This tailor-made holiday takes in the historic sites of Sri Lanka's central north, including Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla; the spectacular landscapes and wildlife of the Minneriya and Yala National Parks; the rich history and culture of the city of Kandy; and the verdant tea plantations of the Central Highlands and the southern city of Galle, famed for its 17th century fort and nearby beaches. Throughout your holiday you'll stay at some of the country's best hotels and enjoy the company of expert guides as they help bring to life Sri Lanka's fascinating and often complex past.
Day 1: London to Sri Lanka
Fly overnight from London to Sri Lanka.
Day 2: Arrive in Sri Lanka
Arrive in Sri Lanka and transfer to the Wallawwa in Minuwangoda, a luxury hotel around 30 minutes from the international airport. Check in and spend a relaxing day at the hotel recovering from your flight.
Day 3: Sigiriya
After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to Sigiriya, located in the centre of the country around four hours by road from Minuwangoda. On arrival, check into the Jetwing Vil Uyana for a two night stay. You'll have time this afternoon to explore one of Sri Lanka's try icons, a spectacular rock-top fortress that dates back to the 5th century. Climb to Sigiriya's summit to see the ruins of the palace complex and to admire the magnificent views of the central Sri Lankan countryside, sprawled out before you.
Day 4: Polonnaruwa & Minneriya National Park
Spend this morning exploring the medieval city of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa was established as the country's capital in the 11th century, replacing Anuradhapura, which was laid to ruins by the invading armies of South India. The city reached its dazzling, albeit brief zenith during the 12th century and, though ravaged by invasion in the following centuries, still retains much of its old grandeur to this day.
After a morning of history and culture, this afternoon is set aside for a trip to experience the wildlife and landscapes of Minneriya National Park, one of Sri Lanka's leading eco-tourism destinations and home to an abundance of animal life, including elephants, sambar deer, leopards and an astonishing array of bird life.
Day 5: Sigiriya to Kandy
Travel south to the cave temples at Dambulla. The largest cave contains 48 statues of Lord Buddha, as well as a number of statues of Hindu gods Vishnu and Saman, dating back to the 12th century, when Hinduism gained a foothold in the country.
Continue south to Kandy, visiting the Spice Garden in Matale along the way. Whilst there, you'll have the opportunity to see cinnamon, cardamom, pepper creepers, and other spice trees growing naturally. You can also buy spices if you'd like to. After a guided tour of the Spice Gardens, you'll visit a batik factory, where you will see how beautiful batik prints are manufactured.
Day 6: Kandy
Today, you'll enjoy a city tour in Kandy, including a visit to the Temple of the Tooth relic, and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. In the evening, take a trip to the famous Kady Cultural Dance Show, one of the city's most famous cultural events. Covering various aspects of Sri Lanka's traditions, expect to see drummers, fire dancers, and more in a cultural spectacle that's not to be missed.
Day 7: Kandy to Hatton
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and begin your journey south to the town of Hatton, located in the Nuwara Eliya District of Sri Lanka's Central Province. Check into the wonderful Ceylon Tea Trails, a luxury hotel set among the verdant tea plantations of Sri Lanka's central highlands.
Day 8: Hatton and Sri Lanka's tea country
Spend this morning enjoying the essential Tea Trails experience as you join resident Tea Planter Andrew Taylor who'll show you first hand the tea making process from fields to the factory, and finally to the cup. The tour ends with a tasting of the estate's finest blends.
This afternoon you'll head to the mountain station of Nuwara Eliya, set high in the hills 1,868 metres above sea level. Wander the town's pretty streets and discover the 19th century British colonial architecture, which bears a striking resemblance to an English country town. Nuwara Eliya is a two-and-a-half-hour drive away, so if you'd prefer, spend the day at leisure, exploring the tea plantations at your own pace.
Day 9: Hatton to Yala
Leave the tea plantations behind this morning as you drive further south to the Yala National Park, stopping at the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe along the way. Yala, as well as being scenically beautiful, is among the best place on earth to spot leopards, sloth, bears and elephants. It's also an ornithologist's paradise, with a myriad of bird species making their home here. On arrival in Yala, you'll check into the luxurious Jetwing Yala, where you can indulge in incredible cuisine and relaxing spa treatments in one of Sri Lanka's most beautiful settings.
Day 10: Yala National Park
Spend today in the company of an expert guide as you explore the diverse ecosystems of the Yala National Park, home to 44 species of mammal, including the highest density of leopard in the world. Yala also harbours an incredible 215 species of bird, six of which are endemic to Sri Lanka.
Day 11: Yala to Galle
Check out of your hotel for a three-hour drive along the south coast to Galle, a city renowned for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed 17th-century fort....
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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