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SERENDIPITY, TEA AND TEMPLES
The pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a must-visit destination, with its historical treasures, stunning scenery and amazing wildlife. This gem of an island also has the town of Galle on the south coast, flanked by some of the island’s most beautiful beaches. While compact, this is a place of real contrast and diversity, just waiting to be explored.
DAY 01: FLY LONDON HEATHROW TO COLOMBO, SRI LANKA
DAY 02: Arrive at Colombo International Airport. Meet and Greet services by a representative of NEI UK and then proceed to Colombo and check in to The Colombo Swimming Club. After some time to relax and freshen up you will take a sightseeing tour of the city.
DAY 03: COLOMBO- PINNAWALA ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE - SIGIRIYA After breakfast you will be driven to Sigiriya, visiting Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage en route. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was started in 1975 to house abandoned and wounded elephants. The sanctuary covers 25 acres of lush vegetation with an approx population of about 77 consisting of both adult and baby elephants. The best time to visit is the feeding time and the bathing time; when all the elephants are taken to the river close by. Then continue your journey to Sigiriya, then check in to the hotel in the late afternoon.
DAY 04: SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS AND POLONNARUWA After breakfast visit Sigiriya Rock fortress, home to the 5th century "Fortress in the sky" which is the most fantastic single wonder of the island. On its summit are the foundations of what was once a great sumptuous palace and garden complete with a swimming pool. On one of the stairways the only known ancient work of Sinhala secular painting survived in the form of frescoes of life sized damsels in all the freshness and delicacy of their original colour. Afterwards drive to Polonnaruwa - the ancient kings of this city state were adamant that no drop of water falling from the heavens was to be wasted, and each be used toward the development of the land; hence, irrigation systems were constructed, which to this day supply the water necessary for paddy cultivation during the scorching dry season in the east of the country. Return to hotel in the late afternoon.
Day 05: SIGIRIYA- HIRIWADUNA TREK - DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLE - MATALE SPICE GARDENS - KANDY After breakfast drive to Kandy, en route visit Hiriwadunna village, Dambulla Cave Temple, a spice garden and a Batik Factory at Matale. Village trek in Hiriwadunna Village, Bullock Cart ride, boat ride and opportunity to interact with a local family for a cookery demonstration and to enjoy a local lunch. Dambulla is famous for the five cave Temples on a rock some dates to 1st century. B.C. All the 5 cave walls and ceilings are covered with Buddhist murals and there are more than 130 Buddha statues. Matale has long been renowned for its spices. Here you will learn about fragrant clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace and pepper, and many other favourites such as chocolate and vanilla. Check in to your Home Stay in the late afternoon.
DAY 06: KANDY & TEMPLE VISITS – AMBEKKE, LANKATHILAKA, GADALDENIYA, TEMPLE OF SACRED TOOTH RELIC After breakfast visit four different temples and Kandy View point where you get to see the perfect panoramic view of the city. Embekke Devalaya hasthe finest wood carving work; Lankathilaka is a magnificent architectural edifice built at the crest of a large rock overlooking the Hantane mountain range; Gadaladeniya Temple is famous for its beautiful stone carvings. This temple was built on a flat rock at Diggala in the 14th Century. Evening witness the cultural show and end of the evening by visiting Temple of Tooth. As many as 12 different dances are performed within one hour. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic ever since 4th Century A.D, has grown in repute and holiness in Sri Lanka and throughout the Buddhist world. It is considered Sri Lanka's most prized possession. Return to Bungalow in the late afternoon.
DAY 07: KANDY - TRAIN TO HATTON After breakfast board the train from Kandy city heading to Hatton, a major resort town in Sri Lanka including various major tourist and local travel attractions. It is the centre of the Ceylon tea industry and has a number of famous tea estates. Check in at the hotel in the late evening. This is the heart of the tea country, where undulating expanses of green dominate the view and there’s no better place to experience its story than here in Hatton. In the early 19th century, the persevering planters experimented with tea and the combination of elevation and climate proved perfect - the rest is history.
DAY 08: TEA PLANTATION TOUR, HATTON Our Resident Tea Planter, Andrew Taylor, will show you first hand, the tea making process, starting from the fields where it all begins with the picking of 'two leaves and a bud' to the factory where the all important conversion to black tea happens. The tour ends with a tasting of different grades of this great brew. Return to the bungalow late afternoon
DAY 09: HATTON - NUWARA ELIYA Drive to Nuwara Eliya and take a city tour. Surrounded by hills and tea plantations, the town of Nuwara Eliya enjoys spring-like weather throughout the year. A favourite retreat of the British during colonial times, the town is dotted with English country style houses and half-timbered bungalows, with names like 'Sun Hill Cottage' or 'Windsor Hotel', it's no surprise it earned the name "Little England". The Holy Trinity Church might have stepped out of any village in England, with its Gothic architecture and eclectic collection of memorials, while the 'pink post office' features a clock tower. The Grand Hotel, Hill Club and Golf Club also hark back to a previous era, where tea by a log fire, overlooking the lawns with topiary and roses, might be followed by a spot of billiards. The golf course is open to visitors. For a picturesque stroll, stop by the well-maintained Victoria Park or head for Gregory’s Lake, which is located just south of the town. You can also hire boats here. Alternatively, for a bit of local colour, Bale Bazaar is where the locals head to stock up on warm clothing. In April and May the town is crowded with Sri Lankans dressed in their finery for the Derby at the Turf Club; at other times of the year it’s much quieter, with apparently stray horses quietly wandering along the road. Check in to the Hill Club hotel late afternoon
DAY 10: NUWARA ELIYA - HORTON PLAINS - GALLE Early morning enjoy a nature walk at Horton Plains, World’s End and trek up to Bakers Falls complimented with a packed breakfast. Horton Plains at 7000ft (2134 metres) is a National Park rising from the marshes and streams and extending up to the tree-line. The trees, stunted by the wind and mist, covered with Sphagnum moss or 'old man’s beard', and the jungle is full of rare and endemic plants. The red flowered Rhododendrons, or the ‘Niloos’ that blooms once in 12 years, butterflies, birds, found only in the hill areas. The ‘Bear Monkey,’ large herds of sambhur, leopard and other animals are found in the plains. The 'World's End' and 'Little World's End' with sheer drops of 3000ft to the plantations below and the beautiful scenery, are not found anywhere else in the country. Thereafter journey continues to Galle. Check in to the Sun House hotel late afternoon
DAY 11: GALLE SIGHTSEEING After breakfast enjoy sightseeing of the ancient Dutch City of Galle with famous travel writer Juliet Coombe. Galle is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in south and Southeast Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and south Asian traditions. The Galle Fort is a world heritage site and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. Other prominent landmarks in Galle include the natural harbour, the National Maritime Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral founded by Jesuit priests, one of the main Shiva temples on the island, and Amangalla the historic luxury hotel. Return to the Hotel in the late afternoon.
DAY 12: AT LEISURE - GALLE or BEACH After breakfast whole day at leisure on the beach in Unawatuna (5 kms from Sun House) Return to the hotel late afternoon.
DAY 13: DEPARTURE Appropriately timed transfer to the airport for your flight back to the UK.
TOUR PRICE: from GBP 1796 per person, based on two people sharing a room, not including international flights
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