The Grand Tour Of Sri Lanka 19 Days
Sri Lanka Tours – Sri Lanka Holidays – Sri Lanka Travel – This itinerary provides the ultimate Sri Lankan experience! This tour that takes you to all corners of this wonderful Island and includes a delightfully varied collection of excursions and activities. Among these are wildlife viewing safaris in no less than 4 national parks, time in the cooler climes of the Hill Country and a train journey through the hills to Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, Kandy.
All the important ancient cities and Buddhist sites of the Cultural Triangle region are visited and time is spent on a tranquil East Coast beach north of Trincomalee. Finish with a few days to look back at what you have experienced in Sri Lanka whilst relaxing in a simple beach cabana on Alankuda Beach.
Day 1: Colombo
On arrival in Colombo you will be welcomed to Sri Lanka by your private driver and transferred into Colombo to check into your hotel. This afternoon is at leisure to relax at your hotel and recover from your flight.
Day 2: Colombo
This morning 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 the huge modern office structures of this fast moving city. Drive past the Town hall, and the Independence Square. Visit a Buddhist temple and a Hindu Kovil to experience the diversity of religion, ethnicity and customs of the people.
This afternoon is at leisure to relax at your hotel and explore independently.
Day 3: Colombo – Galle
After breakfast, your driver will meet you at your hotel and you will set off for Galle, on the south coast, a journey of approximately 2 hours using the newly finished highway from Colombo.
This afternoon your driver will take you into the famous Galle Fort. The magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town and is one of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The old colonial atmosphere is still very much alive around the fort and amidst its many historical buildings. Walk around the fort stopping at various points of interest and soaking in the fine views out over the Indian Ocean and into the famous Galle Cricket Ground.
Day 4: Galle – Yala National Park
After breakfast this morning you will be met at your hotel and driven east along the coast to the Yala National Park. En-route, pass through the sleepy coastal village of Tangalle and stop to visit the famous lighthouse at Dondra Head. Dondra Head is the southernmost point in the Indian sub-continent. The 160 foot British period lighthouse is located in a beautiful garden and is considered the highest lighthouse in Asia. It is 161 feet in height and contains 7 floors, 14 two-panel yellow colour windows and 196 steps to the top.
All the building material including bricks, steel were imported from England. The lighthouse is still active and helps guide ships and boats which sail on the Indian Ocean. Over 250 ships are said to pass this area daily and although they now have GPS, most of them still use the signals beamed by the lighthouse. It also transmits radio wave signals to surrounding lighthouses in Sri Lanka. Between the Lighthouse and Antarctica lies nothing but 20,000km of empty ocean. On arrival at your hotel, check-in before being taken on your afternoon safari-drive in the Yala National Park. Your total driving time today is approximately 5 hours.
Day 5: Yala National Park – Ella
Early this morning set off for a jeep safari in the park, returning to your hotel in the mid-morning to have breakfast and freshen up before your departure.
After a late breakfast, head north by road into the hill country to the sleepy village of Ella. This is a journey of approximately 3 hours.
This afternoon there are a range of activities and local walks that you can choose to do around Ella. You driver can also take you to see the nearby Ravana Falls.
Day 6: Ella – Nuwara Eliya
This morning, your private guide will drive you from your hotel in Ella to Nuwara Eliya. As you climb steadily on windy roads into the heart of the hill country you will pass a number of large tea plantations and you will stop to visit a tea factory where you can learn about the process involved in the manufacturing of tea from plucking the green leaves on the hill side to packing up the processed tea ready to export around the world.
Enjoy a fresh cup after looking around the factory before continuing on to Nuwara Eliya to arrive in the early afternoon. On arrival, check into your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 7: Nuwara Eliya – Horton Plains National Park – Nuwara Eliya
Rise early this morning, collect your packed breakfast from reception and leave for the Horton Plains National Park, the highest plateau in the country. Horton Plains is one of the most important national parks in Sri Lanka particularly for its topographical variations. It has unique vegetation and is famous for many rare and endemic highland birds. The most awesome physical feature of the Horton Plains is the escarpment that falls 880 meters to the lowlands of the southern region of the island.
Aptly known as the ‘World’s End’ the view from the precipice of the countryside below towards the south coast is breath-taking. There are a number of trekking routes around the park which you can take depending on how long you would like to walk for. Your driver will wait for you at the park entrance and you will be accompanied on your trek by a local English speaking guide. En-route back to your hotel, you have a brief orientation tour of Nuwara Eliya and an optional stop for lunch (payable locally).
Return to your hotel in the afternoon for some time at leisure.
Day 8: Nuwara Eliya – Kandy
After breakfast, your driver will meet you at your hotel and you transfer you to the nearby train station at Nanu Oya.
Board your train to Kandy, departing at 09.25 and set off on a breath-taking journey through the hill country. You will arrive in Kandy at approximately 12.44 and be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel.
Please note that whilst we will endeavour to get the best available seats for you on the train, the facilities on board will not be as comfortable as you are used to on western trains.
This afternoon you are at leisure to explore independently or relax at your hotel.
Day 9: Kandy
After breakfast visit the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, where a rare collection of tropical exotic and indigenous flora including the famous Orchid House could be viewed. The Gardens are renowned for the collection of a variety of orchids and include more than 4000 species of plants, including of orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. Attached to the gardens is the National Herbarium. Your guide will leave you to have some time at leisure to potter around the area and explore independently before being taken back into Kandy, where you will have the opportunity if you wish to visit a local gem museum to learn about the vast selection of gems that are mined in the nearby countryside.
In the afternoon, you will be taken driven up the hill south of the lake to a special vista point, where you can get a bird’s eye view of this remarkable city. The famous Kandy Lake was built in 1807 and forms an attractive centre-piece for the town. Return to your hotel in the afternoon for some time at leisure to relax. In the late afternoon you will be met again by your guide and taken to the atmospheric old Red Cross Hall in the centre of the city to see a Kandyan Cultural Show.
The show features graceful and rhythmic dancers and drummers demonstrating some traditional Kandyan dance and music. The show culminates in an impressive fire-walking display. After the show take a short walk along the lakeside to visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most important places in all of Sri Lanka, housing the country’s most sacred religious relic, the tooth of the Buddha. You will arrive in time to see the evening ‘Puja’ or ceremony which lasts for around one hour and involves lots of noisy drumming and excitement. Most of the ceremony actually takes place behind closed doors, but at the end, the tooth relic is opened to the public gaze. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Day 10: Kandy – Dambulla
After breakfast, head north by road into the Cultural Triangle region. En-route, stop near the city of Matale to visit a Spice Garden. The total journey time to your hotel near Dambulla is approximately 4 hours.
After checking into your hotel, you will be taken on a tour to the famous Golden Rock Cave Temple complex. The caves are located at the top of a hill and the only access is on a pathway and stairs carved into the hillside, it is possible to drive up to a point about half way up for those who don’t fancy walking all the way from the bottom. At the top you are rewarded with 5 magical and dimly lit caves crammed with Buddhist statues and murals. Dating back over 2000 years the caves are of huge significance to Sri Lanka’s Buddhists. After exploring the caves and taking in the impressive views from the top (on a clear day you will get a very good view of Sigiriya Rock), descend the hill, back to the comfort of your air-conditioned car.
Day 11: Dambulla – Sigiriya – Polonnaruwa – Dambulla
Early this morning you will be driven to the bottom of the Sigiriya rock, one of Sri Lanka’s most famous and striking attractions. The rock is best climbed early in the morning and depending on your time of departure, you may wish to arrange for a packed breakfast to be taken with you, this can be arranged at your hotel the night before.
On arrival at the rock you will commence the climb with an expert local guide who will explain the ancient history of this unique rock fortress. Walk through the extensive gardens, ringed by an intimidating moat and up the steep steps, passing through the famous Lion’s Paw to the summit where you will enjoy the jaw-dropping views out over the Sri Lankan countryside. After some time to rest, descend the rock and meet up with your driver who will take you for lunch at a local restaurant (payable locally).
This afternoon you will be taken on a tour of the ruined ancient city of Polonnaruwa. A well-planned city defended by enclosing walls (around 5 km of 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.
Day 12: Dambulla – Minneriya National Park – Trincomalee
After breakfast, you will be driven about 30 minutes north-east from Sigiriya for a private jeep safari. Depending on the season and conditions on the ground, the safari will either be in the Minneriya National Park or the Hurulu Eco-Park, both famed for their elephant populations. This area is known locally as the ‘elephant corridor’ due to the large number of elephants that pass through at certain times of year when the water dries up in different parts of the country. As well as elephants you are also likely to see deer, monkeys and many rare species of bird.
After your safari you will be transferred to the famous city of Trincomalee, a journey of approximately 2 hours. On arrival you will be taken on a brief orientation tour of the city before transferred north to your beach hotel in the small village of Nilaveli.
Day 13: Trincomalee
Today is at leisure to relax on the beach or explore the local are independently. You might like to arrange through your hotel for a local boat to take you to Pigeon Island, around 2 kilometres from the beach, where you can snorkel and walk around the small jungle-clad island.
Day 14: Trincomalee – Mihintale – Anuradhapura
This morning transfer from your hotel to the ancient city of Anuradhapura and the nearby sacred Buddhist mountain of Mihintale.
First, you will visit the ancient remains of Mihintale, a sacred place which is regarded as the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The rock is dotted with shrines and rock dwellings. A grand stairway of 1840 steps made of granite slabs, 5 meters wide leads to the summit with its splendid views of the surrounding countryside.
After exploring Mihintale, continue to the ancient city of Anuradhapura itself. Founded in the 4th century B.C., Anuradhapura has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1982. It has the largest number of ancient monuments of the great Sinhala civilization which has flourished in Sri Lanka. You will see some of the most famous as well as the tallest Dagobas of Sri Lanka, Ruwanweliseya Dagoba, built in the 2nd century BC and famous for its elephant walls and the Thuparama Dagoba, built in the 3rd century. The ‘Sri Maha Bodhi’ or the sacred Bo tree at the heart of Anuradhapura is over 2200 years old and reputed to have grown from a branch of the very tree under which “The Buddha” attained enlightenment – making it the oldest historically documented tree in the world. After your excursion, continue to your hotel nearby to check-in and relax for the evening.
Day 15: Anuradhapura – Wilpattu National Park – Alankuda Beach
After breakfast you will be taken on a safari in Wilpattu, one of Sri Lanka’s largest and most interesting national parks. The wildlife population is starting to return after years of abuse and the park today is home to countless mammals, reptiles and rare birdlife.
After your safari, continue by road to Alankuda Beach on the Kalpitiya peninsula, this is a journey of approximately 2 hours.
Day 16 And Day 17: Alankuda Beach
These days are at leisure to do as much or as little as you choose. A wide range of activities can be arranged through the resort including Dolphin and Whale watching, kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking, donut rides and other water sports, fishing, snorkelling, diving and cycling in the local countryside.
Day 18: Alankuda Beach
This morning you will be met at your hotel and transferred south along the coast, to the small village of Kotugoda, a journey of approximately 3 hours depending on traffic conditions. Arrive at the Walawwa in time for afternoon tea.
Day 19: Sri Lanka Departure
Private transfer: After breakfast you will be met by your driver and transferred to the airport for your flight home. Sri Lanka Tours – Sri Lanka Holidays – Sri Lanka Travel
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