13 nights/14 daysFamilies will love all that Sri Lanka has to offer. On this active family tour we have chosen hotels that are very welcoming to families whilst providing an authentic flavour of Sri Lanka. You can spot elephants in the wild, mess about on the beach, visit a turtle hatchery or go on a whale-watching trip.This holiday can be undertaken staying in a range of hotels. To make things simple initially we are giving a Luxury option and a Value option. Each combination is based on tried and tested hotels within given price ranges but any other hotels we feature in the respective regions can be included instead and of course, Luxury and Value hotels can be mixed.Click here to download the full pdf itinerary for this touring holiday.DAY BY DAY ITINERARYDay 1 Arrive NegomboOn arrival in Colombo, you will be met by your English-speaking chauffeur guide who will accompany you throughout your journey of Sri Lanka in an air-conditioned vehicle. Drive to Negombo, a town which is set amid lush groves of coconut palms, breathes the spirit of the sea and shows its interesting colonial past with many historical buildings. Day 2 Negombo to Sigiriya Today, depart for the Cultural Triangle (approximately 4 hours), a melting pot of heritage, culture and wildlife and home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Sri Lanka boasts a phenomenal eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, four of which are in the dry Central Province. Between them they tell a fascinating story of Sri Lanka’s civilisation. En route, you will visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, (approximately 1 hour from Kandy). Pinnawala is a government-run elephant orphanage, where abandoned or injured elephants are reared. They live in a large enclosed area and are herded to the river twice a day for bathing. There may be an element of a zoo about Pinnawala but it does offer the best chance to get close to these magnificent animals. The number of elephants has increased to more than 65 now, with more then 25 babies born as a result of the captive breeding programme.Day 3 Sigiriya and local village visitThis morning, set off to climb the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya, with its rocky abode and water gardens. This World Heritage Site is one of the island's most awe-inspiring archaeological sites and a prime tourist attraction. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the Palace on the summit of the 600-foot high rock. On one of the stairways the only known ancient work of Sinhala secular painting survives in the form of frescoes of 21 life sized damsels still shining in their original colours. You can stroll through the ruins of palace and gardens down below and admire the rock without climbing up all the steps. However, to fully appreciate Sigiriya, you have to climb a series of steep, and sometimes narrow, steps taking you up one side of the rock to the summit. At the top you get majestic views of the surrounding jungle and you can walk around the foundations of the palace, replete with bathing pool. Part-way up the rock, you can divert to climb a spiral iron staircase to view the famous Sigiriya frescoes. Later this afternoon, you will be driven the short distance from Sigiriya is Hiriwaduna Village, where you will have the opportunity to meet and interact with the local villagers. You can help in some of their daily tasks, such as farming and cooking, or even be taken on a bullock cart ride through a banana plantation, tasting the ripe bananas along the way!Day 4 Polonnaruwa and Dambulla After breakfast, leave for the world heritage site of Polonnaruwa via Habarana, Minneriya and Giritale (approximately 2 hours’ drive). In the 12th Century AD, the mediaeval capital of Polonnaruwa was one of the great urban centres in South Asia. Today, the well preserved ruins give you the chance to experience the grandeur of this period and marvel at the artistry of the island's early craftsmen. Highlights are the Royal Palace and Council Chamber, and the graceful Buddha statues at Gal Vihara, the pinnacle of Sri Lankan rock carving. The site also hosts many distinctly South Indian-style Hindu temples. Set amongst gently undulating woodland, the monkeys, giant lizards and birdlife in abundance, the historical site is visited using a combination of driving and on foot; or else hire a bike and cycle around (best visited early morning or late afternoon because this is the dry zone). On your return journey, as you pass through Minneriya, it is likely that you will see wild elephants, sometimes in large herds. This is the site of the ‘Elephant Gathering’ between July and October, where up to 300 elephants can be seen gathering around the tank in the late afternoon. Day 5 Sigiriya to Kandy After breakfast, head south towards Sri Lanka’s hill country. En route, you will visit the beautiful cave temples of Dambulla, another World Heritage Site. Used as a refuge since the 1st Century BC, each cave is filled with murals depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life and gilded statues of the Buddha in various poses. The temple is spiritual and mesmerising with no less than 150 Buddhist statues in the five caves. There are images of Buddhist deities all around and the fantastic frescos on the walls and ceilings portray the life of Buddha. This visit will include a 10-15 minute uphill climb on foot, but you are rewarded with the most fantastic views overlooking the plain. You will then continue on your journey to Kandy, which was the last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom and is today still an important cultural and spiritual centre. On the way pause to visit a famous spice garden and authentic arts and crafts centre. Explore this picturesque lake-side city with its wealth of antique and gemstone shops, a bustling market and numerous restaurants.Day 6 KandyHave day at your leisure to explore Kandy. This royal capital of the hill country is a UNESCO world heritage site, built beside a placid lake surrounded by hills. Thanks to these natural fortifications, the Kandyan kingdom held out against colonial invaders for centuries. It was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings during the Portuguese, Dutch and British rule and finally ceded to the British in 1815 after an agreement. To the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and the World, Kandy is one of the most sacred sites as it is the home of the “Dalada Maligawa” - Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. This tooth of the Lord Buddha is said to have been brought from India in the third century and there are three daily ceremonies of homage by white-robed pilgrims. In the evening, join the crowds to visit Kandy’s famous Temple of the Tooth and enjoy a traditional Kandyan dance show. This is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists, containing the tooth relic of Lord Buddha.Day 7 Kandy to YalaThis morning, enjoy more mountain scenery on the way to Ella Gap, where the mountains dramatically drop down to the plains of the south, continuing to the south-east coast of the island. This nature resort is located in ten acres of jungle bordering the entrance of Yala National Park and the Indian Ocean. A variety of wild animals are seen in the grounds, such as monkeys, wild boar and the occasional elephant. Yala is most famous for its leopards and has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, offering the best chance to see them in the wild. This is a very dry terrain with little shade, bordered by a beautiful coastline and interspersed with watering holes. Daytime temperatures reach around 30c, so it is a dry heat with little rainfall.Day 8 Yala safariBegin early this morning for a wildlife safari by jeep. Elephants, sloth bear, sambhur and buffaloes are amongst the animals also seen in the park. You will see that Sri Lanka is blessed to have the opportunity to showcase a huge amount of fascinating wildlife, all of which you will experience during your safaris. Because of the high density of leopards in Yala, the lack of other carnivores means that the leopard is the top predator, so adults and cubs can be remarkably relaxed during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. On an afternoon safari, watch out for crocodiles basking in the evening sun.Day 9 Yala to Galle After breakfast, you will depart for Galle (approximately 3 to 4 hours). Visit the historic Galle Fort and Galle cricket stadium. There are myriad narrow streets to explore within the city walls and some lovely small shops selling crafts, jewellery and antiques. It is also possible to visit low country tea estates, take a river boat trip or visit the Kottawa and Hiyare Rainforests or Samakanda organic farm. Unuwatuna is a great surfing beach. A whale and dolphin watching trip could also be arranged from Mirisssa (December to April).Days 10 to 13 Galle to Bentota Drive north along the coast and spend four relaxing nights on the beach in Bentota. Along the way, you will stop at Ambalangoda where wooden mask carvings are made, and see the traditional methods of creating these masks. Bentota itself is best known for its long, picturesque stretches of sandy beach and whilst here, visit the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery or enjoy the water sports of Bentota. Boat trips on the river are increasingly popular; take a raft to enjoy the silence of the mangrove swamps. The town, which straddles along the main road from Colombo to Galle, offers a fantastic insight into local life. There is a modern shopping centre, a post office and a marketplace. There is also a handicraft centre on the roadside south of the town.Day 14 Departure from Colombo Transfer to the airport (approximately 1.5 hours) for your departure.PRICESPrices from £2,920 per person luxury option, and from £2,730 per person value optionIncluded in this tour:• Return scheduled flights with British Airways or Sri Lankan Airlines to Colombo in economy class• Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room• Private English-speaking chauffeur-guide in an air-conditioned Japanese car throughout the itinerary• Entrance fees to the monuments listed above.Not included:• Visas (A visa is a requirement for entry to Sri Lanka and can be obtained on line from www.eta.gov.lk)• Meals, except as specified above • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses• Camera fees where applicable• InsuranceClick on the 'Hotel Information' tab above to find out about the hotels featured in this itinerary.
This holiday can be undertaken staying in a range of hotels. To make things simple initially we are giving a Luxury option and a Value option. Each combination is based on tried and tested hotels within given price ranges but any other hotels we feature in the respective regions can be included instead and of course, Luxury and Value hotels can be mixed.Luxury optionNegombo: Jetwing Blue, situated in a lush tropical garden by a golden stretch of the Negombo shoreline. There is a refreshing spa and well equipped gym and a great choice of water sports available (Deluxe rooms on bed and breakfast).Habarana: Cinnamon Lodge, this five star hotel occupies a tranquil lakeside spot amid the unspoilt rural setting on the outskirts of Habarana in the heart of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle (Superior rooms on bed and breakfast).Kandy: Mahaweli Reach, situated on the banks of the mighty Mahaweli River, this hotel was the first in the Hill capital to obtain a five star rating. There is a relaxing Ayurvedic spa and regular evening features to keep you entertained (Deluxe rooms on bed and breakfast).Yala: Noel Rodrigo's Leopard Safaris,blends exceptional service with a uniquely indigenous and luxury touch in remote and genuine wilderness. All meals are included during your stay.Galle: 41 Lighthouse Street, this is a discreet luxury boutique hotel in the historic Dutch fort (Double rooms on bed and breakfast).Bentota: Vivanta by Taj, overlooking the Indian Ocean with a long, palm-fringed beach, this hotel is a first-class resort offering an excellent range of facilities including four restaurants, swimming pool, fitness centre and nearby water sports centre (Superior charm rooms on bed and breakfast).Prices from £2,920 per person luxury optionValue optionNegombo: Jetwing Sea, overlooking the glorious stretch of golden sand of Negombo Beach, this hotel boasts simple, contemporary architecture to match the beachside lifestyle (Standard rooms on bed and breakfast).Habarana: Chaaya Village, a comfortable, rurally located hotel set in harmony with its natural surroundings (Superior rooms on bed and breakfast).Kandy: Cinnamon Citadel, offering peace and tranquillity from beside the Mahaweli River, this hotel is perfectly placed for exploring the city’s most important cultural attractions (Superior rooms on bed and breakfast).Yala: Cinnamon Wild, offers eco-friendly facilities and 61 comfortable, air-conditioned chalets in ten acres of jungle bordering the National Park, which is just five minutes’ drive away (Jungle chalets on bed and breakfast).Galle: Fort Printers, an 18th Century mansion, recently restored into a small boutique hotel in the heart of the historic Galle Fort. The mansion itself traces its origins to the Dutch period although Moslem traders and English colonialists, and spells as a printing house and a school, have also contributed to its unique character (Double rooms on bed and breakfast).Bentota: Bentota Beach, relax on southern Sri Lanka’s beautiful beach (Standard rooms on bed and breakfast).Prices from £2,730 per person luxury optionIncluded in the prices mentioned above: • Breakfast and accommodation sharing two twin or double rooms• Private English-speaking chauffeur-guide in an air-conditioned Japanese car throughout the itinerary• Entrance fees to the monuments listed above• Scheduled return flights from London Heathrow to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airways.Not included in the prices mentioned above: • Visas (A visa is a requirement for entry to Sri Lanka and can be obtained on line from www.eta.gov.lk)• Meals, except as specified above • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses• Camera fees where applicable• Personal travel insurance (this is essential).
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