Taste Of Sri Lanka
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This small group tour offers an excellent introduction to the tropical island of Sri Lanka with a focus on both cultural and culinary experiences. Travel from the fast-growing capital deep into the Hill Country and Cultural Triangle, tasting the island’s unique flavour at tea plantations and spice gardens, seeking out wildlife species in a national park and exploring must-visit sights.
Day 1: UK to Colombo
Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Colombo.
Day 2: Colombo
On arrival, transfer to your hotel where you will stay one night. This afternoon there will be time to relax before a welcome dinner served at the hotels restaurant AYU. Stay: Mvenpick Hotel Colombo (or similar). D.
Day 3: Colombo to Nuwara Eliya
Theres an early start this morning for a fantastic tour through the heart of the capital. Established over two millennia ago as a trading point on the Maritime Silk Road which connected China to Europe, the city has rich and varied heritage and is today one of Asias fastest growing cities. During your tour you will witness examples of various styles of architecture including one of the oldest buildings in the city, the 17th-Century Old Dutch Hospital Complex, which was built to serve officers and seafarers of the Dutch East India Company. Other sites you will see may include the Old Parliament Building, the British-built Galle Face Promenade, Independence Square and the Gangaramaya Temple. Later, travel east towards the Hill Country and the town of Nuwara Eliya where you will stay two nights. Approx. journey time: 5 hours, 109 miles. Stay: Jetwing St. Andrews (or similar). B, D.
Day 4: Nuwara Eliya
A leisurely start to the day is followed by a visit to the Glenloch Tea Factory for your first quintessential Sri Lankan experience. The Nuwara Eliya region of Sri Lanka sits at the heart of Sri Lankas historic tea producing industry, a subject you will learn more about during a tour of the plantation. This will be followed by a hands-on tea picking experience out in the fields that will allow you to appreciate the full process of tea making, all the way from the plant to your cup. Following lunch, continue on to Hakgala Botanical Gardens which showcases thousands of plants from Sri Lanka, Europe and the Far East, and into the town of Nuwara Eliya. View the charming 19th-Century architecture and see why this part of Sri Lanka is also known as Little England. Stay: Jetwing St. Andrews (or similar). B, L, D.
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya to Kandy
Often travelling between destinations is part of the adventure and this is certainly the case this morning. The group will depart from the hotel and transfer to the train station at Nanu Oya and board the train which will take you to Kandy. As you descend from the Hill Country, the train passes through rolling tea plantations and verdant forests and you will understand why this journey has been named as one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. Disembark in Kandy and then transfer to your hotel where you will spend two nights. The most famous of Kandys attractions is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is said to house an ancient relic of Lord Buddha. This evening you will visit the temple before discovering local folk laws and traditions during a cultural dance show. Approx. journey time: 2 hour drive, 62 miles/3 hour train journey. Stay: Golden Crown, Kandy (or similar). B, D.
Day 6: Kandy
Following breakfast, head out of the city and visit three of the regions most important Buddhist temples, Gadaladeniya Vihara, Lankathilaka Vihara and Embekke Devalaya, all of which date back to the 14th Century. Lunch is included on your return to Kandy and you can choose from a number of restaurants to dine in. This evening there will be a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. These beautiful gardens are home to a vast selection of Sri Lankas native flora as well as many exotic species and a renowned orchid collection. Approx. journey time: 2 hours. Stay: Golden Crown, Kandy (or similar). B, L, D.
Day 7: Kandy to Dambulla
Sri Lanka is famed for its spice gardens, where many quality spices have been grown for centuries and exported far and wide throughout the world. Today, as you make your way north towards Dambulla, therell be the opportunity to visit one of these gardens and discover a little more about the varieties grown and the importance of the spice trade to the economy and culture of the island. This is a popular experience for anyone interested in food, and in particular Sri Lankan cuisine as a curry cooking demonstration will follow the tour of the plantation. If you wish, you can get involved in the class before enjoying the dishes you helped to produce for lunch. Late this afternoon a visit to the Dambulla Cave Temple is included. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most incredible sights on the island with over 150 statues of Buddha and intricately-painted murals that cover the caves walls and roof in five of the rocks 80 or so caves. Approx. journey time: 2 hours, 62 miles. Stay: Jetwing Lake (or similar). B, L, D.
Day 8: Dambulla
This morning you will visit another of the Cultural Triangles most famous sites, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Sri Lankas second capital still retains many of its ancient buildings including of the royal palace which was built in 12th Century, the well-preserved Audience Hall with its beautifully-carved elephant reliefs and the Sacred Quadrangle which is centred on the circular Vatadage. This afternoon, head out on a game drive into Minneriya National Park, one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. And if you happen to be travelling between the months of July and September, youll be able to witness one of the regions most incredible wildlife experiences The Gathering. During the dry season and periods of drought, the water dries up elsewhere leading elephants to migrate in vast numbers to the edge of the Minneriya reservoir where they can drink, feed, bathe and mate. Approx. journey time: 1 hours, 75 miles. Stay: Jetwing Lake (or similar). B, D.
Day 9: Dambulla
The day begins with an insight into rural life on a nature trek in the village of Hiriwadunna. At the start of this four-hour immersive experience you will be transported via a paddy farmers tractor and trailer through a shaded forest to the edge of a man-made reservoir that is covered with pretty lily pads. Cross the water on a traditional boat before continuing your village exploration on foot and discovering the everyday lives of Sri Lankas rural population. Early this afternoon therell be another opportunity to get involved in creating your lunch at a curry cooking demonstration. Your final afternoon is free to relax by the pool of your hotel. Alternatively, you can visit the iconic Sigiriya Rock on an optional excursion. Either view the rock from the ground and explore the ancient water gardens or climb to the rock to see the ruins of the 6th-Century palace. We recommend that you only embark on the ascent to the top if you are fit, healthy and do not mind heights as there are many steep steps and narrow walkways. Stay: Jetwing Lake (or similar). B, L, D.
Day 10: Dambulla to Negombo
Leave Dambulla and travel west towards the coastal city of Negombo where you will spend one night. If you choose to extend your holiday with a stay on the south west, south or east coasts you will transfer to your chosen hotel today. Approx. journey time: 3 hours, 84 miles. Stay: Jetwing Sea. B, D.
Day 11: Negombo to UK
Transfer to the airport for your return flights to the UK. B.
Sri Lanka east coast beach