Wonders of Sri Lanka, A Forward Journey
History, Culture, Nature and Wildlife - the Pearl of Asia
Wonders of Sri Lanka, A Forward Journey
CULTURAL TRIANGLE - TEA COUNTRY - YALA NATIONAL PARK - GALLE - COLOMBO
14 Days 25 March - 7 April 2018

Sri Lanka has it all – a balmy tropical climate, dramatic sandy beaches backed by lush deep green forests that sway to the sound of bird song, high-altitude hill-top hideaways, a diverse array of wildlife, and traditional working tea plantations. With cities and towns bursting with colour, noise, and life, Sri Lanka’s proud heritage is well-preserved and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Pretty villages and small towns sit sprawling along the coast or hidden deep into the countryside, its varied landscape dotted with important holy sites, temples, and ancient ruins waiting to be explored.
On this tour, David takes you from fast-paced Colombo to chilled-out Kandy, heading south to Yala before following the coast to Galle, on a journey that embraces local cultures, delves into rich natural landscapes, celebrates the diverse wildlife living in Sri Lanka’s national parks, and explores the rich history of notable religious sites across the island.
Join him on this unforgettable escorted tour of one of the world’s most fascinating islands.

Tour Highlights
  • Led by David Smyth,Forward Travel Director
  • Relaxed pace with several multi night stays
  • Excellent local driver-guide throughout
  • Travel in comfortable Air-Conditioned vehicle
  • 4 Days exploring the Cultural Triangle,
  • Guided sightseeing at Dambulla, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa
  • Climb Sigiryra
  • 2 nights in Kandy with a visit to Temple of Sacred Tooth, one of Buddhism’s most important shrines.
  • Train ride through the Tea Country
  • 2 days wildlife watching in Yala National Park, with Asia’s largest numbers of leopards.
  • 3 nights in historic Galle to really explore and experience the coastal city.

Tour Information
  • Where
    :

    Sri Lanka, Indian Sub Continent

  • When
    :

    March

  • What
    :

    Nature and Wildlife, History and Culture, Rail

MEET YOUR TOUR LEADER

David Smyth, Forward Travel Director
I have been an avid traveller since I was 12 years old, and have never looked back. Born in Ireland, I travelled extensively around Europe, Asia, South America and the polar regions. I have a passion for life and adventure. I love experiencing the journey as well as each destination to its fullest and hope to lead you in the same direction. I hope you will join me.

David

Itinerary

We’ll be welcomed at Colombo airport by our guide, and set off for the beautiful beach resort of Negombo. After checking in at the Goldi Sands Hotel the rest of the day is ours to explore this lively and popular area. With its long swathe of golden sand and lagoon dotted with colourful fishing boats, Negombo is an enchanting and vibrant town – known as the ‘Little Rome’ of
Sri Lanka due to its many churches and large catholic community. Choose to simply relax on the beach or take to the town to visit the 17th century Old Dutch Fortress, the Dutch canal, or the ‘Lellama’– the famous Negombo fish market.

After breakfast we set off into the heart of Sri Lanka’s Central Province. Our destination is Dambulla, World Heritage Site and an area famed for its spectacular rock cave temple. We will spend the afternoon visiting this impressive collection of caves, thought to be the largest in the world with more than 22,000 sqft of painted surfaces, among a myriad of sculptures and statues depicting Buddha. Steeped in history, we will learn about the vast timeline of the caves from King Valagambahu in c. 100 – 77 BC through to the late Kandy period of the 18th Century. After our visit set off on the short drive to our hotel and base for the next three nights, Sigiriya Hotel.

After an early breakfast and a scenic drive north through some of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful countryside and we arrive at Anuradhapura, the ancient city widely known for its wealth of archaeological ruins. As we explore the temples, World Heritage and UNESCO dagobas, and ancient pools – some of which date back to the 5th Century – we learn about its creation and how it became a model for future civilized societies across the island. Highlights include Isurumuniya, Sri Lanka’s first temple, and Thuparamaya, Sri Lanka’s first Stupa enshrining the left collar bone of the Buddha. We then return to our hotel in Sigiriya for our evening meal and free time in the evening.

Today we explore Sri Lanka’s 11th Century AD Medieval Capital, Polonnaruwa. This once bustling centre of business and religion, dotted with ancient temples, tombs, statues, tranquil parks, gardens, and shrines is now a fascinating archaeological site that is so well preserved it takes little effort to imagine what life was like here 800 years ago. Highlights of the trip include the Grate Statue, AlahanaPirivena Complex, and the Thiwanka Image House, with many sites revealing the fascinating influence of Hinduism on the Buddhist society of the day. We end the day with our return journey to our hotel in Sigiriya.

For our final day in the Central Province we stay locally, climbing the awe-inspiring Rock Fortress of Sigiriya. This former 5th Century AD Royal Citadel stands tall among the rural central plains, its vast vertical red stone stretching 600 feet into the sky making it a truly dramatic and unforgettable vista. Our climb will see us pass through the iconic lion’s paws, ascend near- vertical staircases, passing frescoes, moats, and beautiful water gardens. As we reach the summit we explore the ruins of an ancient civilization and enjoy far-reaching views across the dense Sri Lankan forest. After our descent we continue on to Kandy, the ‘Hill Capital’ of Sri Lanka, checking in to the Thilanka Hotel for the night.

Today we set our sights on Kandy, a beautiful city with a peaceful lake in its centre, colourful houses built into the surrounding hills. We immerse ourselves in the city’s daily rhythm, taking in the Upper Lake Drive for an unbeatable view of the city sprawling out below us. We move on to the Royal Botanical Gardens – one of Asia’s finest gardens with more than 5000 species of flora – and visit the Gem Museum before some free time exploring the city. We end our day with an energy-packed cultural performance by traditional Kandyan dancers and drummers, including the must-see fire walking, then take a short walk to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – one of the most important Buddhist shrines in the world. We return to the Thilanka Hotel in Kandy for the night.

After breakfast we take the train from Kandy to Haputale, a true cultural experience with scenic views and a mode of transport that will give us a real taste of everyday Sri Lankan life. Arriving in Haputale in the afternoon we transfer to the Melheim Resort with the rest of the day as free time to either relax or venture out to see what this dramatically positioned town has to offer from the surrounding hills to a busy town centre, there’s a lot to explore.

This morning we rise early, enjoy breakfast and set off for Yala National Park, via the lush southern hill-country village of Ella. Our journey today takes us through rolling hills and small villages as we make our way through the backdrop of tea plantations, waterfalls, and temple. Arriving in Yala in the later afternoon we’ll spend our evening on a Jeep safari within the world-renowned Yala National Park – a park boasting the highest number of leopards in Sri Lanka. Binoculars at the ready, this will be a safari to remember! After our safari we go to the Chandrika Hotel in Tissamaharama, our accommodation for the night.

We’re up bright and early to continue our safari experience so it’s back into the Jeep to explore more of Yala’s 130,000 hectares, spotting animals including leopards, elephants, buffalo, and the sloth bear within their natural habitat. To end our day we return to the Chandrika Hotel in Tissamaharama for a relaxing evening.

Today we set off along Sri Lanka’s south coast, travelling along its ruggedly beautiful coastline and golden surf beaches until we reach Galle, arguably Sri Lanka’s unmissable town and still very much the ‘Southern Capital’ built in 1663 by the Dutch and now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Tonight we’ll stay at the Lady Hill Hotel and, after our day of travelling, it’s time for a relaxing stroll or some free time to enjoy the hotel facilities.

We spend today exploring this remarkable city: the Galle Dutch Fortress, its Dutch-colonial buildings, and many museums and grand mansions. Hours can be spent meandering through small lanes lined with local shops, pretty independent hotels, and cafes packed full with writers and artists from all over the world taking respite from their working day. Galle is certainly an unforgettable Sri Lankan sight, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. After a day of exploring we return to the hotel for the night.

It’s time for some real down-time, the days is ours to enjoy at our own pace. Enjoy the hotel, wander through the city taking in the sights and smells, visit museums, spend time by the ocean, or watch the world go by from a local coffee-stop the choice is yours.

We’re heading further West today as we set off for Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. This is one of the islands busiest – and buzzing – cities. This is where East meets West, a place where markets selling local food fill the air with wonderful aromas, and galleries and shops line streets bursting with locals and visitors. We arrive, check in to the Ozo Hotel and have time to begin exploring the city or enjoy a quieter evening at the hotel.

On our final day we enjoy our breakfast then immerse ourselves in the heart of Colombo with a tour of the city. We take in must-see sights including the Dutch Wolvendhal Church, a Buddhist Temple, the Town Hall, Cinnamon Gardens, and the recently developed New Parliament Area. We have time to sample local food and mingle with the locals before joining together for a delightful farewell meal at the renowned Gallery Café, housed in the former offices of world-renowned Sri Lankan architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa. The internationally acclaimed restaurant has become a must-visit for travelers to Colombo, and has a menu featuring local and international cuisine and the dessert menu includes over 30 irresistible choices with a focus on chocolate. Paradise Road Galleries also features monthly rotating exhibitions by established and emerging local artists.
Following dinner we will be transferred back to Colombo airport for our departing flights.

Pricing and Inclusions
PRICING

    $2,860 per person twin share Single Supplement $1,146

Included
    • Welcome dinner in Sigirya.
    • Dinner at the Iconic Gallery Cafe in Colombo
    • Breakfast daily
    • LIMITED TO JUST 15 PLACES
    • Plenty of free time to tailor as you wish.
    • Limited to just 15 travellers
Not Included
    • Beverages
    • Extra meals and activities
    • Tips (suggested tipping kitty of USD100pp)
    • Personal expenses
FLIGHTS

    Our experience tells us everyone wants something different with flights so we don’t include them so we can talk with you about the best options.
    Airfares from Syd/Mel start at $889pp with Thai Airways.

TRAVELLER’S TALES
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