Arrive at the Bandaranaike International airport, Katunayake. You will be met and assisted on arrival by our airport staff. Leave for Habarana, (155 km, approx. 4 hour drive) a small village with excellent hotel accommodation which is a central location for all the ancient city sites. On arrival in Habarana, check in at the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel in Habarana.
After breakfast at the hotel leave for Sigiriya (25 km – approx. ½ hours drive) and climb the Rock Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage site) built by King Kassapa in the 05thcentury A.D. which was a Royal Citadel for more than 18 years. The lion rock is a citadel of unusual beauty, rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. The base of the rock is ringed by a moat and rampart and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens. The majestic Lion’s Paw picturesquely guards the stairway of the palace on the summit. See the famous frescoes of the “Heavenly maidens” of Sigiriya in a sheltered pocket of the rock and the 10 foot high Mirror Wall.
On completion, leave for Polonnaruwa (67 km, approx.1½ hours drive), (UNESCO World Heritage Site) the Capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th century, a well-planned medieval city defended by enclosing walls (around 5 km. which still remain),graced by palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds and irrigation lakes. Polonnaruwa is strewn with ruins in a resplendent state of preservation. Of these the ‘Vatadage’ and the ‘Thuparama Image house’ are the most spectacular. The ‘Gal Vihara’ which consists of statues of the recumbent, standing and seated Buddha have been cut from a single granite wall and rank among the true masterpieces of Sri Lankan Art. Return to your hotel on completion.
Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel in Habarana.
After breakfast at the hotel, leave for Dambulla (25 km, approx. ½ hours drive) and visit the famous Golden Rock cave temple which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, a vast isolated rock mass with its five caverns is the largest best preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka.
The Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 sq. meters) are of particular importance as are the 157 statues including a 47 foot long statue of the recumbent Buddha. The ceiling of one cavern is fully illustrated with paintings that follow the natural folds of the rock so closely that it appears to be made of cloth. The complex of caves is one of the most impressive Buddhist Temples in the world.
Thereafter leave for Kandy (72 km – approx. 3 hours drive). En route visit a Spice garden in Matale.
Kandy, the bustling hill country capital is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is famous for the pink painted Temple of the Tooth which houses the most sacred religious relic, the tooth of the Buddha, the Kandy Lake built in 1807 which is an attractive centerpiece to the town and the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.
Kandy is also popular because of the annual festival known as the Esala Perahera where the inner casket covering the tooth relic of the Buddha is taken in a grand procession through the streets of the city held annually in the month of July or August. On arrival in Kandy, check in at the hotel.
In the Evening visit the sacred Temple of Tooth Relic. Thereafter enjoy the Kandyan Cultural show at the Kandyan Arts & Cultural Centre. The show features the graceful and rhythmic dancers and drummers culminating in an impressive fire walking display.
Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel in Kandy.
After breakfast proceed to Pinnawala and visit the Elephant Orphanage (50 km, approx. 2 hour drive). This orphanage was set up by the government to take care of baby elephants lost or abandoned in the wild. Witness the feeding of the elephants. The baby elephants being bottle fed with milk is a heartwarming sight. Thereafter observe them as they take their daily bath in the river nearby, which affords marvelous photo opportunities. Bath time is enjoyed by all elephants, young and old alike and it is a good time to closely observe their tightly knit family structure. The young elephants are protected and cared for, by the older ones in the group and the leader of the group is respected by all. (Open from 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Daily feeding times- 9.15 a.m., 1.15 p.m. 5.00 p.m. Bathing times – 10.00 a.m., 2.00 p.m., 4.00 p.m.).
Thereafter proceed to Nuwara Eliya (130km, approx. 4 ½ hour drive). En route visit a tea plantation and a tea factory. At the tea factory witness the process of manufacture of tea from plucking of the green leaves to packeting of the processed tea. Set in the heart of Tea Country, situated 1890 meters above sea level, this beautiful town of Nuwara Eliya is where the British succeeded in creating an English countryside with homes in styles from Georgian to Queen Anne with well kept lawns with hedges. On arrival in Nuwara Eliya commence a sightseeing tour in the city. Visit the Nuwara Eliya Town, Market place, Golf Course, (one of the finest 18 holes Golf Courses in Asia) the Hill Club, and drive around this hill station viewing Lake Gregory. Sri Lanka’s highest mountain Pidurutalagala (8282 ft) is located here.
Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
After breakfast proceed to Yala (197 km, approx. 4 ½ drive). En route visit Rawana Waterfalls, a sight to behold with a scenic backdrop of mountains and valleys. It is featured in the Rawana mythology, where Sita is said to have bathed from this waterfall while she was in captivity,
On arrival in Yala, check in at the hotel. In the afternoon commence a jeep safari in the Yala National Park by private jeep accompanied by a tracker. Yala National park one of Sri Lanka’s premier eco tourist destinations and is renowned for its variety of wildlife notably its many elephants. It is also home to the spotted deer, sambar, wild buffalo, sloth bear, jackal, mongoose and crocodiles. The peacock is easily the most famous of the birds in this park. Yala has a high concentration of Leopards although seeing these nocturnal carnivores still requires some luck.
Dinner and overnight stay at a hotel in Yala.
After breakfast leave for Colombo.(305km – approx. 8 hour drive). En route visit Galle. On arrival, check in at the hotel.
Afternoon commence a sightseeing tour of the city of Colombo. Drive through the commercial and city centre area known as the “Fort”, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century where grand colonial era buildings stand alongside modern office structures. See the busy markets and noisy bazaars of Pettah. Drive past the Town Hall, Independence Square, the B.M.I.C.H (International Convention Centre) and Cinnamon Gardens residential area and visit a Buddhist temple and a Hindu Kovil to experience the diversity of religion, ethnicity and customs of the people. On completion return to hotel.
Dinner and overnight Stay at a hotel in Colombo.
Breakfast at the hotel. Leave for the airport for the departure flight. (30 km, approx. 1 hour drive).