Sample Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive to Colombo. At the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be met by your chaufeur guide. Transfer from the airport to your hotel (approx 20 minutes).

Check in to the Wallawwa Hotel and relax.

Overnight Wallawwa Hotel

Day 2

After an early breakfast, check out from your hotel, and transfer to the Katunayake Airbase where your Cinnamon Air flight will take you to Sigiriya. Your chauffeur guide will await your arrival at Sigiriya Air Base and transfer you to the hotel.

In the afternoon, climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Thought to be one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, Sigiriya offers its visitors a breathtaking experience. Standing more than 200m tall over the surrounding plains, the rock is said to be a solidified magma plug, from a long eroded and extinct volcano. On its summit are the remains of a palace, built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century AD. Hidden in a cave along the citadel are some of the most magnificent ancient frescoes in South Asia. Today, one can still see what’s left of the 500 paintings of maidens that once covered a large area of the face of the rock. The mirror wall that leads up to the lion staircase is built of lime plaster, which was said to have been so well polished that it reflected the paintings of the opposite rock wall. Today, 15 centuries later, the shine on this wall can still be seen. There are a total of nearly 1500 writings on the wall, including verses that date back to the 8th century, most of which have now been deciphered.

Overnight Jetwing Vil Uyana

Day 3

After a relaxing breakfast, drive to Polonnaruwa (approx 90 minutes) to visit the 5th-century ancient city of Polonnaruwa and the Archaeological Museum. The second-oldest of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, the city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best-planned archeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the kingdom’s first rulers. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, its beauty was used as a backdrop to film scenes for the Duran Duran music video ‘Save a Prayer.’ Its green environment, amazing ancient constructions (including a huge lake built in 1200A.D.), good hotels, and its warm, friendly people make it an attractive city to visit.

The Polonnaruwa Visitor Information Centre and Museum brings this ancient city to life. A visit to the Centre and Museum will prove useful before setting out to explore its fascinating sites. Cycling is one of the best ways to explore Polonnaruwa.

In the evening, visit Minneriya National Park for a game drive (appox 1 hr, 45 mins). Minneriya National Park is a haven for flora and fauna. Part of the elephant corridor, which joins up with Kaudulla National Park and Wasgomuwa National Park, the Park has guaranteed sightings of elephants throughout the year. Every year, from August to October, one of the most awesome wildlife spectacles – “The Gathering” – takes place. Over 300 elephants make their way to Minneriya Tank, as it slowly dries up and gives way to fresh grass and shoots.

Apart from elephants, the park is home to a huge number of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, and butterflies. The highlight of the park is the Minneriya Reservoir, built in the 3rd century AD by the famous monarch King Mahasen, covering an area of 4,670 acres. Late in the evening proceed back to your hotel.

Overnight Jetwing Vil Uyana

Day 4

This morning, enjoy an excursion to Anuradhapura (approx 90 minutes). The sprawling ancient city of Anuradhapura is full of dreamy, stepped pools and bell-shaped stupas, or dagobas (some as large as 60 meters high and 340 meters in circumference), many of them gleaming white, while others have faded to overgrown, sun-baked brick. Located in the north central part of the Island, Anuradhapura was the rst capital (5th century BC – 9th century AD), and undoubtedly the grandest city of ancient Sri Lanka.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Buddhism’s holiest places – partly because of the 2200-year-old Sri Maha Bodhi tree, grown from a cutting of the Indian tree beneath which Buddha found Enlightenment – it also features in the Hindu Ramayana.

You could also explore the Anuradhapura site via bicycle. Late in the day, proceed to Mihintale. The forest-clad mountain is of great spiritual significance to Buddhists, because here Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC. Glimpse stunning views of the surrounding countryside before returning to the hotel in the evening.

Overnight Jetwing Vil Uyana

Day 5

Optional: After breakfast relax both your mind and body by enjoying a spa treatment. Encounter pure heaven at the Jetwing Vil Uyana Spa, which is the ultimate destination for guests in search of a holistic holiday experience. Indulge in Ayurveda and naturopathy treatment while soaking in the serene atmosphere at Vil Uyana.

Later, check out from the hotel and drive to Kandy. Along the way, visit World Heritage Site Dambulla, known for its richly painted cave temples (approx 3 hours).

Like Sigiriya, Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass, and it was here that King Valagam Bahu took refuge from invasions in the 1st century B.C., later turning the caves into a rock temple. Some of its frescoes are over 2000 years old. Another highlight is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 15 meters long. The caves have a mixture of religious and secular paintings and sculptures with ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history.

En route to Kandy, visit a spice garden in Matale to see many different types of spices. Matale spice gardens are among the best on the island. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of them are grown and processed. A processing and training unit has been set up in the area and farmers are grouped in a cooperative to ensure fair prices. You will also be able to purchase spices to bring home. Continue your drive to Kandy. Late evening check in to your hotel where you will spend the next two nights.

Overnight Taylors House

Day 6

Today, enjoy a walk around Kandy Lake with your chauffer guide. Later, visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Tradition relates that a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka in 4th Century A.D. and was enshrined within the Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Tooth. This sacred relic has ever since been the symbol of sovereignty for the Sinhalese kings and always enshrined in great splendor. Prayer services are held daily at dawn, midday, and in the evening and can be viewed by visitors.

In the evening witness a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing. You may also see the The Esala Perahera, which is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers, and lavishly decorated elephants. This is held in Esala, which is the month that is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. The Kandy Esala Perahera lasts for ten days while various festivities can be witnessed throughout. The Sinhalese term ‘Perahera’ means a parade of musicians, dancers, singers, acrobats, and various other performers accompanied by a large number of caparisoned Tuskers and Elephants parading the streets in celebration of a religious event.

Overnight Taylors House

Day 7

After breakfast, drive to Peradeniya and explore the Royal Botanical Gardens, founded in 1824 and containing some of the most valuable collections of plants and trees in the world. Take a fascinating walk around the gardens. After the garden visit, board the train bound from Peradeniya to Nanu Oya. This journey is considered one of the most scenic railway journeys through the highlands of Sri Lanka. As you pass through the lush, green tea estates you cannot help but indulge in the unmistakable aroma of pure Ceylon tea. The mist-covered mountains and scenic waterfalls truly compliment this beautiful landscape. Enjoy a picnic lunch on board.

Your chaffer will await to pick you up at the station and take you to your hotel. Spend the rest of the evening at leisure.

Overnight Ceylon Tea Trails

Day 8

After breakfast, visit a tea plantation and factory to experience the tea culture that is synonymous with the central highlands. Later you will also spend time volunteering with the Tea Leaf Trust. First introduced to the country in 1867 by the British James Taylor, Ceylon Tea is divided into three groups: high or up country, mid country, and low country tea, based on the geography of the land on which it is grown.

You will be able to become ‘up close and personal’ with handpicked Ceylon Tea. Visit the tea factory and learn about the whole process, from the initial drying (withering) of the leaves, through rolling, fermenting and sifting, to producing the different types of tea.

Enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure enjoying the hotel and its facilities.

Overnight Ceylon Tea Trails

Day 9

After breakfast at your hotel, proceed to Kithulgala with a packed lunch and enjoy white water rafting (approx 2 hours). Raft down the Kelani River, which originates from the virgin mountains of Adams Peak. The rapids get to a maximum level 3.

Travel to back to your bungalow and spend the rest of the evening at leisure.

Overnight Ceylon Tea Trails

Day 10

This morning drive to Yala National Park (approx 5 hours and 30 minutes). En route, enjoy the picturesque central highlands of Sri Lanka.

Upon arrival in Yala, check in at your tented campsite for a late lunch and proceed on a game drive at Yala National Park in the evening.

Overnight Kulu Safari Tented Camp

Day 11

Wake up at the break of dawn and head o for your 4×4 Jeep safari at the Yala National Park. Go in search of leopard, elephants, bears, crocodiles, and other animals with an expert naturalist.

Yala National Park (1,570-sq kms) is mostly open parkland, making the wildlife easier to see. The landscape is varied, with rock outcrops, scrub jungle, lagoons, lakes, rivers, and beaches. Yala
is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where it is relatively easy to see a leopard, either strolling beside the track or, with luck, draped elegantly in a tree. There are estimated to be around 35 leopards and 400 wild elephants, as well as wild buffalos, musk deer, mongoose, pangolins, black bears, macaques, jackals, and numerous bird species. Yala is the second largest national park in Southern Sri Lanka, which facilitates one of the richest ecosystems in the Island. Return to your hotel for breakfast.

Spend the rest of the day at leisure, enjoying the amenities of the hotel until you proceed on your next game drive in the evening. You may also kayak at a nearby lake, if interested.

Overnight Kulu Safari Tented Camp

Day 12

After breakfast, travel to Galle (approx 4-hour drive). En route, experience the stilt fisherman engaging in their daily catch. Stilt fishing is an age-old fishing method in Sri Lanka and today remains as a scenic icon in the southern coastal belt.

Later, visit Villa Mayurana – a privately owned villa set in acres of cinnamon plantations with views of Koggala and the coastline beyond. Freshen up with a cinnamon-infused towel, before taking a guided tour and learning the method of growing and harvesting cinnamon. See how cinnamon sticks are made and how cinnamon is gathered for grading and prepared before going to market.

In the evening, travel back to your hotel and relax.

Overnight Fortress Resort and Spa

Day 13

After breakfast, enjoy a tour of the ancient trading post of Galle – said to be the famous Tarshish of the Bible. Historically, this World Heritage fortified town was a port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Javanese and Sumatrans came later, followed by Marco Polo in 1299 AD. The Portuguese arrived in the 1500’s and built a settlement, which was captured by the Dutch (and finally the British!) who built the 400-year-old fort with great ramparts and bastions.

Narrow streets are lined with old houses displaying their Dutch heritage with their pillared verandahs. Government offices remain in use and the community within the fort is a bustle with daily life – a living, breathing town hidden within the fortified walls of this ancient, maritime citadel.

Later in the day, visit the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery – Sri Lanka’s first turtle hatchery and the best place to watch turtles on the beach. To protect Sri Lanka’s sea turtles from extinction, they collect and rescue turtle eggs and provide them with a safe place to hatch away from predators. Once the eggs hatch, they are released into the sea in the night. The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery believes that every turtle is essential to the survival of the species. Visitors to the hatchery can view the newborn turtle hatchlings in huge tanks before they are released into the sea. After the visit proceed back to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Overnight Fortress Resort and Spa

Day 14

This morning, after breakfast, proceed to Colombo (approx 2 hours), and enjoy a city tour of Colombo. Bursting with life and colors, the island’s largest city – once the capital of Sri Lanka – is now its commercial hub. This modern city with an ancient heart is a monument to its colonial history. Influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, the architecture is a mix of modern architecture among colonial buildings. One may be surprised to notice the predominant English street names such as York Street, Duke Street and Bristol Street – a direct result of the British presence in the 18th century AD. In stark contrast are modern buildings such as the World Trade Center. The skyline is constantly changing with investment into the city’s infrastructure.

Visit the Gangaramaya Temple – a famous Buddhist temple frequented daily by many devotees, home to many monuments of Buddha. Gangaramaya is a center for Buddhist studies, containing a museum and a monastic college. It is a hub in the Sri Lankan Buddhist culture, which further undertakes social welfare as a duty of a religious institution.

Visit the National Museum, which contains a collection of regalia of the country, including the throne and crown of the Kandyan monarchs, as well as many other exhibits telling the story of ancient Sri Lanka.

Later in the evening, transfer from Colombo to the airport in time to connect with your international flight.