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Ultimate Sri Lanka

Holiday By Design
21 Nights
Holiday By Design
22 Days
day Location/Route duration Overnight
Day 01 Arrival and check-in to hotel Negombo
Day 02 Day at leisure Negombo
Day 03 Afternoon: Proceed to Wilpattu (4hrs) I Evening: Spend at leisure Wilpattu
Day 04 Morning: Safari at the Wilpattu National Park I Evening: at leisure Wilpattu
Day 05 Morning: Drive to Jaffna (3hrs) I Evening: Visit the Jaffna Market Jaffna
Day 06 Sightseeing in Jaffna : Visit to Point Pedro, Nallur Kovil, Kadurugoda Temple, Jaffna Library,Jaffna Fort and the Dambakole Patuna. Jaffna
Day 07 Morning: Drive to Trincomalee (4hrs) I Evening: at leisure Trinco
Day 08 Sightseeing in Trinco : Commonwealth War Cemetery, Harbour Mouth, Fish Market, Fort Fredrick, Koneswaram Temple, Lovers Leap and Swami Rock. Trinco
Day 09 Day at leisure Trinco
Day 10 Morning: Proceed to Sigiriya (2hrs) I Evening: Safari at the Minneriya National Park Sigiriya
Day 11 Morning: Visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Dambulla Cave Temple en route to Kandy (3hrs). Evening: at leisure, Kandy
Day 12 Early morning: explore the Udawattekele sanctuary I Late afternoon: explore the busy markets I Evening: colorful cultural performance. Kandy
Day 13 Morning: Board the train to Hatton I Late afternoon: visit a tea factory & estate Hatton
Day 14 Morning: At leisure I Evening: Visit the Devon Falls & Castlereagh Reservoir Hatton
Day 15 Morning: Drive to Galle (5hrs) I Evening: At leisure Galle
Day 16 Afternoon: visit the Dutch Fort & explore its precincts Galle
Day 17 Morning: Whale Watching at Dondara Galle
Day 18 Morning: Drive to Colombo en-route visit the Ambalangoda Crafts village (2.5hrs) Colombo
Day 19 Day at leisure Colombo
Day 20 Day at leisure Colombo
Day 21 Sightseeing in Colombo: Pettah Market, Galle Face Green, Gangarama Temple, Viharamahadevi Park and the Independence Square Colombo
Day 22 Transfer to Airport for 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.

Rediscover Trinco by Boat

Situated along Sri Lanka’s east coast, Trincomalee has long been a favourite location. Rest your weary feet and join our naturalist aboard an 18-foot, fibreglass motorboat. Enjoy a three hour cruise, touring the town’s highlights. Feast your gaze on attractions such as the ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery and Swami Rock located within the 17th century fort.

See if you can make out the scattered remnants of an almost 2,000 year old Hindu temple which was demolished by the Portuguese in the fort’s making. The tour begins either at 07:00am, during the cool morning hours or at 04:00pm, and concludes with a spectacular setting sun as it paints the sky pink and orange.

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.

Whale Watching

Did you know? The waters off Sri Lanka’s south and west coasts are along the annual migration route of the Humpback, Sperm and colossal Blue Whale. Towns such as Mirissa, where our excursion begins, are considered global hotspots for whale sightings. The best time to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants of the sea is between December and March.

Set off on your whale watching adventure at 06:00am in the morning with a snack of a selection of nibbles and beverages while you scan the waters for your prize. Keep an eye out for playful Spinner Dolphins, a common sight. You will be out at sea for around four to five hours. An onboard washroom will be available for your use.

Colombo City Walk

Colombo's amazing Fort district still has the energy like in the late nineteenth century when the streets were teeming with ox carts and alive with the sounds and whiffs of the sea, as rubber, tea, cinnamon, kittul treacle, rope and peacocks were loaded aboard ships.

  • Take a walking tour of the Colombo's historic Fort district
  • Learn about the city's colonial past and pick up some photography tips
  • Sample some fiery street food!
  • Recap your walk over iced cold beers at the Dutch Hospital Complex

Taking a walking tour is one of the best things to do in Colombo city and Mark and his colleagues, natives from Colombo, have hosted walks in Colombo for several years under the Colombo City Walks banner.Starting at the Dutch Hospital Shopping Complex in Fort and walk along the old colonial streets, away from your usual tourist spots, and seek out the colonial Dutch mansions and be a part of the history that is now commercial hub of Colombo. Explore the old Cargills building, visit the New Chinese shop, snap a picture outside the Pagoda Tea Rooms where Duran Duran filmed their iconic music video, Hungry Like The Wolf, and enjoy a cup of Ceylon Tea on the balcony of the Grand Oriental Hotel while taking in the sunset views of the Colombo Harbour.End your walk back at the Dutch Hospital, formerly a hospital during the 17th century, the complex is now host to high-end restaurants, bars and shops.  Relax, take a breather, admire the architecture, and have a drink… or two.

Location : Colombo.
Duration : 2 Hrs.
Best time to visit  : Morning or Evening

Day 01
Ayubowan!!! 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 A short drive from the airport will take you to your hotel in Negombo (30mins) Settle into your hotel, rest and relax from your journey.
Day 02
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.

Spend the day at leisure.
Optional: Begin your afternoon by exploring the Negombo town with your chauffeur guide.

Day 03
This morning after breakfast you will drive to Wilpattu (4.5 hours’ drive). En route you will pass by the salt farms in Puttalam. Feel free to ask your chauffeur to make a quick stop if this is of interest to you. Upon arrival, lunch will be arranged at the campsite. This evening head to the Wilpattu National Park for a safari with your park naturalist. Head back to the camp this evening in time for dinner.
Day 04
Wilpattu National Park (Land of Lakes) x
Wilpattu National Park (Land of Lakes), occupying a large swathe of land stretching all the way up to the border of the Northern Province, the Wilpattu National Park is the largest in Sri Lanka., and was formerly the most popular until the onset of the civil war. The park reopened in 2009. The effects of long term poaching have reduced the overall density of wildlife. However, the chances of spotting leopard and sloth bear are significant for which the park was once famous, not to mention elephants, deer and many types of bird. Equally the lack of visitors and the size of the area means that it’s also supremely peaceful compared to many of the other parks.

An unusual feature of the Wilpattu topography is its numerous ‘villus’. These look like lakes though they are actually just depressions filled with rainwater, which expand and contract with the seasons, attracting a range of water birds and wildlife.

An early start today with light snacks and tea before you head into the Wilpattu National Park for the morning safari.

Head to the campsite for lunch this afternoon.
You will then head off for the afternoon safari thereon.

Day 05
Based on your sightings in the safari of the last evening you could decide whether you would want to head for an early morning safari. This afternoon we will drive to Jaffna (3 hours’ drive) Settle into your hotel, rest and relax this evening. Dinner will be arranged at the main restaurant this evening
Day 06
A bastion of Hindu tradition, art and creative culture, Jaffna welcomes visitors warmly. It’s intriguing, unimposing, slightly off the beaten path and a thoroughly rewarding place to discover Sri Lankan Tamil culture. The city is surprisingly green and leafy, with attractive palm-shaded colonial-era suburbs and beautiful temples and churches. Physically, new projects and upgraded transport connections show that Jaffna's days of isolation are long past.

Ancient sights both in the centre of town and on the outskirts make for compelling attractions such as the Visit to Point Pedro, Nallur Kovil,Kadurugoda Temple, Jaffna Library,Fort and the Dambakole Patuna. The city is an ideal base for forays to the idyllic islands just to the west and trips along the coastline and lagoons of the surrounding peninsula.

Spend the morning at leisure.
This afternoon we will head to visit the highlights in Jaffna.

Day 07
This morning after breakfast you will be on your way for some rest and relaxation on the beautiful east coast beaches. Your drive to Trinco will take approximately 4hrs. Your chauffeur will make pit stops en route to ensure you have a smooth journey Settle into your hotel, rest and unwind.
Day 08 - 09
Trincomalee x
Lord Nelson aged seventeen, sailing through here in 1775, declared that this was "the finest harbour in the world”.

This is indeed no exaggeration or hyperbolic description for Trincomalee’s, appealing tropical beauty is one that lures visitors to it over and over again. Foreign powers were attracted to Trinco because it was a conduit for trade between countries throughout the world, from the Middle East to China and the Far East.

With its great watery labyrinth of coves, islets, jungle tufted headlands & bays, little wonder then, that from ancient times, world powers that wanted control over the island and the seas surrounding it, regarded Trinco as a prize possession.

From the Pandyan Kings to the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, the French and finally the British who renamed the Fort, the previous occupiers had built, Fort Fredrick and the Naval Dockyard, are outstanding landmarks.

Raven-Hart called it a 'starfish ramified’. The great historian Tennent became a little purple with his comparisons to Carthage. To geographers, it is our planets 2nd best natural harbour.

North of Trincomalee are two of the most beautiful beaches along the coast – Nilaweli & Uppuvelli. Across, lies Pigeon Island, popular for snorkeling. Further out to the deep, one may view the largest mammals, the Blue & Sperm whales, swimming amidst schools of frolicking dolphins.

Spend the day at leisure.
Enjoy the tranquility of the beach and sounds of the surf, tracked by the meditative rumblings of the coast
This afternoon we will visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery, Harbour Mouth, Fish Market, Fort Fredrick, Koneswaram Temple, Lovers Leap and Swami Rock.

Day 10
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 leopard, sloth bear, sambar, spotted deer and macaque and purple-faced langur monkeys. The park boasts an enormous variety of bird life too.

This morning after breakfast we will head to Sigiriya (1.5 hours’ drive). Settle in upon arrival.

For a glimpse into our colonial past, the Lake House in Polonnaruwa for lunch overlooking the lake is a good option this afternoon. An ideal way to beat the heat. Reservations are required in advance.
We will then be heading to Minneirya / Kaudulla National Park to witness the largest elephant gathering in Asia.

Day 11
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.
Dambulla – The Golden Temple (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
At the heart of the cultural triangle, so called because it encloses some of the most ancient of historical sites and cities - chiefly Anuradhapura, Polannaruwa and Sigiriya, lies Dambulla known for its famous Golden Rock Temple, a most impressive cave monastery and one of the largest in South Asia.

Of the 157 Buddha statues found in the five dimly lit grottos, 73 were gold plated at the behest of King Nissanka Malla, the 12-century monarch. Its walls decorated with some of the finest murals in the country are a showcase of sacred Buddhist art at its finest. A sacred pilgrimage site for nearly 22 centuries, it has been declared a world heritage site.

Its spectacular setting on a massive rock overlooking the plains of Kurunegala, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Ritigala mountain range, is truly awe-inspiring.

This morning 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 leaving the hotel no later than 07.00 AM with an early breakfast on this day. A decent climb at this iconic site will take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours. (Depending on your level of fitness and the crowds)
In a situation where everybody will not be joining the visit to the rock fortress, the vehicle will head back to the hotel by the end of the experience to pick them up and will then proceed to the Dambulla Cave Temple.

We will then proceed to the Dambulla Cave Temple (2 hours’ drive)

Proceed to Kandy, rest and relax from your journey.

Day 12
Udawattakele Forest Reserve is a historic reserve on a hill-ridge in the city of Kandy. It is 104 hectares large (257 acres). The term Udawattakele stands for "the garden above the royal palace". The sanctuary is famous for its extensive avifauna. The reserve also contains a great variety of plant species, especially lianas, shrubs and small trees. There are several giant lianas.

The forest is of religious importance as there are three Buddhist meditation hermitages and three rock shelter dwellings for Buddhist monk hermits.
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 elephants.

Nestled in the highlands, not only does its rich historical significance make “Nuwara” a popular tourist destination, but also the many shops displaying precious and semi-precious stones, skillfully crafted jewelry, handicrafts, colorful batiks and silks, and local food add unforgettable flavor to this beautiful city.

Early this morning explore the Udawattekele sanctuary – a beautiful walk!

Late afternoon stroll through the busy markets and end your evening watching a colorful cultural performance.

Day 13
This morning after breakfast we will take a scenic train ride running through the tea plantations to Hatton (3 hours’ drive ). Please note that the trains in Sri Lanka are old and quaint and do not have restaurants or the best of restrooms.

Your guide will meet you at the railway station in Hatton and you will proceed to the bungalow. Settle in, rest and unwind from your journey.

This evening visit a tea estate and factory with your chauffeur guide for understanding of the process that goes into producing that cup of ‘Pure Ceylon Tea’. You might see the tea pickers at work or weighing their day’s haul at one of the many roadside weigh-stations.
Day 14
Hatton x
Hatton is, in one word, green. Almost every available hillside is bright with tea bushes trimmed so neatly that, from a distance, the hills look as if they’re covered with a thick-pile rug. Providing cool relief from the heat of the plains, the mornings are usually veiled in a mist that slowly dissipates to reveal the curious pyramidal bulk of Adam’s Peak to the southwest.

As you head to the hills you will witness patchwork of smallholdings and banana plantations. Rural life soon gives way to steep gorges, clumps of forest and waterfalls, spanned by arched bridges that wouldn’t look out of place in the Scottish Highlands. Another highlight is the Castlereigh Reservoir, an emerald body of water so picturesque that many guests spend their time here simply admiring the views.

Spend this morning at leisure.
This afternoon we will be heading for sightseeing.

Day 15
This morning after breakfast we will be heading to Galle (5 hours’ drive). Do feel free to speak to your chauffeur if you wish to make a pit stop en route. Settle in, rest and relax this afternoon.
Day 16
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.

Spend the morning at leisure

Set out in the afternoon to explore the Galle Dutch Fort with your chauffeur guide.

Day 17
Sri Lanka’s waters are home to blue whales, the largest mammal in the world; seeing a blue whale up close and personal is an experience that cannot be described in words. Blue whales are thought to live as long as 200 years and subsist on a diet of krill and other types of plankton. Off Sri Lanka’s coast is the largest known pod of blue whales in the world, with over 1000 whales. Among the other types of whales, one might encounter in Sri Lanka’s blue waters during whale watching tours include sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, and if lucky, killer whales (also known as orcas).

In addition to whales, dolphin watching in Sri Lanka is also popular. One might get to see both whales and dolphins. Among the species of dolphins are Bottlenose Dolphins, Spinner Dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins, and Striped Dolphins. Dolphins are playful and will swim alongside boats.

Head off for a whale watching experience this morning. The experience commences no later than 06.30 AM and could last up to 03 hours or more. We recommend carrying your medication if you encounter motion sickness.

Head back to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 18
This morning after breakfast we will be heading to Colombo via the southern expressway (2.5 hours’ drive ). Do feel free to speak to the chauffeur if you wish to make a pit stop at the service area, at the midway point of the highway to refresh yourself.

Optional: En route stop at the crafts village in Ambalangoda - watch deft hands weaving intricate lace patterns and the pottery wheels in action. Another option for a visit en route is the Lunuganga estate, the country house of the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa Please note that you will not be entering the expressway if you would opt to visit the above-mentioned venues and sights. Hence the travel time would then approximately be 3.5hrs

Upon arrival, settle in to your hotel and unwind from the journey.
Day 19 -20
Spend the day at leisure
Day 21
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.

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.

Spend the morning at leisure.
Begin your afternoon by exploring the city with your chauffeur guide.

Day 22

We will leave for the airport in time for your departure flight.

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