Sri Lanka Round Trip (South) No. 300 A
Day 1 Colombo
Stay in Colombo at the Hotel Best Western Alyon. Afternoon city tour. 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 - Galle – Hambantota
After breakfast you leave Colombo and drive along the palm fringed coast to the south passing well known beach resorts like Kalutara, Beruwala, Bentota and Hikkaduwa. Along the road there are many interesting 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 make a longer stop at 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. At Dondora you will reach the most southern point of the island and continue in easterly direction along large, beautiful, white, palm fringed beaches. The countryside becomes now more and more barren and before you reach your hotel in Hambantota, you will see along the road many salt fields from where from sea water salt is produced. - Dinner and overnight at the Priyankara Hotel, Tissamaharama or the Peacock Beach Hotel, Hambantota.
Day 3 Hambantota - Nuwara Eliya
In the first light of dawn you can participate on an optional photo safari to the nearby Bundala game sanctuary.
You will leave the hotel around noon and cintinue your journey to the north across a dry jungle area. From Wellawaya the road starts to ascend going into the hills. After a few miles you will be 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. Occasionally you can see a few rice fields and near villages vegetable plantations or gardens. After passing through Bandarawela (1200 m) you will reach Nuwara Eliya in the evening.
The small resort town of Nuwara Eliya, situated on 2070 m above sea level, lies on a little lake and is surrounded by mountains covered with tea bushes. At the town boundaries there are a lot of vegetable plantations and flower fields, also along the roads of Nuwara Eliya and in most of its gardens flowers are blooming. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel Galway Forest Lodge or Hotel Avian Breeze, Nuwara Eliya.
Day 4 Nuwara Eliya – Kandy
After breakfast in the hotel you leave Nuwara Eliya and a short while later you will reach the Ramboda pass at 2'200 m, the highest elevation of your tour. From the descending road you see again and again the rich full green of the tea estates with the White coloured tea factories. You will stop at one of these tea factories where you will learn how the green tea leaves become the well known Ceylon teas. While descending into the lowlands, you will come across the paddy fields and vegetable plots, which border the settlements.
At noon you reach the old royal city of Kandy, situated at 500 m, 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.
Check-in at the Hotel Suisse or Cinnamon Citadel, Kandy. In the late afternoon short city tour of Kandy with visit to a lapidary. In the evening you will pay a visit to the temple of the holy tooth. After the temple visit you 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 your hotel.
Day 5 Kandy - Dambulla – Sigiriya
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 the 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. Lunch en route. You will leave now the central hill country, proceeding north. Along the road you will of the spice gardens there you can see a lot of trees, bushes and plants cropping spices.
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 5 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.
After this visit, the driver will take you to the Hotel Sigiriya Village for dinner and overnight
Day 6 Sigiriya - Sigiriya Rock - Polonnaruwa - Sigiriya
After breakfast visit 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 kings 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 will drive back to your hotel.
In the afternoon departure 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 the 13th century. You see the excavations: Temples, dagobas, the royal palace, the royal library. The most 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 the visit you return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 7 Sigiriya - Anuradhapura - Hendala
After breakfast you leave to 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.
After the visit of Anuradhapura you leave for Colombo, on the way you pass paddy fields, coconut plantations and huge areas with rubber trees and plantations. You will reach Colombo in the evening. Check-in and overnight at the Pegasus Reef Hotel just north of Colombo.
Day 8 Hendala (Colombo)
Breakfast at you hotel and end of the tour
Please note you can book this tour in Standard or Superior hotels, all standard 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 Colombo and back to Hendala. 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 120.00 per person, children up to 12 years pay half.
On the 24th December and 31st December inclusive of gala dinner.
During the Kandy Perahera