Day 1 UK - In flight
VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from home for your flight to Colombo.
Day 2 Colombo
On arrival in Colombo we transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 3 Colombo - Habarana
Colombo is Sri Lanka’s commercial centre, a curious mix of eastern tradition and western infiltration. Our morning tour includes a visit to the fort built by the Portuguese and a view of the buzzing Pettah bazaar district from our coach, where the streets are crammed with stalls and shops. We continue our journey to Habarana, in the heart of the island, where we’ll stay for three nights.
Day 4 Anuradhapura - Hiriwaduna Village
We head to Anuradhapura, ruled by the Sinhalese Kings for over 1,000 years. Star attractions include ancient Buddhist shrines, dagobas (bell-shaped memorials) and pokunas (stone water tanks). We also visit the sacred 2,000-year-old Sri Maha Bodi tree. Later, we’ll visit a typical Sri Lankan village for an introduction to local culture and indigenous farming practices.
Day 5 Sigiriya
Adventure awaits us this morning in Sigiriya, a 182m-high rock plateau on which a 5th-century ruler built a fortress and palace. The spectacular ‘lion rock’ fortress stands majestically over the green jungle. Carved in a niche in the rocks are frescoes of beautiful women. This afternoon you’re free to relax or join an optional excursion to Polonnaruwa, built in the 12th century by King Parakramabahu. The remains of the King’s Palace include shrines, temples, dagobas and the Gal Vihara.
Day 6 Habarana - Dambulla - Kandy
Today’s tour takes in the serene Golden Temple at Dambulla, a home for Buddhist monks since 3 BC. Over the 22 centuries, the five natural caves that make up this sacred pilgrimage site, have been decorated with brilliant murals and exceptional sculptures. Marvel at the rock-hewn Buddha and explore. We then stop at a spice garden before reaching Kandy, last capital of the ancient kings, which nestles among low hills looped by the Mahaweli River.
Day 7 Royal Botanical Gardens - Temple of the Tooth
This morning’s tour reveals the Royal Botanical Gardens, where you can admire stunning flora and fauna. The afternoon is at leisure. This evening, watch Kandyan dancers perform the enchanting national dance of Sri Lanka, before we continue our journey to the sacred Temple of the Tooth.
Day 8 Kandy - Tea Plantation - Nuwara Eliya
Today, we’ll make tracks for Nuwara Eliya, home of Ceylon tea. It was built during the 19th century in the style of an old English country town, with some local twists. Victorian- and Tudor-style homes line the pretty lake, and tuk-tuks can be found parked beside a red phone box. Tea lovers will be in their element as we tour a plantation, where workers - or ‘pluckers’ - pick each delicate leaf by hand. See the entire manufacturing process, from grading the tea by quality and size through to its final preparation. Later on, we’ll head to the wonderful Colonial Hill Club for high tea.
Day 9 Nuwara Eliya - Elephant Transit Home - Yala
Our journey continues to the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe. Unlike many other sanctuaries, this home rehabilitates orphaned and injured elephants until they’re strong and old enough to be released back into the wild. We continue on to Yala, on the south coast of the island.
Day 10 Yala National Park
We rise early for our safari in Sri Lanka’s best-known national park, in search of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Even if we fail to catch a glimpse of this majestic predator, there’s plenty more to see, including elephants, buffalo, monkeys, deer and crocodiles. Relax for the rest of the day, or join an optional evening bird trail with an expert local guide.
Day 11 Yala - Galle - Beruwala
The Old Town of Galle, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in southern Asia. The Portuguese first took control of the city in the early 16th century and began the fortification process, only to surrender it to the Dutch East India Company around 150 years later. The Dutch built substantial ramparts and walls, which are still standing today. Following our short tour, we head up the coast to Beruwala.
Day 12 Beruwala - Colombo - UK
Today we transfer to Colombo Airport for your return flight to the UK. Upon arrival, your vehicle will be waiting for the journey home.