|9 days and 8 nights|
Sri Lanka (Kotugoda, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Kandy, Colombo)
Sri Lanka (Colombo)
Day Location Hotel Room Category
Day 1 Arrival
Day 1 Kotugoda The Wallawwa W Bedroom
Day 2 Cultural T Ulagalla Ulagalla Chalet
Day 3 Cultural T Ulagalla Ulagalla Chalet
Day 4 Cultural T Water Garden Deluxe Villa
Day 5 Cultural T Water Garden Deluxe Villa
Day 6 Kandy Kandy House Deluxe Room
Day 7 Kandy Kandy House Deluxe Room
Day 8 Colombo Uga Residency Park Suite
Day 9 Departure
Arrive in Sri Lanka,
Upon arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met and assisted by our Airport Representative who will hold a board with your name as you exit the aircraft. We will then accompany you through passport control, customs, baggage collection and money changers, all the way to the arrival lounge where we will meet you, address any last minute questions you have about the itinerary and introduce you to your chauffer guide or guide who will be your travel companion and explorer around Sri Lanka.
The drive to the The Wallawwa in Kotugoda takes approximately half an hour. Check in, unpack and relax. There is a great spa for those interested in relieving the tensions of the flight.
Night at The Wallawwa.
To the ancient capital
Morning: Drive to the Ancient Capital
We travel on back roads towards the north-east to the area we call the ancient capital. The road winds its way through vast coconut and pineapple plantations and every now and then you will cross a village where if you like you may stop to have a thambili, the traditional Sri Lankan coconut.
Lunch on route at the Sigiriya Village Hotel.
We enjoy a light lunch at the Sigiriya Rest House overlooking the rock fortress.
Afternoon visits: Guided visit UNESCO Pollonaruwa
After Lunch we travel north for an hour and a half to the medieval capital and ruins of Polonnaruwa, which was the second capital and the seat of government from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. Constant invasions by southern Indian warrior tribes meant that the city was abandoned and Dambadeniya became the new capital. It was not until the nineteenth century that the citadel was rediscovered by English explorers.
We return to Ulagalla in the late afternoon where we can relax before dinner. Those interested might like to go on a nature walk with a naturalist from the resort.
Overnight at Ulagalla Resort.
The ancient capital of Anuradhapura
All day: Visit 10-14 sites around UNESCO Anuradhapura including lunch at the colonial Tissawewa Rest House.
This morning we will travel to Anuradhapura, the first royal capital of Sri Lanka, which flourished for 1300 years. This sacred city is thought to have been established around a cutting from the 'tree of enlightenment', the Buddha's fig tree, brought here in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site spans over several miles with its palaces, monasteries and monuments.
Lunch at the Tissawewa Rest House: We will enjoy lunch in the shade at the Tissewewa guesthouse, before heading out to explore more ruins in the afternoon with our expert guides.
Overnight at Ulagalla Resort.
To the Cultural Triangle
Morning: Guided visit to Dambulla Cave Temples
Dambulla Cave Temples, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. This temple, dating back to the first century BC, when hermit monks established a monastery here, is one of the most impressive in Asia. It has five caves under a large overhanging rock, carved with a drip line to keep the interior dry. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with religious pictures and the colourful designs continue along the contours of the rock. There are images of Buddha, bodhisattvas, and various gods and goddesses.
Afternoon: Sri Lankan Village Life, “Gods Village” with Lunch
Enlightening and exhilarating, this village safari gives you a glimpse of a uniquely interlinked Sri Lankan village life where the villagers go about their daily lives with the greatest respect to nature. Spend a morning in the remote village of Hiruwadunna – an area the locals call ‘God’s village’ and said to be a refuge of King Wasaba (66-110 AD).
Swooping eagles and exotic butterflies are some of the visual highlights of the journey before the ultimate view of the majestic Sigiriya Rock Fortress and surrounding mountain ranges in the distance. Where the boat ride end, a bumpy one on tractor begins. Take in wide open paddy fields and miniature forests that have a lot to offer by way of birds, lizards and butterflies. The tractor stops at another hamlet for a tour of vegetable and fruit plantations and a first-hand account of how traditional and superstitious farming are kept alive. Stops along the journey at cool mud structures with palm-thatched roofs for refreshing fruit slices and native aromatic herbal brews served in coconut shells, make this experience neither too hectic nor laid back. It does however work up a big appetite, so the mini-adventure is tied up a feast of fresh vegetables harvested from the fields just explored. Prepared in Sri Lanka’s version of slow cooking; olden day prep methods in cutting veggies, pounding raw rice, weaving palm baskets, and clay pot cooking over a wooden hearth are demonstrated before the final reward of a large, delicious, warm meal served on lotus leaf, in keeping with good ol’ fashioned rural hospitality.
Overnight at Water Garden Sigiriya.
Water Garden Sigiriya
Archaeology and nature
Morning guided visit UNESCO Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
We depart our hotel early this morning to climb one of the most astonishing sites in Sri Lanka, UNESCO World Heritage Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The climb itself takes approximately 2.5 hours. The 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress, a massive monolith of red stone rising 600 feet from the green scrub jungle below. Fifteen centuries ago, this rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town and was crowned by the palace of the mad genius King Kasyapa. Though the palace no longer exists, the paws of the great lion which guarded the entrance to the summit are still intact, and a moat, rampart, and extensive gardens, including the renowned water gardens, ring the base of the rock. The world-renowned frescoes of the “Heavenly Maidens” of Sigiriya can be seen in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster.
Lunch at Jetwing Vil Uyana
We enjoy a light lunch at the Jetwing Vil Uyana. Vil Uyana is situated among reed beds and paddy fields and over the first man-made lake since the era of Parakramabahu I. Situated in the shadow of the historic rock fortress of Sigiriya, is what Harper’s Bazaar calls the Best Eco Luxury Hotel in Sri Lanka. It was inspired by the habitat creation at the London Wetland Centre by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust.
Afternoon: Safari into Mineriya National Park
In the afternoon, if time and weather permits, we will visit Minneriya National Park, just half an hour from Sigiriya. The park covers 8,890 hectares and consists of a mixed forest of evergreen shrubs, a favourite habitat for animals, which include leopards, deer and wild elephants.
The park's main feature is the former reservoir or tank built by King Mahasen in the third century AD. During the dry season from June to September, this is a fantastic place to watch herds of elephants come to graze and bathe. It has recently been discovered that the park witnesses the largest elephant gathering in the world during these months. You can also see huge flocks of birds, including cormorants and painted storks that come to fish in the shallow waters.
Overnight at Water Garden Sigiriya.
Water Garden Sigiriya
The Spice Road to Kandy
Morning and lunch: Visit a working Spice Garden on route to Kandy and then lunch exclusively at Ena De Silva’s private estate. Unquestionably the best Sri Lankan food in the country.
Today we travel towards Kandy. On route we stop at a spice garden and we stop for lunch at Ena de Silva’s private residence.
In 1962, 40-year-old Ena de Silva moved into the unique courtyard house that architect Geoffrey Bawa had built for her in Colombo and started to experiment with batik making. Assisted by LakiSenanayake and her son Anil, she established Ena de Silva Fabrics and went on to produce such masterpieces as the ceiling of Bawa'sBentota Beach Hotel and the banners that hang in front of Sri Lanka's parliament. In 1982 she returned to her ancestral home in the hills above Matale and founded a women's cooperative to make batiks and needlework along with a brass foundry and wood-carving workshop. The cooperative has now existed for more than a quarter century and continues to make modern fabrics and carvings, which are inspired by traditional Sri Lankan designs.
Afternoon (late): At leisure. Optional Visit one of the few interesting local artists in their home for tea...
We arrive in Kandy in the late afternoon. We check into the Kandy House – and for those interested in the arts we have a treat. There are numerous wonderful artists living in Kandy, we will take you to see one of our artist friend’s studios. The visits will be coordinated by one of our local friends in Kandy and the exact schedule of events will depend on who is around at the time (subject to availability).
We dine at the Kandy House. Overnight at the Kandy House
Morning: Visit the Botanical Gardens with a professor from Peradeniya University. Light lunch inside the park after the visit.
Kandy was the capital of the venerated 16th century Kandyan Kings, who fiercely and successfully defended their kingdom against Portuguese and Dutch invaders for 300 years. It eventually fell to the British in 1815, but the salubrious hill station has maintained its position as an epicenter of Sinhalese culture and the site of an important spiritual pilgrimage for Buddhists. Many of the legends, traditions, and folklore are still lovingly kept alive by the region’s friendly people.
We leave the Kandy House at 9.30 AM. We start the day in Kandy with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens. First conceived as a Queen’s pleasure garden in the 14th century, and a Kandyan Prince’s residence in the 18th century the gardens were formally opened under their current guise in 1821. Walking around these tranquil, immaculately-designed lawns, borders, pavilions and plant houses, you could easily think you are in England but the heat and extraordinary diversity of the tropical plants give the game away. The Botanical Gardens are as popular with Sri Lankans and travellers alike, and they are large enough to guarantee that there is shady seating available for each visitor. Easy to visit by foot.
Lunch: A light lunch is served at the Botanical Gardens.
Afternoon: Visit the Garrison Cemetery – no ordinary cemetery, visit the Temple of the Tooth and attend a Cultural Show...
In the afternoon we visit the British Garrison Cemetery. Some might raise an eyebrow at the prospect of visiting a cemetery but this is no ordinary one, and well worth a visit. In the very heart of Kandy lies a ¾ acre plot of land wherein rest many men, women and children, mainly colonial British, cut off from life, many in the flower of their youth, others blossoming into manhood, and with only a bare handful reaching the proverbial three score years and ten. This is the British Garrison Cemetery, which was opened in 1822 and closed by Governor's Proclamation in the mid-1870's, except for those with a relation already buried therein. After recent restoration, anyone interested is now more than welcome to visit this slightly bizarre but incredibly insightful reminder of the past. Here you will connect with Kandy in the 19th Century - a good number of these have their own stories to tell.
We take you for afternoon tea to the Queens Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Asia, and then we head into the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most sacred site. Tradition relates that a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka in 4th Century A.D. and was enshrined within the Dalanda Maligawa, or the Temple of the Tooth. This sacred relic has ever since been the symbol of sovereignty for the Sinhalese kings and always enshrined in great splendour. Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa is a magnificent shrine, with decorative walls, golden roof and fine woodwork. Religious services (pooja) are held daily at dawn, midday, and in the evening and can be viewed by visitors. The services are accompanied with traditional music and drumming.
We head back to the Kandy House
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins and a population of 647,100.
Afternoon: Hosted Experience: A walk around old Colombo with local residents Mark Forbes or Ruvi Forbes
Spend the afternoon with a resident host and re-live the glory days of the Colombo Fort. You will be picked up from your hotel and taken to the Dutch Hospital where the walk begins. The walk places focus on photography, architecture and history in two stages; stage one covers the Fort while stage two covers the Pettah markets. The walk includes a break for tea and stops along the way to sample street food. Water will be provided if required along the way. The walk ends at the Old Dutch Hospital.
Our hosts: Colombo City Walks is hosted by Mark Forbes, his wife Ruvi Forbes and Sri. Mark’s ancestors are of Dutch, German, and British descent, but today he classifies himself as a ‘Dutch-Burgher’. He is very much Sri Lankan and speaks the three languages of the island: English, Sinhalese and Tamil. His father’s fondness for road-trips left in Mark a love for out-door adventure, making friends, and sharing the stories of his adventures. Should Mark not be available due to unforeseen circumstances, the visit will take place with a one of Mark’s collaborators: Ruvi or Sri. Among Ruvi’s many interests and side projects, is artisan baking. When she’s not on a walk, you could find her creating colorful batches of sugar cookies for a start-up baking company. She also has a background in fashion design. The animated sri shares the passion for walks and storytelling. Sri is a host at one of Sri Lanka’s prestigious radio stations, so has many interesting facts to share. He is also a food connoisseur, so don’t be surprised if he veers you off to try some delicacies or gets carried away when you ask him the recipe to a simple curry.
Overnight at the Uga Residency
You will be collected and taken to Colombo International Airport at the appropriate time.
Accommodation at hotels as specified
Meals mentioned in the itinerary
Transportation in an AC vehicle throughout the tour.
Service of a Best English-speaking chauffeur guide.
Cost of prevailing Government taxes.
Camera & Video permits
Tips & porterage
Cost of personal nature such as Laundry, Telephone, Mini Bar, etc.
Any other services not mentioned under the “Package includes”