Sri Lanka is a teardrop shaped island brimming with green landscapes, ancient treasures and a large dose of friendly tropical warmth both in terms of weather, smiles, sunshine and palm-fringed beaches. Beautiful green interiors, taking in ancient sights, staying on a colonial tea plantation, immersing yourself in the Buddhist spirituality at temples and shrines or visiting historic coastal towns such as Galle is but a smidgen of what Sri Lanka offers. It~s national parks offer innumerable opportunities for wildlife-spotting. Amazing opportunities to see leopards in the wild, colourful bird life, or whales off the coast. The beaches are stunning, and the cuisine which is a fusion of Portuguese, Dutch, British, Malay and Indian influences. Hoppers, kottu rotti, Tamil crab, lamprais and coconut sambal accompany the staple of rice and fragrant curry. Added to all this culture, Sri Lanka offers amazing value for money and a relaxed, friendly vibe. These are but a few of the reason as to why Sri Lanka is a hit.
- Climb the rock fortress of Sigiriya
- Stay in a colonial-style tea planter~s bungalow
- Explore the old town of Galle Fort
- Relax by Bentota~s beautiful beaches
Arrival and transfer to Colombo. Colombo is a bustling city and has a long history as a port on ancient east-west trade routes and was ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. That heritage is reflected in its spicy cuisine as well as its architecture, mixing colonial buildings with high-rises and shopping malls which make it an interesting place to explore.
Leave Sri Lanka~s capital for arguably its most magnificent site: the rock-top fortress of Sigiriya. It~s a scenic drive through the countryside to reach Vil Uyana, a clutch of romantic villas dotted amid emerald rice paddies, just 5km from the resplendent rock.
Start at Sigiriya. In the fifth century, King Kashyapa built a palace atop a plug of volcanic rock sticking out of the jungle; the ruins can still be seen after an exhilarating climb, via staircases and ancient frescoes. After drinking in the views, visit the nearby Dambulla Rock Temples, first-century BC caverns crammed with over 150 Buddha images.
Head to Polonnaruwa to explore the well-preserved ruins of the island~s medieval capital. There are hundreds of ancient structures here, from tombs and temples to stupas and an immense reclining Buddha, carved directly into the rock. The grasslands and forest of Minneriya National Park are nearby, where you can take a jeep safari. Look out for sambar deer, macaques, sloth bears and elephants at certain times, Minneriya is home to the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world.
Nestled in verdant-green hill country, Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. It is now the island~s cultural heart. Kandy House, a charming boutique hotel set amid lush gardens on the city outskirts, makes a relaxing base.
Home to graceful colonial buildings, unique music and dance, the island~s most sacred shrine and a refreshing highland location, Kandy is easy to like. Begin with a trip to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens (don~t miss the enormous orchid collection), then explore Kandy~s lakeshore, surrounding hills, markets, arts centres and museums. Finish with an evening visit to the Temple of the Tooth –allegedly home to one of Buddha~s teeth.
Ride the rails to Hatton, cutting through prime tea country –a riot of leafy green spreads from the train windows. Bed down at Tea Trails, a cluster of colonial-era planters~ bungalows packed with period furnishings. Each bungalow has its own housekeeper, chef, butler and houseboys.
Head out into tea country, by car or on foot –you have a car and guide at your disposal so your day is up to you. Scenic walking trails link the bungalows, which are 5km to 15km apart. Or venture a little further afield, perhaps making the pilgrimage up sacred Adam~s Peak (one of Buddha~s foot-prints is said to reside on top) or enjoying a round of golf in cool, colonial-era Nuwara Eliya.
Drive down from Tea Trails along the south coast to Galle, passing many small fishing villages and beaches. Galle is a city with a colourful history and a Dutch colonial feel.
Take further leisurely strolls around the fort, stopping to try local snacks and peering inside the imposing churches. You could also take a cycling tour of the surrounding coast or, between November and April, sail out on a whale-watching trip –humpback and blue whales might be seen.
A short drive up the coast leads to Bentota, which is blessed with lovely beaches and sweeping bays. Set on the shore, amid glorious gardens, the boutique Paradise Road Villa Bentota will be your home for three nights.
Day 12 - Day 13
Melt into Sri Lankan beach-life. Dip in the sea and pool, book a massage, dine on exquisite curries and tamarind martinis. If you~re feeling more energetic, there are water sports aplenty or visit the nearby turtle hatchery where you can see the young rescued turtles and maybe even help release them into the sea.
Return to Colombo airport for your flight home.
**This itinerary can be customised according to your preference. Contact Steuart Holidays for assistance**
Colombo - Sri Lankas Commercial Capital
Sigiriya - The Rock Fortress
Dambulla - Fascinating Buddhist Architecture
Polonnaruwa - Sri Lankas Medieval Capital
Kandy - Cultural Center of Sri Lanka