CLASSIC SRI LANKA IN STYLE

11 Nights / 12 Days

A unique journey around the island of Sri Lanka, previously known as Ceylon by the British colonists, Serendip by Arab explorers and Taprobane by the Romans...

Few islands in the world offer the diversity that exists in Sri Lanka, from ancient cities, to rich religious festivals, to colonial memories, to rolling tea plantations, to the best beaches in the Indian ocean, to an astonishing variety of bird and animal wildlife, and to a bustling and chaotic way of life, Sri Lanka intoxicates its visitors with its potpourri of cultures, religions, races, customs, its sheer natural beauty and its way of life.

Day Location Hotel Suite/Room Basis
Day 1 Arrival Flight Details    
Day 1 Kotugoda The Wallawwa Garden Suite BB
Day 2 Cultural T Ulagalla Chalet HB
Day 3 Cultural T Ulagalla Chalet HB
Day 4 Cultural T Ulagalla Chalet HB
Day 5 Kandy K. House Deluxe Room HB
Day 6 Kandy K. House Deluxe Room HB
Day 7 Hatton Tea Trails Garden Suite FB
Day 8 Hatton Tea Trails Garden Suite FB
Day 9 Galle Amangalla Chamber Room BB
Day 10 Galle Amangalla Chamber Room BB
Day 11 Colombo Casa Colombo Suite BB
Day 12 Departure Flight Details    

HB = Half Board
BB = Bed & Breakfast
FB = Full Board
RO = Room Only


DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1
Arrive in Sri Lanka, in style…

(No meals included)

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 guide or guide who will be your travel companion and explorer around Sri Lanka.

The drive to the Wallawwa 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.

ACCOMMODATION
The Wallawwa

Day 2
Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle...

(Breakfast and dinner)

Morning: Travel to the Cultural Triangle OPTIONS:

The journey begins with the exploration of some of Sri Lanka’s ancient cities and archaeological sites. The Cultural Triangle is home to 4 of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Sri Lanka.

OPTION: TO THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE BY AIR

We travel by G8AIRVAN to the Cultural Triangle. The G8AIRVAN is a small 6 seater plane. The plane takes off from Colombo International Airport itself. We will wait at the airport VIP lounge and from here we will be driven to the local terminal entrance and escorted by a coordinator from the flight operator.

On route we fly over Sigiriya Rock Fortress – we do 3 loops. Also known as Lion Rock, Sigiriya was built on top of a huge boulder in the 5th century. A palace? A rock fortress? The castle of King Kasyapa? A Buddhist monastery from the 14th century? "Similar to the cosmic mountain of Meru? The eighth wonder of the world? No place in Sri Lanka has generated as many theories and legends as the 180m monolith, set amidst stunning scenery. Note: We will be visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the coming days.

Lunch on route overlooking Kandalama Lake. Brief introduction BAWA and the Kandalama Hotel across the lake. Guided visit the UNESCO Dambulla Cave Temples.

We lunch at the Kandalama Hotel, which boasts spectacular views over Kandalama Lake.

OPTION: TO THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE BY ROAD

The journey to the Cultural Triangle is approximately 3 hours. We travel northeast on back roads through small towns and large coconut and pineapple plantations. If you wish, you can stop to enjoy a thambili (king coconut), which is a popular roadside refreshment in Sri Lanka

GUIDED VISIT: Morning or afternoon (depending on whether you travelled to the Cultural Triangle by air or by road): The UNESCO Dambulla Cave Temples

After lunch we visit the Dambulla Cave Temples, 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 colorful designs continue along the contours of the rock. There are images of Buddha, bodhisattvas, and various gods and goddesses.

We proceed to Ulagalla Resort, near the town of Thirappane. We will arrive in the late afternoon. You might like to have a swim in your own private pool or indulge in a spa treatment at the Coco Spa. The property also offers horse riding, archery and for every room there are two mountain bikes. The surrounding area has many trails ideal both for walking and biking.
Dinner and overnight at Ulagalla Resort or Lake Lodge Kandalama

ACCOMMODATION
Ulagalla Resort or Lake Lodge Kandalama

Day 3
Archaeology and Nature…

(Breakfast and dinner)

GUIDED VISIT: Morning: The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya

The day starts early, but it’s worth it! Your guide will lead you through ancient pleasure gardens to visit the fortress of Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, built on top of a huge boulder in the 5th century. If you are keen to see the rock at its best with panoramic views from the top, then the ideal time to visit is 7.30am.

Sigiriya is a large stone and ancient rock fortress and palace ruin in the central Matale District of Sri Lanka, surrounded by the remains of an extensive network of gardens, reservoirs, and other structures. Sigiriya is also renowned for its ancient paintings (frescos), which are reminiscent of the Ajanta Caves of India. It is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.

Lunch on route at the Sigiriya Village Hotel.

We enjoy a light lunch at the Sigiriya Rest House overlooking the rock fortress. Some might like a swim in the pool to cool down before lunch after the morning climb.

GUIDED VISIT: Afternoon: Guided visit UNESCO Pollonaruwa

Polonnaruwa 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.

GUIDED VISIT: Afternoon: 4x4 Jeep Safari around Mineriya Park 
In the afternoon, if time permits, we will visit Minneriya National Park, just half an hour from Polonnaruwa. 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.

Dinner and night at Ulagalla Resort or Lake Lodge Kandalama

Day 4
The ancient capital of Anuradhapura

(Breakfast and dinner)

GUIDED VISIT: Visit 10-14 sites around UNESCO Anuradnapura 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.

Dinner and overnight at Ulagalla Resort or Lake Lodge Kandalama

Day 5
The Spice Road to Kandy...

(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)

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.

GUIDED VISIT:Visit a working Spice Garden on route to Kandy and then lunch exclusively at Ena De Silva’s private estate.

En route we will visit a spice garden where you will learn about the origins, production and health benefits of popular spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and pepper.

We then proceed to the Kandy House. A 200-year-old aristo palazzo gone 21st-century, it blends minimalist lines, atypical antiques and quirky strokes of color around a central courtyard, with just eight romantic individually designed rooms, named after indigenous butterflies.

Overnight at the Kandy House.

Day 6
Eclectic Kandy...

(Breakfast and Dinner)

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.

GUIDED VISIT: Afternoon: Kandy Town and the Temple of the Tooth

On route back to Kandy we would recommend a walk around Kandy’s central market. Stocking a range of foods, spices, herbal tonics, crafts, textiles and factory-reject designer-brand clothing, it caters mainly to the locals…

Following your visit to the Kandy market we recommend a visit the British Garrison Cemetery (No entrance fees needed).. 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-1870s, 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.

Following your visit to the Kandy market we recommend a visit the British Garrison Cemetery (No entrance fees needed).. 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-1870s, 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 a cup of 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 DaladaMaligawa, 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 splendor. Kandy’s DaladaMaligawa 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 dine at the Kandy House. Overnight at the Kandy House.

Day 7
High Tea...

(Breakfast, lunch and dinner included)

GUIDED VISIT & TRAIN RIDE: Visit a working 19th Century Train station and take the Train to the hills...

Your next stop is the hill country, also known as the tea country. The train leaves early in the morning, at around 10.30 AM but we will arrive a little earlier. Our guide will show you around the station and introduce you to the train engineers and the proud station manager.

The train ride from Kandy to the heart of Sri Lanka’s Tea Country is one of the most scenic train rides in Asia. As you meander out of Kandy, dense jungle opens into cloud forest, with undulating vistas of immaculate tea bush carpets in between. Startling orange minivetsbirds perch on outrageously vivid spathodia blossoms, hairpin bends cling onto hillsides somewhere between soaring peaks and dramatic ravines, thundering waterfalls tumble and glassy lakes reflect the astonishing scenery – just in case you missed it.

We stop in Hatton where your driver will await at the station to take you to a Tea Trails Bungalow. Tea Trails consists of  4 classic colonial bungalows managed by Tea Trails. Tea planter’s bungalows were built for British tea estate managers in the days of the Raj. On arrival at Tea Trails you will be greeted by your butler who will attend to anything you need and discuss the dinner options. Enjoy the evening at Tea Trails. Watch the sun go down over the mountains and the lakes from the splendid verandah and gardens at Tea Trails.

Overnight at the Tea Trails or Mas Villa

Day 8
Tea Trails

(Breakfast, lunch and dinner)

The eponymous English cuppa might have been somewhat stronger if not for the 1865 coffee blight. Old Ceylon’s up-country coffee plantations were devastated – but not the spirits of the pioneering planters. They threw in a crop of tea and never looked back.Sri Lanka is still the world’s largest exporter of tea and major industry has never looked so good!

GUIDED VISIT: Morning: Visit a Tea Plantation with a resident planter.

Today we visit a tea plantation.  A 'Tea Experience' is offered providing interesting insights into the growth and manufacture of tea - Sri Lanka's most famous crop.

Lunch is served on the verandah at Tea Trails.

Directly and indirectly, over one million Sri Lankans are employed in the tea industry. A large proportion of the workforce is young women and the minimum working age is twelve. As tea plantations grew in Sri Lanka and demanded extensive labour, finding an abundant workforce was a problem for planters. Sinhalese people were reluctant to work in the plantations. Indian Tamils were brought to Sri Lanka at the beginning of the coffee plantations. Immigration of Indian Tamils steadily increased and by 1855 there were 55,000 new immigrants. By the end of the coffee era there were some 100,000 in Sri Lanka.  Today – as a community they are still instrumental to the Tea Industry.

GUIDED VISIT: Afternoon: Villages and Views of the Golden Bowl.  
If you like this afternoon we can  visit some of the villages in the valley, their homes, schools and markets.

We can then head up to the ridge between both valleys to take in the spectacular views and for the first time we see Adam’s Peak. It is variously known as Adam’s Peak (the place where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint, left by the Buddha as he headed towards paradise) or Samanalakande (Butterfly Mountain, where butterflies go to die). Some believe the huge ‘footprint’ on the top of the 2243m peak to be that of St Thomas, the early apostle of India, or even of Lord Shiva. Whichever legend you care to believe, this place has been a pilgrimage centre for over 1000 years.  

It’s not only the sacred footprint that pilgrims seek. As the first rays of dawn light up the holy mountain you’re treated to an extremely fine view – the Hill Country rises to the east, while to the west the land slopes away to the sea. Colombo, 65km away, is easily visible on a clear day. It’s little wonder that English author John Stills, in his book Jungle Tide, described the peak as ‘one of the vastest and most reverenced cathedrals of the human race’.

Overnight at the Tea Trails or Mas Villa

Day 9
To the historic citadel of Galle Fort...

(Breakfast and a picnic lunch)

SHORT VISIT: Morning: Late start travel to Galle... light lunch on route at the site of the filming of “Bridge Over River Kwai”

This morning we set off early, winding our way through the tea plantations which
gradually give way to tropical jungle, and eventually to the sparkling palm-fringed coastline of the Indian Ocean.  On route stop for tea or a bite at the location where the film Bridge Over The River Kwai was filmed, on the Kelani River – one of the more breathtakingly beautiful places in Sri Lanka.

The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 British-American World War II film directed by David Lean, based on the eponymous French novel (1952) by Pierre Boulle. The film is a work of fiction but borrows the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–43 for its historical setting. It stars William Holden, Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness, and Sessue Hayakawa. The film was filmed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The bridge in the film was located near Kitulgala where the bridge was made for the film. The film achieved near universal critical acclaim, winning seven Academy Awards.

By late afternoon we arrive in Galle Fort. As we pass through the imposing fort gates, we are instantly transported to another era. Galle is the country's oldest living city and is sure to capture our interest, with its historic sites and its unique fusion of European and Arabic cultural and architectural influences. Galle rose to prominence as a port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders, later followed by Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialists, all leaving their indelible mark on this enchanting seaside town.

We will spend the next two night relaxing and soaking up the culture and history of the 17th century Dutch fort of Galle.

Dinner is on your own. Night at the Amangalla or Sun House

Day 10
Galle Fort and the Serendip Riviera

(Breakfast, dinner)

Morning: Visit Galle Fort with a resident author.
We will take a guided tour around Galle Fort with Juliet Coombe, one of the authors of the book Around the Fort in 80 Lives, which is about the various interesting characters that live and work in the citadel.

The 16th century Galle Fort is a world heritage site. Spanning over 90 acres, it is Asia’s best preserved and largest surviving fort built by European occupiers. It was originally built by the Portuguese in 1588 and extended to its present glory by the Dutch in 1663. The best way to soak up the charm of the Old City and to get our bearings is by taking a stroll around the thick granite walls of the fort. This one hour circuit is most enjoyable at sunrise and sunset as the air is cool and the light is long and low. The real allure is found in simply wandering through its warren of narrow alleys and side streets, replete with colonial homes with original archways and verandas, 18th century churches, mosques, museums and impressive art galleries and clothing boutiques.

Today lunch is at leisure. We recommend lunch on the beach at Why Beach or Wijaya Beach. Why and Wijaya are two small beach restaurants located on Thalpe Beach. The vehicle will be available to take you to the beach and bring you back after sunset. Some might prefer other optional activities such as a visit to local temples, a bit of shopping... One option for the actively minded is to take a bike ride around the paddy’s and village inland from Galle. The starting point can be Wijaya Beach itself and this can be easily organized on the spot.

Afternoon at leisure.
Here are some optional activities:

- Watch the stilt fishermen at sunset in Weligama.
- Visit the Buddhist temple of Yatagala or the Rumassala peace pagoda.
- Visit the Hirare forest.
- Visit the virgin white tea plantation and factory.
- Visit a cinnamon plantation.
- Half a day cycling in the rice fields inland from Galle.
- Canoeing on the Gin Ganga river.

SPECIAL DINNER: Dinner in an old spice merchant’s home – the Sun House.
Today we have a lovely dinner arranged at the Sun House, the beautiful house of an old spice merchant. Built in 1861 The Sun House is beautifully sited on a leafy hill in Galle’s best residential district overlooking Galle Harbour and the sea. Converted into a beautiful seven-bedroom boutique hotel at the turn of the century, The Sun House maintains the charm and elegance of a bygone era.

Night at the Amangalla or Sun House.

Day 11
Lunuganga and Colombo

(Breakfast, dinner)

GUIDED VISIT: Guided visit to Lunuganga, Geoffrey Bawa’s House…
After a lazy breakfast we travel north towards Colombo. The trip takes approximately 3.5 hours. On route we visit Lunuganga situated approximately 2.5 hours from Galle, in the area of Bentota.

Created over several decades by the ‘father of Asian architecture’, the late Geoffrey Bawa, this beautiful 15 acre estate of Lunuganga, a few kilometers inland from Bentota, was fashioned by Bawa into a place of extraordinary beauty as his tropical vision of an Italian Renaissance garden bordered on two sides by the Deduwa Lake. Featuring rolling lawns, terraces and pavilions set out like a series of spacious outdoor rooms, whose position has been carefully chosen to exploit the fabulous vistas over the lake, tropical jungle and paddy fields. Statues, pavilions, courtyards and lily ponds provide much interest as they flank secret pathways that link gardens characterized by majestic banyans, silvery rubber trees and ageing frangipani.

Lunch: On your own.  
Lunch is on your own in Bentota or Colombo.

Afternoon: City Walk with resident Mark Forbes. 
Mark takes you right into the birthplace of what is modern day Colombo, and its pulse that is throbbing.

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 Jayewardenepura 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.

Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948.

SPECIAL DINNER: For dinner we take you to the Ministry of Crab. Dharshan Munidasa, in partnership with two of Sri Lanka’s best known faces - cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene - claims to be the best place in the world to sample the renowned Sri Lankan crab. Occupying prime space in the landmark Dutch Hospital complex, the restaurant specializes in serving enormous crustaceans that would otherwise be whisked away to more prosperous consumers in Singapore and Malaysia.

Night at Tintagel or Park Street Hotel

ACCOMMODATION Casa Colombo

Casa Colombo offers personalized service at its very best. A stunningly restored 200-year-old Moorish mansion originally built by one of the wealthiest Indian trading families of the time, Casa is a lavishly restored twelve-suite boutique city hotel located down a private lane just off the Galle Road. Combining old world charm with contemporary design and timeless sophistication, Casa is a tribute to the creative talents of its owner Lalin Jinasena who innovatively custom designed everything from the cutlery and crockery to the furniture and fabrics solely using craftsmen and materials from Sri Lanka. With no reception desk, Casa Domos personally look after you during your entire stay by taking care of any needs that may arise be it getting you a poolside drink, taking you on a city tour or sending an important business fax. While Casa Colombo retains the fabulous Moorish architectural style that includes charming mosaic floors, it is unconventionally infused with an edgy personalized design that blends contemporary furniture, vibrant colors and the very latest technology. Space is an added luxury in each of the highly individualized suites while perhaps the most striking feature of the hotel is the pink mosaic swimming pool that could easily be the only one of its kind in the world!

Day 12
Departure

(No meals)

At a pre-arranged time your chauffer guide will take you to the airport for your departure.

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