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Quintessential Sri Lanka


11 days 10 nights

Code SLSG10

Category Sri Lanka Classic Tours

  • Group Size 2-16 persons
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Trip Starts From Negombo
  • Trip Ends At Colombo
  • Type Tours
  • Destination Negombo Sigiriya Polonnaruwa Anuradhapura Kandy Nuwara Eliya Yala Galle Bentota Colombo
Dates & Prices

Overview

Sri Lanka-formerly known as Ceylon-a small island country in the Indian Ocean offers visitors so much options to choose from that one can get easily overwhelmed! This trip is a perfect balance of everything that Sri Lanka has to offer: Ruins of ancient citadels and forts, religious temples, monasteries and stupa, rock-carved temples, colonial towns and forts, serene views of the hill country with lakes, tea plantations and waterfalls, great national parks abundant with rich wildlife including the elephants and the leopards, welcoming people and culture based on Buddhism and Hinduism! 

We hike the rock-top fortress, temples and caves, explore the ruins of the former capitals, embark on the thrilling jungle safari excursions, get an insight into an age old industry of spice that lured Europeans merchants into this island and unwind ourselves in the beaches of Indian ocean!  

The tour is led by an experienced chauffeur guide and we use local expert guides in the historic and religious places. Hotels are deluxe four star properties blending Sri Lankan hospitality with modern amenities. Breakfast and dinner are provided in the hotel. Sightseeing activity fees are paid on the spot.

Highlights of the trip

  • Elephant orphanage in Pinnawala that takes care of orphaned and injured elephants abandoned by the herd.
  • Polonnaruwa- the ancient Royal Capital- the best planned archaeological relic cities in the country.
  • Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress atop a 660 ft. high rock column-a UNSECO world heritage site.
  • Exciting jeep safari in Minneriya National Park and Yala National Park and view the Asian elephants, leopard, deer among others.
  • The ancient capital of Anuradhapura and Mihintale-the birth place of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
  • Rock-cut cave temples of Dambulla- the largest and the best preserved cave temple complex of Sri Lanka, dating back to the first century BC.
  • Spice garden where you get an insight into the age-old spice industry that lured the European merchants into Sri Lanka!
  • Visit the most sacred Buddhist temple in Kandy-The Temple of Tooth that enshrines the tooth relic of Buddha.
  • Enjoy the hill country scenery, tea estates, lake and the natural scenery in the colonial hill resort of Nuwara Eliya.
  • Walk on the Nine Arch Bridge- an iconic engineering marvel, built without the use of steel, in Ella.
  • Colonial Galle Fort- a UNESCO recognized site
  • Relax in the beaches of coastal town of Bentota.
  • Explore the city's attractions and the Galle Face Green in Colombo.
  • Take chance to watch the traditional Sri Lankan dances.

Is this trip for you?

  • Sri Lanka has a typical tropical climate and it's very hot during mid-day (86-90 degree) and has very strong sunlight.
  • This trip has some long day drives. The longest drive is from Yala to Bentota which is about 5.5 hours. Roads are generally paved.
  • Climbing Sigiriya Rock Fort and Mihintale may be strenuous for some! People with knee problem and height issues should not attempt it! The steps are uneven and walk-ways are narrow.
  • The trip includes a good number of temples and religious shrines. You need to remove your shoes, including socks and walk bare foot and so need to avoid the mid-day heat as the stone slabs or walk ways will be very hot. Please dress modestly covering your arms and legs.
  • En suite bathroom with running hot and cold water and western style flush toilets are available in tourist class restaurants and hotels.

Kandy Esala Perahera Supplement

In 2018, Kandy Esala Perahera falls from 16th Aug through 26th August. There will be additional supplement during this period.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Colombo.

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Meet and greet service is not included. Meet and greet service with our driver (Sedan car) costs costs $50 or you can take a pre-paid cab from the airport to the hotel. It takes about 25 or 30 minutes to get to the hotel in Negombo.  

Take rest to recover the jet lag or spend time leisurely in the ocean side, watching the old world fishing crafts like the outrigger canoes and the catamarans bringing a variety of marine fishes like seers, skipjacks, pomfrets and amber-jacks or visit the lagoon where lobsters and prawns are caught and served as fascinating delicacies in the restaurants. 

Negombo, once proclaimed the island's leading spice town, that progressively evolved into the biggest fishing port and a center of Roman Catholicism, now serves as a gateway to any destinations in Sri Lanka. Comparing to other destinations, there are not much of historic or cultural attractions but quaint atmosphere, with bustling little streets, delightful canals, interesting creeks, extensive lagoon and  few interesting architecture here and there. 

Negombo's Fish Market is probably the most visited attraction here. Heap of fishes prawns, lobsters, shrimps, crabs as well as large fishes are sold here. The fish market can be a slippery, smelly and noisy affair but it's interesting. 

You will meet the group over dinner.

Overnight: Hotel Jetwing Beach (5*)
Day 02~Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and Sigiriya

After breakfast, check out hotel and proceed on a scenic drive to Sigiriya. On the way, we stop in Pinnawala (47 miles or 75 km,  2-hrs) to visit the Elephant Orphanage! 

The orphanage maintain both adult and young calves. They are either abandoned by herd or injured in the jungle and they are vulnerable. So, the center's main activity is to rescue the and provide care. The orphanage welcomes visitors to volunteer in their daily routine activity that includes bottle feeding the baby elephants, escorting them to the river to bathe and playing with them. You can bring the fruits and milk with you or buy locally. The elephants are fed three times a day, 9:15 a.m, 1.15 pm and 5 p.m. Elephants are escorted to the river right after feeding and so it's important to arrive in the center in time. 

After having some fun time with the elephants, we continue to Sigiriya (95 km or 59.38 miles, 2-hours). The main attraction here is the ruins of a Rock Fortress that was built by King Kashyapa of the 5th century. Kashyapa, seized the throne from his father following a coup and the rightful heir, Mogglana had to fled the country but due to the fear of attack by Mogglana, Kashyapa moved the capital from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya which was more secure. He built his palace on top of 200m (660 ft) high rock column which seems nearly impossible in the modern day. He decorated the sides of the rock with colorful frescoes and on a small plateau half way up, he built an entrance with the lions gate and used paws for its stair ways. in the form of an enormous lion and this is how the place got its name-Sigiriya which means the Lion Rock. The palace premises, which is now in ruins, consist of the most popular archeological gardens of water gardens, cave and boulder gardens and terraced gardens. Other attractions within the fortress include, the Frescoes and the mirrored walls.

The Rock Fortress, which is a UNESCO listed World Heritage site is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning.

There are 1200 steps can take about 2 hours for total trip up and down. We need to avoid the mid-day heat. The spiral staircase upward the Lion's Paw is strenuous and is not for faint-hearted and people with height issues. Once on the top, you are rewarded with 360 degree view!

Now, you are transferred to the hotel for check in.

Overnight: Hotel Aliya Resort & Spa (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 03~Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park

We should have rather an early start today as we visit Polonnaruwa (60 km or 37.5 miles, 1.5 hours)- an ancient city of archeological  and historical importance-one of the best planned relic cities in the island, lasting evidence to the discipline and greatness of the Kingdom's early rulers. Polonnaruwa served as the second capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura.  The city saw the reigns of three kings but in turmoil of several invasion and ravages.  The city was abandoned in the 13th century in ruins but still it still retains its glory and elegance.  We will enjoy the day touring in Polonnaruwa capturing the most eye catching and unbelievable sights ever. We walk across the spread walls and admire the ancient Sri Lankan engineering wonders of this  World Heritage Site that  includes  stupas with resting Buddha statues, irrigation canals and fantastically carved Hindu sculptures while observing the relic house Watadage that boasts of beautiful stone carvings.

Afternoon time is for jeep safari in Minneriya National Park. ( Park entrance and jeep fee to pay on the spot).Afternoon safari usually starts at 3 p.m. Minneriya National Park was created in order to preserve the massive ancient reservoir built by King Mahasen of Anuradhapura in the third century AD. Originally, the reservoir covered 4670 acres. The reservoir and the area around now makes a great ecosystem and habitat to diverse wildlife that includes elephants, deer, leopards and various species of birds such as storks, pelicans, hornbills, cormorants, herons, bulbuls and more!In three hours long safari, we are able to see several herds of elephants-adults and calves, gathering and grazing in the shores of reservoir during the dry season.

Overnight: Hotel Aliya Resort & Spa (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 04~Excursion of Anuradhapura and Mihintale

After breakfast, we set off for the ancient city of Anuradhapura (74 km or 16.25 miles, 1.30 hours). Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization. It is believed that the city was founded around the time when a sapling of Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya (India) under which Buddha meditated and got enlightened was brought and planted here in the 3rd century B.C. Although the capital was abandoned following an invasion towards the end of 10th century,  It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka.  

This sacred city was established around a cutting from the 'tree of enlightenment', the Buddha's fig tree, brought there in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta, the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Anuradhapura, a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years, was abandoned after an invasion in 993. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again. 

There are quite a lot to see! Depending on available time and your interests, we will visit some of them. The most visited attractions are: 

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhiya- a sacred fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens, which is believed to be a sapling of the original Bodhi tree of Bodh Gaya, India under which Lord Buddha meditated and attained Enlightenment! Nearby is Ruwanweliseya Stupa, a 338 ft tall white structure, which was built in 140 B.C. and contains Buddha's relics. 

Another significant temple is Thuparamaya which is among the earliest stupas of Sri Lanka. Abhayagiri Monastery, Kuttam Pokuna bathing tank, Jetavanaramaya  Stupa (The largest stupa in the world!), Samadhi Statue in Mahaenawa Scultpure Park, rock-cut statues of Lord Buddha and ruins of palaces, Isurumuniya rock temple etc. 

Next, we proceed to Mihintale (12 km or 7.5 miles from Anuradhapura), a mountain peak - believed by Sri Lankans to be the site where Buddhist monk Mahinda met King Devanampiyatissa and converted him to Buddhism! So, Mihintale is an important pilgrimage site and has several religious monuments and abandoned structures. 

There are three levels and 1850 steps in total. Combined with heat, it may not be for everyone but that is the only way if you want to explore the entire site. If you want, you can skip the first climb by taking transport to the Dana Salawa Level like many locals do!  It may take 2 and half hour for total trip up and down with en route stops visiting the Alms Hall, inscriptions  and exploring the main platform with tree hills-Aradanagala Gala which is the actual point of meeting between Mahinda and the king , Mahaseya Stupa and the Buddha statue. There are also caves -used by monks for meditation and residence. The surrounding is scattered with rock boulders and many other monasteries and statues. 

After a long day of excursion, we will retrace our drive to our hotel in Sigiriya.

Overnight: Hotel Aliya Resort & Spa (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 05~Kandy: Dambulla Caves, Spice Garden and Kandy

As you finish your breakfast, prepare yourself for an interesting day. Shortly from Sigiriya, we stop in Dambulla ( 14km or 8.75 miles, 30 minutes), to visit the cave temple complex carved into a massive rock that towers 160m or 525 ft over the surrounding valley plains! It's a steady climb along a good number of stairs and can take about 25 or 30 minutes for a fit person. This is the largest and the best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Although there are many documented caves in the area, we visit the top five caves that contains Buddha statues and the paintings related to Buddha and his life. 

From the top of the mountain, you will also enjoy serene views over the plains! Beware of the monkeys around ! 

Our next stop will be at Matale (55 km or 34.38 miles, 1.5 hours) where we visit a Spice Garden. You will be led by a in-house spice specialist and take you through the plantations and introduce you the various spices and herbs, that includes cloves, cardamoms, saffron, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg , sandalwood, margosa, coconut, almond for many others. There is also a sales outlet for the spices and herbs but it's up to you if you want to buy there. 

Once we arrive in Kandy (26 km or 16.25 miles, 1 hour), our first stop will be at the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple that enshrines the tooth relic of Lord Buddha! The complex  comprises of the New Palace, the Old Palace, Audience Hall, International Buddhist Museum, Queens Bath, Moat, Diyathilaka Mandapaya, Golden Canopy and the Main Golden Roofed Temple.    

Time permitting, take a leisurely stroll around the Kandy Lake and enjoy the serene beauty.Optional:  Cultural Program (if time permits)

The cultural program showcases the traditional songs and dances of Kandy. The show lasts about an hour and includes several different items and end with fire-eating and fire-walking shows outside the hall! While the songs and dances are great, do not expect much on the hall ambience and decoration part.

Overnight: Hotel Earl's Regent (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 06~The Hill Country of Nuwara Eliya

After breakfast, we leave for the hill country of Nuwara Eliya (77km or 48.13 miles, 3.5 hours). We will enjoy a scenic drive along the mountainous road with great views of the tea plantations, waterfalls and lakes! We will have a stop in a tea factory to learn about the tea production process.

You will have time to settle into your accommodation and then your driver will take you around. Enjoy the beauty of Gregory Lake, constructed during the period of British Governor William Gregory. There are quite a few of activities offered by locals like canoeing, boating, games, if you wish to partake in or simply gaze the beauty of the area from one o the restaurants in the shore. 

Take a leisurely stroll in the town and visit the oldest Post Office-a Tudor style two-storied building.

Overnight: Hotel Black Pool (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 07~Ella and Yala National Park

After an energizing breakfast, we set off for Ella (65 km or 40.63 miles, 2 hours)-a small hill town with cool climate-covered with cloud forests and tea plantations. At Ella, we first stop to see the Nine Arch Bridge-a leisurely walk of less than half an hour from the city center. What's special about this bridge is that it's built without use of any steel! Located in a dense jungle and agricultural setting, the bridge is very picturesque spot, especially when the train is passing. 

Our next stop will be at Ravana Falls, locally called Ravana Ella which is around 25 m or 82 ft high and cascades from an oval-shaped concave rock outcrop. It's believed to the  broadest fall in Sri Lanka. 

Now, we continue our travel to Yala National Park(107 km or 66.88 miles, 2 hours) and get on the afternoon safari that starts at 3 p.m. (Jeep safari fee is not included.Ask your guide to book it in advance for you). 

Yala is the second largest national park or Sri Lanka and has the reputation of frequent sightings of leopards! The safari takes you through the tropical wilderness and gives you opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring moments of wildlife and magnificent nature! Capture the glimpses of elusive leopards and enjoy as you watch the mud-bathing playful elephants. Other wildlife, you may encounter are exclusive sloth bear, wild boar, water buffalo, spotted deer, sambar and golden jackal and many birds, such as peacocks, Flamingos, Pelicans, Spoonbills, Painted Storks, rare Black-necked Storks, Grey Herons, Purple Herons, Night Herons, Darters, Garganeys, Whimbrels, Pigeons, Flycatchers etc. 

The safari usually lasts about 3-hours. The par is closed for maintenance for 45 days from 01 Sep through 15th October every year.

Overnight: Hotel Laya Safari (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 08~Galle Fort and Bentota Beaches

After breakfast, proceed on a long day drive to Bentota (approximate travel time 5.5 hours, 140 miles). On the way, we have option to stop at the snake and turtle farm.

Our next stop will be at Galle (175 km or 109.38 miles)-a southwest coastal city of Sri Lanka where the main attraction is the Galle Fort. Initiated by Portuguese in 1588, the fort was later extensively modified and fortified by the Dutch and then the British added a large gate at the main entrance, making it one of the most important archaeological, architectural and historic monuments to illustrate the European influence in South East Asia! On three side surrounded by the gorgeous ocean view, this UNESCO heritage site is a relaxing place. Visit the most impressive museums that includes the churches and museums, browse through the beautiful shops-probably the best place to buy souvenirs for your friends and relatives back home, ocean views, the Fort includes churches or walk to the Clock Tower from where you’ll have a nice view over the Fort and on the other side, Galle city.

After a relaxing exploration of the Galle Fort and the areas around, we continue to Bentota (70 km or 43.75 miles, 1 hour)- a resort town on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Its long beach stretches north, where it becomes a sandy strip known as Paradise Island, parallel to Bentota Lagoon. 

Check into your accommodation and spend the balance of the day at leisure.

Overnight: Hotel The Surf (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 09~Leisurely time in Bentota

Spend the day at leisure in the coastal town of Bentota. Enjoy time at the famous beach, step into the sun sand and sea and unwind yourself with the warmth of tropical beaches of Southern Sri Lanka! 

Unwind yourself in the beaches and lagoon, relax in the beach front or engage in any water sports as swimming, body surfing, diving, skiing, windsurf, parasail or playing beach games as volleyball or take optional excursions to the nearby attractions such as Turtle Hatchery Project that gathers turtle eggs and safeguards them until they hatch. It's your day!

Overnight: Hotel The Surf (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 10~Colombo city highlights

After breakfast, we leave for Colombo (110km or 68.75 miles, 2-hours)-the capital city of Sri Lanka.

You will have time to settle into your room and then we proceed to see the city highlights that includes: Gangarama Temple-an important Buddhist temple with blend of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture, the British colonial Old Parliament building that houses the President's secretariat, light house at the harbor and Independence Square with a memorial hall that was built to celebrate Sri Lanka's independence from the British, cafes and shops.

Enjoy the rest of the day with a relaxed stroll on the Galle Face Green-a 12 acres ocean-side urban park, that stretches 1600 ft. along the coast. This is a popular place for locals to hang out and very busy specially during the week-end evening.

Overnight: Hotel Cinnamon Red (4*)
Meals : Breakfast
Day 11~Service ends in Colombo

Service ends in Colombo. Departure transfer is not included. Your guide can help you book the transfer or you can simply book it with the hotel concierge. The airport is nearly 1.5 hours drive from the city and so plan to leave in time to the airport for your flight to next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip includes

  • Ten nights four star hotels on double occupancy basis.
  • Daily breakfast at your hotel 
  • Private vehicle with English speaking chauffer guide.
  • Local expert guides in Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla cave Temple, Tooth Temple in Kandy. 
  • For a group of 12 persons more, an accompanying guide with national license will be provided throughout the tour.

Trip does not include

  • Arrival and departure transfers are not included.
  • Sri Lanka Visa
  • Airfares
  • Lunch & dinner (Budget $10-12 for a meal).
  • Drinks, tipping, laundery, phone and other expenses of personal nature.
  • Sightseeing admission and activities fee (jeep safari in Sigiriya and Yala National Park and 4WD vehicle to Horton Plains National Park)-Total estimated $ 300 per person ( Updated list with breakdown will be provided on the final trip document. Jeep safari price fluctuates with the group size)
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Extra mileage due to re-routing or deviation from the main program

Sri Lanka Visa

Remaining validity of your passport must be minimum 6 months when you return from the trip. Make sure you have one blank visa page for visa stamp on arrival.

You can obtain Sri Lanka visa conventionally from any Sri Lanka embassy abroad or you can apply online the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) online which costs $ 35 for US citizens.
http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/
You can also obtain ETA upon arrival at Colombo International Airport but it's always advisable to obtain it in advance.

Weather and climate

Sri Lanka is a year-round holiday and adventure destination.

Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons: The period between May and September is rainy season in the south-west of Sri Lanka, the dry season being from October through April. The north and east coastal areas receive monsoon between October and January and it's dry season is from February through September. There is also an inter-monsoonal period during October and the first half of November, when rain and thunderstorms can occur across the country. So, the dry period for both the areas begins from December and lasts until mid-April and obviously, this period is considered the best time to travel to Sri Lanka.

Colombo and the West Coastal areas, such as Negombo and Bentota have the highest rain fall between June and September. Average high temperature is 86 degree F and it rarely falls below that.

The Southern coastal areas of Galle and Yala experience similar weather patterns to the west coast with the best weather expected between late November and April.

Sigiriya, Dambulla and Minneriya are located within the dry zone. With exceptions of high rainfall in November and December, the weather conditions remain fairly arid throughout the year but the months of June and July are very hot.

Kandy is in lower altitude and so you can experience heat here but as you travel to Nuwara Eliya and Ella, the temperature drop as you climb the higher altitude.

Travel with Chauffer Guide

You will travel with an English speaking chauffer guide whom you meet upon arrival at Colombo international airport. The chauffer driver will be trained and certified professional. He will help you check in hotels and coordinate sightseeing and other tour activities. Specialized local tour guides are hired on some destinations such as Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy. For group size of 12 travelers or more, we will provide, we will provide an accompanying guide through out the trip

Admission tickets and activities fee:

Sightseeing admission tickets and activities such as jeep safari, cultural program etc. are not included. They are optional. In total, please, budget $300 per person for this itinerary. Jeep safari cost is split in the group and so the price depends on the final group size. Break down of the admission tickets will be provided on the final trip dossier.

Accommodations & meals

The trip includes ten night accommodation in superior or deluxe category properties, four standard by local standard.The trip includes daily breakfast and dinner in the hotel. Lunch is not included. Please, budget $10-12 per meal.

Booking, deposit and payment schedule

US$ 300 per person is requested along with completed trip registration form. Balance payment is normally due 90 days prior the trip date; however, some hotels or supplier, particularly on busy tourist season, may ask for a non-refundable deposit to guarantee the booking and in that case, we will advise you accordingly.

Balance payment by credit card attracts additional 3.5% fee. Personal check is welcome. We accept the payment from traveler's account only. We reserve the right to refuse certain form of payment. Wire transfer fees are to be borne by the traveler.

Accomodation

jetwing beach thumb
Jet Wing Beach Negombo
earls regent kandy thumb
Earl's Regent Kandy
aliya resort thumb
Aliya Resort & Spa Sigiriya
the surf bentota thumb
The Surft Bentota
hotel blackpool thumb
Hotel Blackpool Nuwara Eliya
laya safari yala thumb
Hotel Laya Safari, Yala National Park
cinnamon red thumb
Cinnamon Red Colombo

 

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