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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.