Sri Lanka Unearthed

20 AUG - 2 SEPT 2020

 

Explore Colonial Colombo on a fascinating walking tour and eat at one of the cities most famous seafood restaurants, go leopard and wildlife spotting in Wilpattu National park, climb the ancient Rock Fortress of Sigiriya and participate in the night ceremony at the famous Kandy Temple of the Tooth. Ride on one of the worlds most spectacular train journeys through the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, release baby turtles into the ocean, and wander the atmospheric colonial streets of the former Dutch and Portuguese port town of Galle. You will enjoy mouth-watering cuisine and travel through stunning tropical landscapes on this journey of a lifetime.

 
 

 
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Overview

Colombo ( Taj Samudra - Luxury hotel - Luxury ocean view room )
• Wilpattu ( Big Game Wilpattu - Luxury camp - Tent )
• Habarana ( Cinnamon Lodge- Luxury lodge - Superior room )
 Kandy ( Cinnamon Citadel - Boutique hotel - Superior room )
• Nuwara Eliya  ( Grand Hotel - Luxury hotel - Deluxe room )
• Bentota ( Avani Bentota - Boutique hotel - Superior room )
• Galle ( Fort Bazaar - Boutique hotel - Banyan room )

EXTENSION
• Santani ( Santani Wellness Resort – Luxury resort )

 

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival / Columbo  Arrive in Columbo, the trade and commercial capital has long been the traditional gateway to the Orient.  Sri Lanka’s largest city is located on the west coast and draws together the many cultures, religions and influences that foreign trade have brought into a kaleidoscope of sounds and colour. The original traders and settlers, the Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and the British have left churches and monuments, names and costumes, food and parts of their languages. Explore and enjoy the afternoon and dinner at your leisure. Overnight at the Taj Samudra hotel.

Day 2

Columbo Explore the city and its many influences including Parliament House and the home of Geoffrey Bawa, Asia’s most celebrated and influential 20th century architect. Barefoot Café for an alfresco lunch. Afternoon visit to the heritage part of Colombo City, including the Dutch Fort and Old Dutch Hospital now host to high end restaurants, bars and shops. Move on to the lighthouse and Galle Face Green promenade. Early dinner at the famed ‘Ministry of Crab’, one of one of the best restaurants in Asia. Overnight at the Taj Samudra hotel.

Day 3

Columbo / Wilpattu Breakfast time. Drive to Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka’s largest with an area of 130,000 hectares, known for its leopard population. The park is dotted with large sand rimmed natural lakes known as ‘villus’. Afternoon game drive. Lunch, dinner and overnight at Big Game.

Day 4

Wilpattu Early morning game drive to spot wildlife at Wilpattu National Park. Return to the camp site for breakfast and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Option for an extra afternoon game drive. Lunch, dinner and overnight at Big Game.

Day 5

Wilpattu / Habarana  Breakfast time. Drive to the original capital of ancient Sri Lanka, ‘Anuradhapura’ a UNESCO world heritage site and centre of the island's Buddhist civilisation. The oldest historically documented tree on earth, over 2,200 years old, is the ‘Sri Maha Bodhi’ (sacred tree), brought as a sapling of the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. The island's oldest Buddhist shrines dating back to the 3rd century BC, impressive white 'dagabas' (relic chambers) and monuments embellished with stone carvings, pleasure gardens, stone baths and ponds and an irrigation system of reservoirs and canals are the main attractions. Continue on to visit ‘Mihintale’, a forest clad mountain of great spiritual significance to Buddhists. Highlights include the 1,840 ancient granite steps, the relic house and monks’ refectory, assembly hall, meditation rock, caves and ponds. Climb to the summit for scenic views. Lunch at Nuwarawewa House. Continue to Habarana for check-in to the lodge. Evening and dinner your at leisure. Overnight at the Cinnamon Lodge.

Day 6

Habarana Breakfast time. Drive to Sigiriyaworld heritage site built in the 5th century as a bastion and palace of King Kasyapa. The complex has geometrically laid water gardens, frescoes of beautiful maidens and a mirror wall. The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery. It’s around 1200 steps to the summit of the Rock Fortress which reveals a spectacular panorama of the surrounding jungle and Sigiriya village. Refreshments and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure. Optional afternoon jeep safari to Minneriya National Park. Dinner and overnight at the Cinnamon Lodge.

Day 7

Habarana / Kandy Breakfast at the hotel. Journey to Dambulla world heritage site known for its richly painted cave temples. Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass and it was here that King Valagam Bahu took refuge from invasions in the 1st century BC, later turning the caves into a rock temple.  Some of its frescoes are over 2,000 years old. The highlight is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock some 15 meters long.  The caves have a mixture of religious and secular paintings and sculptures with ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history. Spice visit and tour to learn about how different spices are grown at a farm in Matale. Drive onto Kandy, this hill station is remarkable for its peaceful natural beauty and wooded valley overlooking a vast lake. The palace, shrines and British period buildings give it a special defining character, while ‘Buddha’s Tooth Relic’ lends a religious importance to the historic highland capital. Check in to the hotel. Early evening visit to the Temple of the Tooth, which holds the sacred tooth relic of Buddha, encased in seven caskets, adorned with a large number of gold ornaments. For evening ‘Puja’, we will provide you with white temple clothing, incense sticks and oil lamps. Dinner and overnight at the Cinnamon Citadel hotel.

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Day 8

Kandy Breakfast time. Town tour and visit market square featuring Kandy’s renowned Batik & Gem stores. Continue to Pilimatalawa to visit Suriyakantha Centre for Art and Culture, including an 18th century Dutch mansion that belonged to a Village Chief. Lunch talk about the Kandyan and Gampola kingdoms followed by traditional Kandyan dance & drumming. Afternoon at Helga’s Folly for high-tea. Early evening at your leisure. Dinner and overnight at the Cinnamon Citadel hotel.

Day 9

Kandy / Nuwara Eliya Breakfast time. Visit the impressive Royal Botanical Gardens, formerly the pleasure place of the Kandyan Kings, regarded as a marvellous collection of tropical world flora and a herbarium. Train for a 2 ½ hour ride to the tea-side town of Nuwara Eliya. An engineering marvel and the most picturesque of rail journeys. Our train ascends along winding tracks, past Devon & St Clair waterfall into the home of the famed Ceylon Tea, with its rolling hills turning into a carpet of velvety green plantations and interspersed with gushing steams. Nuwara Eliya was built entirely during the 19th century and its architecture mimics an English country town, with redbrick walls, country houses like The Hill Club and mock Tudor half-timbering. Enjoy evening at your leisure. Dinner and overnight at the Grand hotel.

Day 10

Nuwara Eliya Breakfast time. Morning hike in the Tea plantations witnessing the local life of the tea plucking community. We visit the local factory to understand the process of Tea manufacturing. Sri Lanka is one of the world's largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19the century Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry, surrounded for miles by tea estates. Visit the Tea Factory and witness how the raw green leaf, which was plucked, is converted to the familiar dark brown product through a process of drying, cutting, rolling and fermentation. At the factory, also learn to ‘taste’ tea and try to identify the subtle differences in flavour produced at the factory. Later in the afternoon we enjoy high tea at Grand Hotel. Dinner and overnight at the Grand hotel.

Day 11

Nuwara Eliya / Bentota Breakfast time. Morning journey to the coastal town of Bentota. Check-in to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the early evening at your leisure. Dinner and overnight at the Avani Bentota hotel.

Day 12

Bentota / Galle  Breakfast time. Drive to the Historic town of Galle. The ancient trading post of Galle was an essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Javanese and Sumatrans came later followed by Marco Polo in 1299 AD. The Portuguese arrived in the 1500’s and built a settlement with a fort of palm trees and mud. This was captured by the Dutch (and finally the British) who built the 400-year-old fort. Narrow streets remain in use and the community within the fort is a bustle with daily life – a living-breathing town, hidden within fortified walls of this ancient, maritime citadel. Afternoon walking tour exploring Galle Fort, overflowing with landmarks, strolling past the Dutch church, the spice warehouses, the Kacheri or Town Hall, the lighthouse and ramparts. Near the old Arab mosque are streets leading to cricket fields surrounded by ancient frangipani trees. Dinner and overnight at the Fort Bazaar hotel.

Day 13

Galle Early morning visit to the local fish market to see the fresh catch of the day, such as yellow fin tuna, calamari, sear fish, mullet, prawns and crabs being traded. Visit the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum followed by a photo stop at the ‘Stilt Fisherman’. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at your leisure. Drive to Kosgoda to visit the Turtle hatchery farm operated by the Wild Life Protection Society of Sri Lanka. Established in 1981, the objective of the society was to protect Sri Lanka's turtles from extinction. See the huge tanks filled with new born but lively hatchlings. After being fed the hatchlings are taken to the sea and released when they are 2-4 days old. Although October to April is the main laying season, eggs can be found throughout the year. Guided tour of the conservation centre. Cocktails on the beach for sunset followed by the memorable opportunity of releasing three day-old turtles to the sea. This is truly one of the most heart-warming experiences you will encounter during the tour. Special farewell dinner will be arranged at ‘Foot Printers’.  Overnight at the Fort Bazaar hotel.

Day 14

Galle / Negombo / Departure Breakfast at the hotel and entire day at your leisure. Afternoon transfer to airport in time for your international departure flight.


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Prepare for your trip

 Sri Lanka’s aromatic past

Sri Lanka is the capital of a rich variety of spices that determined its history, being the cause of many an invasion. Fragrant Clove, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Mace, Pepper, Cocoa and Vanilla amongst others account for a diversity of cooking styles and applications.  

Given that it's such a lush country, it's no surprise that Sri Lanka grows many of its best goods. Tea is an obvious purchase; all manner of spices are another. In addition there are various handicrafts and a growing range of designer items.

Colombo is full of stylish designer boutiques, galleries and markets galore sell just about anything, with plenty of surprises on offer.

The island may be small, but the animals are big, especially the herds of Asian elephants that live inside and outside the national parks. Leopards and water buffaloes are just some of the other creatures you might spot.

‘Ayubowan’ is the word used in Sri Lanka to greet someone. It means ‘Long Life’. One is Generally greeted by joining two hands in prayer-like manner and saying ‘Ayubowan’. This phrase can be used any time of the day. However, in the city it is more common to be greeted with a hand shake, while the village folks still greet you in the traditional way. Thank you very much is ‘Bohoma Istuti’ and Please is ‘Karunakara’.

 
 

WHAT'S INCLUDED

All tours include domestic flights, accommodation, transport, air conditioned mini coach with refreshments, sightseeing entrance fees, special tour events and activities, local guides, most meals and tipping (except for national guide). Prices may be subject to currency fluctuation or surcharges.


TOUR PRICE

14 Days /13 Nights
$ 8,860
( twin share per person )
$ 3,315 ( single supplement )
Fully escorted


SANTANI WELLNESS post tour EXTENSION
5 Days /4 Nights•2–6 Sept
$ 2,720
( twin share per person )
$ 920 ( single supplement )


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