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Sri Lanka – Highlights

duration
Holiday By Design
05 Nights
Holiday By Design
06 Days
day Location/Route duration Overnight
Day 01 Arrival and transfer to Sigiriya. Sigiriya
Day 02 Morning: Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress I Drive to Kandy en-route visiting the Matale Spice Gardens Kandy
Day 03 Morning: Kandy City Tour | Drive to Nuwara Eliya | Evening visit to the local tea factory Nuwara Eliya
Day 04 Morning: Drive to Yala I Afternoon: Safari at the Yala National Park Yala
Day 05 Morning: Safari at the Yala National Park I Afternoon drive to Bentota. Bentota
Day 06 Head to the airport in time for departure.
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.

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.

Kandy Four Temple Loop Tour

Spend half a day exploring four of Kandy’s famed medieval temples. Join your personal archaeologist on an informative, 3.5 hour coach tour of the Degaldoruwa, Embekka, Lankatilaka and Gadaladeniya Buddhist temples. Feast your eyes on the magnificent Kandyan murals on the ceiling of Degaldoruwa Temple. Witness the wonderful fusion of Buddhist and Hindu culture at Gadaladeniya Temple.

Take in the exquisite craftsmanship of the woodwork at Embekka Temple. Observe the traditional Sinhalese design of the Lankatilaka Temple, and discover the inscriptions carved into the rocks. Setting off in the morning is ideal, as the tour involves approximately 1.5 hours of travel to / from your hotel.

Day 01
ARRIVAL AND TRANSFER TO SIGIRIYA | OVERNIGHT IN SIGIRIYA
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage x
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is home to the world’s largest troupe of captive pachyderms. The animals here range from newborns to elderly matriarchs, and include abandoned elephants, as well as those injured in the wild. Twice daily, the elephants are driven to the Ma Oya river for a leisurely bath but its best to coincide your visit with feeding time – watching the orphaned youngsters guzzle enormous quantities of milk from oversized baby bottles is one of the cutest sights you will ever see. Feeding times are 09:15 am, 13:15 pm and 17:15 pm.

Ayubowan!!!
Arrival and transfer to Sigiriya (Drive time 3.4 hours)
A warm welcome to Sri Lanka! Your guide from Holidays by Design will be present at the arrivals hall to greet you and assist you to your vehicle.
You could change your currency before departing the airport as this may come handy during your holiday. Banks are open 24/7
Optional: Visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Proceed to Sigiriya, settle in rest and unwind upon arrival.

Day 02
VISIT SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS & HEAD TO KANDY| OVERNIGHT IN KANDY
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.

Matale is a major town in a region famous for its spices. Spices pervade the air of this broad fertile valley at an elevation of 300 m.Tea and rubber plantations of the mid and low grown variety, thrive here and interspersed are 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 among the large leaves and branches of these trees.

This morning visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Head back to the hotel for breakfast. We will then head to Kandy (2 hours) en route visiting the Matale Spice Gardens.

Upon arrival to Kandy, rest and unwind.

Day 03
SIGHTSEEING IN KANDY & DRIVE TO NUWARA ELIYA I OVERNIGHT IN NUWARA ELIYA
Kandy (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
Kandy (UNESCO World Heritage site) is the Hill Capital of Sri Lanka, locally referred to as “Nuwara” meaning The Great City, 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 just in Sri Lanka but also in the religion worldwide.
The 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 elephants.

This morning head to the Kandy city for sightseeing

We will proceed by vehicle to Nuwara Eliya (3.5hrs). Rest and unwind upon arrival.

Day 04
TEA FACTORY VISIT & DRIVE TO YALA I OVERNIGHT IN YALA
Sightseeing in Nuwara Eliya this morning. 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. However, it grew to be Sri Lanka's foremost holiday resort with the town coming alive in April. A weeklong calendar of events, including horse and motor races, are its biggest attraction. Holidaymakers in droves converge on Nuwara Eliya in season. Hindu pilgrims from around the world visit the Hanuman and Seetha Amman Temples based on the Ramayana epic of Rama & Seetha.

We will then our way to Yala (3.5 hours). Upon arrival, settle in rest and unwind.

Day 05
SAFARI AT THE YALA NATIONAL PARK & TRANSFER TO BENTOTA | OVERNIGHT IN BENTOTA
Yala National Park x
With an area covering 1260 square kilometers, of which only one-fifth of the area is open to visitors, Yala not surprisingly, is still the most visited reserve located in the deep south. The rest of the Park is a strict natural reserve, and you are only allowed entry into the park in a vehicle. Its charm lies in its unspoilt dry zone landscape, dotted by low scrub; rocky outcrops, lush green trees and its serene lakes are particularly magical. The views from Sithulpahuwa are special!

The main attraction and thrill in Yala is to spot leopard and perhaps the cubs too, the largest population of leopard in a natural environment – approximately 40 in Block 1. The park is home to 44 species of mammals including elephants and the sloth bear, and an incredible 215 bird species; Huddles of colorful painted storks among many a species of waders found feeding on the edge of the water holes, the sight of dozing crocodiles, elephants cooling off in the water or quenching their thirst, or a glimpse of the elusive sloth bear, leave an indelible mark on any nature lover.
Bentota x
Bentota is a favourite for those seeking the ultimate beach experience. With the sea and its beaches, the river and a lagoon fusing into each other at this location, Bentota attracts thrill seekers for a variety of water sports and boating excursions.

At the North end of Bentota facing Aluthgama, lies 'Paradise Island' as it is popularly known; a narrow sliver of land between the choppy breakers of the Indian Ocean and the calm waters of a lagoon. At its rear, is the Bentota Ganga (Sinhala for river)) which provides the setting for some of Sri Lanka's biggest water sports events. Visitors have the option of taking boat trips through mangroves where time stands still. Ambling along the attractive beaches on the southern side lined by dense thickets of corkscrew palms, are some of the most amazing vistas along the island's coast.

Visits to Sri Lanka’s most famous architect Geoffrey Bawa's estate home 'Lunuganga' whose creations are a marvelous blend of nature and modern artifice and his architect brother Bevis Bawa's estate “Brief" are not to be missed.

This morning head to the safari at the Yala National Park.
After breakfast transfer to Bentota (drive time 5 hours), Upon arrival, rest and unwind from the journey.
Enjoy the beautiful beaches and many more beach activities if you wish too.

Day 06
DEPARTURE TRANSFER
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. 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 pridess 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.

We will then be heading to the airport in time for departure on this day (2.5 hours)

OPTIONAL: Visit to the highlights in Colombo with your chauffeur guide.

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Ayurvedic Bliss read more
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Flavours of Sri Lanka read more
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Paradise Island – Packaged read more
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Fusion Sri Lanka read more
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Rainforest & Beaches read more
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Culture & Literary Festival read more
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Harmony in the Highlands read more
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The Full Experience read more
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