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13-Day Off the Beaten Track Adventure in Sri Lanka, including Jaffna

Improtant Facts

Duration: 13 Days
Pace: Relaxed
Destinations: Negombo ➜ Wilpattu Nationalpark ➜ Anuradhapura (optional bicycle tour) ➜ Mihintale ➜ Jaffna ➜ Trincomalee (Nilaveli) ➜ Pigeon Island Marine-National park ➜ optional Whale watching tour ➜ Dambulla ➜ Minneriya National park ➜ optional Lunch at Hiriwadunna Village ➜ Kandy ➜ Sigiriya Rock fortress ➜ Nuwara Eliya (train ride) ➜ Colombo

Sri Lanka may be a small island, but it is unbelievably diverse with a surprising variety of attractions to please every taste. We start at Negombo, the laid-back seaport city and then proceed by road to the wonderful Wilpattu National Park where we will go on a game drive in search of its resident elephants and maybe spot a leopard. Our trip will lead us to the ancient secrets of Anuradhapura and hidden gems of Jaffna, then along the beautiful coast and beaches of Trincomalee. No visitor will fail to be impressed by Dambulla’s age-old cave temples or the renowned Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Snorkeling in the clear blue waters of the Pigeon Island National Park is next, followed by a boat trip in the Indian Ocean to watch blue whales cavort. More adventures await as we climb the stone steps up the Lion Rock massive in Sigiriya to explore the fortress on top. We drive past lush green tea plantations in the highlands around Kandy and breathe in the cool, clean air of its spiritual heart. Last but not least on the list is Colombo, the vibrant capital city of Sri Lanka where we will get to know its rich colonial heritage and iconic sites and do some last-minute shopping for souvenirs.
 

Highlights of the Off the Beaten Track Tour

  • Anuradhapura – The Once-Lost: This beautiful city where history comes alive, is best explored by bicycle. It is the best way to enjoy the stupas, citadels, and monasteries of this time-honored capital at a leisurely pace.
  • Jaffna and Nainativu Island – The Colorful: Jaffna was reopened to tourists after being off-limits to visitors for the past 30 years, so keep in mind that it is less developed, and you may find service and accommodations not quite up to the same standard as the rest of the country. On the plus side, there is a calm peacefulness, with less crowds, which of course has its advantages.
  • Mihintale – The Slumbering Village: Visit the blissful slumbering village of Mihintale and its temple complex. Located just 13km/8 miles east of Anuradhapura, it has a very special place in the annals of Sri Lanka’s lore and will soon in your heart too.
  • Trincomalee – Paradise: Trincomalee’s wonderful sandy beach welcomes you with picture-perfect open skies, gently swaying palm trees providing welcome shade, and sparkling waters of otherworldly colors. It is paradise on earth, perfect for relaxing, sunbathing, whale and dolphin watching, swimming and just being happy.
  • Sri Dalada Maligawa – The Beating Heart of the Country: Spend an unforgettable evening at Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Tooth Temple in Kandy. Here beats the spiritual heart of the island and you will witness rituals and devotion, experience living spirituality that transcends time.
  • All along the way, of course, replenish your energy and sample the rich variety of delicious fresh seafood and aromatic curries inspired by the delights of the cuisines of Arabia, India and Europe. Thus, Sri Lanka is not only a feast for the eyes, but also an extremely delicate melting pot of culinary delights that is just waiting to be discovered.
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Ayubowan! May you be blessed with a long life! This is the greeting that will welcome you to Sri Lanka, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’. The island has an incredible amount of delights to offer the traveller; beaches lined with shady palm trees, rolling hills covered in tea plantations, and sacred sites where you will breathe in the deep spirituality. Sri Lanka’s mesmerizing character is displayed by its charming people, mysterious ruins, some of the best cuisine in the world and much more, and will resonate with you long after you have returned home.

Just a short drive from the international airport, your Sri Lanka adventure starts on the beachfront in the coastal town of Negombo, a historic trade center with a fascinating network of canals teeming with rural life. Relax in a lounge chair on Negombo’s gorgeous sprawling beach and enjoy the sound of the Indian Ocean lapping the shore.

Spend your first evening strolling along the coast, getting to know your fellow travelers, meeting some locals and watching the fishing boats drift by. You will surely work up an appetite, the perfect time to discover Sri Lanka’s cuisine for the first time.

Accommodation
Jetwing Blue Negombo

Included meals
Dinner

In the morning, the Negombo fish market beckons. Do not miss the stalls loaded with shark, squid, barracuda and all manner of sea creatures, while traders shout out and offer their wares for sale. Next up is a visit to a coconut plantation. Here you will learn about all the ways in which all the different parts of the tree are used, and what an important role in the island nation’s daily life it plays. Sip on the refreshing waters of a King coconut, an indigenous coconut of Sri Lanka.

We leave Negombo and travel north along the western coastal road, passing Chilaw and then Putalam, two large towns on the way. When we reach the Wilpattu National Park, we park the car and get into a Jeep for our four-hour afternoon safari in search of Sri Lanka’s most sought after wildlife resident, the elusive leopard. The park is located in the lowland dry zone, nevertheless there are almost sixty natural lakes in the park area. The park boasts 30 species of mammals, including wild tusker elephant, leopard, sambar and sloth bear. Wilpattu is the ideal park for the more die-hard safari lovers who are in the mood for an authentic wilderness experience.

Although Yala National Park is more famous among tourists, we chose to visit Wilpattu since it affords our clients with a much better experience. The distribution of wildlife is the same in both parks, but overall, Wilpattu is much less crowded, ensuring a more enjoyable wildlife safari. Keep in mind though that sighting of specific animals can never be guaranteed; our four-footed friends are simply too unpredictable.

After an exciting afternoon, we depart for Anuradhapura, our overnight stop for the following two nights.

Tips for Your Visit to Wilpattu National Park
➜ Be sure to bring at least 2 large bottles of water, as well as your lunch, since you will spend the lunch period in the park if you decide to do a full day safari. Sunglasses are also highly recommended.
➜ If you choose a jeep with a roof for your safari, you will not need sun hats or caps – otherwise, remember! During the dry season it can also get a little dustier. Be sure to wear light clothing, and do not burden yourself with too many things to hold in your hands.
➜ In Wilpattu National Park it is possible to do a full day safari that starts at 6:00 am, includes a lunch break, and ends at 6:00 pm, an all-round exciting day. If you would like to see leopard, we would definitely recommend the full day option instead of the 3 to 4-hour safari; your chances of spotting these elegant big cats will increase considerably.

Included activities
Negombo – Fish market
Negombo – Visit to a coconut plantation>
Safari in Wilpattu National Park

From the majestic ruins that remain of Anuradhapura it is evident why it was the ancient Sinhala civilization’s capital city for an unbelievable 1500 years. Visitors are often overwhelmed by this splendid city’s offerings, from striking monuments to well-preserved ruins and beautifully restored buildings. There are numerous historic sites with parks, lakes and ancient reservoirs for drinking water, too much to mention. You will be left speechless before the ancient dome-shaped stupas of Ruwanwelisaya, Jetavanaramaya and Abhayagiri, among the tallest on earth. Not to be missed is Varadage Shrine located at the 3rd century bell-shaped Thuparama Stupa, famous not only for its antiquity, but also because it is said to house a collarbone relic of the Buddha.

Another experience on the agenda is a guided bike tour. Discover the large number of archaeological sites like stupas, citadels, and monasteries while cycling out in the open air. One of the highlights of this tour is the Bodhi Tree Temple, the second holiest site in Sri Lanka and the destination of numerous pilgrims. It is said that the Bodhi Tree is a sapling of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.

After visiting Anuradhapura your driver stops at a restaurant. It is high time to sample some of the local cuisine.

After a refreshing break, you will continue your journey well-fortified and eager to proceed to Mihintale and the temple complex, only a 30-minute drive away. Mihintale’s fairy tale history and significance has secured this sleepy village a very special place in the annals of Sri Lanka lore. According to tradition, Mihintale is the mountain peak where the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa met. In 247 BC King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura was hunting deer on Mihintale Hill when he was approached by Mahinda, the son of Ashoka, the great Indian ruler. Mahinda put the king’s wisdom to the test – with success. The king proved himself a worthy disciple and converted to Buddhism on the spot. And so it came to pass that King Devanampiyatissa introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Every year the people of Mihintale celebrate the king’s conversion with a great festival called Poson Poya, or Poson for short, which means ‘June Full Moon’, the day on which it is held.

To reach Mihintale on the summit of Mount Missaka, the visitor needs to ascend a total of 1840 shallow steps cut from the rock, in places even scrambling over boulders. However, it is worth a bit of effort to visit the place where Mahinda, a Buddhist monk met King Devanampiyatissa, the famous meeting which led to the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The climb takes about 15 to 20 minutes and the views from the top are stunning.

Included activities
Anuradhapura – Historical site
Anuradhapura – Bicycle tour
Anuradhapura – Bodhi Tree Temple
Excursion to Mihintale

Specific Information
Of course, if you are not in the mood for cycling, we have other options. You can simply explore the ruins on foot or be driven around in the comfort of a tuk-tuk and enjoy this amazing adventure the leisurely way.

In the morning your driver will take you to the center of town where you will board the train. You travel in a northern direction to Jaffna. Civil war in the area caused the closure of the line for twenty-five years but in 2014 it was finally reopened. The journey will take you through areas where heavy conflict took place. Pondering the ravages war can cause makes everyone humble and it is with a feeling of optimism that the train enters Jaffna’s beautifully restored train station. The station itself was opened in the same year after extensive renovations. The train journey lasts for about three hours after which you will be driven to your place of accommodation.

Once settled, take the opportunity and time to acquaint yourself with this Tamil city and its people. You will pay a visit to the Kandasway Temple, the impressive religious heart of northern Sri Lanka. Also on the list are Jaffna’s Museum, the library, and the Dutch Fort dating from the seventeenth century. The city is an interesting portrait of the contrasts between its colonial history and its local people’s rising independent spirit. Jaffna has its own special flair, and it shows in the faces of its people and buildings.

After you have enjoyed lunch you take to the road again, this time to the Jaffna peninsula, north of the city. More remnants of the thirty-year long war can be seen along the way. Wildly overgrown dilapidated houses are scattered along the way in their hundreds, silent witnesses of the mass expulsion of its inhabitants. You destination is the Keerimalai Naguleswaram-Tempel and all around the region are traces and evidence of the conflict; bullet holes can be seen in many palm trees, and shipwrecks emerge from the shallow waters of the coast. Take a quick dip nearby in a sacred basin with the sound of the waves filling the air, or do some serious people watching. Before your return journey, also pop into the temple of Dambakola Patuna Sangamitta, a tiny port village.

Note: Train tickets can only be booked two weeks in advance, so in case it is impossible to obtain any, the journey will be made by car. Secondly, although we will do our absolute best to book the best seats, facilities onboard the train do not compare to those most western visitors are used to.

We need to breakfast early to start our journey by road at seven o’clock. We are on our way to Kurikadduwan jetty to catch the ferry to Nainativu island. The boats leave at regular intervals and the journey takes only around twenty minutes. The boats are quite crowded so do not expect a very comfortable ride. If this does not suit you, you can charter a boat for your personal use.

On the boat-ride between the mainland and the little island observe the fishermen on their catamarans casting their fishing nets on the water.

While the boat gently sways from side to side, you proceed to Nainativu Island to visit the well-renowned Nagadeepa Buddhist Temple and Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil. Both the main Buddhist and Hindu temples are well maintained and quite impressive. On the island there are also several Buddhist stupas, fifty-eight Hindu temples, mosques and churches. Around 800 families live on the island permanently.

We will explore the island by tuk-tuk.

The ancient Nagadeepa Viharaya is among Sri Lanka’s sixteen holiest Buddhist shrines and was fiercely protected by the monks who endured immense hardships during the 1983 civil war. Near the banyan tree is an astonishing mural illustrating the widely-believed legend of how the Buddha appeared to two warring Naga, or Snake kings to settle their dispute over a gem-studded throne by advocating harmony and compassion. The shrine is therefore named after the Snake people or Naga who inhabited these lands many years ago.

Also impressive is the Rajayathana Stupa, considered a sacred, holy Buddhist site.

The brightly colored Naga Pooshani Kovil Hindu temple complex is a mere 100 meters from its Buddhist neighbor. You are free to spend as much time here as you wish, to admire the hundreds of colorful artworks, sculptures, and murals. There are also religious activities to observe.

Afterwards you will take the ferry back to Jaffna where you can spend the rest of the day exploring this interesting city on your own.

On your trip through the northern parts of Sri Lanka you will visit Point Pedro, the most northern point of the island. In earlier times and during colonial days, this was a port for imports and export, but these days it is inhabited mainly by fishermen who make their livelihoods here.

Point Pedro Beach is a beautiful long sandy beach where you can cool off before returning to the hotel where we will spend the night.

Today we continue to the east coast of Sri Lanka. From April to September the fantastic beaches of Trincomalee invite you to swim and relax in the lukewarm waters. All the hotels we will stay in here are located directly on the beach and have their own pool. On request you can have your breakfast on the beach.

Upon arrival, you will check into your hotel and then have the rest of the day to spend as you wish, relaxing or exploring, depending on what you are in the mood for.

How about relaxing in the shade of a palm tree and indulging in the beach feeling of Trinco? Be sure to try a ‘toddy’, a kind of local sweet, weak wine tapped directly from the blossom of the palm tree. After all, there are no activities planned for today, so a little bit of alcohol certainly will not hurt and you will have plenty of time to relax by the pool or on the beach.

Of course, you can also take a closer look at the place usually referred to as Trincomalee or Trinco for short, one of the most beautiful deep sea ports in the world, which once attracted famous sailors like Marco Polo to its shores.

Two different tours are available for you to choose from on your day in Trincomalee. Use the free day for a number of optional activities of the sporty kind. Fans of snorkeling and the beauties of the underwater world will get their money’s worth at the diver’s paradise, Pigeon Island. Or you could get on a boat and scan the ocean for whales and dolphins. Of course, it is understandable if you would rather do nothing for once, but enjoy the glorious weather and fully relax in the warm sun on a beautiful peaceful beach.

You can also join an optional local sightseeing tour that will take you to several places worth seeing like the classical-medieval Thirukoneswaram Temple on the hill top. This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva affords breathtaking views of the bay with fishing boats disappearing on the horizon. Small shrines are built right into the rocky cliff where the visitor can observe pilgrims performing their religious ceremonies. The spectacular scenery, the devout people and the temple all make this a site worthy of a visit. Afterwards, collect your shoes and make your way to one of the coconut cafes, sip a refreshing drink of coconut water or lemon ice tea while pondering everything you have seen and experienced so far.

The rest of the afternoon still leaves plenty of time to relax on the beach and end this wonderful day on the right note.

Optional Tour 1: Pigeon Island Marine National Park
A sight you will never forget is Pigeon Island. The white powdered-sugar beaches and sparkling coral reefs is a temptation that is hard to resist. Experience the beautiful island with its rock pools and paths through thickets that provide shelter for rock pigeons and ground doves to nest, hence its name.

Between 8:30 or 9 am you will be picked up from your hotel. A comfortable vehicle will take you quickly and safely to the northern tip of the island. We board a swift speed boat at Nilavali Beach to the island and arrive after a 15-minute ride. Here you set sail for a day of marine adventure on and around the 17-acre national landmark of Pigeon Island.

A guide will receive you and give you a brief introduction to make sure you stay safe at all times. You will then be fitted with a helmet to wear as you explore the underwater realm, always well oxygenated and even with dry hair. Thus equipped, you make your way into the water, down a gently sloping hillside, and the magic of the underwater world surrounds you.

The diverse marine life in the coral reefs off Pigeon Island is characterized by vibrant colors, and whether you choose to dive or snorkel, you will be amazed by the variety of marine life. You may encounter reef fish, moray eels, seahorses, flounder, sea turtles, trumpet fish, octopus and even blacktip reef sharks! Your tour guide will be by your side, of course.

After the underwater adventure you will be picked up and returned to your hotel, but first we have scheduled some free time for you to complete your exciting guided marine tour by swimming or splashing in the crystal-clear waters and relaxing on the beach.

Important information about Pigeon Island Marine National Park
• Departure time – anytime between 8:30 & 11:30 in the morning
• Duration – 3 hours including a 20-minute boat ride and 10-minute nature trail on the island
• Distance – 8 nautical miles
• Included in the trip: Snorkel gear (mask, fins), water bottles, boat ride to Pigeon Island and back. A professional naturalist will accompany the tour at sea
• What to bring/wear: sunblock, beach clothes, sun hat/cap, flip-flops, your waterproof camera if you have one
• The Park gates open at nine o’clock
• Wildlife officials monitor to see when people enter any highly sensitive areas in the coral reef, you are advised to stay within the allotted areas
• You can change at the designated spot and leave all bags and valuable with the attending officials
• No items of food are permitted, and littering is an offence
• Do not be alarmed when you spot a Blacktip reef shark; these marine animals are very shy and quite harmless
• If you choose to arrange a trip to Pigeon Island yourself, it is highly recommended that you hire the service of a guide. He will advise you on which areas you are permitted to visit, and which are dangerous. As the tides change rapidly, and the sea currents are sometimes quite strong, he will make sure you are safe at all times
• This excursion is not only for professional or seasoned divers, but you should be able to swim. If you are not an able swimmer, do not worry; you can request a guide who will assist you to enjoy the adventure with the help of a float and life jacket

Optional Tour 2: Whale Watching near Trincomalee
Sri Lanka has the ideal conditions for whale watching almost all year round. Whales can be seen at various points along the coast for about ten months of the year, so that after Mirissa, Trincomalee has also developed into a popular location for whale lovers from all over the world. For many people a whale watching tour is the highlight of their trip and often a special emotional experience. Whales congregate around the southern coast of the island from December until April. They then move up the coast to Trincomalee until April, and again from August to September. During these months sightings are plentiful. After a 30-minute boat ride, you will arrive in the area where you can watch blue whales, as well as sperm whales on occasion. Eastern Pacific dolphins are often encountered around 6 to 8 nautical miles east of Trincomalee. However, these sea giants can also be spotted from land, especially from the top of Swami Rock.

• Departure time: 5:30 a.m.
• Duration: 3.5 hours, including about 1.5 hours travel time
• Distance: About 40 nautical miles to the whale watching position
• This is included: Boat ride to whale watching position and back, bottled water
• This is what you should bring/wear: Comfortable, light clothing preferably that cover the entire body, sun hat/cap, a waterproof camera if you have one

It is time to say goodbye to Trincomalee. After a two-hour drive, you will reach Habarana, a small, idyllic village worth seeing. From here Sri Lanka’s Anuradhapura district with all its temples and interesting sites can comfortably be explored. The Dambulla Cave Temple, a temple complex listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site located high on a cliff is your first stop. Take time to marvel at the numerous large colorful statues and paintings dedicated to Gautama Buddha and his life. This is the largest and best-preserved temple of its kind in Sri Lanka, and bear witness to the dedication of the Buddhist artists who created these masterpieces.

If you feel like a safari, you can go on the optional trip to Minneriya National Park after returning to Habarana. There you have an excellent opportunity to spot sambar deer, leopards and elephants roaming the evergreen scrubland of the national park.
Safari Duration: 2-2.5 hours

The sun is sinking, it is already afternoon and time for a trip to the wholesale market of Dambulla with its mountains of fresh vegetables and fruit. Everything you can imagine seems to be on offer here. From Dumballa, fresh produce is also transported to Colombo, the capital. Crowds of people swerve around delivery trucks and you will get a good idea of the versatility of Sri Lanka’s agriculture. With so much fresh produce on sale, it is no wonder your mouth starts to water. All the better, because you can use the rest of the evening to pursue culinary adventures. Why not ask your guide the secret of the best curry eatery in town, or perhaps walk around town, follow your instinct and your nose to one of the many restaurants around the market. Enjoy a cool drink while you wait for your freshly prepared dinner or snack.

Optional Tour: Excursion to Hiriwadunna Village from Habarana, Lunch at the Village House
This optional excursion also gives you the opportunity for a unique experience. Your guide will pick you up in a tuk-tuk at your hotel located in the heart of Habarana. At the end of the ride, the village of Hiriwadunna welcomes you. Things get very rural right away, with a ride on an ox cart. It will take you to the village lake. A boat ride, a short walk in the rice paddies and your first taste of regional vegetable farming follow before you arrive at the Village House. Relaxing and indulging in the delights of Sri Lankan cuisine with a delicious local lunch is now on the agenda. A tuk-tuk will take you back to your hotel in Habarana at the end of this three-hour tour, pleasantly satisfied and richer for the experience of a beautiful rural area of Habarana.

Early in the morning the road takes us to the last capital of the long-gone age of Sri Lanka’s ancient kings, namely Sigiriya. The name is derived from Singa Giri, Lion Rock, a monolith and fortress carved out of the rocks.

Sigiriya majestically towers 200m/656ft high over the landscape. On top of this massive rock formation you can see the extensive ancient fortifications. The Lion Rock was built by one of the kings of Anuradhapura, a man named Dhatusena, out of fear of his half-brother Moggallana, the rightful heir to the throne. You should allow 2.5 hours, including the steps up to visit the Lion’s Rock on foot. The sight of the 5th century frescoes, terraced gardens, gurgling fountains and, of course, the fortress itself, is a rich reward for your efforts.

In the dry region of the island, near Sigiriya, you can get an insight into one of the oldest cultivation methods, called Chena. Cereals, yams, corn and tropical vegetables are grown in a so-called shifting cultivation. This tradition of agriculture has existed for more than 5000 years and is considered the oldest form of agriculture in Sri Lanka.

After a well-deserved rest it is time for the descent down the rock to meet your driver and continue your journey. It is important to know that some parts of this climb are rather steep so great care should be taken when descending and ascending the rock.

Tip: Just before reaching the summit, you have to climb a very narrow metal staircase; you should have a high fitness level before attempting this rock. Lots of people stop at the so-called Lion’s Paw around one third way from the summit. From this vantage point the view is spectacular.

Lunch in a spice garden is another optional program item on your way to Kandy, the spiritual heart of the country. Matale, famous for its spices, awaits you. Vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, curry, fennel, and fenugreek are just a few of the fragrances that caress your senses here, so why not enjoy a curry of pumpkin served with the robustly spiced sauce called sambol and the famous Sri Lankan coconut roti, for which the chef has reached deep into the spice box? Matale’s spice gardens are very popular with tourists, so prices can be a bit higher than elsewhere. Nevertheless, Matale is ideal if you want to explore the secrets of growing these palate-pleasers, which are used not only for food but also in Ayurveda, medicines and cosmetics.

After this festival for both nose and palate, you head towards Kandy. After about two hours you will reach the former home of the last king of Sri Lanka. No wonder he chose this area for his home as Kandy is surrounded by lush green landscape and is an all-around pleasant city with a picturesque lake, old stores, a bustling market, and some excellent restaurants, as well as a rich cultural heritage.

Included activities
– Kandy: Cultural performance
– Sigiriya: Lion Rock

After breakfast you will set out for a leisurely Kandy tour with your driver. The first stop, the Royal Botanical Garden attracts many visitors with its impressive variety of flora. The kings of Kandy founded it in 1374 as a royal garden in the nearby village of Peradeniya. On an area of 147 acres, about 0.6 km², this plant paradise delights nature lovers and casual visitors alike with over 4000 rare trees and plants native to the island and often only encountered here. Be sure to see the famous Orchid House with over 300 varieties of exquisite orchids. Delight in rare indigenous orchids such as foxtail and vesak, as well as other tropical plants such as cacti, bamboo and coconut palms. It is simply impossible to list all the splendor here. Rightly the former garden of the kings of Kandy is considered Asia’s most beautiful botanical garden.

After that, we will continue to Bahirawakanda Temple, which was built on one of the mountains located in the area. Here you can see an imposing Buddha statue from close up, which you have probably seen in the distance from the city. After soaking up the atmosphere, we visit the city’s colorful and diverse market.

The Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth is your evening destination in Kandy. Watching the residents pray at this sacred site which houses a relic of Buddha’s tooth, gives a good sense of the deep spirituality of the people of Kandy. Not everything in Kandy is as quiet and contemplative as this place, however. Watching a dance show with the elaborately costumed performers and the energetic roar of the drums, the contrast could not be greater. You will be carried away by the feeling of joie de vivre.

A train journey into the past will be part of today’s adventure. The train ride from Peradeniya to Nanu Oya past gently rolling tea fields and up the serpentine mountain roads will take you not only to the town of Nuwara Eliya, but also back into history when Sri Lanka was still called Ceylon. Do not forget to send your loved ones a postcard from the historic post office when you arrive at your destination where the charming landscapes are replaced by the no less tranquil views of colonial-style buildings. Nuwara Eliya was, after all, once a favorite vacation spot with the British. Also worth a visit is tranquil Lake Gregory, still a marsh in the first half of the 19th century that the British transformed into a lake which could be used for recreation and water sports.

Your experience begins at 7:30 in the morning, so remember to pack something in case you do not have time for breakfast at the hotel. Your chauffeur will pick you up at your hotel in Kandy to transport you to the train station in Kandy or Peradeniya around 8am, depending on ticket availability.

You will be assisted onto the train, which departs between 8:30 and 8:45. Beautiful landscapes pass by the window as the train takes you through some of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful highland areas, past picturesque villages backed by misty mountains, past tea plantations spread out before you like emerald green carpets. The view of Hill Country landscapes through the delicate veils of mist and drizzle is pure magc. Deep dark forests, magnificent waterfalls and awe-inspiring mountains string together to form a dream landscape.

After a travel time of about 3 to 3.5 hours, your train will reach the vintage Nanu Oya Station, already serving Nuwara Eliya for over a century, at around 12:15 noon, where your guide will meet you. Stretch your legs for a moment after this unforgettable train ride and then embark on a thrilling half-hour ride up a winding road. Once at the top, and before you have lunch at a place of your choice at about 1:00 noon, old-fashioned charming mansions, beautiful magnificent estates and pretty little cottages invite you to take a stroll.

In the afternoon, depending on the time, your guide will show you the most important sights, such as the old post office where time seems to stand still. From here you can purchase one of the beautiful postcards to send to your loved ones or to take home as a souvenir. Then Lake Gregory beckons and the Blue Field Tea Factory, where you can watch how Ceylon tea, famous and enjoyed all over the world, is processed.

Ceylon tea is known all over the world, even by people who are not familiar with the island of Sri Lanka, and is famous for its high quality. Not everyone knows how the island became such an important exporter of Ceylon tea, though. It began in 1824, when the British brought a tea plant from China to what was then Ceylon, and planted it in the Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya. Then in 1852, the Brit James Taylor came to Ceylon, settled on the Loolecondera Estate in Kandy and introduced commercial tea cultivation on plantations.

In the late afternoon around 5pm, you will leave the tea plantation and can spend the rest of the evening in a relaxed fashion, letting the impressions of the day sink in.

Today we return to the multi-ethnic city of Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. On a guided walking tour, you will see some of the iconic sights of this vibrant port city. Your tour will take you to the bustling Petta Bazaar, Independence Square, the Parliament buildings and the National Museum, passing by a worthwhile mix of colonial and modern buildings. An opportunity for shopping is also provided at the end of the tour. The Barefoot Fair Trade Store invites you to pick up a few last-minute souvenirs and at the same time contribute to the island’s small cotton industry, while treating yourself and your loved ones to a souvenir or two.

Optional: Spend two more days relaxing on the blissful beaches of Ahangama or Galle on the island’s south coast. Ponder all your wonderful experiences, let your thoughts go and end you vacation on a high note.

Today our journey comes to an end and it is time to leave Sri Lanka behind. Depending on your time of departure, you may still have a few hours to enjoy breakfast or explore the streets of Colombo.

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Our itineraries are always an example and can be changed individually. For example, it can be shortened or extended with additional destinations or monuments, the hotels can be a mix of 4 and 5 star etc. (info@vacationindia.com or +1-1800-109-1468). Let us know your personal wishes so that we can adapt the trip to your wishes. Within 24 hours at the most you will receive your personal travel proposal without obligation. Together with the travel request we will send you the hotel list so that you can get a picture of the hotels selected on the internet. We always choose hotels that have a charming character, are centrally located and 100% safe for tourists!
info@vacationindia.com

Tour Price Includes:

  • 13 days’ round trip in Sri Lanka
  • 12 nights’ accommodation in the hotels mentioned above with daily breakfast and dinner
  • Train ride to Nuwara Eliya
  • Watch the Kandy dances
  • Visit to a market with the opportunity to buy spices, teas etc.
  • Half-day safari by jeep in Wilpattu National Park
  • Safari in Minneriya National Park
  • Area tour with an exclusive all-terrain vehicle with air conditioning
  • Half board (12 dinners) in the hotels you stay in
  • National Park entrance fees
  • Monument entrance fees
  • English speaking driver cum guide
  • Mineral water (1 litre) per person per day during roundtrip
  • Representative for assistance on all arrival and departure transfers
  • All taxes, driver allowances, parking, fuel charges, interstate taxes, tolls etc
  • All Government taxes.

Services not included

  • International Flight
  • Lunch
  • Sri lanka Visa
  • Expense of personal nature like tipping, laundry, telephone/fax calls, alcoholic beverages, camera/video camera fee at monuments, medical expenses, etc.
  • Optional Tour: Whale watching, Pigeon Island excursion, Excursion to Hiriwadunna Village, Lunch at Matale

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To receive the list of Hotels selected for this tour, please email us at info@vacationindia.com

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