Gems of Sri Lanka

A bright green drop in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a colorful, vivid and vibrant country, with a history that goes back three thousand years and evidence of human settlement dating back millennia before that.  Not only diverse in its religions, ethnic groups, and languages, but also in its produce – from tea and coffee, to spices, coconuts, rubber, and gemstones to it’s landscapes and biodiversity, from thick jungles to golden beaches. 

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Day 1

Upon arrival to Colombo, after clearing immigration formalities, collect your baggage and proceed to the exit.  Here you will be met by a Luxury Trips representative and transferred to your hotel where you will stay for one night. 

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Day 2

After an early breakfast check out from hotel and drive to Sigiriya (4.5 hours). Upon arrival check into your hotel where you will stay for two nights. 

This afternoon, visit the Minneriya National Park. The park covers 22,000 acres and consists of a mixed forest of evergreen shrubs, a favorite habitat for animals such as leopard, deer and wild elephants.  The park’s main feature is the former reservoir or tank built by King Mahasen in the third century. This is a fantastic place to watch herds of elephants come to graze and bathe in summer. You can also see huge flocks of birds, including cormorants and painted storks that come to fish in the shallow waters.

Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure. 

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Day 3

After breakfast proceed to Sigiriya Rock. The 5th century Rock Fortress is a world heritage site, was built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 650 feet from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70-hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens, including the renowned water gardens, ring the base of the rock. Visit the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock, approached by a spiral stairway. It takes about 2.5 hours to climb the rock.      

Later visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, this rose to fame as the capital after the decline of Anuradhapura. Its period of greatness was from the 10th to 12th centuries AD. The entire landscape of the region is punctuated by huge man-made reservoirs – veritable inland seas – the most famous of which is the Prakrama Samudra or the Sea of Parakrama, larger in size than the Colombo harbor. Also visit the ancient temples including Royal palace complex and Gal Vihara.
 

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Day 4

After breakfast, depart for Kandy (3 hours).  En route visit the Dambulla Rock Temple and a spice garden.

The Dambulla rock temple was built by King Walagambahu in the 1st century B.C. and is also a World Heritage Site. It is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex, consisting of five caves, with over 21,500 square feet of painted walls and ceilings, is the largest area of paintings found in the world.   

Stop at a spice garden to see how local spices are grown, specially cinnamon, cardamom, and pepper. You will get a chance to see how Sri Lanka (or Ceylon as it was called earlier) found a key part in history as the producer of spices. The visit to the garden is followed by lunch before we continue to Kandy. 

This afternoon take a half day city tour of Kandy.  One of the most charming towns in Sri Lanka, Kandy was the last royal capital, famous for its gorgeous setting beside a lake, cradled by hills and surrounded by the sinuous lines of tea plantations. Visit the gold-roofed Temple of the Tooth, with its guardian elephants, and containing a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre.  It is a deeply significant Buddhist site  and draws thousands of pilgrims from across the world. 

 

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Day 5

After breakfast transfer to Kandy Station to board train to Nanu Oya.

Board your train from a quaint colonial station and embark on one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.  Journey past waterfalls, little villages and up through the mountains on the scenic railway to this town in the cool highlands, once popular with British plantation managers. Look down over a sweeping vista filled with bright green tea bushes and vegetable gardens.

Upon arrival you will be met and driven to Ella where you will visit to one of the tea plantations. Learn about the country’s most important exporters – a local tea factory, one of the oldest in the areas. Depending on the season, meet with some of the plantation workers and try your hand at picking tea leaves and enjoy a tasting.

Continue to your hotel for an evening at leisure. 
 

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Day 6

Depart early this morning for a hike up Little Adam’s Peak.  The hike is about 45 minutes one way, to an elevation of about 3, 740 ft.  The mountain derived it’s name from the sacred, Adam’s Peak, in Sri Pada, where the footprint of Lord Buddha preserved.  Since the two mountains are so similar, this one was named ‘Little Adam’s Peak’.  It attracts many visitors to Sri Lanka.  An easy hike through lush green tea plantations, past waterfalls and paddy fields, culminating in a spectacular view! 

Return to the hotel for breakfast and some leisure time, before departing for Nine Arch Bridge, which was built at Gotuwala, between the Ella and Demodara Stations during the British Colonial period. Locally it is known as ‘Ahas Namaye Palama’ meaning nine skies bridge in Sinhala. The name is derived from the visual experience – when you stand below the bridge and look up you can see the sky through the nine arches. The unique part about this bridge is that it is built entirely from rocks, bricks, and cement, with no use of steel or metals throughout the structure. The bridge was commissioned in 1941 and the story goes that as the bridge was being planned when World War I broke out. The steel and metal materials destined to be used in the bridge were reassigned to be used for military purposes. The materials were then gathered in the form of rocks, bricks, and cement to make sure they went ahead with construction. 

Continue to Ella Rock for a  hike to enjoy the panoramic views of mist and clouds covering the area.  The hike begins from Ella Railway station, and is 2 hours / 5 miles each way, starting along the tracks, and through rubber tree forests and tea plantations, and past waterfalls. 

Return the hotel for the night. 

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Day 7

After breakfast drive to Yala National Park where you will stay for three nights.  

This afternoon take a shared jeep safari into Yala National Park. Yala, Sri Lanka’s best-known National Park, is popular for elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile and Wild boar. At almost 242,000 acres, this is the second largest of the country’s National Parks. Its open, undulating terrain made it famous for elephants for many years, but recently the park has also received a lot of publicity by National Geographic and the Discovery TV channels for leopard research/conservation and identification projects. Claims have subsequently been made that Yala National Park has the world’s highest concentration of leopard per square mile. Vegetation is primarily grassland and shrub jungle with patches of dense growth. Several salt and fresh-water lagoons attract a large variety of resident and migrant birds.
 

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Day 8

Enjoy two days of morning and afternoon shared jeep safaris in the park.  The morning drive starts at about 6:00 am, and the afternoon drive at about 2:30 pm.  Between game drives, enjoy lunch and relax in the cool respite of the lodge or take one of the optional tours offered by your lodge such as a nature walk or bird watching. 

  

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Day 9

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Day 10

Depart after breakfast and drive to Galle, located on the southern coast (4 hours).  En route stop for a cooking demonstration at the home of a local host. Here you get a chance to see and learn how traditional Sri Lankan food is made using the freshest ingredients. Upon arrival to Galle, check in to your hotel to freshen up before your late afternoon tour. 

Galle is a must-see for colonial architecture buffs.  At 3;00 pm you will be collected from your hotel for a guided tour of its main attraction, the 17th-century Dutch fort, one of the most extensive monuments left by European colonialists. Although many of the structures that made up the fort are in serious decay, the outer walls are completely intact. If you walk along the top of the walls at dusk, you’ll see dozens of cricket games, an old lighthouse, beautiful views of the town’s harbor and hundreds of Sri Lankans out and about socializing. Within the fort, visit any of several old churches (including a Dutch church dating from the mid-18th century).  Afterwards, wonder the maze of narrow cobblestone paved roadways lined with colonial period buildings still in use, and old merchant houses where generations of Moorish families still live. Along the way, stop by for a cup of Ceylon Tea or fresh king coconut.  Dinner this evening is at the Galle Fort Hotel. 

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Day 11

At 6:30 am, depart the hotel and transfer to Marissa Fishery Harbor to board a private speed boat for some whale watching.  The journey takes about 2-3 hours, and snacks will be provided. Return to the hotel for breakfast. 

After the breakfast take a cycling tour a village (approximately 2 hours / 7 miles). It’s a gentle loop along local paths and quiet lanes,  starting and finishing at our base near Wijaya Beach, passing through Eluvila Bird Sanctuary and out into the paddy fields.  About half way, stop to enjoy king coconuts served under an ambalama in a private jungle garden.

From there we head to a mask making and painting demonstration. Masks are used more for performance and ritual in modern day Sri Lanka, but their past is rooted in ancient beliefs and the ideology that they have healing and protective powers. Our journey through time starts with a preliminary introduction to the history of masks in Sri Lanka. Learn of the uses and the tools used to make them. Then artisans will assist you in molding your very on traditional mask.   Once completed, you have the option of returning next day to paint the wonderful mask you’ve crafted. The local artisans will teach you how to paint the masks in a traditional manner and give you a few decorating tips along the way. Once completed, the mask is yours to keep!

 

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Day 12

After breakfast, depart for Colombo and check into your hotel. 

This afternoon explore the city on a privately guided walk with a local. This leisurely 2 to 3 hour walk takes you through the city’s commercial heritage, reflecting on the times and the ways of the Portuguese, Dutch and English. Traverse through the main streets of the city, visit some of the key buildings,  and learn about the diverse people who live here.  Finally, visit the bustling market of Pettah where you can sample various delicacies. 

Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure. 

 

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Day 13

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to the airport for departure flight. 

Included

•    12 night’s accommodation in a double room at the hotels mentioned above or similar with breakfast and taxes. 
•    Option 1:  Nine Skies Bungalow includes: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, complimentary soft drinks, beer, house wine, house gin/vodka/whiskey/arrack with mixers and tea/coffee throughout the day.
Flameback Eco Lodge includes: breakfast, lunch , afternoon cream tea, dinner, unlimited beer, wine, selected spirits, soft beverages, welcome cocktail, daily (shared)morning  game drive to Yala with in-house game ranger, evening bird watching nature trail OR fishing by the lake with in-house naturalist, complimentary WIFI
•    Option 2:  Wild Coast Tented Lodge includes: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, beverages (house spirits & wines), shared safari one daily game drive, Wi-Fi, taxes, service charge.
•    Other meals as specified. 
•    Transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle along with the services of an English-Speaking Driver cum Guide on tour (not applicable during beach stay).
•    Entrance fees to all places specified in the itinerary above. 
•    Train tickets from Peradeniya to Nanu’oya (tickets subject to availability).
•    Ella Rock professional trekker.  
•    Spice Garden visit with lunch.
•    Galle cooking demonstration.
•    Guided Galle walking heritage tour. 
•    Galle Early morning Cycling tour.
•    Mask making and painting Factory visit.
•    Galle Fort Hotel Dinner.
•    Private Whale watching Tour.  
•    All presently applicable taxes and service charges.

Excluded

    • Meals, drinks, laundry, entrance fees, porterage, tours/excursions and transfers not specified;
    • Any scheduled flights and related taxes not specified;
    • Cancellation, baggage and medical insurance – which is essential;
    • Staff gratuities;
    • Any new gov. taxes, levies, fuel or industry increases which are beyond our control;
    • Any items of a personal nature or anything not specifically stated as included;
    • International airfare.