Day 1 - 30 December 2022
DAY 1 – COLOMBO – AYUBOWAN!!!
On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be greeted by your tour representative before you proceed to Negombo.
On arrival we check -in at Hotel. Transfer time – less than 45 minutes.
- This day has been left with no activities on purpose so you can arrive. Lots of flights arrive to Colombo after midnight. This way you can just check in and be ready to go for the next morning. If you arrive earlier in the day please enjoy the pool, take a wander to the local national museum or book a massage.
- Please note check in time is 2pm.
DAY 02: NEGOMBO – DAMBULLA
After an early snack with tea / Coffee we leave the hotel (Approximately by 06:30hrs) and enjoy sightseeing in the city of Negombo, commonly known as the fishing village at the west coast. Here clients will get the opportunity to visit the Negombo fishing harbor and to see the daily routine of a local fisherman at the fishmarket. The Negombo fish market is a microcosm of the local fishery industry. It gives you an unpretentious insight into the local fisher community. The market is loud, vibrant and smells like fish! You will be able to witness the fishermen in hundreds of boats bringing in their days’ catch. See how the wholesalers and restaurateurs trade and watch the packing & loading of fish for distribution across the country as well as for export–worldwide. The retail area is a bustling hive of activity – with customers negotiating prices with mom and pop fish vendors. The best time to visit the Lellamais at dawn, around 6:00 am to really understand the volume and scope of the operation. You will see a multitude of boats full of fresh fish coming in and lowering their sails. The smaller fishing boats usually come first, followed by the larger vessels. You can see their nets being pulled ashore and the catch shaken out of nets to be cleaned, scaled, gutted, salted and dried in the sun. You’ll see the loading of fish on small-time fish vendors’ bikes, who in turn sell their fish to consumers.
Return to hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast we depart for our eventual destination Dambulla, in the heart of what is referred to as the Cultural Zone featuring Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdoms. On arrival we check -in at Jetwing Lake, Dambulla. Transfer Time – Approximately 03 hours & 30 minutes. After some down time at (approximately at 1500hrs), we leave for an exciting game drive at the Eco park or Minneriya National Park. Transfer Time – Approximately 30 minutes.
Home to large herds of wild Elephants, Minneriya has been a sanctuary since 1938 and features King Mahasena’s magnificent Minneriya tank of the fourth century covering 3000 hectors. This important wetland supports paddy fields and many aquatic birds such as painted stock sand spot billed pelicans. Other inhabitants include the purple -faced leaf monkey, sambar, chital, and sloth bear. Mugger crocodiles and water monitors can also be seen.
We return to hotel approximately by 1900hrs for a leisurely dinner and relaxing nights sleep at our hotel Jetwing Lake.
Meals – Breakfast
DAY 03: POLONNARUWA – SIGIRIYA
Soon after breakfast we take a pleasant drive through a forest reserve to the medieval city of Polonnaruwa. Transfer Time – Approximately 01 hours& 20minutes.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, which rose to fame as a capital between the 10th to 12th century AD. A resemblance of Angkor Wat, the royal palace and audience hall, the quadrangle and spectacular galvihare complex give clear evidence of Sri Lanka’s past glory. Sightseeing will include visits to–Museum / Thuparama/ Galpotha(stone book) / Hatadage/ Latha Mandapaya/ Sathmal Prashada/ Rankoth Vihara/ Lankathilaka/ KiriVehera/ Gal Vihara & The Royal palace.
An option is available for you to choose bicycles to peddle across the archaeological site. In Polonnaruwa, an Exclusive lunch will be arranged by the side of a paddy field located in Polonnaruwa where you will be given a cooking demonstration non fatty local lunch which includes Rice with 05/06 authentic curries, papadam, fried lake fish and a green salad.
Later this afternoon we visit the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya,one of the seven world heritage sites of the Island. Transfer Time – Approximately 01 hour & 20 minutes. On our way we visit a local Rice Mill to observe the processing of Paddy. Polonnaruwa has historically been the rice bowl for Sri Lanka complementing the vast irrigation systems and water reservoirs built by its visionary kings. This was a golden era when Polonnaruwa’s rice was exported to many neighboring countries including China. The mill processes ten tons of paddies each day and provides a livelihood to around 200 women from villages around. We visit the World Heritage giant rock fortress of Sigiriya, built in the 5th century as a bastion and palace of king Kasyapa. The most impressive facets of this unique complex are geometrically laid water gardens, frescoes of beautiful maidens, and the mirror wall with ancient graffiti. The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery.The largest picture in the world perhaps wrote John Still. The lion platform and summit of 1.6 hectares, was surrounded by buildings during the period of Sigiriya’s glory. It’s around 1200 steps to the summit which yields a spectacular panorama of the surrounding jungle and Sigiriya village. Return to our hotel Jetwing lake for drinks overlooking the lake.
Meals – Breakfast and lunch
DAY 04: DAMBULLA – KANDY
This morning after an early snack with tea / coffee, we travel away from the main roads of Dambulla and proceed along the picturesque Kandalama tank. We arrive at a remote village and walk through the narrow roads to the waiting catamaran boats, which take us along the Kandalamatank(safety jackets provided). The catamaran ride is a brief experience but gives you the essence of how typical villages use them for fishing, transportation and for picking up waterlilies.
We return to hotel for breakfast. Soon after breakfast, we check-out from hotel and continue on to the old hill-station of Kandy, driving around 2 and a half hours.
Our first stop for the day is at the World Heritage site -Dambulla, known for its richly painted cave temples. Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass and it was here that king Valagam Bahutook refuge from invasions in the 1st century B.C., later turning the caves into a rock temple. Some of its frescoes are over 2000 years old. Another highlight is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 15 meters long. The caves have a mixture of religious and secular paintings and sculptures with ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history.
We then make our way towards Kandy. Along the way, there is an option to stop by a private spice garden in Matale, (entrance by appointment only). These spice gardens are among the best on the island. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of these spices are grown and processed.
We then arrive to Kandy. Kandy was the last bastion of Buddhist political power against colonial invasion. This hill station is remarkable for the natural beauty of its setting in a peaceful wooded valley overlooking a vast artificial lake. The palace, shrines and British period buildings give it a special character, while Buddha’s Tooth Relic lends a religious importance to the historic highland capital. After some down time, we enjoy sightseeing in Kandy with a panoramic tour, via the upper lake drive, stopping at the market square featuring the famous Batik and Gem stores. We conclude our visits for the day by visiting the Temple of the Tooth. The octagonal -shaped building, (Dada Maligawa) is a national palladium for it houses the Tooth Relic of the Buddha, an object of veneration to Buddhists all over the world. According to tradition, the tooth was rescued at the cremation of Gautama Buddha in India in 543 BC and brought to the island in the 4th century AD. The relic is encased in seven caskets, one kept inside the other, the outermost of which has a shape of a stupa, adorned in gold. Return to hotel for overnight.
This evening, a 30-minute cultural performance exclusively for you at the Hotel Premises at 1930hrs. Overnight Hotel Suisse Kandy.
Meals – Breakfast
DAY 05: KANDY – NUWARAELIYA
Breakfast at the hotel. Thereafter we board the local train from Kandy’s Train station leaving at 0800HRS for a 4 hours ride to the panoramic tea plantation region of Nuwara Eliya. Your luggage will travel by coach. Note – the train journey from Kandy to Nuwaraeliya will be done by the clients in 1st class carriage (which is still very basic). The scenery en -route is magnificent and far superior to travelling in a car. Train leaves Kandy at 0840 hrs& arrives at Nanu-oya station at 1240hrs. You will be served with picnic lunch to consume while on board. You will then be picked up from the Nanu-oya train station and transferred to Jetwing St Andrews for the night.
Nuwara Eliya is a mountain station at 1,868m(6,128ft)of altitude, in a splendid landscape. The city pretends to be particularly well- kept and neat, and the always-green grass gives to the locality an aspect of“colonial British style”. Nuwara Eliya was built entirely during the 19th century and its architecture mimics that of an English country town, with red -brick walls, country house like hill club and mock -Tudor half -timbering. Blessed with salubrious climate, breathtaking views of valleys, meadows, mountains and greenery; it’s hard to imagine that Nuwara Eliyais only 180Km from the hot and humid Colombo. Temperatures are 14C-21C(Jan-April). Later this afternoon, we leave for sightseeing at the renowned hill station of Nuwara Eliya. A retreat for British Civil Servants from the heat of the plains. Also known as Little England, Nuwara Eliyais famous for its spectacularly beautiful approach, picturesque landscape and cool climate. Many of its buildings retain features from the colonial period along with a 117-year-old championship golf course, one of the most scenic in the world, nestled between the town and surrounding forested hills. After sightseeing, you will be given some leisure time around the city… perhaps to enjoy a leisurely walk through the local market square. Return to hotel for overnight Jetwing St Andrews.
Meals – Breakfast and Lunch
DAY 06: NUWARAELIYA – YALA
After breakfast, we visit to a Tea plantation/Factory en -route, to have an insight of the local tea manufacturing process including the daily routing of local workers/ tea pluckers.
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19 the century Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. For many miles prior to reaching Nuwara Eliya from either direction you will find acres and acres of tea plantations, in fact nothing but tea estates. There are many factories open for visitors, which also have tea sales outlets. Visit the Tea Factory and witness how the green leaf, which was plucked, is converted to the familiar dark brown product through a process of drying, cutting,rolling and fermentation. At the factory,also learn to “taste” tea an try to identify the subtle difference in flavor produced at the factory. Thereafter we depart Nuwara Eliya and take a 4 hours’ drive towards Yala – to a world with no rules, no restrictions… untamed, mysterious, and magical.
For centuries, this incredible destination has been revered as an unparalleled testament to the beauty of the wilderness, nature in its purest and rawest form. Probably the best place in the world to spot leopards, sloth bears, elephants, and a whole host of bird life, Yala promises unforgettable discoveries and exciting adventures.
Enroute you will be provided a comfort stop at Ella which is a small town with an altitude of 613metrs, is blessed with some of the most beautiful views you could find in Sri Lanka. This small town is used as a base for plenty of trekking expeditions to the surrounding countryside. A taste of the breathtaking scenery of Ella could be had, if you just walk into the Garden of the Grand Ella Motel, (Formerly Ella Rest House) where you seem to be standing at the edge of the world,and everything around you seems to disappear at your feet. Another fine view is from the Ambiente Hotel, where the wide doorway, opens out to the mountains, creating a dramatic cinematic like experience, on entry. On arrival we check -in at Jetwing Yala.
After some down time, we head towards Yala national park by 1500hrs to enjoy an exciting game drive. Yala (Ruhuna) National Park is situated in the Arid Zone of Sri Lanka’s South East region. Comprising of five blocks, this National Park covers an area of 151,778 hectares. Currently only Block I, covering 14,100 hectares, is open to the public. Yala’s historical significance dates back to 500 B.C and evidence shows that the park was inhabited in the past. The area remained a free hunting area for sport until the 1900s, when it was declared a Game Reserve. In 1938 a section of the park was declared a National Park. Being in the Arid Zone Yala receives an annual rainfall of less than 1,000 mm from the North East monsoon from about November to January. The rest of the year remains dry with the period from July to September showing severe drought conditions. Mean temperature is around 27c. Yala National Park comprises of several major habitat types including dunes, scrub forest, riverine forests, rocky outcrops, secondary forests and coastal lagoons with mangrove forests. This diverse collection of vegetation has resulted in many species of animals and birds being recorded in Yala National Park.
Return to hotel by 1900hrs for overnight Jetwing Yala.
Meals – Breakfast
DAY 08: GALLE
After breakfast we take a 4 hour drive to the historical town of Galle. The ancient trading post of Galle, said to be the famous Tarshish of the Bible. Historically, this award winning world Heritage fortified township was an essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Javanese and Sumatrans came later followed by Marco Polo in 1299 AD.The Portuguese arrived in the 1500’s and built a settlement with a fort of palm trees and mud. This was captured by the Dutch (and finally the British) who built the 400- year-old fort with great ramparts and bastions to protect their presence. Narrow streets are lined with old houses displaying Dutch heritage, with their pillared verandas. Government offices remain in use and the community within the fort is a bustle with daily life– a living breathing town, hidden within fortified walls of this ancient, maritime citadel. Laughter, chatter, gossip and smiles abound within the rampart walls.
We explore the fort, overflowing with landmarks, strolling past the Dutch church, the governor’s house, the spice warehouses, Court Square, the Kacherior Town Hall, the lighthouse and ramparts. Near the old Arab mosque are streets leading to cricket fields and the district Judge’s house, surrounded by ancient frangipani trees.
Return to your down town Heritage Hotel after sightseeing and take the rest of the day to wander the local area as we close to everything.
DAY 9: GALLE –COLOMBO – AIRPORT
Breakfast at leisure.
Today we leave for Colombo the commercial capital of Sri Lanka for a tour of sightseeing. It is a 3 hours drive from Galle to Colombo and you will be dropped at the airport late afternoon around 5pm. *If you need to head to the airport earlier from Galle you will miss our sightseeing in Colombo. Airport transfers are approx. $80AUD one way and take around 3 hours.
COLOMBO– the trade and commercial capital has long been the traditional gateway to the Orient. Sri Lanka’s largest city, it is located on the west coast and draws together all the cultures, religions and influences of foreign lands into a melting pot of sounds, smells and a kaleidoscope of colour. The original traders and settlers- the Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and the British have left in their wake churches and monuments ,names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages which have been absorbed into the speech of the Sri Lankan. Today, Colombo is a fascinating city – a happy blend of east & west, past & present, with a charm of its own. A less known but amazingly true fact is that Colombo has a superb range of high quality restaurants serving food from all over the world and some of the best shopping opportunities in Asia. At 10am we will visit Number 11 The Geoffrey Bawa residence which is considered a special architectural marvel which also houses art and artifacts from the collection of the Late Architect. Afterwards we will head to the “Barefoot Café”, Colombo for lunch and some colourful shopping. Thereafter we drive around the capital and its impressive Parliament House, designed by Geoffrey Bawa. Colombo is fascinating, with a cozy mixture of past and present and is the commercial centre of the country. The original trading settlers – the Portuguese, Dutch and British have all left in their wake churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages, which have been absorbed into the speech of Sri Lankans.
We also visit the Old Dutch Hospital, which has been impressively restored and now holds eateries, bars, boutique stores and spas. Constructed all of four centuries ago, the building is a resounding example of eastern Dutch architecture with high ceilings, thick walls, large wide windows and terracotta tiled floors.
Thereafter you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure flight. Transfer time – 45 minutes. (Airport – Colombo expressway). *Try and book a late afternoon/evening flight. These are usually all that are available. If you are booking a flight after midnight please note it will actually be the next day. These flights are unfortunately common.