15 days

Treasures of Sri Lanka

Treasures of Sri Lanka

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Anuradhapura - the largest and most important ancient site in Sri Lanka

The rock-carved Buddha statues of UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient city of Polonnaruwa

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Dambulla Rock Temples

The 'Temple of the Tooth' in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sacred City of Kandy

Old British hill station of Nuwara Eliya

The World’s End at Horton Plains

Trip rating
  • Sri Lanka has just about everything a traveller could want - superb ancient sites, magnificent scenery, amazing wildlife, delicious cuisine, incredibly friendly and welcoming locals and lovely palm-fringed, white sandy beaches. Add to this a history touched by Portuguese, Dutch and British influences and a society with a strong and devout adherence to the Buddhist faith and we find an island-nation of incredibly rich diversity with much to offer. We discover all of this and more on a comprehensive journey of what has been affectionately called, due to its shape, the 'Teardrop Isle'.

    Why we love it

    • Sri Lanka has just about everything a traveller could want - superb ancient sites, magnificent scenery, amazing wildlife, delicious cuisine, incredibly friendly locals and lovely white sandy beaches.
    • With a history touched by Portuguese, Dutch and British influences and a society with a strong and devout adherence to the Buddhist faith, this island-nation has incredible diversity.
    • Discover all of this and more on a comprehensive journey that has been affectionately called, due to its shape, the 'Teardrop Isle'.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Colombo - Wattala

    • Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport (the country's only international airport), you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Wattala, situated just north of Colombo.
    • Your airport representative will be waiting in the arrival hall, located after passing through the customs area. Look out for the signboard with your surname on it.
    • Although Colombo is the commercial capital and by far the largest city in Sri Lanka, it is still relatively small by Asian standards.
    • You will not stay in the capital itself, but in a place by the beach. Here, you can hire a bike to explore the town or relax on the beach and soak up the sun, sand and surf before heading off on your tour.
    Pegasus Reef Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Mihintale - Anuradhapura

    • After breakfast, you will proceed to Mihintale – the birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism. It was here that the King of Anuradhapura was deer hunting when he met Mahinda, and was converted to Buddhism in 247 BC.
    • Mihintale is therefore regarded as the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka; as a result there are a number of pagodas, monasteries and caves worth visiting. To reach the site, you will need to climb 1840 stone steps, but you will be rewarded at the top with absolutely spectacular views over the surrounding plains.
    • A 20-minute drive takes you to the ancient city of Anuradhapura, built in the 3rd century BC, it was the capital of the Sinhalese people for 1000 years from the 4th century BC, despite frequent invasions from southern India.
    • Today you will see the largest and most important ancient site in Sri Lanka, there are a wealth of old palaces, temples, 'dagobas' (Buddhist monument) and Buddha statues to explore, covering a huge area.
    • The most visited part is the sacred Bodhi tree. It is believed to be a direct descendant of the tree where Buddha gained enlightenment, growing from a sapling that was found at the original tree. Sangamitta, the daughter of the great Indian emperor, Ashoka, who had sent his own son, Arahath Mahinda, to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka, brought the sapling from India. It is one of the most important pilgrimage places in the country. (Driving time: approximately 6½ hours)
    Galway Miridiya Lodge or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Giritale - Polonnaruwa

    • Today you will take to bikes and cycle at a leisurely pace through a series of small villages to Dambalawewa Lake.
    • Along the way you will pass many locals washing their clothes in the huge tanks (man-made lakes) - a very colourful spectacle. You should see plenty of bird life including egrets, brahminy kites, kingfishers and bulbuls.
    • You will enjoy a traditional Sri Lankan lunch today in a village. Your overnight accommodation is in a hotel on the banks of the picturesque Giritale Lake, located near the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. (Driving time: approximately 2 hours)
    Royal Lotus or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 4 - Polonnaruwa

    • After breakfast you will explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, with its immense Buddhas statues carved from the rock. This ancient city is a delight to wander through. Although not as important historically as Anuradhapura, the remains are better preserved and there are some truly awe-inspiring monuments to be seen.
    • Some of the most impressive monuments are the massive carvings of Buddha, hewn out of bare rock. It is not difficult to take a step back in time here and imagine life as it must have been almost a thousand years ago.
    • The city itself was established when the Sinhalese moved their capital from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa in the early 12th century.
    • Later in that century, the city experienced its heyday under the ruling of Parakramabahu. He went on a building spree, constructing the huge lake and the many large buildings and parks that you will visit.
    Royal Lotus or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Sigiriya - Dambulla - Kandy

    • After breakfast you will continue to Sigiriya, an extraordinary citadel built on top of an immense rock. King Kassapa who killed his father and feared retribution, built this virtually impenetrable structure in 471AD.
    • It's a challenging walk to the terrace, which sits beneath enormous carved lion paws (remnants of the lion façade that once protruded from the edifice). A further walk to the summit offers great views as you explore the ponds and structures that cover the top of the rock. The interesting 1500-year-old frescoes are remarkably well preserved.
    • There are about 750 steps to the top of the fort. Most people take around 90 min – 2 hours round trip. There’s also a number of paths and areas to explore at the top. The steps are steep and uneven in places.
    • Weather can be hot and we start the climb early morning to try to avoid the heat and crowds but pax should take plenty of water and good sun protection, comfortable clothes & shoes etc. It can also be very windy near the top.
    • You will then continue your journey to Dambulla, where you will visit Dambulla Rock Temple - a series of five caves that is home to some fascinating rock art and many Buddha statues.
    • Carved out of the rock, this extensive series of caves are covered from floor to ceiling with extraordinarily well-preserved frescoes depicting all kinds of Buddhist imagery.
    • The complex is the largest of its kind in the world and the biggest cave is over 50 metres long. The caves have been places of worship for more than 2000 years, although the frescoes have been added at various times through the ages.
    • From there you will travel to Kandy, via Matale Spice Garden, where many of Sri Lanka's world-famous spices are grown.
    • Sri Lanka has a long history of producing spices. The climate required for production of many crops is actually quite restrictive and only a small area of the country offers ideal conditions.
    • At these small roadside gardens, a local specialist will guide you through the many varied plants and explain their uses. Some species, like cinnamon, coffee, and vanilla you might be familiar with, but slightly more obscure varieties with interesting ayurvedic uses, you may not. In the evening you will enjoy a Sri Lankan cultural show in Kandy. (Driving time: approximately 4½ hours)
    Hotel Topaz or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Kandy

    • While Kandy is the 2nd largest city in the country after Colombo and capital of the central hill regions, it is a peaceful and attractive place. There are plenty of scenic walks through the hills and forests that surround the town as well as along the lake that forms its centre.
    • You will start your day with a city tour. In the heart of the town is the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa), the most important shrine in the country, which houses a relic of a tooth of Buddha taken from his funeral pyre in 543 BC.
    • It is renowned for its daily 'Thewawa' ceremony. Each evening, the day's worship culminates when the casket containing the tooth relic is put on display for devotees who have travelled from all over the Buddhist world.
    • Sri Lanka's most famous festival (the Esala Perahera) takes place in Kandy every July or August. Unfortunately the exact dates are not known more than a couple of weeks in advance, as the most auspicious dates must be obtained from an astrologer.
    • This is one of the most amazing festivals to witness with thousands of dancers and performers and hundreds of elephants marching through the town. (Please ensure that you wear long pants or a long dress when visiting the temple out of respect to the local community).
    • You will also visit the world-class botanical gardens and the local market. There will be plenty of free time to explore this pretty town on your own.
    Hotel Topaz or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Kitulgala

    • The river's clear water is born in the heart of the peak wilderness reserve and tumbles through a rocky gorge just above Kitulgala. As the river widens, you will pass the scenic area that was used as a location in the Academy Award-winning movie ''The Bridge Over the River Kwai'', which was filmed here in 1956.
    • This is a great place to jump in for a refreshing swim.
    • In the evening you will enjoy a pleasant nature walk at Kitulgala. (Driving time: approximately 3 hours)
    Kithulgala Rest House or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Nuwara Eliya

    • After travelling over Ramboda Pass, surrounded by green hills covered with tea, you will reach Nuwara Eliya - an old British hill station. Nuwara Eliya itself dates back to British times, officials and planters headed here in summer to escape the heat of the plains.
    • There are great views over surrounding hills and the town lies in the shadows of Pidurutalagala - Sri Lanka's highest mountain. You will have a free afternoon to do your own exploration.
    • Whilst the colonial charm in the main part of town has faded somewhat, it can still be seen in some of the old hotels like the Grand, where you can take afternoon tea.
    • Another place to try is the colonial Hill Club. There may also be time to take a short optional hike to the picturesque Lover's Leap Waterfall, from where there are good views out over the town. (Driving time: approximately 3 ½ hours, plus 1 hour transfer to hotel)
    Windsor Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 9 - World's End - Beragala

    • You will rise early and take a packed lunch on a hike along the hilly slopes through montane forests and tea plantations to World's End. Here the ground drops beneath your feet and there are stunning views out across the plains.
    • The landscape of Horton Plains is unlike anything else in Sri Lanka – in fact it is more reminiscent of the landscape in Scotland.
    • At 2500 metres, the area is frequently shrouded in cloud and mist and is only sparsely covered with vegetation. There are sambar deer as well as a number of leopards.
    • World's End itself offers magnificent views – the ground drops beneath your feet and the lowlands are visible 1000 metres below. Over 50 kilometres away the Indian Ocean can sometimes be seen - keep your fingers crossed for a clear day.
    • You will hike along pathways enjoying stunning views of the plains as you wind your way to see Baker’s Falls and World’s End.
    • The round trip takes around 3 hours at a leisurely pace. It is 4km to Worlds End, 2km to Bakers Fallas and a total of 9.5 km. Weather is very misty from 9am so we need to start the walk very early. Weather can change quickly, so bring extra warm clothing layers. There are no safety rails around Worlds End and at times the path takes you along the cliff edge. It can be very muddy and some parts of the trail are very steep, but the majority is sloping and gently hilly.
    • Hike back to the main entrance of Horton Plains and drive back through cloud forests and remote villages to Haputale, and then to Beragala where a breathtaking view is offered at your resort.
    Melheim Resort or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 10 - Kataragama

    • After an early breakfast, you will commence a hike from Belagala which takes approximately one hour. During the hike you will enjoy the panoramic view of the dry zone from the hill country.
    • At one point you will experience a panoramic 360⁰ view of Horton Plains, the mountain range, coastal plain, a few lakes and a dagoba. You’ll be picked up by a vehicle and continue to Athuthusevena in time to witness feeding of the baby elephants.
    • On the way, you will stop at Diyaluma Falls, which is the 2nd highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. (Driving time: approximately 4 hours).
    Mandara Rosen Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Yala National Park - Galle

    • Yala National Park is the largest in Sri Lanka and home to all the big mammals found in the country. Elephant, leopard, sloth bear, spotted deer (chital), wild boar and sambar deer all inhabit the park, as with all wildlife experiences though, the sightings of some species depend on a degree of good fortune.
    • Apart from the lager species, small mammals such as black-naped hare, grey mongoose, ruddy mongoose, striped-necked mongoose, grey Langur and porcupine are also common.
    • The park is also famous for its abundant bird life, with over 140 species recorded so far within its boundaries. These birds include hawk-eagle, crested serpent eagle, Malabar pied hornbill, jungle fowl, painted stork, white ibis and black-necked stork.
    • After your sojourn in Yala National Park, you will then proceed to Galle. Galle was once the chief port of Sri Lanka. It is still well known for handmade lace.
    • Here you can visit the World Heritage-listed Galle Fort (spanning 90 acres), which was originally built by the Portuguese and later extended by the Dutch in 1663. (Driving time: approximately 4 hours)
    • Please note: Yala National Park will be closed for the month of September 2014 – instead passengers will visit the Uda Walawe National Park.
    Lady Hill or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12-13 - Kalutara

    • You will be transferred to Kalutara today, visiting the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery en route, where you will see several species of turtles. A number of of these species, especially the hawksbill, are endangered. Most vulnerable of all are their eggs, which are left uncovered on beaches all around the coast.
    • You will stay at a beachside resort on Sri Lanka’s beautiful south-west coast. Here you will have the opportunity to relax on a beautiful sandy beach and perhaps enjoy a swim in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and basically unwind in this tropical haven. (Driving time: approximately 1½ hours)
    Hibiscus Beach Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Colombo

    • In the morning, you can choose to partake in a two hour yoga session, or a perhaps go for a swim or walk though the surrounding forest and village. You will then return to Colombo around lunchtime. After arriving in Colombo you will check in at the hotel. You may like to enjoy an optional night on the town tonight to celebrate the end of the trip. (Driving time: approximately 3 hours)
    Hotel Sapphire or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Colombo

    • Your trip will come to an end in Colombo this morning after breakfast. Check out time is usually between late morning and midday, but may vary. If your flight leaves in the evening you may wish to book additional accommodation so you have a room until departure. Your tour leader will be on hand to assist with transfers to the airport. These are not included, but can be booked through your travel agent or us.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine’s expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): ancient city of Anuradhapura; ancient city of Polonnaruwa; Dambulla Rock Temple caves.
    • Meals 14 breakfasts, 2 lunches
    • Arrival transfer.
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): Matale Spice Garden; World Heritage-listed Galle Fort; Yala National Park; and Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery.
    • Walk up to Mihintale – the birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism and Sigiriya (Lion Rock) fortress.
    • Bike ride to Dambalawewa Lake, Sri Lankan lunch included.
    • Visit to Kithulgala wilderness reserve including a swim and nature walk.
    • Guided walk to ‘World’s End’, Baker’s Fall and Horton Plains.
    • Sightseeing of Kandy including a visit to the Temple of the Tooth to witness the daily Thewawa ceremony.
    • Free time to explore Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.
    • Authentic accommodation includes: 14 nights comfortable hotels

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Airport departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Insurance
    • Other meals including most lunches and all dinners
    • Any optional tours and activities during free time
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Camera fees (some places that we visit charge additional fees if you are entering with a camera or camcorder - your guide will advise on these and they can be paid for locally).
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Treasures of Sri Lanka

    janice/Mervyn - United Kingdom, 1 Jan, 1970
    4
    Overall Rating

    We had a great time in Sri Lanka on the whole the accom was very good, Dilip our guide was fun and knowledgeable but there was too much packed into the trip, too much time was spent having lunch , there was too little relaxation time and days 12/13 where spent in Berjaya hotel listening to the constant din of renovation instead of the haven to unwind at Hibiscus as we'd expected.

    Treasures of Sri Lanka

    Robert - Australia, 3 Mar, 2013
    2
    Overall Rating

    A woderful country to visit with so much to offer. What a pity a lack communication left us wondering about so many aspects and caused some confusion.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PISL
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Colombo
End City: Colombo

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