Sri Lanka Round Trip (North) No. 300 B
Day 1 Hendala (Colombo)
Stay just north of Colombo at the Pegasus Reef Hotel, Hendala. Afternoon city tour of Colombo. Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka with a population of 1,1 million. The Fort, in the very centre of the city, is where most of the colonial remnants, mainly from the British era are still to be found. Nearby Pettah is Colombo's busiest and most traditional bazaar, a mosaic of human activities and architectural memories. Cinnamon Gardens is the most prestigious residential area.
Day 2 Colombo - Dambulla - Polonnaruwa - Sigiriya
After early breakfast you check-out of your hotel and you drive along a busy highway into the interior of the island, past paddy fields, palm groves and coconut plantations. In Pinnewela you have the possibility to visit the elephant orphanage, where about seventy elephants are well looked after, mostly young animals that have been found throughout the country sick and abandoned by their herd and brought to Pinnewela. If you are lucky, you can watch the feeding or the daily bath in the river of the jumbos.
After this visit you continue your journey through Kurunegala. Later in Dambulla you will ascend for a visit of the most impressive of all the many cave temples in Sri Lanka. The Raj Maha Vihara temple complex consists of five separate caverns with numerous statues of the Buddha and Hindu deities. The ceilings of the caves are fully illustrated with paintings mostly from the many lives of the Buddha. The history of the caves dates back to the 1st Century BC when this place served as refuge to the king Valagam Bahu being driven out of Anuradhapura by invading armies from South India. After the king returned to his capital, the caves became a Buddhist sanctuary.
A short drive will bring you then to your Hotel Sigiriya Village for check-in.
In the later afternoon you leave your hotel and drive to Polonnaruwa for the visit of the well preserved remains of the city which has been the capital of the Singhalese kings from the 11th to 13th Century. The famous Singhalese king Parakrama Bahu the Great (1153-1186) has built in the environs of Polonnaruwa an impressive irrigation system with many artificial tanks interconnected with irrigation channels. The reservoir near Polonnaruwa has been until recently, when the large dams were built in the mountains, the largest and most beautiful artificial lake. After this visit you return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 3 Sigiriya - Anuradhapura - Mihintale - Sigiriya
After breakfast you leave for Anuradhapura in order to visit a selection of the most remarkable sights. As per written records Anuradhapura has been made royal capital by the king Panduk Anhaya in 380 BC. It remained residence and royal capital for 119 successive Singhalese kings till the year 1000 AC when it was abandoned and the capital moved to Polonnaruwa. You will see some of the most famous as well as the tallest dagoba of Sri Lanka, remains from palaces, temples, monasteries, ceremonial baths and the temple of the holy Bo-tree. This tree was grown from a sapling of the very tree under which more than 2500 years ago the Buddha found enlightenment.
In the afternoon you will pay a visit to Mihintale. This is the place where in the year 247 BC Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka. The message of Buddhism was brought to the Singhalese King Devanampiya Tissa by Mahinda son of the great Indian Buddhist Emperor Ashoka. In a series of flights, 1840 ancient granite slap steps lead majestically up the hillside. In the late afternoon return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 4 Sigiriya - Sigiriya Rock - Kandy
After early breakfast check-out and drive to the Sigiriya rock. This impressive monolith which rises 200 m out of the jungle has been transformed in the 5th Century by King Kassapa into a fortress and became his capital, as he feared for his life. On top of the rock was the king's palace "The Heaven Castle", what remains today are only foundation walls of this once magnificent building and the many fortifications. What remains to be seen and is worth the difficult climb are the phenomenal frescoes of the Sigiriya Maidens. No one knows whom the seductive beauties, painted in brilliant colours on the rock walls, represent. One can think of them as heaven dwelling nymphs from a realm of radiant light.
After this visit you continue your journey to Kandy on the way along the road you will see paddy fields, coconut groves, rubber and spice gardens and plantations. You will stop at one of the spice gardens there you can see a lot of trees, bushes and plants cropping spices.
Arriving in Kandy you will proceed to the Hotel Suisse or Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy, for check-in.
Kandy, situated at 500 m, is beautifully nestled between green hills. At its very centre lies a small artificial lake and the palace of the last Singhalese king which has become a temple and the holiest shrine in Sri Lanka, where the tooth relic of Lord Buddha is highly venerated. You will visit this temple in the afternoon during a short city tour of Kandy. In the evening you will have the opportunity to attend a dance performance, where you will see the famous Kandyan dances, as well as up-country and devil dances. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Suisse or Hotel Cinnamon Citadel.
Day 5 Kandy - Nuwara Eliya
In the morning after breakfast visit of the world famous Botanical Garden Peradeniya. The park dates back to 1371 under the reign of king Vikrama Bahu III when he held court here. The English put the cornerstone of the present garden in 1821. During the Second World War the garden served as headquarters of Earl Mountbatten, the supreme commander of the allied forces in Southeast Asia who became later the last Viceroy of India. You will find in the garden a very large variety of orchids, spice trees, palms, bushes, as well as tropical plants and flowers of all type.
From Peradeniya the road starts steadily to ascend and at noon, shortly before reaching Nuwara Eliya, you will have climbed 1'500 m. You are now in the tea country; wherever you look, you will see tea plantations, the rich full green of thousands and thousands of tea bushes. And out of the green in regular intervals the white coloured tea factories will enchant your eyes. You will stop at one of these tea factories where you will learn how the green tea leaves become the well known Ceylon teas. Occasionally you can see a few rice fields and near some villages, vegetable plantations or gardens.
Check-in at the Hotel Galway Forest Lodge or Hotel Avian Breeze, Nuwara Eliya, for dinner at the hotel.
The small resort town of Nuwara Eliya, situated at 2070 m above sea level, lies on a little lake and is surrounded by mountains covered over and over by tea bushes. At the town boundaries there are a lot of vegetable plantations and flower fields, but also along the roads of Nuwara Eliya and in most of its gardens flowers are blooming.
Day 6 Nuwara Eliya – Hambantota
After breakfast at the hotel you leave Nuwara Eliya to the south, passing tea and vegetable plantations, occasionally a waterfall, forests and many small villages and hamlets. From the descending road you have again and again a beautiful view to the mountains and into the valleys. After reaching the plain you will again see coconut plantations and the familiar paddy fields. The closer you get to the coast, the countryside becomes more and more barren and near to the sea, you will see along the road many salt fields from which salt is produced.
You will reach Hambantota at noon. In the late afternoon you have the option to do a photo safari into the Bundala game park. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Priyankara, Tissmaharama, or Peacock Beach, Hambantota.
Day 7 Hambantota - Galle - Colombo
After breakfast in the morning check-out and you leave Hambantota. At Dondora you will reach the most southern point of the island and continue in westerly direction along large, beautiful, white, palm fringed beaches. You will pass Matara and you stop later for a visit to the old city of Galle The fort with its impressive great rampart is well preserved. In 1505 the Portuguese took the town from the Singhalese king and built large fortifications which they called Santa Cruz. In 1640 the Dutch stormed the fortress. They later incorporated the remains of the Portuguese fortification in an imposing new fort for the protection of the harbour and the sea routes.
On the way to Colombo you will be passing through well-known resorts as Bentota, Beruwala, Kalutara. There are still a lot of things to be seen, for instance the "toddy-tapers", young men who climb high into the trees to collect the sweet, milky sap of the coconut blossom, or one of the many turtle hatcheries. - You will reach Colombo in the evening. Check-in at the Best Western Alyon Hotel, Colombo.
Day 8 Colombo
Breakfast at your hotel and end of tour.
Please note you can book this tour with accommodation in Standard or Superior. All standard class hotels are also air-conditioned.
The prices are on request and include bed and breakfast in Colombo and Hendala but half board (breakfast & dinner) on the tour, transport in air-conditioned car with experienced English speaking driver/guide from Hendala and back to Colombo. The entrance fees to the sites mentioned are not included. As the operators pay the same prices as the guests, it makes sense that the guests pay these fees direct on the spot. The entrance fees amount to about USD 145.00 er person, children up to 12 years pay half.
On the 24th December and 31st December inclusive of gala dinner.
During the Kandy Perahera