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A Journey through Ceylon

18 days from £3895 per person

An intoxicating blend of cultures, this small tear-drop shaped island at the base of India is a tropical paradise home to colonial forts, lush tea plantations and a 2,500 year old Buddhist tradition. Based on staying in some of the finest small, luxury, boutique hotels of the region, your journey starts in Kandanegedara before heading north, via the elephant orphanage of Pinnawela, to Sigiriya, the famed Cultural Triangle and Minneriya National Park. From here continue to Kandy, the tea estates of Hatton, Yala National Park and historic Galle before ending on the beach at the luxurious Reef Villa.

Route: Colombo – Kandanegedara – Sigiriya – Kandy – Castlereagh Reservoir – Yala National Park – Galle – Wadduwa – Colombo

Itinerary Highlights

The 1,100 year old temple complex at Dambulla is a protected world heritage site. Consisting of a series of caves, the temples are decorated with religious frescoes and Buddhist sculpture.

Settled by the Dutch, Portuguese and British, the charming old town of Galle is one of the best examples of a fortified city built by Europeans in Asia and has been sympathetically maintained.

In the southeast of the country, Yala National Park is known for its variety of animals and ecosystems. It is important for the conservation of elephants, leopards and aquatic birds.

Itinerary: A Journey through Ceylon

Today depart the UK on the SriLankan Airlines flight to Colombo. (N)
Arrive into Colombo and continue north by car to Kandanegedara and the Horathapola Estate for an overnight stay. Dating from the early 1900s, this grand plantation bungalow has been beautifully restored to offer both spacious and charming accommodation. Set amidst a lush rural landscape, spend the remainder of the day at leisure relaxing by the lovely swimming pool. (N)
Accommodation in Kandanegedara: Horathapola Estate (or similar)
Leaving Kandanegedara, visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage which was established in 1975 and today is home to the largest group of captive elephants in the world. From here continue to Sigiriya. This region is Sri Lanka's cultural heart and encompasses no fewer than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites from ancient cities and monasteries to rock-cut caves and monolithic Buddhas. (B)
Accommodation in Sigiriya: Jetwing Vil Uyana (or similar)
Accommodation in Thirappane: Ulagalla Resort (or similar)
Over the next two days explore the surrounding area with your driver-guide. Highlights include Sri Lanka's first capital Anuradhapura and nearby Mihintale. Explore the wonderful archaeological remains at Polonnaruwa, the island's medieval capital between the 11th and 13th centuries, and the astonishing frescoes and rock fortress of Sigiriya. Time permitting, the Aukana Buddha and jungle remains at Ritigala are well worth visiting as is Minneriya National Park, home to a large elephant population. (B)
Accommodation in Sigiriya: Jetwing Vil Uyana (or similar)
Accommodation in Thirappane: Ulagalla Resort (or similar)
This morning drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dambulla and visit the richly painted caves of this important temple complex. Dating, at their earliest, from the 1st century BC, the frescoes and sculpture portray both religious and secular life. Later continue to Kandy. Capital of the highlands, Kandy is best known for the opulent Temple of Tooth and later visit the temple where Buddha's tooth relic is housed. (B)
Accommodation in Kandy: The Kandy House (or similar)
Upgrade option: Theva Residency (or similar)
With its palaces, parks and gardens, Kandy is an attractive city. The centre of town is known for its early 19th century architecture and this morning spend time exploring the colourful bazaar and interesting Kandy National Museum. In the afternoon travel outside of Kandy to the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, a former royal pleasure garden but converted into its current form in 1821. With over 4,000 labelled species, Peradeniya is one of the finest botanical gardens in the subcontinent. (B)
Accommodation in Kandy: The Kandy House (or similar)
Upgrade option: Theva Residency (or similar)
After breakfast, travel by train on the spectacular journey from Peradeniya Station to Hatton in the heart of the island’s tea growing region. At Hatton continue to Castlereagh Reservoir and one of the Tea Trails bungalows for a two night stay. Tea Trails comprises of four classic colonial tea planters homes. Built between 1890 and 1939, each is in a different location and decorated with authentic period furnishings. It is possible to stay at different bungalows and there are many scenic walking trails to enjoy. (B/D)
Accommodation in Castlereagh Reservoir: Tea Trails bungalows (or similar)
Today you are at leisure to relax or, alternatively, explore the beautiful Bogawantalawa Valley in which the bungalows are set. There are numerous trails through immaculate tea gardens ranging from gentle walks to more strenuous treks and the abundant birdlife makes for enjoyable birding. The old colonial hill-station of Nuwara Eliya, complete with 18-hole championship golf course, is also only a short drive away. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Castlereagh Reservoir: Tea Trails bungalows (or similar)
This morning leave Castlereagh Reservoir and drive south to the famous Yala National Park. Established as a protected area in 1938, Yala is a large reserve with a mixture of habitats ranging from open parkland and dense jungle, to a myriad of flooded lagoons and high coastal sand dunes. This varied terrain supports a wide range of animal life and vegetation. Yala is also a base for visiting the ancient, and now abandoned, royal city of Tissamaharama. (B)
Accommodation in Yala National Park: Cinnamon Wild Resort (or similar)
At Yala there is an impressive variety of flora and fauna and today explore the reserve with your naturalist on morning and evening jeep safaris. The park is known throughout Sri Lanka for its elephant population and, naturalists believe, it supports the highest concentration of leopards in the world although sightings of this elusive animal remain rare. Other animals here include sambar, spotted deer, wild boar, jackal, monkey, sloth bear and crocodile. Birdlife is also abundant with over 130 species recorded. (B)
Accommodation in Yala National Park: Cinnamon Wild Resort (or similar)
After breakfast leave Yala and drive to the coastal city of Galle. Once the chief port of British Ceylon, today the city of Galle is divided into two parts—the modern, bustling centre and the historic, colonial fort. The charming old town was visited by Ibn Batuta during the 14th century and was subsequently controlled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British who finally captured the city in 1796. (B)
Accommodation in Galle: Deco on 44 Hotel (or similar)
Upgrade option: Amangalla Hotel (or similar)
Spend the morning whale and dolphin watching by boat from Galle harbour where it is possible to see the great blue whale, the largest mammal on earth. Whales and dolphins are most frequently seen from November to early April. In the afternoon return to Galle and explore the atmospheric fort. The colonial architecture here is incredibly well-preserved with the city gates and ramparts, 18th century Dutch Reformed Church, Arab Quarter and pretty old post office particular highlights. (B)
Accommodation in Galle: Deco on 44 Hotel (or similar)
Upgrade option: Amangalla Hotel (or similar)
Today drive to coastal Wadduwa and the luxurious Reef Villa for a four night stay. Beautifully designed with the shimmering Indian Ocean as its backdrop, Reef Villa is set within extensive tropical gardens and combines the best of European and Sri Lankan architecture. Accommodation consists of just seven suites and facilities include an all-weather tennis court, large swimming pool and spa. (B)
Accommodation in Wadduwa: Reef Villa (or similar)
At leisure to relax and enjoy Reef Villa. Locally you may also wish to visit Lunuganga the country home of the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa and Brief Garden, developed by Geoffrey's brother Bevis, who was an artist and landscape architect. (B)
Accommodation in Wadduwa: Reef Villa (or similar)
Today transfer back to Colombo Airport to catch the SriLankan Airlines flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Train travel as specified
  • Private car with English speaking driver-guide
  • Wildlife viewing with local naturalist
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Sri Lanka Holiday Review

In all a wonderful and memorable trip and thank you again for organising everything and being so accommodating and helpful.

DL & ML - Sri Lanka - January 2018

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