Glimpses of Ceylon
Duration: 7 nights private tour
Price from: £1649pp
Sigiriya or Habarana 3 nights
Kandy 2 nights
Nuwara Eliya 1 night
Colombo 1 night
Day 1: Fly to Colombo.
Day 2 Colombo/Sigiriya or Habarana: On arrival you will be driven to Sigiriya or Habarana (if time permits an overnight stay in Colombo or Negombo is recommended). Rest of the day at leisure (approx 110 miles/4 hours drive).
Day 3 Sigiriya or Habarana/Polonnaruwa: Visit the imposing Sigiriya rock fortress which dates from the 5th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those feeling fit can tackle the 600 feet climb to the top. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the fortified town with a moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the famed water gardens that ring the rock’s base. You will also see the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are painted in earth pigments on plaster and are reached by a spiral stairway. After lunch drive to Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (approx 1½ hours), the second capital city of Sri Lanka built in the 11th and 12th centuries AD. Visit the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya - four colossal statues carved from granite, the Lotus Bath, the moonstones and Tivanka Image House with its Buddhist frescoes.
Day 4 Sigiriya or Habarana: At leisure or you can take optional excursions to the Minneriya National Park by jeep or visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura (additional cost).
Day 5 Sigiriya or Habarana/Kandy: Drive to the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, dating from the 1st century and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This impressive temple is a complex of five caves with the largest area of paintings found in the world and a colossal figure of Buddha carved from rock. Visit a spice garden at Matale to see how they are grown and processed before continuing to Kandy (approx 2 hours), the last capital of the Kings and another of the nine UNESCO sites found in Sri Lanka. Enjoy a city tour and drive around Kandy Lake, the town bazaar, the arts and craft centre and a gem museum. This evening enjoy a pooja at the Temple of the Tooth relic and a cultural show.
Day 6 Kandy: Visit the renowned Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a conservation and educational centre. Established in 1975, it is one of the few places in the world where elephants have been successfully bred in captivity. This afternoon visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, which was first built as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala king and then expanded by the British.
Day 7 Kandy/Nuwara Eliya: Head to the cooler climes of tea country to visit a working tea plantation and factory to see the manufacturing and grading process of tea, before tasting a cup of pure Ceylon tea. Proceed some 6,000 feet above sea level to the former colonial hill station of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s most popular hill resort and heart of tea country. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the colonial splendour in all its glory (approx 60 miles/3½ hours).
Day 8 Nuwara Eliya/Colombo: Travel to Colombo via Kitulgala (approx 130 miles/5 hours drive), where the Kelani River was the main location for the Oscar winning “Bridge on the River Kwai” film. Pass by St Clair and Devon waterfalls before arrival in Colombo and then drive past an historic clock tower, numerous colonial buildings and also visit the Pettah Bazaar. Pass Hindu and Buddhist temples and wealthy residential areas before arriving at your hotel.
Day 9 Colombo: Time at leisure before your tour concludes with a transfer to the airport for your onward journey.
Alternatively, why not extend your stay with a side trip to view magnificent wildlife at one of Sri Lanka’s superb national parks or, enjoy some time to relax beside the sea at a glorious beach resort.
Departures: Daily from UK.
Tour price: The price shown for this privately escorted tour by air-conditioned car is based on the best value travel dates in low season and includes international flights, 3* accommodation including breakfast, private transfers, sightseeing as outlined and private services of an English speaking chauffeur guide.
Also available with 4* and 5* accommodation and air taxi transfers. Extensions also available in each destination.
Due to en route sightseeing and the nature of the scenic, winding roads, some journeys can take several hours. However, sea planes are available for some routes, cutting journey times considerably (sometimes by up to 6 hours).
Glimpses of Ceylon can also be enjoyed using "boutique" hotels such as The Wallawwa, Ulagalla, Jetwing Vil Uyana, Kandy House, Ceylon Tea Trails, Aditya and Cape Weligama. These small and more personalised properties capture the essence of barefoot luxury and attention to detail.