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Tropical Isle

Fifteen Days and Fourteen Nights

    Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 01

    ARRIVE TO BEAUTIFUL SRI LANKA

  • Day 02

    THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE

  • Day 03

    ARCHEOLGICAL MARVELS

  • Day 04

    THE SPICE ROAD TO KANDY

  • Day 05

    RHYTHMIC KANDY

  • Day 06

    THROUGH THE ROLLING HILLS

  • Day 07

    THE STORY OF TEA

  • Day 08

    LET’S GET WILD

  • Day 09

    DISCOVER YALA

  • Day 10

    THE GOLDEN BEACHES

  • Day 11

    SOUTHERN COMFORT

  • Day 12

    SOUTHERN COMFORT

  • Day 13

    THE HISTORIC FORT

  • Day 14

    THE SERENDIB RIVIERA

  • Day 15

    DEPARTURE

YOUR JOURNEY

  • Day 01

    ARRIVE TO BEAUTIFUL SRI LANKA

    Upon arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met and assisted by our Airport Representative who will hold a board with your name as you exit the aircraft. We will then accompany you through passport control, customs, baggage collection and money changers, all the way to the arrival lounge where we will meet you, address any last minute questions you have about the itinerary and introduce you to your chauffer guide or guide who will be your travel companion and explorer around Sri Lanka.
    The drive to the The Wallawwa in Kotugoda takes approximately half an hour. Check in, unpack and relax. There is a great spa for those interested in relieving the tensions of the flight.

    The Wallawwa

    Meal: Optional


  • Day 02

    THE CULTURAL TRIANGLE

    Morning: Drive to the Cultural Triangle

    We travel on back roads towards the north-east to the area we call the Cultural Triangle. The road winds its way through vast coconut and pineapple plantations and every now and then you will cross a village where if you like you may stop to have a thambili, the traditional Sri Lankan coconut.
    Lunch on route at Lake Lodge, which boasts spectacular views over Kandalama Lake. Guided visit the UNESCO Dambulla Cave Temples.
    After lunch we visitthe Dambulla Cave Temples, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. This temple, dating back to the first century BC, when hermit monks established a monastery here, is one of the most impressive in Asia. It has five caves under a large overhanging rock, carved with a drip line to keep the interior dry. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with religious pictures and the colourful designs continue along the contours of the rock. There are images of Buddha, bodhisattvas, and various gods and goddesses.

    We proceed to Ulagalla Resort, near the town of Thiripane. We will arrive in the late afternoon. You might like to have a swim in your own private pool or indulge in a spa treatment at the Coco Spa. The property also offers horse riding and for every room there are two mountain bikes. The surrounding area has many trails ideal both for walking and biking.

    Ulagalla Resort

    Meal: Breakfast & Lunch


  • Day 03

    ARCHEOLGICAL MARVELS

    Morning guided visit UNESCO Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

    We depart our hotel early this morning to climb one of the most astonishing sites in Sri Lanka, UNESCO World Heritage Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The climb itself takes approximately 2.5 hours. The 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress, a massive monolith of red stone rising 600 feet from the green scrub jungle below. Fifteen centuries ago, this rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70-hectare fortified town and was crowned by the palace of the mad genius King Kasyapa. Though the palace no longer exists, the paws of the great lion which guarded the entrance to the summit are still intact, and a moat, rampart, and extensive gardens, including the renowned water gardens, ring the base of the rock. The world-renowned frescoes of the “Heavenly Maidens” of Sigiriya can be seen in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster.

    Lunch on route at the Sigiriya Village Hotel.

    We enjoy a light lunch at the Sigiriya Rest House overlooking the rock fortress. Some might like a swim in the pool to cool down before lunch after the morning climb.

    Afternoon visits: Guided visit UNESCO Pollonaruwa

    We travel north for an hour and a half to the medieval capital and ruins of Polonnaruwa, which was the second capital and the seat of government from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. Constant invasions by southern Indian warrior tribes meant that the city was abandoned and Dambadeniya became the new capital. It was not until the nineteenth century that the citadel was rediscovered by English explorers.
    We return to Ulagalla in the late afternoon where we can relax before dinner.
    Those interested might like to go on a nature walk with a naturalist from the resort.

    Ulagalla Resort

    Meal: Breakfast & Lunch


  • Day 04

    THE SPICE ROAD TO KANDY

    Morning and lunch: Visit a working Spice Garden on route to Kandy and then lunch exclusively at Ena De Silva’s private estate. Unquestionably the best Sri Lankan food in the country.
    Today we travel towards Kandy. On route we stop at a spice garden and we stop for lunch at Ena de Silva’s private residence.
    In 1962, 40-year-old Ena de Silva moved into the unique courtyard house that architect Geoffrey Bawa had built for her in Colombo and started to experiment with batik making. Assisted by Laki Senanayake and her son Anil, she established Ena de Silva Fabrics and went on to produce such masterpieces as the ceiling of Bawa’sBentota Beach Hotel and the banners that hang in front of Sri Lanka’s parliament. In 1982 she returned to her ancestral home in the hills above Matale and founded a women’s cooperative to make batiks and needlework along with a brass foundry and wood-carving workshop. The cooperative has now existed for more than a quarter century and continues to make modern fabrics and carvings, which are inspired by traditional Sri Lankan designs.
    Afternoon (late): At leisure. Optional Visit one of the few interesting local artists in their home for tea…
    We arrive in Kandy in the late afternoon. We check into the Kandy House – and for those interested in the arts we have a treat. There are numerous wonderful artists living in Kandy, We will take you to see one of our artist friend’s studios. The visits will be coordinated by one of our local friends in Kandy and the exact schedule of events will depend on who is around at the time (subject to availability).

    Ulagalla Resort

    Meal: Breakfast & Lunch


  • Day 05

    RHYTHMIC KANDY

    Morning: Visit the Botanical Gardens with a professor from Peradeniya University. Light lunch inside the park after the visit.
    Kandy was the capital of the venerated 16th century Kandyan Kings, who fiercely and successfully defended their kingdom against Portuguese and Dutch invaders for 300 years. It eventually fell to the British in 1815, but the salubrious hill station has maintained its position as an epicenter of Sinhalese culture and the site of an important spiritual pilgrimage for Buddhists. Many of the legends, traditions, and folklore are still lovingly kept alive by the region’s friendly people.
    We leave the Kandy House at 9.30 AM. We start the day in Kandy with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens. First conceived as a Queen’s pleasure garden in the 14th century, and a Kandyan Prince’s residence in the 18th century the gardens were formally opened under their current guise in 1821. Walking around these tranquil, immaculately-designed lawns, borders, pavilions and plant houses, you could easily think you are in England but the heat and extraordinary diversity of the tropical plants give the game away. The Botanical Gardens are as popular with Sri Lankans and travellers alike, and they are large enough to guarantee that there is shady seating available for each visitor. Easy to visit by foot.

    Lunch: A light lunch is served at the Botanical Gardens.

    Afternoon: Visit the Garrison Cemetery – no ordinary cemetery, visit the Temple of the Tooth and attend a Cultural Show…
    In the afternoon we visit the British Garrison Cemetery. Some might raise an eyebrow at the prospect of visiting a cemetery but this is no ordinary one, and well worth a visit. In the very heart of Kandy lies a ¾ acre plot of land wherein rest many men, women and children, mainly colonial British, cut off from life, many in the flower of their youth, others blossoming into manhood, and with only a bare handful reaching the proverbial three score years and ten. This is the British Garrison Cemetery, which was opened in 1822 and closed by Governor’s Proclamation in the mid-1870’s, except for those with a relation already buried therein. After recent restoration, anyone interested is now more than welcome to visit this slightly bizarre but incredibly insightful reminder of the past. Here you will connect with Kandy in the 19th Century – a good number of these have their own stories to tell.
    We take you for afternoon tea to the Queens Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Asia, and then we head into the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most sacred site. Tradition relates that a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka in 4th Century A.D. and was enshrined within the Dalanda Maligawa, or the Temple of the Tooth. This sacred relic has ever since been the symbol of sovereignty for the Sinhalese kings and always enshrined in great splendour. Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa is a magnificent shrine, with decorative walls, golden roof and fine woodwork. Religious services (pooja) are held daily at dawn, midday, and in the evening and can be viewed by visitors. The services are accompanied with traditional music and drumming.

    We head back to the Kandy House

    Kandy House

    Meal: Breakfast & Lunch


  • Day 06

    THROUGH THE ROLLING HILLS

    Morning: Visit a working 19th Century Train station and take the Train to the hills…
    Your next stop is the hill country, also known as the tea country. The train leaves early in the morning, at around 8.30 AM. One should try to arrive to Peradeniya Station by 8.00 – Our station representative will show you around the station and introduce you to the train engineers and the proud station manager.

    The train ride from Kandy to the heart of Sri Lanka’s Tea Country is one of the most scenic train rides in Asia.As you meander out of Kandy, dense jungle opens into cloud forest, with undulating vistas of immaculate tea bush carpets in between. Startling orange minivetsbirds perch on outrageously vivid spathodia blossoms, hairpin bends cling onto hillsides somewhere between soaring peaks and dramatic ravines, thundering waterfalls tumble and glassy lakes reflect the astonishing scenery – just in case you missed it.

    Lunch: At Tea Trails – in your bungalow…

    Afternoon at leisure…

    We stop in Hatton where your driver will await at the station to take you to one of the four classic colonial bungalows managed by Tea Trails. Tea planter’s bungalows were built for British tea estate managers in the days of the Raj. On arrival at Tea Trails you will be greeted by your personal butler who will attend to your every need and discuss the dinner options. Enjoy the evening at Tea Trails. Watch the sun go down over the mountains and the lakes from the splendid verandah and gardens at Tea Trails.
    Lunch and dinner are served at Tea Trails.

    Ceylon Tea Trails

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


  • Day 07

    THE STORY OF TEA

    Morning: Visit a Tea Factory and Plantation with a resident planter, one of the foremost experts in Sri Lanka…
    The eponymous English cuppa might have been somewhat stronger if not for the 1865 coffee blight. Old Ceylon’s up-country plantations were devastated – but not so the spirits of the pioneering planters. They threw in a crop of tea and never looked back.Sri Lanka is still the world’s largest exporter of tea and major industry has never looked so good!
    Today we visit a Tea Plantation. A ‘Tea Experience’ is offered providing interesting insights into the growth and manufacture of tea – Sri Lanka’s most famous crop.

    Lunch is served on the verandah at Tea Trails.

    Special lunch overlooking the Bogawantalawa Lake.
    Afternoon options: Visit a traditional Planters Club, trek with a local guide around the bungalow – we can organize different groups depending on ability… late afternoon tea on a tea field overlooking the scared mountain Adams Peak…
    In the afternoon we may choose totrek through the endless maze of tea trails, watching the plantations come to life – pickers diligently atwork filling their large wooden baskets full of bright green tea leaves, children holding hands on theirway to school, devotees praying at the small Hindu temples that dot the landscape. This area is largelyinhabited by Indian Tamils, who were brought to Sri Lanka by the British in the 19th century to work onthe tea estates. We encounter the smiles and laughter of the charming inhabitants of tea country everywhich way we turn.

    Ceylon Tea Trails

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


  • Day 08

    LET’S GET WILD

    After breakfast we travel out of the hills and head south to Yala National Park, one of the island’s most popular wildlife sanctuaries.
    Partly in the arid zone, this 500 square miles of National Park is dramatically different from lush jungles and paddy fields that cover much of the island. Composed of dry thorny scrub and dusty glades, it is so easy to imagine you are in an African bushfeldt, right down to the long-thorn bushes. Such ideal background to view elephant, leopard, wild boar, spotted deer, crocodile and panting jackal that an entrepreneurial South African, Englebrecht, who was shipped over as a POW after the Boer War instigated the Sanctuary at the turn of the century. Refusing to swear oath to The Queen for a ‘pardon’, along with 2 countrymen he turned hunter, had many local wives and children. A village of his descendants live on the Hambantota coast; they must feel at home on this Savannah.
    Sri Lanka is known for the highest leopard density in the world and Yala, the most eco-friendly, attracts more tourists than any other park for this reason. Once you catch sight of a male leopard crossing the road at dusk to stalk a Sambur deer, phantom-like behind a bush you know this is real. The bird population is profuse, stunning and in November-January, the fantail peacocks everywhere is unforgettable.

    Chena Huts

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


  • Day 09

    DISCOVER YALA

    Full Day: Game safaris.
    Today you have access to a specially adapted 4WD vehicle for unlimited game drives, experienced hands-on trackers and naturalists. Photograph leopard, wild bears, elephants and an abundance of wildlife.

    Chena Huts

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


  • Day 10

    THE GOLDEN BEACHES

    We will leave the park before lunch and drive to Southern Beach.
    Day leisure on the beach.

    Amanwella

    Meal: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


  • Day 11

    SOUTHERN COMFORT

    Morning and Evening: Relax on the beach.

    Optional: Snorkeling and Surfing or Visit the Mulkirigala Temple.

    Amanwella

    Meal: Breakfast


  • Day 12

    SOUTHERN COMFORT

    Morning and Evening: Relax on the beach.
    Optional: Snorkeling and Surfing or Visit the Mulkirigala Temple.

    Amanwella

    Meal: Breakfast


  • Day 13

    THE HISTORIC FORT

    The drive is a scenic one along the coast. It is worth stopping to see the legendary Taprobane Island. Built in the 30’s by Count de Mauny, a French landscape architect who created this legendary folly on a piece of land which was originally a cobra dump. The octagonal white villa has attracted everyone from Noel Coward, Paul Bowles and Robin Maugham and is currently featured in Hip Hotels.
    By early afternoon we arrive at the grand Amangalla hotel where we will spend thenext two nights relaxing and soaking up the culture and history of the 17th century Dutch fort of Galle. The resort has a wonderful swimming pool, as well as a spa with luxurious baths and the beach is only 15 minutes away.
    Lunch: Lunch is on route on your own.

    Afternoon: At leisure.

    Amangalla

    Meal: Breakfast


  • Day 14

    THE SERENDIB RIVIERA

    Morning: Guided visit to Galle Fort with a local resident

    In the morning we explore within the crumbling fort walls of the Old City. The 16th century Galle Fort is a world heritage site. Spanning over 90acres, it is Asia’s best preserved and largest surviving fort built by European occupiers.
    It was originally built by the Portuguese in1588 and extended to its present glory bythe Dutch in 1663. The best way to soak up the charm of the Old City and to get our bearings is by taking a stroll around the thick granite wallsof the fort. This one hour is circuit is most enjoyable at sunrise and sunset as the air is cool and the light is long and low. The real allure of the Old City is found in simply wandering through its warren of narrow alleys and side streets, replete with colonial homes with original archways and verandas, 18th century churches, mosques, museums and impressive art galleries and clothing boutiques.
    Lunch: Lunch is on your own in the fort.
    Afternoon: Optional activities such as a visit to local temples, a bike rides.
    The afternoon is at leisure. One option for the actively minded is to take a bike ride around the paddy’s and village inland from Galle. The starting point can be Wijaya Beach itself and this can be easily organized on the spot.

    Dinner: Hosted Dinner in old spice merchants home.

    Today we have a lovely dinner arranged at the Sun House, the beautiful house of an old spice merchant. Built in 1861 The Sun House is beautifully sited on a leafy hill in Galle’s best residential district overlooking Galle Harbour and the sea. Converted into a beautiful seven-bedroom boutique hotel at the turn of the century, The Sun House maintains the charm and elegance of a bygone era.

    Amangalla

    Meal: Breakfast


  • Day 15

    DEPARTURE

    You will be collected and taken to Colombo International Airport at the appropriate time.

    Amangalla

    Meal: Optional


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