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So Sri Lanka – Serendipity

duration
Holiday By Design
13 Nights
Holiday By Design
14 Days
day Location/Route duration Overnight
Day 01 Arrival and Transfer to Negombo (30mins) Negombo
Day 01 Morning: at leisure I Afternoon: Sightseeing in Colombo Negombo
Day 02 Morning: at leisure I Afternoon: drive to Anuradhapura via Serukale (4hrs) Anuradhapura
day 03 Morning: explore the UNESCO sites of Anuradhapura I Afternoon: drive to Sigiriya. Sigiriya
Day 04 Morning: at leisure. I Afternoon: Minneriya / Kaudulla National Park for elephant sightings. Option: Day trip to Batticaloa via Polonnaruwa. Sigiriya
Day 05 Morning: climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress I Evening: tour the UNESCO sites of Polonnaruwa Sigiriya
Day 06 Morning: drive to Kandy I Afternoon: visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Kandy
Day 07 Morning: drive to Haputale (4.5hrs) en route visit the Hakgala Gardens and time permitting, the Sita Amman Temple I Evening: at leisure. Haputale
Day 08 Morning: visit NSRC in Haputale Haputale
Day 09 Morning: drive to Tangalle en route visit the Kataragama Temple and Kiri Vehera. Recommend: lunch at the Tissa Guesthouse I Evening: at leisure. Tangalle
Day 10 Day at leisure I Optional visit to the Mulkirigala Temple. Tangalle
Day 11 Morning: drive to the Galle I Recommend: lunch at Piya. I Evening: at leisure. Galle
Day 12 Morning: visit the Dutch Fort & explore its precincts I Evening: at leisure. Galle
Day 13 Afternoon: Drive to Mt. Lavinia (2hrs) I Evening: at leisure Mt. Lavinia
Day 14 Option: Sightseeing in Colombo I Departure
Galle Dutch Fort

Galle Dutch Fort is a proud structure that still stands tall and mighty in southern Sri Lanka. Built by the Portuguese over 400 years ago, the fort was fortified by the Dutch, upon their invasion of the island. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visited and admired by many, all through the year.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Built by King Kasyapa (477 to 495 CE), the iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress stands as a testament to the grandeur of Sri Lanka’s glorious past. Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it features stunning boulder and water gardens and world-famous frescoes. At the summit, you’ll find the ruins of the king’s palace and a breath-taking view of the surroundings.

The Anuradhapura Kingdom

The glorious Anuradhapura kingdom was the very first empire that was established on the island. Gallant kings who are still revered in the island today ruled the whole country from this proud city. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka during this era, which was formed by 377 BC and fell after an invasion in 993 BC.

Wander Through History in Kandy

Visit the Suriyakantha Centre for Art and Culture, and delve deep into the fascinating annals of European and Sri Lankan history. Housed in the Naranwala Walawwa, an 18th century Dutch-style colonial manor house, the centre represents a unique effort between a Frenchman and Sri Lankan, to showcase talent from eras past.

Explore the vast repository of local and European works over the course of two to three hours and understand the richness of Kandyan culture. Observe the various manuscripts, furniture, handicrafts, artworks and photographs on display. Located near the town of Kandy in Sri Lanka’s Central Province, Suriyakantha is open to visits between 08:00am and 04:00pm, throughout the year.

Day 01
ARRIVAL AND TRANSFER TO NEGOMBO | OVERNIGHT IN NEGOMBO

Ayubowan!!!
A warm welcome to Sri Lanka! Your chauffeur will be present at the arrivals hall to greet you and assist you to your vehicle. Your chauffeur will be holding a placard with your name on it.
You may choose to change your currency before departing the airport as this may come handy during your holiday. Banks are open 24/7
All rooms will be arranged for the group upon arrival.
Settle in, rest and relax from your journey.

Day 01
SIGHTSEEING IN NEGOMBO | OVERNIGHT IN NEGOMBO
Negombo x
Not far from the International Airport 5 kms away along the coast, lies Negombo, a seemingly laid-back town crisscrossed by canals. Aptly nicknamed 'Little Rome’ for the several ornate Portuguese-era Roman Catholic churches to be seen here. The town has a frequent festive feel to it with the many churches celebrating their respective Feasts. A major beach resort, Negombo is home to a small port based on its centuries-old fishing industry. It still retains its quaint, tranquil air despite the stir of a busy town. Soak up the atmosphere with a stroll down Beach Road and imbibe the atmosphere created by its trendy cafes and bars.
Colombo x
A dynamic capital that can vie with many a city around the world, it has evolved to be the commercial hub of the island connecting with several towns linked by a fine system of roads and railways connecting both the North, the South, the East and the hill country. A new expressway, one of many coming up, connects the international airport at Katunayake, with the capital - a 20 minute drive avoiding the busy sprawling towns on the old route. Crowded streets and peak hour traffic are the results of a long and formless urban straggle overflowing from Colombo.

Nevertheless, the city’s impressive commercial and cultural life grows apace and a heady mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern progress defines its character. Showily opulent and shiny office blocks rub shoulders with tumbledown local cafes and shops while serene Buddhist shrines and colonial churches stand cheek-by--jowl with ornate, colourful Hindu temples - all evidence of a rich mix of races and religions, that has blossomed into this cosmopolitan city.

A rebuilt and revitalized Pettah, the more colonial styled Fort area, the renovated Dutch Hospital, the Independence Square, the Nelum Pokuna theatre hall, the Victoria Park, now ablaze with lights are all elegant architectural landmarks, that the city can justly be proud of.

Not always the bustling metropolis today with its crowded bazars and tuk-tuks weaving among the kamikaze traffic of a vibrant city, Colombo developed from small beginnings as a garden city with its tranquil suburbs, when it took precedence over the ancient Kotte Kingdom. The Beira Lake in Colombo and a network of canals around the city extending to Negombo, is yet another unused Dutch legacy.

With the construction of a new harbour, Colombo builds itself as one of the vital entrepots of Asia, acquiring the sobriquet the ' Charing Cross of the East ' thanks to its location at the crossroads of Indian Ocean trade.

British legacy has undeniably come to stay in Sri Lanka. While the Sri Lankan Parliament modeled on the British system - located today in Kotte, stands like a memorial, a cross between the old and the new.

This morning after breakfast your guide will meet you at the villa. You may choose to head out for a spot of sightseeing in Negombo or simply relax by the pool and unwind from your long journey.

This evening you may drive to Colombo and take in some of the city’s highlights.

Day 02
DRIVE TO ANURADHAPURA I OVERNIGHT IN ANURADHAPURA
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Morning at leisure. This afternoon you will proceed to Anuradhapura (4.5 hours). On arrival at the hotel, settle in, rest and relax from your journey. Speak to your guide for recommendations for dinner venues for the night.
Day 03
VISIT THE UNESCO SITES OF ANURADHAPURA I OVERNIGHT IN SIGIRIYA
Ruwanwelisaya x
Is possibly the most celebrated ancient capital and the first kingdom of Sri Lanka that remained in that position for nearly 1500 years from the 4th century BC to the 1st century AD. Anuradhapura is most notable for its hydraulic technology. As strikingly spectacular as the pyramids of Giza, the dagobas, are an amazing work of architecture honoring Buddhism. The Jetavana dagoba is the most spectacular of them all. The sacred Sri Maha Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura is an extension of the sacred Bo tree in India (related to Lord Buddha attaining enlightenment). It is also the oldest recorded tree in the world (2,250 years). The Ruwanwelisaya,

just a few minutes’ walk from the Sri Maha Bodhi, is one of the world’s tallest dagobas built by King Dutugemunu in 140BC. One of the Buddha’s relics is deposited in this sacred stupa. The Anuradhapura Archeological Museum, the Abhayagiri and the Jetavanarama Museums are well worth a visit.

This morning after breakfast you will spend the day exploring the UNESCO sites of Anuradhapura.

Proceed to Sigiriya (1.5 hours). Settle into your hotel, rest and relax from your journey.

Day 04
SAFARI AT THE MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK I OVERNIGHT IN SIGIRIYA
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Stroll through a typical Sri Lankan village. Look out for the different species of birds, butterflies and possible sightings of an occasional crocodile during a boat expedition, whilst observing the villagers as they go about their daily life. Join the locals who will share their culinary skills and sit down to a meal with them
Minneriya National Park x
Minneriya National Park offers something of a change of scenery from anyone suffering from ruin fatigue. Set amidst a beautiful landscape of open country, the park is located ten minutes east of Habarana. Its central attraction is its ancient reservoir constructed by King Mahasena.

Rated, as the World’s 6th greatest wildlife spectacle by Lonely Planet, “The Gathering”, the largest meeting of Asian elephants anywhere in the world is the principle attraction at Minneriya, which forms part of the elephant corridor that joins up with Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa National Parks.

During their migrations between the various parks when water levels dry up, as many as three hundred or more come to the tanks ever-receding shores to drink, bathe, socialize and feed on the fresh grass that grows up from the lake bed as the waters retreat. They are most numerous from July to October peaking in August and September. Other mammals found in the park include a small number of leopards, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer and macaque and purple-faced langur monkeys. The park boasts an enormous variety of bird life too.

Spend the morning at leisure or you may choose to visit ‘God’s Village’ to experience the local culture & lifestyle which includes the preparation of an authentic Sri Lankan lunch with the locals.

This evening you will drive to either Minneriya or Kaudulla National Parks to observe the Asian elephant in their natural habitat

Option: A day trip to Batticaloa via Polonnaruwa (2 hours’ drive each way)
Overnight at Amaara Forest| Meals: Breakfast

Day 05
VISIT THE ROCK FORTRESS & UNESCO SITES OF POLONNARUWA I OVERNIGHT IN SIGIRIYA
Sigiriya (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
The shortest lived but the most extraordinary of all Sri Lanka’s medieval capitals, declared a world heritage site, this ancient ruin was once the Capital of Kind Kasapa1. A lover of beauty, he ruled Sigiriya for 18 years,

transforming the surroundings of his historical palace into a thing of beauty. Only 19 of the original 500 immortal frescoes, representing celestial maidens remain today. Its extensive network of beautifully laid out gardens; reservoirs and other structures including its unique plumbing system stand witness to the grandeur of its architecture, during its day. It can be a hard 200m climb to the top, but once there, the view is magnificent.
Polonnaruwa (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
Polonnaruwa (UNESCO World Heritage site), one of the island’s two great ruined cities, following Anuradhapura a UNESCO World Heritage site, blending both culture and religion; attract many a visitor to its archeological sites. But as the two are significantly different it is difficult to call decisively in favor of either. The ruins at Polonnaruwa cover a smaller area, are better preserved and offer an interesting insight into its ancient Sinhalese past. There is nowhere in Anuradhapura that matches the artistry of the Quadrangle and the Gal Vihara. Polonnaruwa rose to prominence between the 11th and 13th Centuries AD and peaked during the reign of its famous monarch, King Parakramabahu the Great. One of the best planned archaeological relic sites, it is famous for its reservoir the Parakrama Samudra (Sea of Parakrama) the best example of the advanced irrigation engineering and construction prevalent during ancient times that has stood the test of time and remains operational even today.

Set out on an exhilarating climb up Sigiriya - an ancient palace fortress, which sits atop a granite outcrop. It is arguably the most extraordinary of all Sri Lanka’s medieval Capitals dating back to the 5th Century. We recommend that you head out in the cool of the day, no later than 0700 for a comfortable climb to the top of the rock.
Return to the hotel for breakfast or we could arrange a picnic breakfast.

This afternoon you will drive to Polonnaruwa to visit its ancient sites (1 hour).

Day 06
DRIVE TO KANDY & STROLL THROUGH THE PERADENIYA BOTANICAL GARDENS | OVERNIGHT AT KANDY
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Matale is a major town in a region famous for its spices. Spices pervade the air of this br oad fertile valley at an elevation of 300 m. Tea and rubber plantations of the mid and low grown variety, thrive here interspersed with dozens of spice plantations. Cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, cinchona, cocoa and cardamom are found growing in profusion in the area. It is easy to recognize the sturdy jackfruit tree, a staple in the cuisine of country folk with its large fruit hanging off the branches of these trees.

Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, the finest of its kind in Asia, the largest of the botanical gardens of Sri Lanka, couldn't be better located in the Mediterranean climate of Kandy. The gateway to the Central Highlands, the Gardens, at an elevation of 500 meters above sea-level, are tightly bound on three sides by a loop of the River Mahaweli or Great Sandy River and it is the longest in Sri Lanka. Conceived originally in 1371 as the Queen's pleasure garden, it was developed by King Kirti Sri Rajasinhe for his royal visitors. One of the most interesting plants of an entire collection, is a bizarre-looking snake creeper, whose tangled aerial roots resemble a writhing knot of vipers.
Kandy (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
Kandy (UNESCO World Heritage site), the Hill Capital of Sri Lanka, locally referred to as “Nuwara” meaning The Great City, is the most scenic ancient city in the country and the only city that borders a natural reserve – the Udawatte Kele famous for its avifauna.

Sri Dalada Maligawa as its known locally or The Temple of the Tooth is one of the most sacred & famous Buddhist sites, not only in Sri Lanka but the world over.

This spectacular 17th century temple took nearly a hundred years to construct from 1687 to 1782 and houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Rituals are performed daily at 04:30, 10:30 and 6:30 p.m. The sacred square and old city centre within the temple complex contain the four shrines of the Gods Vishnu, Natha, Kataragama and the Goddess Pattini and many historical buildings and museums.

The temple is host to one of Asia’s most celebrated festivals, The "Esala" procession, held during the month of July/August around the Full Moon. The casket of the tooth relic is paraded through the streets on the back of a tusked elephant in a grand procession followed by several traditional dancers, drummers and torch bearers accompanied by over a hundred beautifully costumed.

Morning leisurely drive after breakfast to Kandy (2.5 hours) via the town of Matale, well known for its spice gardens.
Check-in to the hotel late evening, rest and relax
Spend the rest of your evening at leisure.

Day 07
DRIVE TO HAPUTALE | OVERNIGHT IN HAPUTALE
Hakgala Botanical Gardens x
Hakgala Botanical Gardens is the second largest in Sri Lanka and contiguous to the Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve. The garden, at an altitude of 5,400 feet above sea level, has a cool temperate climate. The mean annual temperature ranges between 16°C to 30°C during the course of a year. From December to February it has a cold climate, while the warm climate persists from April to August.

The Garden was established in 1861 as an experimental cultivation of Cinchona, a commercial crop thriving at the time. After Tea replaced Cinchona, it was turned into an experimental tea cultivation. In 1884 it was transformed into a botanical garden where many sub-tropical and some temperate plants were introduced. According to folklore, the Sri Lankan demon King Ravana after abducting Sita, kept her hidden in this area and the area was offered to Sita as a pleasure garden. The place finds mention in the Ramayana as Ashok Vatika. There are over 10,000 species of flora to be found here and it is visited most during the season in April.
Nuwara Eliya x
Perched high up in the hills, nearly a mile above sea level, Nuwara Eliya at 1869 meters, sits like a sentinel overlooking tea country on all sides. Piduruthalagala, Sri Lanka's tallest peak is only a short way away.

A replica of English country towns with their lush greenery and profusion of gorgeous flora, Nuwara Eliya is touted as "Little England" with its Victorian houses, a colourful park, golf course, Lake Gregory, a racecourse and Hakkgala Gardens. A number of hotels including colonial structures like the Hill Club and the Grand Hotel which lives up to its name to this day, a uniquely converted tea factory hotel, with amazing attention to detail built among tea gardens only hours away from the town, and several holiday homes make this a popular holiday resort.

The climate is cool throughout the year with an annual average temperature of a chilly 15.9C and nearly 2,000 mm of rain, alternated by days of bright sunshine. The British established Nuwra Eliya in the 19th Century, to cater to the Europeans settled in Sri Lanka, to whom it came to be home away from home if only for short spells. Hindu pilgrims from around the world visit the Hanuman and Seetha Amman Temples based on the Ramayana epic of Rama & Seetha.

This morning we suggest you leave no later than 07:00 as you have a long day ahead of you (4.5 hours). Your drive will take you through some beautiful landscapes and picturesque tea plantations to Nuwara Eliya in the hill country and on to Haputale, visiting the Hakgala Gardens. If time permits, you may visit the Seetha Amman Temple.

Settle in to the Cottages and drink in the spectacular views to help you unwind from your journey

Day 08
VISIT THE NEO SYNTHESIS RESEARCH CENTER | OVERNIGHT IN HAPUTALE
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Spend the morning at leisure.

Option: This evening you could visit a tea estate and factory with your guide to learn all about the process that goes into producing a cup of ‘Pure Ceylon Tea’. A tea tasting experience can be arranged at the end of the tour.

Spend the rest of your evening at leisure.
Day 09
DRIVE TO TANGALLE EN ROUTE VISIT THE KATARAGAMA TEMPLE AND KIRI VEHERA
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After a leisurely breakfast you will drive on to Kataragama (2.5 hours) and visit the Kataragama Temple. We suggest lunch at the Tissa Guesthouse, overlooking the reservoir, a relaxing break from your drive, before you proceed on to Tangalle (2 hours). Look out for the Kiri Vehera! Spend your evening at leisure.
Day 10
DAY AT LEISURE | OVERNIGHT IN TANGALLE
Tangalle x
The uncrowded town of Tangalle is one of the furthest beach towns on the South Coast before the National Park’s take over. Fishing is still the main source of income for locals, but the tourism industry is slowly growing.!

Located 195 kilometers form the beautiful capital of Colombo and 35km east of Matara, is a pleasant fishing port situated on one of the finest and largest bays in the island, which is protected from the ocean by an enclosing reef. Exhibiting fine beaches which are good for swimming and more than reasonable for diving, Tangalle is a popular beach destination on the south coast. It is believed that the name is derived from ran-gala or golden rock, from a legend that tells of a time when a holy man once partook of a meal there, and the rock was turned to gold whilst further research also reveals that it means the “projecting rock”, because long ago the town was protected from the ocean by a long rocky slab that projected into the sea across the mouth of the bay. Beyond the town and harbour are the larger bays, Medaketiya and Medilla. Medaketiya in particular has fine white sand, excellent swimming conditions, and is rarely crowded.

Spend your day at leisure.

Option: A visit to the Rekawa Turtle Hatchery and the Mulkirigala Temple

Day 11
DRIVE TO GALLE AND VISIT THE GALLE DUTCH FORT | OVERNIGHT IN GALLE
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This morning after breakfast you will drive along a few coastal stretches heading to Galle (2.5 hours).
day 12
STROLL THROUGH THE GALLE DUTCH FORT | OVERNIGHT IN GALLE
Galle (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
The Port city of Galle has grown from its ancient origins into Sri Lanka's 5th largest city, but it differs from the rest in terms of character & atmosphere. Its sea front gives it a languid air. At the heart of the city - but strangely detached from it - lies the Old Dutch Quarter known as the Fort. Dutch administrators and those in their service lived within the Fort protected by its city walls and the ramparts by the sea. Its entrance, a massive archway gives it a medieval air and appears magically time warped, with its red tiled Dutch period villas, their open verandahs facing the narrow streets, bearing names like Church Street, Leyban Street and such like.

A well-preserved townscape with several imposing churches, Dutch period storehouses, a courthouse and a lighthouse jutting out to sea, it has lasted through the centuries. A stroll on its lengthy ramparts overlooking a natural harbour at sunset is a must. Other places to visit include a marine museum, the St. Mary’s Church and thoughtfully restored Amangalle, a historic luxury hotel.

Life moves at an easy pace within the Fort. Visitors may relax at any of its several arty restaurants and watering holes.

The Galle Literary Festival held during the 1st quarter, is a much sought-after annual event that has secured its place on the cultural calendar." The Festival throws, people, cultures, hot ideas, hot food, laughter, poetry and arrack together in a beautiful country. Pointless to resist," Sebastian Faulks a participant had this to say of the event.

Outside the Fort, Galle has a cricket stadium and a string of resort hotels along its coast; a favorite for visitors, has been the beautiful stretch at Unawatuna beach.

After a leisurely breakfast you may set out to explore the Galle Dutch Fort and its precincts with your guide.

Spend the rest of the day at leisure

Day 13
DRIVE TO MOUNT LAVINIA | OVERNIGHT IN MOUNT LAVINIA
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This morning after breakfast you will be heading to Mount Lavinia via the southern expressway (2.5 hours). Please note you could stop at the service area, at the midway point of the highway for refreshments.

Optional: Visit the crafts village en route - watch deft hands weaving intricate lace patterns and the pottery wheels in action or visit the Lunuganga estate for lunch, the country house of the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa Settle in to your hotel and unwind from your journey.
Day 14
DEPARTURE
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Spend the morning at leisure. The vehicle and the guide will be at your disposal. Please keep them informed of the plan for the rest of the day. For all you shopaholics, perhaps a last-minute spot of shopping! Linen and cotton clothing, handloom and tea are popular!!! Departure in time for the flight back home.
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