Exploring Sri Lanka - 5th to 17th March 2017

Recumbent Buddha, Sri Lanka

The pace of this cultural walking holiday is intended to be leisurely and unhurried as we travel in a private luxury coach on a journey filled with interest and promise. From the plains of southern Sri Lanka to the hill country we pass picturesque rural communities, quaint villages, lush vegetation, coconut estates and tea plantations. The scents of cardamom, cinnamon and jasmine provide an intoxicating background as we travel through beautiful countryside. This well researched tour includes a balance of non-challenging guided walks, game watching, wilderness areas, national parks and world heritage sites. We stay in impressive high quality hotels with time included to linger awhile and enjoy some of their beautiful pools and stunning spas.

  • Discover Dambulla Rock Cave Temple
  • Explore 5th Century Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Visit a spice garden
  • Walk in Horton Plains National Park
  • Explore The Temple of the Sacred Tooth
  • Tour a tea plantation
  • Take a jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park
  • Cruise on Madu river and lagoon

Elephants are the most celebrated of Sri Lanka's diverse wildlife and our safari into Udawalawe National Park should not disappoint. Sri Lanka is also a paradise for ornithologists with hundreds of different species, including hornbills, flycatchers, bulbuls, parrots, parakeets, wild peacocks, kingfishers and sea eagles. We'll also be looking out for large Land monitor lizards.

Guided walks take us to rural villages, Sigiriya Rock Fortess (regarded by some as the eighth wonder of the world), spice gardens, jungle trails, forest walks, Horton Plains National Park to the famous "World's End", tea plantations and Little Adam's Peak.

Our holiday starts at Jetwing Beach Hotel in the beautiful resort of Negombo with its lovely beaches, lagoon, fishing village, outrigger boats and swaying palm trees. There's time to relax in the beautiful surroundings before setting off the next morning for Dambulla and its Golden Rock Temple - regarded as the most impressive of Sri Lanka's cave temples.

Walking route to Little Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Our next stop is Sigiriya Fortress - a 200 metre high red monolith rising out of the jungle scrub and one of the most important historical sites in Sri Lanka. Here our guide will explain the Fortress's history as we negotiate the steps to the top for stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Something unusual near Sigiriya awaits as we visit a local village with thatch-roofed daub and wattle huts to experience lunch prepared with fresh, organic, local produce by farmers and enjoy a cooking demonstration. This visit features a short walk along a jungle track, being paddled across a lake by a boatman and a return trip by bullock cart.

The next day we head for Kandy and the hill country, stopping at a spice garden in Matele to learn about how spices and herbs are used in local cuisine and medicine. Next is a gentle circular walk at Riverston Plateau before reaching the delightful Earl's Regency Hotel just a few miles outside Kandy.

Kandy, located in a lush valley, is regarded as the most picturesque city in Sri Lanka and where Buddhist religion, culture and traditions are kept alive, echoed daily in the rituals at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Ceded to the British in 1815, signs of colonial days are in evidence everywhere - here we'll visit the temple, walk around the famous lake, visit the market and stroll around the shopping area.

Our next destination is the former British planters' favourite holiday destination, Nuwara Eliy, known locally as "Little England". Passing through picturesque tea plantations and stopping for photo opportunities, we visit a tea factory to witness the procedure for cleaning, preparing and packing the tea. We stay at the Grand Hotel that still retains some of its past colonial splendour. The next day, accompanied by a local guide, we travel by jeep to Horton Plains National Park for a spectular walk to Baker's Falls and the famous "World's End" escarpment, looking out as we walk for sambar deer and purple-faced leaf monkeys.

The journey continues as we drive through more tea plantations heading for Little Adam's Peak and the mountain village of Ella, a favourite amongst backpackers and people seeking a sanctuary away from modern living. At Ella Gap, breathtaking views unfold that stretch towards the southern plains.

One of the highlights of the holiday is the jeep safari to Udawalawe National Park to see wildlife, particularly elephants. Some 400 to 500 live in the park and herds of up to 50 are commonly seen.The area is rich in bird life as well as wild boar, spotted deer, crocodiles and monitor lizards.

We then reach the ocean and pass pristine beaches before stopping at Galle Fort, the former seat of the Dutch East India Company, for a conducted tour with time included to visit the boutiques and cafés.

Not to be missed is a river cruise on the Madu Ganga to see the rich aquatic ecosystem, wildlife, and huge number of bird species. Our final destination is the Eden Resort & Spa in Beruwela, right on the ocean and a great place to relax after our journey. To round off the holiday we have included a complimentary full body massage at the hotel's Ayurvedic Spa.

Sri Lanka

Separated from India by the narrow Palk Strait, Sri Lanka nestles on the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, 770 km north of the Equator. It enjoys a tropical climate. Our visit avoids the monsoon season and coincides with its peak season; warm and sunny near the coast and plains, cooler in hill country.

The people of Sri Lanka are multi-ethnic and multi-religious with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity all respecting each other's beliefs. The ethnic conflict that plagued the nation is now largely laid to rest and Sri Lanka looks forward to providing discerning travellers with an authentic cultural experience. This is an excellent time to visit before the development of mass tourism.

Walking Programme

The overall grading of the walks on this holiday is EASY - suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit. Walks graded Moderate are optional with alternative activities available.

‘Hauling in the nets, Sri Lanka

Day 1 - Sunday 5th March - Fly to Colombo (Meals in-flight)

Arrive at the airport under your own arrangements for the flights with Emirates from Manchester via Dubai or with Sri Lankan Airlines from Heathrow to Colombo.

Please check-in three hours before departure time, using your passport and e-ticket. Flights are the latest known and subject to confirmation by the airlines.

Day 2 - Monday 6th March - Transfer to Negombo (D)

On arrival, transfer to Negombo by private coach and check into the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure to relax or join an optional sightseeing tour of Negombo and the fishing village.

Meet in the lobby before dinner for a welcome reception and an introduction to our itinerary.

Dinner and overnight Jetwing Beach Hotel, Negombo, deluxe room

Day 3 - Tuesday 7th March - Dambulla - Golden Rock Temple (BD)

Leave the hotel after breakfast and drive to Dambulla to visit the Golden Rock Temple – a World Heritage Site and the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. We’ll climb up to the temple to explore the complex of five caves with over 2000 sq. metres of painted walls and ceilings. The ceilings are the largest area of paintings found in the world and a truly magnificent sight. The caves contain over 150 images of Buddha including the colossal reclining figure of Buddha carved out of rock spanning 14 metres.

4 hours travel.

Dinner and overnight, Heritance Kandalama Hotel, superior room

Visiting a rural village, Sri Lanka

Day 4 - Wednesday 8th March - Sigiriya - Rural village cookery demonstration (BLD)

Drive (45 minutes) to Sigiriya to climb the 5th Century Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a World Heritage Site. The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart and extensive gardens - including the renowned water gardens - ring the base of the rock. We’ll view the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, painted in earth pigments on plaster, in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway.

The climb to the top of Sigiriya is challenging and involves 1000 steps at an elevation of 200 metres. Your reward is a stunning 360 degrees panorama of jungle and countryside - well worth the effort.

The alternative to climbing Sigiriya is to enjoy an optional morning coffee by the pool of a local hotel.

Afterwards we’ll take a bullock cart to ride up to the lake, which we’ll cross by canoe before taking part in a cookery demonstration by the local villagers and enjoying a freshly prepared lunch. We’ll return to our vehicle in style on the bullock cart.

Walking: Easy – Distance: 5 km, ascent: 200m (1000 steps), time: 3 hours

Dinner and overnight, Heritance Kandalama Hotel, superior room

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

Day 5 - Thursday 9th March - Matale Spice Garden - Riverston Plateau Walk (BLD)

Today we depart for the Spice Garden in Matele, for an introduction to the different spices grown and processed in the area, learning how they are used in medicine and food preparation. We’ll also be treated to a packed lunch prepared by the Spice Garden.

After lunch we drive to the start point of the Riverston Plateau walk, a gentle circular walk along jungle trails, past paddy fields and a waterfall.

We then make our way to Kandy - regarded as the most picturesque city in Sri Lanka – for some free time in the afternoon to enjoy our hotel’s lovely pool, spa and gardens.

6 hours scenic drive

Walking - Easy – Distance: 3 km, ascent: 100m, descent: 500m, time: 2 hours

Dinner and overnight Earl’s Regency Hotel, deluxe room

Day 6 - Friday 10th March - Udawatta Kele - Kandy City Tour - Temple of the Sacred Tooth (BD)

After breakfast we leave the hotel and head to Udawatta Kele Sanctuary. Today’s walk follows a circular route along the forest trails surrounded by giant bamboo and ironwood trees - the national tree of Sri Lanka. There’s a hermit’s hut and a lookout point with magnificent views of Kandy and its lake below.

We return to Kandy for a sightseeing tour and a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, within the Royal Palace complex.

Optional lunch in Kandy. In the afternoon you can enjoy some free time or an optional visit the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Walking - Easy – Distance: 6 km, ascent: minimal, mainly flat, time: 2 hours

Dinner and overnight Earl’s Regency Hotel, deluxe room

Tea, Sri Lanka

Day 7 - Saturday 11th March - Kandy - Nuwara Eliya City Tour (BD)

Before leaving Kandy we have planned an early morning walk before breakfast along the lakes balustraded promenade, built by the last King of Kandy it was much enjoyed by the British in colonial times.

After breakfast we’ll check out of the hotel and travel to the beautiful city of Nuwara Eliya by train. The train departs Peradeniya Railway Station at 11:10am and we can look forward to a fascinating scenic rail journey to Nanu Oya passing tea plantations and waterfalls. On arriving at Nanu Oya at 15:45pm we transfer to Nuwara Eliya, stopping at Pedro Tea Plantation and tea factory before checking in at our hotel.

An evening sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya introduces us to this picturesque hill country retreat - once a favourite with British colonialists who fell under the spell of its soft cool climate. It became a popular planters’ holiday destination with Europeans enjoying exclusive use of private clubs, golf course and a racecourse. Colonial features are still visible in the architectural styles of the Hill Club, Post Office and The Grand Hotel where we are staying.

Walking: Easy – Distance: 4 km, ascent: flat, time: 2 hours

Dinner and overnight The Grand Hotel, deluxe room

Day 8 - Sunday 12th March - Horton Plains National Park Walk (BD)

It’s an early start today, after collecting our packed breakfasts we’ll depart by jeep for the hours drive to Horton Plains. Named after Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, former British Governor of Ceylon, it is a protected area rich in biodiversity, mountain forest, fauna and flora.

We’ll be accompanied by a local tracker who will guide us though one of the countries last remaining cloud forests on an undulating trail to Baker’s Falls and the famous World’s End escarpment. After our walk there’s time for optional refreshments before returning by jeep to the hotel where the rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Walking: Moderate – Distance: 9 km, ascent: undulating, steep in places with some exposure, time: 4 hours

The alternative to taking part in this walk is to have a leisurely breakfast in the hotel followed by a stroll around Nuwara Eliya.

Dinner and overnight The Grand Hotel, deluxe room

Little Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Day 9 - Monday 13th March - Little Adam’s Peak - Ravana Falls - Ella (BD)

After checking out of the hotel a scenic drive through mountainous countryside and tea plantations takes us to Ella and the start of our walking trail to Little Adam’s Peak. Named after the sacred Adams Peak (Sri Pada) where the footprint of Lord Buddha is preserved.

Near Ella we’ll stop at a rustic hill resort where there’s time to linger and admire the magnificent views over forested hillsides and Adam’s Peak. This is the starting point for our walk along the trail upwards to Little Adam’s Peak through small villages and lush tea plantations.

After the walk our drive starts with the steep downhill route to Uda Walawe, leaving the hill country and heading for the plains, stopping at Ravana Falls before passing through farming communities to reach our hotel.

Walking: Easy – Distance: 2km, time 1 hour

Driving time 3 hours.

Dinner and overnight Grand Udawalawe, deluxe room

Day 10 - Tuesday 14th March - Udawalawe National Park - Galle Fort (B)

Leaving the hotel by safari jeep we head for Udawalawe National Park, known in the world as the place to see wild elephants up close all year round.

Bordered by a teak forest with open plains covered in thick manna grass this is the ideal habitat for a wide variety of animals. The large reservoir in the centre and the Walawe River is home to a population of crocodiles. Leopards roam the park (though it is very hard to spot one). We’ll keep our eyes peeled for toque macaques, tufted grey langurs, spotted deer, wild boar, monitor lizards, golden jackals and sambar deer. There are numerous bird species and the area is particularly rich in raptors, among them the white-bellied sea eagle and the crested serpent-eagle.

Elephants, Udawalawe NP Safari, Sri Lanka

After returning from our safari we’ll check out of the hotel and drive south towards the Indian Ocean where we stop to see fisherman hauling in their catch and admire the pristine beaches.

Galle Fort, another World Heritage Site, is not to be missed and our guide will take us on a tour of this historically important fortification, built originally by the Portuguese, taken over by the Dutch and subsequently by the British. It was once the seat of the Dutch East India Company. We’ll walk along the ramparts, visit the imposing old lighthouse, and wander through the old town past beautiful Dutch architecture, colonnaded houses, boutiques and tempting shopping opportunities, stopping for optional refreshments in one of the many cafés.

Walking: Easy, ascent: flat, time: 2 hours

4 hour scenic drive

Dinner tonight is under your own arrangements; choose from Temptations Restaurant for fine dining, the main restaurant for a buffet dinner menu or the café for something lighter.

Overnight Eden Resort & Spa, superior room

Day 11 - Wednesday 15th March - Balapitiya - Madu Ganga River Cruise (BLD)

After breakfast we’ll drive 25 mins to Balapitiya for a river cruise on the Madu Ganga. The area supports a rich aquatic ecosystem and - as we glide along the river and negotiate the many unique mangrove caves and islands - look out for the amazing number of birds that have made this area their home. Lunch will be served on one of the islands.

The rest of the day is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Dinner tonight at Temptations Restaurant. Overnight Eden Resort & Spa, superior room

Day 12 - Thursday 16th March - Eden Resort - Ayurvedic Spa (BD)

Today it’s time to relax and enjoy a complimentary full body massage at the resorts Ayurvedic Spa. Performed by two therapists using an ancient Buddhist mix of plant, mineral and herb oils that penetrate the skin to loosen and relax joints, stimulate blood circulation and generally give you a sense of well being.

Dinner tonight is a private barbeque dinner party. Overnight Eden Resort & Spa, superior room

Day 13 - Friday 17th March - Travel to UK (B, Meals in-flight)

After breakfast in the hotel we’ll transfer to airport (2 hours) for our return flight to the UK.

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner

‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka View over Kandy, Sri Lanka

Jetwing Beach, Negombo 4*

Located close to the golden sands of Negombo 30 minutes from the airport, Jetwing Beach is a luxury resort hotel and the perfect place to relax on our first night with its magnificent pool and spa. Our rooms are graded deluxe. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Heritance Kandalama, Dambulla 5*

An architectural masterpiece, designed by Geoffrey Bawa, and built overlooking the so-called eighth wonder of the world - the rock fortress of Sigiriya. The hotel sits at the heart of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, close to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The flat roof and timber pillars support a screen of vegetation that attracts local wildlife and appears to be a perfectly natural extension of the mountainside. Our rooms are graded superior. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Earl’s Regency, Kandy 5*

Founded in 1999, it has established a reputation as one of the finest hotels in Sri Lanka. Aiming to provide clients with a unique experience, lush green surroundings and spacious rooms with balconies. Our rooms are graded deluxe. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya 4*

Once the palatial residence of the Governor of Sri Lanka, The Grand is renowned for its Colonial splendour and manicured lawns. Our rooms are graded deluxe. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Grand Udawalawe Safari Resort, Uda Walawe 4*

A Safari Resort and environmental friendly hotel with an infrastructure sympathetic to the area and located close to Uda Walawe National Park. It has an attractive swimming pool. Our rooms are graded deluxe. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Eden Resort & Spa, Beruwela 5*

Located by the beach and surrounded by tropical garden this is a great place to relax at the end of our tour and enjoy the lovely facilities the hotel has to offer, particularly the pool, sun lounge area and beach. Our spacious rooms are graded superior and combine elegance with charm with either a balcony or terrace with views of either the Indian Ocean or the gardens. More details can be found on the hotel's website.

Fishing Boats, Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka Water Buffaloes, Udawalawe, Sri Lanka

Flights are with Emirates from Manchester via Dubai or with Sri Lankan Airlines from Heathrow to Colombo.

Please check-in three hours before departure time, using your passport and e-ticket. Flights are the latest known and subject to confirmation by the airlines.

Outbound Heathrow - direct with Sri Lankan Airlines - Sunday 5th March 2017
Depart Heathrow, UK
Arrive Colombo, LK
UL504 20:40
12:40 (+1)
Outbound Manchester - via Dubai with Emirates - Sunday 5th March 2017
Depart Manchester, UK
Arrive Dubai, UAE
EK18 13:10
00:25 (+1)
Depart Dubai, UAE
Arrive Colombo, LK
EK650 02:45
Inbound Heathrow - direct with Sri Lankan Airlines - Friday 17th March 2017
Depart Colombo, LK
Arrive Heathrow, UK
UL503 12:50
Inbound Manchester - via Dubai with Emirates - Friday 17th March 2017
Depart Colombo, LK
Arrive Dubai, UAE
EK651 09:55
Depart Dubai, UAE
Arrive Manchester, UK
EK19 14:40



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