Arrive Colombo. Met on arrival at the Bandaranaike International airport and transfer to your hotel (15km / approx. 30 minutes) (standard check in time at the hotel is 1400 HRS).
Spend the evening at leisure or take an optional visit to a local market.
Overnight Stay in Negombo
After breakfast you will proceed to the cultural hub of Sri Lanka – Habarana (175 km / approx. 4.5 hours).
On your arrival to Habarana, check in to your hotel and spend some time at leisure.
During the afternoon, you will take a Jeep safari at the Minnerya National Park* (25 km / approx. 45 minutes).
Located between Habarana and Polonnaruwa, the 8,890 hectares of Minneriya National Park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to favorites such as sambar deer, leopards and elephants. However the central feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank (built in 3 rd century AD by King Mahasena). During the dry season (June to September), this tank is an incredible place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze, as well as the huge flocks of birds (cormorants and painted storks to name but a few) that come
* Depending on the elephant movement, you will visit the Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park.
Overnight Stay in Habarana
This morning you will visit the Lion Rock, popularly known “Sigiriya Rock Fortress” (25km/ approx. .45 minutes)
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a spectacular Rock Fortress, is one of Sri Lanka’s major attractions. The most impressive facets of the unique complex are the Water Gardens, the Frescoes of beautiful maidens, the Mirror Wall with ancient graffiti, the Lion platform and the Summit of 1.6 hectares, which was completely covered by buildings during the period of Sigiriya’s glory. Built by King Kashyapa (477-495 A.D), the “Lion Rock” is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200m from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town and the base is ringed by a moat, rampart, and extensive gardens. The world-renowned frescoes (originally 500, of which only 19 remain today) which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway are painted in earth pigments on plaster. The old stairway to the top led through the mouth of a crouching lion but today only the huge paws remain giving an indication of the massive proportions of the head. Remains of the handsome royal citadel are on the summit and several caves for meditation, audience platforms and baths complete the unique site.
Thereafter, you will drive south to the hill country capital of Kandy (105km / approx. 3-3.5 hours).
Arrive finally at the city of famed city of Kandy (Nuwara). The Last Kingdom of Sri Lanka, Kandy holds a special place in every Sri Lankans heart as it accommodates the Temple of the Tooth, which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha.
In the evening, you may experience a show on the cultural dances of Sri Lanka, after which you will visit the famed Temple of the Tooth which is commonly known as "Sri Dalada Maligawa" is situated in the city of hills, Kandy. It is an important shrine for Buddhists as it holds the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. It is famous for its carvings and the beautiful art that is unique to Sri Lanka. The most important part of the Dalada Maligawa is the octagon (Pathirppuwa). The Sri Dalada Maligawa is the most sacred temple in the whole of Sri Lanka. Thousands of people line up each day to get a glimpse of its majesty.
Overnight Stay in Kandy
After breakfast you will visit the Royal Botanical Gardens (10km / approx. 45 minutes).
Located 460 m above sea-level close to Kandy and surrounded from three sides by the river Mahaveli, Peradeniya botanical garden was founded in the year of 1824. One of the best and most valuable collections of Plants and Trees in the world (more than 4000 species, indoor and outdoor). Giant trees of "Ficus" family, different Bamboo and Palm trees of the world, rare Ayurvedic plants, Orchid House, spice garden, timber trees such as ebony, teak, satinwood, mahogany, tamarind and jak etc. can be seen here. Most of the honourable guests who visited Sri Lanka, for instance The Queen Elizabeth, Marshal Tito, Chancellor Henry Kiesinger and Juri Gagarin, have planted memorable trees in this park.
Next you will head off to the quiet town of Nuwara Eliya (92km /approx. 3 hours). After arriving at Nuwara Eliya spend the day at leisure and enjoy a complimentary city tour. Also visit a few tea factories and plantations. Believed to be one of the most beautiful gardens in South Asia and begun as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala King. Every variety tropical and temperate tree and flower is cultivated here and special houses with orchids and e cacti are too beautiful to be true. Special features are the Orchid House which displays a fine collection of Sri Lankan orchids, the fernery, spice garden, and the trees planted by distinguished visitors to the Island.
Overnight stay in Nuwara Eliya
This morning you will take a 2-3 hour trek (approx. 9km long) to the Horton Plains National Park (50km /approx. 1.5 hours from your hotel).
Horton Plains – this National Park, on Sri Lanka's highest plateau over 2100m above sea level in the central mountains is a strange and tranquil region with an astounding variety of scenery – from misty mountains to grasslands, from marshes to ice cold streams, lakes and waterfalls. Sri Lanka's best flavoured “high grown” teas are from estates in the surrounding areas. Two highlights are the spectacular view from 'Worlds End' where the plateau plunges almost 1000m in a sheer drop and the beautiful “Bridal Veil” Bakers Falls. Distinctive flora with a high level of Endemism, colourful butterflies, many rare endemic, resident or migrant birds and several species of Gauna including Sambhur, Bear Monkey, Barking Deer, Giant Squirrel, Fishing Cat, Wild Boar, Hare and even a few very rare sightings of Leopard are recorded. The perfect location for hiking and cycling with excellent trails and cool climate.
Return to the hotel and spend the evening at leisure.
Overnight Stay in Nuwara Eliya
This morning after breakfast, leave your hotel and proceed to your eco-lodge set facing the canopy of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve (195km / approx. 4.5-5 hours).
Overnight Stay in Sinharaja
This morning you will leave after breakfast for a 2-3 hour nature trek in Sinharaja Rainforest.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve – one of the least disturbed and biologically unique primary lowland rain forests in Sri Lanka, covering an extent of over 11000 hectares. Of international significance and declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve (MAB) in 1978 when UNESCO included it in its international network of Biosphere reserves. It was subsequently designated a National wilderness area in 1988 and received full status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989. Situated in the lowland wet zone of the country with an average temperature of 23.6C and an annual rainfall of more than 2500mm the high level of endemism makes it an international rarity. More than 60% of the trees are endemic and it is home to over 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians. Of Sri Lanka's endemic birds, all 22 rainforest species are seen here, including the elusive Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Coucal and Sri Lanka Blue Magpie.
Return to your eco lodge and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Alternatively you may take an optional night walk to experience the adventures of different scenery and sounds in the darkness.
Overnight Stay in Sinharaja
This morning you will visit the Elephant Transit Home and then proceed to Yala (75km / approx. 1.5-2 hours).
Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight Stay in Yala
Today there will be two game drives at the Yala National Park, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.
Yala - Sri Lanka’s most known national park is popular for Elephant, Leopard, Bear, Crocodile and Wild Boar. More than three times larger than Udawalawe at 97,800 hectares, this is the second largest of Sri Lanka’s national parks. Its open undulating terrain made it famous for elephants for many years, but recently the park has also received much fame through publicity by National Geographic and the Discovery TV channels, which focused on a leopard research/conservation and identifications project. Claims have subsequently been made that Yala National Park has the world’s highest concentration of leopard per square kilometer. This park is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and fresh water lagoons. The areas popular with leopard are rock strewn hillocks with dense shrub in which the animals hide.
Overnight Stay in Yala
Leave after an early breakfast for a 2 hour morning jeep safari of Bundala National Park, a Ramsar Site (40km / approx. 1 hour).
Bundala - Located on the south coast of the island near Hambantota, this national park is internationally known as a "Ramsar" for hosting over 20,000 waders during the migratory season. Characterized by five shallow lagoons, sandy beaches, mud flats, salterns and scrub jungle, the park is the home of every species of resident water bird and is also the final destination of most migrant wader species recorded in Sri Lanka. Elephant, deer and Crocodiles are a very regular sight.
Next you will proceed to Galle (140km / approx. 4 hours).
On arrival in Galle, you will take a walking tour of the Fort.
Galle – said to be the famous Tarshish of the Bible where King Solomon obtained gems and spices, this “Living” UNESCO World Heritage Site is the port where the Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka in 1505. Captured and fortified by the Dutch who ruled maritime Sri Lanka in the 17th and 18th centuries, the city still retains the air of old Holland. Within the well preserved 90 acre fort and ramparts built in 1663 are old Dutch churches and monuments with armorial bearings, an imposing crested and monogrammed gateway dated 1669, many well preserved old Dutch houses and narrow alleys still bearing Dutch names.
Overnight Stay in Galle
Drive along the coast to Bentota (55km / approx. 1.5 hours).
Visit a turtle hatchery near Kosgoda, where local fishermen help to protect the turtles for extinction.
Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery - Of the eight varieties of turtle know to exist, Sri Lanka has five and all are endangered. They are the Leathery Turtle; the CloveBacked Ridly Turtle. The Loggerhead Turtle, the Hawksbill Turtle and the Green Turtle. The Hawksbill is slaughtered for its beautifully patterned shell. To help save the turtle, hatcheries have sprung up along the West Coast, particularly between Bentota and Kosgoda. Fishermen are paid to collect the eggs (laying mostly takes place between November and April) and hand them over to the hatchery staff who then bury the eggs in sand inside protective fencing designed to keep dogs and other hungry predators from digging them up. Incubation times vary according to the type of turtle, but with Leatherbacks it is between 62 and 65 days and with the Green Turtle 48 to 52. Many thousands of hatchlings are released every month. A few hatcheries have been featured in publications like National Geographic & Readers Digest and this has done much to help fund the projects.
Arrive at your beach hotel for some time to relax.
Overnight Stay in Bentota
Proceed to the Airport for your departure.
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