Arrive at the Colombo airport & meet your English speaking chauffeur guide at the airport lobby. Thereafter, proceed to Negombo and check in to the hotel. (Approx. 30 mints)
Negombo lies on the sea-coast about 10 kms to the North of the Colombo International airport. Its beautiful beaches and the string of tourist hotels alongside beckon the visitor. Many go to Negombo straight from the airport to relax on its beaches or stay there as a last stop prior to flying back home. The Negombo area is the heartland of Catholics in Sri Lanka as illustrated by the large number of churches and way-side shrines. The Portuguese missionaries converted the mostly fisherfolk of Negombo, and the people took on Portuguese names such as Fernando, Silva and Perera which continue as surnames to this day. The Dutch too made a Fort there and built a canal through Negombo which stretches from Colombo to Puttalam to transport merchandise. The ocean and the large lagoon contributed to making Negombo one of the most important fishing ports and fisheries still dominate the local economy. The lagoon is famous for shrimps, lobsters and crabs. The catamaran-type fishing boats of Negombo with their billowing sails are an unforgettable sight when the fleet returns home.
Rest of the day at leisure in the beach resort.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Negombo.
After breakfast proceed to Habarana and check-in to the hotel. (Approx. 4 and ½ hrs.)
This small town isn’t a destination in itself, but it serves as a good base for Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and safaris to Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks.
In the afternoon proceed to Minneriya for a thrilling jeep safari at Minneriya National park.
The Minneriya area has been developed with a large lake for agriculture and produces a huge portion of the country’s rice. The National Park located there, the extent of which is about 8,889 hectares, is home to a vast array of wildlife: About 160 species of birds, 9 amphibians, 25 reptile species, 26 fish species and more than 78 butterfly species have been found in this area. Wild elephants are more easily seen at Minneriya than at other nature reserves.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Habarana or Sigiriya.
After breakfast visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress. (Approx. 15 mints.)
Another world heritage site. King Kashyapa (477-495 AD) built this impregnable fortress on a solitary rock rising about 200 metres from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of a 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock. Remains of Kashyapa’s palace atop the rock covers an area of about 3 acres. The name Sigiriya means the Lion’s Rock, so called perhaps because the steep climb to the top begins between two huge lion’s paws carved from the rock. Midway through the ascent you would see the world-renowned frescoes of the ”Heavenly Maidens” of Sigiriya, which are on a sheltered face of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These magnificent frescoes were painted 1,500 years ago on plaster using earth pigments.
On completion visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. (Approx. 1 hr.)
Yet another world heritage site. King Vijayabahu is said to be the the creator of this 2nd capital of Sri Lanka in the 11th century AD. More well-known is King Parakramabahu who developed the city, landscaped it and built several lakes to catch the rainwater for irrigation. One lake is so large that it is known as the Parakrama “Samudra” (Sea) a statue 12’ tall stands by the banks of this lake and it is commonly believed that it represents King Parakramabahu. More archaeological sites welcome the visitor: The ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya where four splendid statues of the Buddha in ‘Upright’, ‘Sedentary’ and ‘Recumbent’ postures carved out of rock, the Audience Hall and the Lotus Bath, There are also monuments of famous places of worship such as the Shiva Temple, the Lankathilaka, the Vatadage, the Galpotha, the Kiri Vehera and the remains of a former Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Return to the hotel after the excursion.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Habarana or Sigiriya.
After breakfast leave Habarana and proceed to Dambulla and visit cave temples.
The origin of the Dambulla Rock Temple dates back to King Walagamba in the 1st century B.C. It is a World Heritage Site – a complex of five caves with over 2000 sq. metres of painted walls and ceilings. They contain over 150 statues of the Buddha of which the largest is the reclining figure of the Buddha carved out of rock and spanning 14 metres. A most interesting place to visit, involving a short climb along a path lined by monkeys who prance about hoping for hand-outs.
Thereafter proceed to Kandy and visit a spice garden en-route.
An agricultural zone in the Central Province, Matale seldom drops off the maps due to its remarkable contribution through flagship crops of the island extending from tea, rubber & vegetables to spices. Spearheading the Rebellion back in 1848, Matale today takes immense pride in its story woven around spices. Stop by the side of a spice garden – into which you will be most welcome – and observe the therapeutic values of spices & processes over a refreshing cup of herbal tea! Or spend some time idling on the hardened streets if you mean a real town adventure filled with voices and colours.
Continue to Kandy. (Approx. 1 hr.) Kandy city tour including the visit to the temple and the cultural show.
The Sri Lankans refer to Kandy as “Maha Nuwara” – the great city. In the times of the kings it was known as “Senkadagala”. It was the last capital of the Sinhala kings and fell to the British conquerors in 1815. Nestling in the central hills, about 112 kms from Colombo, Kandy is a must-see place for all visitors. With a beautiful lake in its midst on the banks of which is the World Heritage site of the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy is a bustling city. The Temple enshrines a tooth, the holiest relic of the Buddha in Sri Lanka, which according to legend was brought in 312 AD by a royal couple from India. Every August the “Esala Perahera” takes place in Kandy, the grandest religious and cultural pageant in the Island. This continues for 8 days – a fascinating spectacle of dancers, drummers and elephants.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Kandy.
Transfer from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. (Approx. 2 and ½ hrs.)
Enjoy a train ride from Kandy to Nanu-Oya the nearest station to Nuwara Eliya.
Hop into a rattling train smoking and hissing its way through green valleys of the hill country pierced by endless waterfalls & dotted by tea pluckers draped in bright-colored saris.
Get down from Nanu-Oya and continue to Nuwara Eliya. En-route visit a tea plantation.
Beginning from the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, Pidurutalagala (about 2,600 metres) the landscape of the hill country around Nuwara Eliya spreads through hills and valleys and ravines. It is the most popular hill resort in the Island because of its salubrious climate. Ever since a British Governor built a holiday home here in 1828, the place took on the appearance of a quaint old English village with houses in the same style built by British tea-planters. Place names such as Victoria Park, Lake Gregory, Baker’s Falls, St. Clare’s Falls, etc. all evoke the British legacy. The Grand Hotel and the Golf Club with its 18-hole course, one of the finest in Asia, draw the visitor with their old world charm. The road to Nuwara Eliya runs through manicured tea gardens and majestic hills with cascading waterfalls, and is a most scenic drive. This is the heart of the famed tea plantations which produce the finest teas in the world.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
After taking breakfast transfer to Yala. On your way to Yala visit Buduruwagala Temple. (Approx. 2 & ½ hrs.)
Perfectly living up to its name, Buduruwagala – the rock with the statue of Buddha dating back to the 9th or 10th centuries – houses the tallest rock carving of Lord Buddha in the island standing at 16m. Take a close look at its long orange streak which provides strong evidence that the statue was once painted along with the carvings of the Buddhist mythological figures – Avalokiteshvara – standing on either side. Unfolding features of the Mahayana Buddhist School, Buduruwagala braces the historic and cultural treasure one might emprise in the island paradise.
Continue to Yala and take an evening safari. (Approx. 2 & ½ hrs.)
Originally a hunting ground for the British Colonialists, the vast sprawling area of about 130,000 hectares was declared a Game Preserve. It is undoubtedly the most popular wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. Herds of deer and elephants abound, sightings of bear and leopard are often reported. The sambar and wild boar are common sightings, together with varieties of birds, esp. the peacock.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Tissamaharama / Yala.
After breakfast proceed to Weligama. (Approx. 3 hrs.)
Watch carefully how ‘stilt-fishermen’ have excelled in their patience in this photographer’s paradise while dipping your toes in soft waves that caress the shores of gold, an experience that never grows old under the sun shining so bold!
Continue to Galle.
The old port of Galle, about 115 kms from Colombo, and reachable in an hour from Colombo on the new Southern Expressway, has a long history. Since the times of the Arab traders, it was an important stop on the silk route where they exchanged silks for spices and gems. Other maritime nations followed; the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. The Fort built by the Dutch lasts to this day, once again another UNESCO World Heritage site. Galle is a quaint town and a leisurely stroll through the ramparts of the fortress transports one back to another era. The Fort contains a veritable treasure trove of places to visit: The newly-renovated International Cricket Stadium, the Dutch Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Dutch Groote Kerk (Great Church), old mansions with intricate lattice work unique to Dutch architecture, a lighthouse 18 metres tall, and the oldest inn in Sri Lanka, the New Oriental Hotel which is a great place to stay.
Galle is also a hunting ground for antique hunters and some interesting curios can be purchased here. The cosmopolitan nature of the city attracts many tourists also because it is close to the popular beaches of Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, and Koggala.
On completion transfer to the beach Resort.
Dinner & overnight stay at a hotel in Kalutara.
Transfer from Kalutara to Colombo International Airport to catch the departure flight. (Approx. 1 and ½ hrs.)