The Best of Sri Lanka Tour
Tour Duration: 10 Nights / 11 Days
Destinations Covered: Colombo - Anuradhapura - Mihintale - Aukana - Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa - Dambulla - Kandy - Pinnawela - Nuwara Eliya - Horton Plains - Yala - Bentota
Day 01- Colombo
Arrive at the Bandaranaike International airport, Katunayake. You will be met and assisted on arrival by our airport staff and transferred to Colombo, the commercial capital of the country. (30km, approx. 1 hour drive). On arrival, check in at the hotel. Afternoon commence a sightseeing tour of the city of Colombo. Drive through the commercial and city centre area known as the “Fort”, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century where grand colonial era buildings stand alongside modern office structures. See the busy markets and noisy bazaars of Pettah, the National Museum with its fine collection of lovely antiques and art of Sri Lanka. Drive past the Town Hall, Independence Square, the B.M.I.C.H (International Convention Centre) and Cinnamon Gardens residential area and visit a Buddhist temple and a Hindu Kovil to experience the diversity of religion, ethnicity and customs of the people.On completion, return to hotel.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Colombo.
Day 02 - Anuradhapura
After breakfast at the hotel leave for Anuradhapura. (206 km, approx. 5 hour drive). On arrival in Anuradhapura, check in at the hotel. After a short break, visit the sacred ancient city founded in the 04th century B.C a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982. It has the largest number of ancient monuments of the great Sinhala civilization which flourished in this region. You will see some of the most famous as well as the tallest dagobas of Sri Lanka, Ruwanweliseya Dagoba, 2nd century BC with its famous elephant walls and the 3rd century BC Thuparama Dagoba. Ruins of ancient royal palaces specially the pillars of the Brazen Palace, which once had nine storeys, temples, the image of the Samadhi Buddha one of the finest pieces of Buddhist sculpture, monasteries, the twin ponds, guard stones and the moonstone. The ‘Sri Maha Bodhi’ or the sacred Bo tree is over 2200 years old grown from a branch of the very tree under which “The Buddha” attained enlightenment – the oldest historically documented tree in the world.
Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 03 – Mihintale/Aukana
After breakfast at hotel leave for Mihintale (12 km – approx. ½ hour drive). Visit the ancient remains of Mihintale, a sacred place which is regarded as the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The rock is dotted with shrines and rock dwellings. A grand stairway of 1840 steps made of granite slabs, 5 meters wide leads to the summit with its splendid views of the surrounding countryside.
Afterwards proceed to Aukana (59 km, approx. 1 ½ hour drive) to see the statue of the Aukana Buddha, undoubtedly the most magnificent undamaged ancient image in the island. The 5th century statue ascribed to King Dhatusena is 13 meters high standing beneath a recently constructed brick shelter. Aukana means ‘sun eating’ and is best viewed when the sun rises.
On completion, leave for Habarana, a small village with excellent hotel accommodation, a central location for all the ancient city sites. (55km – approx. 1½ hour drive). On arrival in Habarana, check in at hotel.
Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 04 – Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa
After breakfast at hotel leave for Sigiriya (25 km, approx. ½ hour drive) and climb the Rock Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage site) built by King Kassapa in the 05thcentury A.D. which was a Royal Citadel for more than 18 years. The lion rock is a citadel of unusual beauty, rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. The base of the rock is ringed by a moat and rampart and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens. The majestic Lion’s Paw picturesquely guards the stairway of the palace on the summit. See the famous frescoes of the “Heavenly maidens” of Sigiriya in a sheltered pocket of the rock and the 10 foot high Mirror Wall.
On completion, leave for Polonnaruwa (67 km, approx.1½ hour drive), (UNESCO World Heritage Site) the Capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th century, a well-planned medieval city defended by enclosing walls (around 5 km. which still remain),graced by palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds and irrigation lakes. Polonnaruwa is strewn with ruins in a resplendent state of preservation. Of these the ‘Vatadage’ and the ‘Thuparama Image house’ are the most spectacular. The ‘Gal Vihara’ which consists of statues of the recumbent, standing and seated Buddha have been cut from a single granite wall and rank among the true masterpieces of Sri Lankan Art. On completion, return to the hotel. Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 05 – Dambulla / Kandy
After breakfast at the hotel, leave for Dambulla (25 km, approx. ½ hour drive) and visit the famous Golden Rock cave temple which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, a vast isolated rock mass with its five caverns is the largest best preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 sq. meters) are of particular importance as are the 157 statues including a 47 foot long statue of the recumbent Buddha. The ceiling of one cavern is fully illustrated with paintings that follow the natural folds of the rock so closely that it appears to be made of cloth. The complex of caves is one of the most impressive Buddhist Temples in the world.
Thereafter leave for Kandy (72 km – approx. 3 hour drive). En route visit a Spice garden in Matale. Kandy, the bustling hill country capital is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is famous for the pink painted Temple of the Tooth which houses the most sacred religious relic, the tooth of the Buddha, the Kandy Lake built in 1807 which is an attractive centerpiece to the town and the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Kandy is also popular because of the annual festival known as the Esala Perahera where the inner casket covering the tooth relic of the Buddha is taken in a grand procession through the streets of the city held annually in the month of July or August. On arrival in Kandy, check in at the hotel. Evening, visit the sacred Temple of Tooth. Thereafter enjoy the Kandyan Cultural Show at the Kandyan Arts & Cultural Centre. The show features the graceful and rhythmic dancers and drummers culminating in an impressive fire walking display.
Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 06 –Pinnawela / Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast proceed to Pinnawala and visit the Elephant Orphanage (50 km, 2 hours drive). This orphanage was set up by the government to take care of baby elephants lost or abandoned in the wild. Witness the feeding of the elephants. The baby elephants being bottle fed with milk is a heartwarming sight. Thereafter observe them as they take their daily bath in the river nearby, which affords marvelous photo opportunities. Bath time is enjoyed by all elephants, young and old alike and it is a good time to closely observe their tightly knit family structure. The young elephants are protected and cared for, by the older ones in the group and the leader of the group is respected by all. (Open from 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Daily feeding times- 9.15 a.m.,1.15 p.m. 5.00 p.m. Bathing times – 10.00 a.m., 2.00 p.m., 4.00 p.m.).
On completion, leave for Nuwara Eliya (130km, approx. 4 ½ hour drive). En route visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens where a rare collection of tropical exotic and indigenous flora including the famous Orchid House could be viewed. This beautiful town of Nuwara Eliya, set in the heart of Tea country and situated 1890 meters above sea level, is where the British succeeded in creating an English countryside with homes in styles from Georgian to Queen Anne with well kept lawns with hedges. Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 07 – Nuwara Eliya / Horton Plains
After an early breakfast at hotel, leave for Horton Plains (40 km, approx. 1 ½ hour drive), the highest plateau in the country. It is one of the very important National parks in Sri Lanka especially for its topographical variations. It has unique vegetation and is famous for many rare and endemic highland birds. The most awesome physical feature of the Horton Plains is the escarpment that falls 880 meters to the lowlands of the southern region of the island. Aptly known as the ‘World’s End’ the view from the precipice of the countryside below towards the south coast is spectacular. Dawn or early morning is the best time for observing it.
On completion, return to Nuwara Eliya. Afternoon commence a sightseeing tour of the city. Visit the Nuwara Eliya Town, Market place, Golf Course, (one of the finest 18 holes Golf courses in Asia) the Hill Club, and drive around this hill station viewing Lake Gregory. Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 08 - Yala
After breakfast proceed to Yala (197 km, approx. 4 ½ hour drive). En route visit Rawana Waterfalls, a sight to behold with a scenic backdrop of mountains and valleys. It is featured in the Rawana mythology, where Sita is said to have bathed from this waterfall while she was in captivity. On arrival in Yala, check in at the hotel. Afternoon commence a jeep safari in the Yala National Park by private jeep accompanied by a tracker. Yala National Park one of Sri Lanka’s premier eco tourist destinations is renowned for its variety of wildlife notably its many elephants. It is also home to the spotted deer, sambar, wild buffalo, sloth bear, jackal, mongoose and crocodiles. The peacock is easily the most famous of the birds in this park. Yala has a high concentration of leopards although seeing these nocturnal carnivores still requires some luck.Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 09 - Bentota
After breakfast leave for Bentota(241 km, approx. 5 hour drive), a tourist resort in the south with the most beautiful, wide and sandy beaches. Rest of the day at leisure, on the beach. Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 10 - Bentota
Breakfast at hotel. Full day at leisure on the beach. Overnight stay at a hotel.
Day 11 - Bentota
After breakfast leave to the Airport for your departure flight. (96 km, 2 ½ hour drive).
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