock, houses a large statue of the seated Buddha. It is known best for its rock carvings, the most popular being ‘The Isuruminiya Lovers’. There are many theories offered as to their identity. The style of the sculpture resembles the Gupta Art of India. The lovers, therefore, may have been carved in the 5th century.

Day 05  HABARANA – DAMBULLA – KANDY (B)
Proceed to the picturesque lakeside city of Kandy via Dambulla Rock Cave Temples. Inside the Vihara are many seated, standing and recumbent Buddha statues and statues of gods. Most of the images and paintings belong to the Kandy period. Also stop at a spice garden to see spices growing in their natural habitat.

The World Heritage city of Kandy lies in the midst of hills of rare vegetal species. The Kandy Valley crosses an area of tropical plantations. The monumental ensemble of Kandy is an example of construction that associates the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth. It was one of a series of temples built in the places where the relic, the actual palladium of the Sinhalese monarchy, was brought following the various relocations of the capital city. In the evening visit The Temple of the Tooth Relic and witness a colourful performance of traditional dances. Accommodation at Chaaya Citadel Hotel, Kandy for 2 nights.

Day 06  KANDY (B)
Enjoy a personalized city tour of Kandy which includes a visit to Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens.

Royal Botanical Gardens, the magnificent river girdled 57 hectare laid out in 1832 are among the finest in the world. Its treasures of tropical flora include fine collections of orchids, aromatic spices, medicinal herbs, palms and rare endangered plant species. These gardens were the naturally camouflaged operations headquarters of SEAC Supreme Allied Commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten during the 2nd World War.

Day 07  KANDY – NUWARA ELIYA (B,L)
Drive to the hill country and en route visit a tea plantation and factory to see the process of tea leaves turning into the famous Ceylon tea. Enjoy a tea estate lunch. Late afternoon city tour around in Nuwara Eliya, also called “Little England” for its cool climate and remaining English heritage. Overnight stay at St. Andrews Hotel, Nuwara Eliya

Day 08  NUWARA ELIYA – YALA (B)
Descend from the hill country to the dry southern plains of Tissamaharama and Yala. Optional :En route visit Buduruwagala “the rock with the statue of Buddha”. Seven figured are carved in this rock with a massive 51 foot Buddha statue in the ‘Abhaya Mudra’ gesture at the centre. The rock it self has shape of a kneeling Elephant with its head own. It is believed this carvings were done during the last days of the Anuradhapura period (8 - 10 Century). The Buduruwagala Buddha Statue is now considered the tallest in the world.

Afternoon Jeep safari to Yala National Park. Situated 309 km. south of Colombo, Yala is approximately 1,259 sq.km. and is located in the south eastern corner of the island. Its northern boundaries border on the Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary and it has the added bonus of a scenic ocean frontage. The terrain is varied flat plains alternating with rocky outcrops. The vegetation ranges from open parkland to dense jungle. Water holes, small lakes, lagoons and streams provide water for the animals and birds. The speciality here is the large numbers of elephants.Overnight at Elephant Reach, Yala

Day 09  YALA - BENTOTA (B)
Galle, said to be the famous Tarshish of the Bible is the Port where the Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka.  Fortified by the Dutch who ruled maritime Sri Lanka in the 17th and 18th centuries, the city still retains the air of old Holland.  Old Dutch churches and monuments with armorial bearings, well preserved Fort and ramparts, imposing crested and monogrammed gateway dated 1669, many well preserved old Dutch houses and narrow alleys still bearing Dutch names. As for souvenirs, one may make a pick of exquisite hand-made lace, Ivory carvings, moonstone jewellery and beautiful translucent tortoise shell ware, including bracelets, trinket boxes, combs - sometimes inlaid with silver.Overnight stay at Bentota Beach, Bentota

Day 10  BENTOTA – COLOMBO (B)
Colombo
(derived from Sinhalese name Kola-amba-thota which means “mango harbour”, altered by the Portuguese to honour Christopher Columbus), is the cultural capital and largest city and commercial center of Sri Lanka. (The new administrative capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayawardenepura-Kotte). Sightseeing highlights include the Colombo National and Dutch period museums, old and new parliament houses, Gangarama Buddhist Temple, Town Hall, and the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. Apart from shopping, Colombo offers visits to one of the worlds leading tea auctions, an 18 hole Golf Course, seasonal Buddhist and Hindu pageants, international cricket tournaments, plush casinos, enjoyable evening entertainment and excellent restaurants. Remainder of day at leisure or enjoy a personalized city tour. Overnight stay at Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo

Day 11  COLOMBO – AIRPORT (B)
Transfer to Bandaranaiyake International Airport to connect with the Departure flight to your next destination.