Discover Sri Lanka

Resort: Discover Sri Lanka
Operator: Inghams
Destination: Indian Ocean
Price From: £2299.00

Overview


Spend two weeks exploring the delights of this diverse and inspiring island

Lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a natural
paradise with a landscape of verdant mountains, rainforests, paddy fields,
tumbling waterfalls and sweeping gorges. From ancient Buddhist temples, the
fortress of Sigiriya, the towns of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in the hill
country, the wildlife of Yala National Park (which has one of the highest
concentrations of leopards in the world), to the idyllic palm-fringed beaches
of the south coast, this small island offers incredible variety, made extra
special by its laid back atmosphere and hospitable people.

Highlights

* The magnificent cave temples atDambulla

* Cycle through rice paddy fields

* Search for leopard in Yala National Park

* Climb the rock fortress at Sigiriya forbreathtaking views

Itinerary

Day 1 Depart London.

The group flight usually departs in the evening from London Heathrow.
**

Day 2
Arrive Colombo; transfer to Veyangoda.

The group flight arrives at Colombo’s Bandaranaike Airport and we transfer to
our hotel approximately 30 minutes away. Those not flying with the group will
meet us at the hotel.
*The Covanroor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 3
Visit cave temples at Dambulla; to Sigiriya.

We depart after breakfast for the drive (approx. 4 hours) through lush green
countryside (a mix of coconut palms, paddy fields and banana plantations)
through Kurunegala to Dambulla. Here we visit the magnificent Cave Temple,
for some, the most impressive sight in Sri Lanka. There are colourful, well
preserved paintings and statues of Buddha inside the caves, which date back
to the 1st century BC. After lunch we continue to Sigiriya where we stay for
the night. From our hotel we can see Lions Rock rising up from the plains
(occasionally we may stay nearer to Dambulla due to hotel availability).
*Hotel Sigiriyaor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 4
Morning climb to the rock fortress; optional afternoon game drive.

This morning we drive to the foot of the Lions Rock at Sigiriya. The imposing
5th century rock fortress of Sigiriya rises 600 feet from the plains
overlooking the surrounding countryside and giving far-reaching views. Used
as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top goes via a series of
steep steps and gangways. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive
water gardens, we ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb
portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn
the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are extensive
remains of the King’s Summer Palace.
During the afternoon there is a chance to enjoy an optional game drive in
either Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park or the Hurulu Eco Park to see
elephants in their natural habitat. For those who dont want to take part,
there is time to relax at the hotel.
*Hotel Sigiriyaor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 5
To Giritale; bike ride through country villages.

This morning we have a short drive to Giritale where our usual hotel
overlooks the scenic Giritale Tank. The islands early inhabitants solved
the dual problem of heat and lack of water in this dry area by constructing
large tanks to act as reservoirs and cool the warm breeze. Nowadays they
provide an important habitat for bird life, particularly from August to
April. Today we take to bikes and cycle at a leisurely pace through a series
of small villages and lakes (if youdo not wish to participate you can hire
a tuk tuk locally for approximately £10 per tuk tuk and follow the group but
not cycle). We should see plenty of bird life including Egrets, Brahmany
kites, Kingfishers and Bulbuls. Stopping for lunch in a traditional village
will break up the journey. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel in
Giritale.

*Giritale Hotelor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 6
Visit ancient capital of Polonnaruwa; drive to Kandy via spice garden.

After breakfast we take a short drive to the 10th century capital of Sri
Lanka; Polonnaruwa, the ancient capital of the Sinhalese. Here there are many
Buddhist relics and ruins dating from a thousand years ago when Sinhalese
culture reached its zenith. The city flourished in the 12th century after the
decision was made to move the capital from Anuradhapura, so it was further
away from incursions from Southern India. The ruins are therefore younger and
better preserved than those at Anuradhapura. We visit many of the temples,
palaces, huge dagobas (Buddhist stupas) and remarkable Buddhist sculptures.
After lunch we head into the hills to the picturesque town of Kandy. On the
way we stop at a spice garden near Matale where we can see various spices and
herbs growing, and there is a chance to stock up on massage oils, spices and
Ayurvedic medicines. This is a long but fascinating day and we arrive at
Kandy in the early evening.
*Hotel Thilankaor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 7-8
Free time in Kandy to explore or relax.

Kandy is located by a small lake and we spend two full days in and around the
town. On the first day we will visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses
Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic. The Tooth of Buddha was taken from
the funeral pyre in 543 BC and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the 4th
century AD. There are literally hundreds of worshippers who visit the temple
each day and in August the most spectacular ceremony takes place. Some of our
trips in August should coincide with the Kandy festival, but the exact dates,
decided by priests, are not known until 5 months prior to the event. After
our visit we drive to a beautiful viewpoint over Kandy overlooked by a huge
Buddha, and visit a gem museum where you can see the products of the
traditional methods of gem extraction. Another highlight is the vast
Peradeniya Botanical Garden with species of orchid that are endemic to Sri
Lanka. In the evening we may have the chance to attend a performance of
dancing and fire walking.
The second day is free to explore this wonderful town. The surrounding hills
are wonderful, offering fantastic views of the town below and there are many
handicraft stores and antique shops in which to browse.
*Hotel Thilankaor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 9
To Nuwara Eliya via Kitulgala; optional Adams Peak climb (Dec-Apr only).

Leaving Kandy early, we have a spectacular drive through the countryside on
the way to Kitulgala. Here we have the opportunity of going on a walk through
the jungle or local villages followed by an optional white water rafting
excursion. The rafting costs extra (see the Optional Excursions section),
lasts a maximum of 1.5 hours and there is a choice of gentle or wild water
(grade 3 rapids) depending on your preference. Those of us who do not wish to
go rafting will be able to freshen up and relax by the water until the
rafters return in time for lunch. Afterwards we will drive to our hotel in
Nuwara Eliya.
(Please note that from the full moon day of December to the full moon day of
May it is possible to climb Adams Peak. This is optional and you need to be
very fit to attempt this. You would leave Nuwara Eliya at 11pm on day 8 and
drive to the base of the peak. From here it is a strenuous 4 hour climb to
the top in time for sunrise. We then return to Nuwara Eliya to join the group
for lunch on day 9).
*Mirage Kings Cottage (or similar)*

Day 10
Free morning in old colonial hillstation of Nuwara Eliya. Visit tea factory
in afternoon.

This morning we will have free time to explore the beautiful town of Nuwara
Eliya. Nuwara Eliya was a popular hill station during the British era and is
situated in the cool highland air at 1890m. Known locally as ‘Little England’
it is dotted with British style houses and parks and features a golf club and
a racecourse! Following lunch we will visit a nearby tea factory and learn
about the process of tea production.
*Mirage Kings Cottage (or similar)*

Day 11
Early morning to Horton Plains; walk to World’s End viewpoint; to Bandarawela
by train.

We have an early start this morning and take a 30km drive south to Horton
Plains, a large plateau over 2,000m high, overlooked by the second and third
highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The scenery is beautiful and the best way to
explore is on foot. We take a guided walk through the rolling grasslands
where we hope to see such as the Sambur and Purple Faced monkey. We also
visit ‘World’s End’ which is one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka
where the ground drops 1050m to the plains. Following this we catch a train
from the highest railway station in the country – within an hour and a half
we drop from 1889m to 1097m. The train travels through the cloud forest into
the tea plantations, with breath-taking views of the lush valley below.
Please note thatat times, particularly in peak season, the train may be
extremely busy with standing room only. As a result you may get a choice
between taking the train or going by road, and in extreme cases the leader
may decide that the whole group should go by road and avoid the train.We
get off at Bandarawela, a town relatively untouched by tourism.

*Orient Hotelor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 12
Scenic drive through Ella Gap to Kataragama; game drive in Yala N.P.

Today we continue on to Ella Gap where we have spectacular views of the
coastal plain nearly 1,000m below. Almost the entire southern part of the
island is in view and on a particularly clear day the shimmering silver of
the Indian Ocean is visible. Heading south out of the hills we travel to
Kataragama on the plains; this is our base for visiting Sri Lanka’s best
known national park, Yala. The park is popular for elephant, leopard, bear,
crocodile and Wild boar. At 97,800 hectares, this is the second largest of
Sri Lanka’s national parks. Its open undulating terrain made it famous for
elephants for many years, but recently the park has also become better known
for leopard. The park, which is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and
fresh water lagoons, has one of the highest concentrations of leopard per
square kilometre in the world. (Please note that the sanctuary may be closed
for 4-6 weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to
check the welfare of the animals. We therefore go to an alternative area
close by, usually Udawalawe National Park).
*Mandara Rosenor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 13
Drive to Tangalle and walk through rice paddies; coastal drive to Ahangama;
optional lunch at Tsunami house.

Today we leave for the coast, with its beautiful palm fringed bays. Stopping
on the way at Hambantota and walking to a nearby farm house where you be
offered tea in a coconut shell along with a local snack. We will mix with
real Sri Lankan life and take part in some traditional Sri Lankan games,
returning to our bus in tractors used by the farmers. We have the option of
enjoying lunch at one of the houses that we built for Tsunami victims; this
may be one of the best curries of your trip! Continuing on to Ahangama in the
afternoon we arrive at our coastal hotel and you can relax for the rest of
the day.
*Insight Resortor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 14
Free day to relax on the beach or optional activities including whale
watching (Nov to April).

Today is a free day to relax on the beach or by the hotel pool. There are
also optional activities during the day including a boat ride through
mangrove swamps to a cinnamon plantation or, from November to April you can
go whale watching off Dondra head, one of the best places in the world for
seeing Blue and Sperm whales. Huge pods of dolphins are also often seen
playing alongside the boats.
*Insight Resortor alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 15
To Galle; visit old fort; transfer to Colombo.

We set off today and drive along the coastal road to the historic port of
Galle, which dates back to the 17th century, and now a UNESCO world heritage
site. On the way we stop at a small folk museum inspired by the local writer
Martin Wickramasinghe. The museum is a typical house from the Koggala region
and is set amongst beautiful gardens. We continue along the expressway to
Colombo reaching our hotel in the late afternoon.

*Hotel Mirage or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 16 Fly to London.

If you are travelling on the group flight we will have a morning transfer to
the airport for the daytime flight to London. The arrangements for those not
flying with the group ends after check out.
**

Sign up to get exclusive deals and the latest news direct to your inbox!

    Read what our customers have to say about us...

    Speak to our Travel Expert
    0161 755 3081