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Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka

18 days from £3690 per person

Despite Sri Lanka's undoubted popularity, certain parts of the island remain both unknown and underexplored. Starting at the Horathapola Estate in Kurunegala, initially six nights are spent in the 'cultural triangle' visiting some of the less familiar sights of this historic region. Travelling north explore Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka's oldest wildlife reserve, and the city of Jaffna which is located at the northern tip of the island and a stronghold of Tamil culture. Leaving Jaffna travel south via Trincomalee and end in Passikudah to relax on one of the island's finest beaches.

Route: Colombo – Kandanegedara – Sigiriya – Thirappane – Jaffna – Trincomalee – Passikudah – Colombo

Itinerary Highlights

The UNESCO-listed ancient rock fortress at Sigiriya rises majestically out of the forest. In 495 AD a palace was built on the summit and the sides decorated with colourful frescoes.

For years Wilpattu National Park was off-limits to travellers. Today this attractive reserve supports over thirty species of mammal, reptiles including mugger crocodile and threatened bird species.

Jaffna’s history is one of contest, created as a port by the Portuguese, it was lost to the Dutch, who then lost it to the British in 1796. After independence Tamils and Sinhalese disputed the city.

Itinerary: Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka

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. (D)

Accommodation in Kandanegedara: Horathapola Estate (or similar)

This morning leave Kandanegedara for the drive to Sigiriya stopping en-route to visit Yapahuwa, a rock fortress and capital of Sri Lanka during the 13th century, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dambulla. An important temple complex, the richly painted caves dating, at their earliest, from the 1st century BC with the frescoes portraying both religious and secular life. (B)

Accommodation in Sigiriya: Jetwing Vil Uyana (or similar)

Over the next two day explore the areas around Sigiriya. Highlights include 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. Other places of interest include the archaeological site of Medirigiriya, the cave temples of Dimbulagala, the Gal Vihara rock temple and Mahiyangana Vihara which is said to be the location of Buddha's first visit to the country. (B)

Accommodation in Sigiriya: Jetwing Vil Uyana (or similar)

Today leave Sigiriya and drive to Thirappane stopping en-route to visit the 2nd century BC forest hermitage and monastic site of Ritigala. Later continue on to Thirappane. This region is Sri Lanka's cultural heart and encompasses numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient cities and monasteries, rock-cut caves and monolithic Buddhas. (B)

Accommodation in Thirappane: Ulagalla Resort (or similar)

With your driver-guide, over the next two days explore the area surrounding Thirappane. Visit Sri Lanka's first capital Anuradhapura, the home of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and nearby Mihintale where, according to tradition, the first Buddhist sermon was preached. Other places of interest include the little-visited Buddha statues at Aukana, Sasseruwa, the capital of medieval Sri Lanka, the ruins of the city of Panduvasbuwara and the Vessagiriya Cave Monastery. (B)

Accommodation in Thirappane: Ulagalla Resort (or similar)

Today drive north-west to Wilpattu National Park for a day's visit. Sri Lanka's oldest wildlife reserve, Wilpattu covers a vast area stretching from the coastal shoreline between Portugal and Dutch bays to the hilly, densely forested interior. A further feature of Wilpattu are the numerous villus, natural water basins, dotted throughout the park which collect rain and attract animals. (B)

Accommodation in Thirappane: Ulagalla Resort (or similar)

Today return to Wilpattu for further exploration of the reserve with a naturalist on morning and evening safaris. Birding in Wilpattu with both resident and migrant species, whilst larger mammals include elephant, sloth bear, deer, water buffalo, mongoose and the evasive leopard. Coastal regions support the little seen dugong and there is a healthy reptile population including monitor lizard, mugger crocodile and Indian python. (B)

Accommodation in Thirappane: Ulagalla Resort (or similar)

After breakfast, leave Thirappane and drive north to Jaffna. Jaffna, at the northern tip of the island, is a stronghold of Hindu Tamil culture and this has shaped the make-up of the city, and surrounding region. Slowly re-opening to foreign tourism, the city remains very much 'off the beaten track' and provides an interesting alternative to the busier south. (B)

Accommodation in Jaffna: Expo Pavilion Margosa (or similar)

Today explore Jaffna with your driver-guide. The colourful Kandaswamy Temple is a particular highlight and is one of the most important Hindu temple complexes on the island. Believed to date from the 10th century, the currently structure is nearly two hundred years old and hosts the spectacular yearly 25 day chariot festival. Also visit Jaffna Fort, one of the island's oldest and largest, the interesting archaeological museum, St Mary's Cathedral and the church of St James. (B)

Accommodation in Jaffna: Expo Pavilion Margosa (or similar)

Today follow Sri Lanka's east coast to Trincomalee. One of the earliest Indian Tamil settlements in Sri Lanka, the coming of the colonial era and Trincomalee's magnificent natural harbour combined to make this port city one of the subcontinent's political and economic powerhouses. Later enter Fort Frederick, see Wellesley House and visit the colourful Konesvaram Temple. (B)

Accommodation in Trincomalee: Chaaya Blu Trincomalee (or similar)

Alternative option in Kuchchaveli: Jungle Bay Resort

Leaving Trincomalee, today drive to Sri Lanka's beautiful east coast. Located to the north of the city of Batticaloa, first landing point of the Dutch in 1602, Passikudah has one of the island's finest beaches of golden sand and gentle crystal clear waters ideal for swimming and snorkelling. (B)

Accommodation in Passikudah: Maalu Maalu Resort

Alternative option: Uga Bay Resort

Over the next two days relax and enjoy Passikudah. The Maalu Maalu Resort is located directly on the beach and has a large, welcoming swimming pool and its own Ayurvedic spa. For the more active, cycle or walk to some of the small neighbouring fishing villages, dive or snorkel the virgin coral reefs or visit the Portuguese fort in Batticaloa. (B)

Accommodation in Passikudah: Maalu Maalu Resort

Alternative option: Uga Bay Resort

Today transfer to Batticaloa Airport and fly to Colombo. (B)

Accommodation in Colombo: The Wallawwa (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
  • Domestic flights
  • 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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