12 days

Secrets of Sri Lanka

Secrets 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

Matale Spice Garden

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

Ritigala Monastic Comples and Caves.

Avukana Buddha Statue

Hiriwadunna Village Safari

Kitulgala Forest Reserve

Trip rating
  • A journey through Sri Lanka's best kept secrets. We are awed by the majestic Avukana Buddha, explore historic Anuradhapura with its intricately sculpted temples and statues. Delve into the heart of Ritigala, to find the jungle claimed Buddhist Monastery. We base ourselves in beautiful beach side Trincomalee for a few days of exploration of the Sri Lankan east coast and its rich historic and marine offerings. We explore the country side on a safari in Hiriwadunna, discovering the life of villagers, farmers and fishermen. We enjoy a comfortable trek through the Knuckles Mountain Range that will leave us in awe at the spendours of the region. Our visit and stay in Kitulgala wilderness reserve is sure to enchant the nature lover within us all. A journey that will lift the cloud on the secret highlights of Sri Lanka.

    Why we love it

    • This is a journey through Sri Lanka's best kept secrets. You will be awed by the majestic Avukana Buddha, and explore historic Anuradhapura with its intricately sculpted temples and statues.
    • Delve into the heart of Ritigala, to find the jungle claimed Buddhist Monastery.
    • You get to base yourself in beautiful beach side Trincomalee for a few days of exploration of the Sri Lankan east coast and its rich historic and marine offerings.
    • Explore the country side on a safari in Hiriwadunna, discovering the life of villagers, farmers and fishermen.
    • Enjoy a comfortable trek through the Knuckles Mountain Range that will leave us in awe at the spendours of the region.
    • Visit and stay in Kitulgala wilderness reserve, a place that enchants the nature lover within us all.
    • A journey that will uncover the secret highlights of Sri Lanka.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Colombo - Katunayake

    • Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport (the country's only international airport), you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Katunayake, situated just north of Colombo.
    • Your airport representative will be waiting for you in the arrival hall, located after leaving the customs area. Please look out for the Peregrine signboard.
    • 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 the quaint town of Katunayake, your hotel is conveniently located a short drive from the airport. If you arrive early you can take the time to explore Colombo or Negombo one of the nearby seaside villages. (Driving Time: approximately 30 minutes)
    Tamarind Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Avukana - Anuradhapura

    • After breakfast you will proceed to Avukana, a highlight on your way to Anuradhapura. You will explore the village and the famous Avukana Buddha Statue.
    • The 40 foot tall Buddha was carved from the granite wall face in the 5th century, arguably the most impressive remaining statue in Sri Lanka. The building of the Avukana Buddha is shrouded in legend.
    • A twenty-minute drive takes you to the ancient city Anuradhapura, built in the 3rd century BC and 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 over a large 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 this from India. It is one of the most important pilgrimage places in the country. After a day of exploration you will check in to the hotel. (Driving Time: Approximately 3 hours)
    Heritage Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Ritigala

    • After breakfast you will start your journey to Ritigala Mountain. The jungle clad mountain is visible miles away as you travel on the Dambulla-Anuradhapura road.
    • You will be guided through the jungle in search for the ruins of the monastic complex of Ritigala, a lesser known but astounding Buddhist site, dating back over 2000 years.
    • Here the ascetic monks, the Pansakulikas, made their home, and meditated in caves carved out of the mountain. As you make your way through, the amazing craftsmanship cannot be missed and the grandeur of it will be restored in your imagination.
    • The site has been declared a Strict Natural Reserve and the Archaeological Department has, over the years, diligently restored the ruins. You will leave Ritigala in awe, and head to beautiful Habarana where you will enjoy lunch with a local family and learn a thing or two about Sri Lankan cuisine.
    • In the afternoon you will arrive to Trincomalee, a beautiful seaside village that will be your base for the next few days as you explore the surrounding region. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure and there is no shortage of ways to enjoy some rest and relaxation in Trincomalee, be it relaxing by the pool or beach, sharing the day’s pictures with new friends, or just enjoying a G&T and watching the sunset. (Driving Time: 2.5 Hours)
    Pigeon Island or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 4 - Trincomalee

    • You will enjoy an early breakfast today to accomodate a full day of exploration and adventure.
    • You'll start the city tour of Trincomalee with a visit to Koneswaram temple, also known as the Temple of a Thousand Pillars. Among the various monuments of Hindu antiquity found in Sri Lanka, the Thirukoneswaram Hindu temple in Trincomalee is one of the three principal places of worship dedicated to Lord Siva. The Portuguese destroyed the original temple in the 17th century.
    • You will also visit the Lover's Leap, one of the main attractions of the Swami Rock, located next to the temple.
    • Next you will visit Fort Frederick on the Trincomalee Peninsula, a remnant of the colonial past of Sri Lanka. The Fort itself has an interesting and ironic story. The Portuguese built it with ruins from the original Koneswaram temple, but then lost it quickly. It subsequently traded hands several times in battles between the French, Dutch and British.
    • The famous Hot Springs of Kanniya is next on your itinerary, reputed for the healing powers of the waters; legend has it that King Ravana struck the earth in several spots with his sword, and from it sprang hot water. This is a great opportunity to meet the locals who come here in pilgrimage or in search of healing.
    Pigeon Island or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Trincomalee

    • You will have the opportunity to enjoy a free morning today. Some may opt to go on a whale and dolphin watching excursion. The coast of Trincomalee is well known to be a migratory route for Blue Whales and Sperm Whales.
    • You may choose to visit Pigeon Island, one of the two National Marine parks of Sri Lanka, or just take the opportunity to capture some stunning photos around Trincomalee.
    • In the afternoon, after the midday heat has subsided, you will start on a cycling tour around Trincomalee, and enjoy the beautiful countryside surrounding the region.
    Pigeon Island or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Hiriwadunna Village Safari – Polonnaruwa

    • After breakfast you will proceed to Habarana. From there, by way of Land Master, you will start your safari through the Hiriwadunna countryside and through authentic Sri Lankan villages, where you will be truly immersed in the culture.
    • You can spot amazing native wildlife, cross streams, and meet villagers in their day-to-day life. If you’re lucky, you may even spot crocodiles.
    • All life here springs from the rivers and streams that make the land so fertile, which is abundantly clear when you cross a large tributary by catamaran, observing fishermen, farmers and village women washing clothes at the periphery of the waterways.
    • Your experience would not be complete without a traditional Sri Lankan meal shared in the home of a friendly villager.
    • You will say goodbye to your newfound friends and arrive to Polonnaruwa in the late afternoon. You will explore Polonnaruwa at a glance, a World Heritage Site since 1982 and the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to the 13th century.
    • You will proceed to your hotel which is located on three acres of landscaped gardens, close to the main sites of Polonnaruwa. It is a quaint retreat which will be your base for explorations in the coming days. (Driving Time: 4 hours)
    Sudu Araliya or simiilar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 7 - Sigiriya – Minneriya National Park

    • After breakfast you will proceed to the World Heritage Site of Sigirya Rock or Lion’s Rock in Sinhalese. Sigiriya is an impressive ancient rock fortress and palace.
    • You will climb to the citadel that rises 200 meters from the jungle floor. It is reputed to be have been inhabited for over 5000 years, initially as a shelter in the Mesolithic Period, and established as a Buddhist Monastery in the 3rd century BCE.
    • In the 5th century CE, Prince Kashyapa briefly made it his capital and fortress after he seized the throne from King Dhatusena and the rightful heir Prince Moggallana.
    • Prince Kashyapa is alleged to have turned it into one of the most spectacular residences and palaces of all time. The gardens can be viewed along with the remains of the mysterious frescoes, which at one time may have been considered the largest picture in the world, covering a wall 140 meters long and 40 meters high.
    • Towards the late afternoon, you will leave to the Minneriya National Park for an optional Jeep Safari. Minneriya National Park is about 9000 hectares and is home to a great array of fauna, including elephants that frequent it as a favourite watering site.
    • The purple-faced langur and toque macaque can also be found here as well as an incredible variety of birdlife. In the evening you will return to Polonnaruwa. (Driving Time: 3 hours)
    Sudu Araliya or simiilar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Matale – Kandy

    • After breakfast you will say goodbye to Polonnaruwa and head on your way to Kandy. You will stop in Matale and visit the Matale Spice Garden.
    • Here you will enjoy an incredible sensory experience as you learn about the variety of spices that enrich both Sri Lankan cuisine and Ayurveda Therapy. You will enjoy a cooking demonstration and lunch.
    • In the afternoon you will arrive in Kandy, the 2nd largest city in the country after Colombo. It is a peaceful and beautiful 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 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.
    • Kandyis renowned for its daily Thewawa ceremony. Each evening, the day's worship culminates when the casket containing the tooth relic is put on display to devotees who have traveled from all over the Buddhist world.
    • 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 Casamara or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 9 - Knuckles Mountain Range Trek

    • After breakfast you will set off on a moderately challenging but manageable trek on the Knuckles Mountain Range. Named so by British surveyors after its peculiar formation that resembles the knuckles of a clenched fist, its traditional Sinhalese name is Dumbara Kanduvetiya meaning “Mist laden Mountain Range”.
    • The entire range is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also of great scientific interest, it is endowed with an extremely interesting microclimate.
    • In the cloud forests at higher altitudes, some fauna and flora native and unique only to this microclimate can be found.
    • In the evening you will head back to Kandy and enjoy some time at leisure, with an optional group dinner, or catch a traditional fire walking show by Sri Lankan dancers on your last night in quaint Kandy.
    Hotel Casamara or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 10 - Giragama - Kitulgala

    • After breakfast, you will head toward Kitulgala. However no trip to Sri Lanka is complete without enjoying firsthand what has made Sri Lanka so famous: Ceylon Tea.
    • You will stop at the Giragama Tea Plantation and take an interactive crash course in plucking tea and how it’s processed. You will enjoy a wonderful cup of tea and head on to Kitulgala.
    • Located in the wet zone rain forest, Kitulgala gets two monsoons each year and is a very wet place. The Kelani River may be familiar to you if you’ve seen the Academy Award-winning movie, 'The Bridge Over the River Kwai', which was in fact filmed here in 1956.
    • This is also a good place to jump in for a refreshing swim.
    • In the evening you will enjoy a pleasant nature walk at Kitulgala and perhaps share a cup of tea with some locals. (Driving time: approximately 2.5 hours)
    Kithulgala Rest House or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Kitulgala - Colombo

    • In the early morning you will enjoy a guided trek of this Jungle reserve.
    • Enjoy this time at your leisure, and in the afternoon you will start your short journey to Colombo. You will arrive in Colombo in the late afternoon and enjoy a cooler evening city tour and orientation.
    • Tonight is your final night and you might like to enjoy a goodbye dinner together, to celebrate the incredible adventure you shared. (Driving Time: approximately 2 hours)
    Sapphire Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Colombo

    • Your trip will 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 us or your travel agent.
    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.
    • Authentic accommodation includes: 11 nights comfortable hotels.
    • Arrival transfer.
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): ancient city of Anuradhapura, Avukana Buddha, ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Matale Spice Garden, Koneswaram Temple, Lover’s Leap
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): Ritigala Reserve and Monastery, Fort Frederick and the Hot Springs of Kannaya; Girigama Tea Factory, Matale Spice Market, Colombo City Tour.
    • Village Safari in Hiriwadunna on land masters.
    • Trek in the Knuckles Mountain Range.
    • Walk up to Mihintale – the birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhism and Sigiriya (Lion Rock) fortress.
    • Bike ride in Trincomalle countryside.
    • Visit to Kithulgala wilderness reserve including a swim and nature walk.
    • Sightseeing of Kandy including a visit to the Temple of the Tooth to witness the daily Thewawa ceremony.
    • Free time to explore Kandy and Trincomalee.

    Not Included

    • Airport departure transfer
    • Airport departure taxes
    • 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

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PISE
Group size 4 - 16
Start City: Colombo
End City: Colombo
Style: Small Group

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