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Wanderlust – Sri Lanka

Holiday By Design
12 Nights
Holiday By Design
13 Days
day Location/Route duration Overnight
Day 01 Arrival Negombo
Day 02 En route the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Habarana
Day 03 Visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Minneriya National Park Habarana
Day 04 Trincomalee city Trincomalee
Day 05 Relax & Unwind Trincomalee
Day 06 Dambulla Cave Temple & tour of Kandy City Kandy
Day 07 Village Walk & Cookery Demo Kandy
Day 08 Visit a Tea Plantation Haputale
Day 09 Ella Gap Haputale
Day 10 Waterfalls Tissamaharama
Day 11 Yala National Park Safaris Tissamaharama
Day 12 Explore Galle Fort & Colombo Colombo
Day 13 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.

Dambulla Cave Temple

The Dambulla Cave Temple is known to be the best-preserved and largest cave temple complex that is found in Sri Lanka. With over 80 documented caves spread across the vicinity, the Dambulla Cave Temple has rightfully earned its name as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 153 statues of Lord Buddha can be found in this temple which is also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla.

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.

Day 01

A warm welcome to Sri Lanka! Your chauffeur Guide from Holidays by Design will be present at the arrivals lounge to greet you and assist you to your vehicle.
Check in at the Hotel and relax.

Day 02
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.

Set out after a leisurely breakfast through rural Sri Lanka, heading to Habarana in the Cultural Triangle. En route you will visit the Pinnawala Elephant orphanage (Approx. 4.30 Hrs drive).

Evening at leisure!

Day 03
Sigiriya (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
Sigiriya (UNESCO World Heritage site), 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.
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.

An early start in the cool of the day for a leisurely drive up to Sigiriya. Begin the exhilarating climb up the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

Return to your hotel and take a rest before setting out on a safari to the scenic Minneriya National Park.

Day 04
Trincomalee x
Trinco as it is referred to has been celebrated since antiquity for its superlative deep-water harbor, ranked the 2nd best natural harbor in the world. The harbor has been fought over repeatedly from ancient times, during the colonial period and even attracted the hostile attentions of the Japanese Air force during World War II.

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.

After breakfast, transfer to the east coast (Approx. 2 Hrs drive)

Evening at leisure!

Day 05
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.

After breakfast, set off to discover Trincomalee.

Visit the Koneswaram Temple and explore the lively market.
Evening at leisure!

Day 06
Dambulla The Golden Temple (UNESCO World Heritage site) x
Dambulla The Golden Temple (UNESCO World Heritage site) At the heart of the cultural triangle, so called because it encloses some of the most ancient of historical sites and cities - chiefly Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa 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.

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.
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.

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.

This morning, head out to the central highlands, stopping on the way to explore the Dambulla Cave Temples (Approx. 4.5 Hrs drive)

Proceed to Kandy via Matale. If you love fresh spices, you may visit a spice garden en route. (Approx. 1.5 Hrs drive)

Continue on to Kandy.

Check in to the Manor and relax from your journey.

Day 07
This morning, your host at The Kandyan Manor will accompany you through the village to the local market to pick your choice of vegetables, while learning the sinhala names and the varieties of different types of vegetables that are locally grown for village folks. You could also witness the cutting and cleaning of fresh fish. Back at the property, join the kitchen to help cook lunch. Learn to prepare a complete meal with a variety of curries on fire wood. From scraping the coconut, extracting the milk to the pounding of the sambol, using ancient tools and methods.

The rest of the evening is at your leisure to relax or enjoy a stroll to explore more of the village.

Day 08
Nuwara Eliya x
Nuwara Eliya: 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 coarse, 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.

Continue on your drive to a cooler climate further up in the hills to Ella (Approx. 4.5 Hrs drive). The drive will take you through the winding roads up into the hills through tea plantations and beautiful landscapes. Visit Nuwara Eliya on the way.

Day 09
Ella x
Ella - If it’s sheer magnificent beauty that you seek, Ella has to be on your list. Famous for the stories that intertwine with the epic story – “Ramayana” from India said to have used by King Ravana to imprison Princess Sita from Lord Shiva, is a must visit destination on your visit to the tea country. Ella is also home to the life-giving “Ravana Falls”.

Due to its elevation, Ella enjoys a cooler climate that supports an amazing variety of lush flora and fauna. This same elevation allows Ella to provide clients with unique opportunities for Adventure. Ella is highly regarded as a destination for providing some of the most admired views. Take a stroll on the road less travelled. Experience kayaking at the Buduruwagala Reservoir, or a relaxing cycle tour absorbing the picturesque Ravana Falls, or enjoy bird watching at Ella jungle.

Take a train ride to absorb the scenic beauty of this area from the tracks, it is sure to leave you in awe. Don’t forget the nighttime either; if you are lucky on a clear night, you will be able to see the Galle City - Light House.

Spend the day at leisure to explore and admire the sceneries of the locality

A hike up Little Adams Peak would of interest or your Chauffeur Guide will be happy to accompany you on short walking trails.

Day 10
After breakfast, you will proceed to Tissamaharama (Approx. 3 Hrs drive), located a few Km away from Yala.

The drive will be through stunning terrains, passing waterfalls and rural villages.

You will witness small huts put up by village vendors to sell fruits, vegetables and buffalo curd. Request your Chauffeur for stops on the way should you wish to experience a stop by one of these huts.

Should you wish to, take a detour to visit the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Centre, where orphaned elephant calves are rehabilitated for ultimate release back into the wild.

Continue on to Tissamaharama to spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 11
Yala National Park x
Yala National Park - 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.

An early start for a game drive into Yala, one of the most popular and scenic parks where chances of spotting leopard, elephant and the sloth bear among others rate high.

Venture into the National Park for a second Safari, before returning to the hotel to share the Photographic Moments of the day.

Day 12
Galle Fort (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 a number of 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 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," Sebstian 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 favourite for visitors, has been the beautiful stretch at Unawatuna beach.

Continue on to the Southern capital of Sri Lanka, Galle (Approx. 3.5 Hrs drive). On the way you will pass small rural and fishing villages. Look out for the famous stilt fisherman carefully balancing on their stilts.
You could also witness the fisherman auctioning their days catch by the road side or simply stop to quench your thirst with coconut water while gazing at the Indian Ocean.

Explore the historic Fort with its quaint narrow streets buzzing with activity. You will then head back leisurely to your overnight hotel in Colombo (Approx. 2 Hrs drive)

Day 13
Colombo x
Colombo - 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, which 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.

Proceed for a scenic drive to Colombo (Approx. 2 Hrs drive). You will be taken on a panoramic tour around the city.

Colombo is a great place to try street food, ideally at Galle face along the marine stretch. Later in the afternoon, transfer to the airport for the flight home. (Approx. 45 Mins drive)

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