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Essential Sri Lanka - Small Group Tour

HOME > Sri Lanka > Tours > Essential Sri Lanka Tour

Ideal for those new to Sri Lanka, this leisurely-paced tour takes you from the coast to the heart of the cultural triangle and south into central Sri Lanka. There’s plenty of time free to explore independently or join one of the hand-picked optional excursions, perfect for those looking for a busier itinerary.

Day 1: UK to Colombo

Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Sri Lanka.

Day 2: Colombo

On arrival in Colombo, transfer to your hotel, the iconic Mount Lavinia hotel where you will have free time to relax by the pool or in your room. One of our closest hotels to Colombo, this property is famed for its colonial charm and amazing location. Once the home of British Governors, it overlooks a stretch of private beach and oozes old world-style elegance with a high level of service as well as excellent food. This evening, there will be a welcome dinner at the hotel's main restaurant. Approx. journey time: 1¼ hours, 32 miles. Stay: Mount Lavinia (or similar)(dinner included).

Day 3: Colombo to Kandy

Your day starts with a drive inland towards Kandy. On arrival there will be time for you to find somewhere for lunch (payable locally) before a tour of the city and a visit to a local market. This evening, visit the most famous of Kandy’s attractions, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is said to house an ancient relic of Lord Buddha. Approx. journey time: 3¼ hours, 85 miles. Stay: Golden Crown Hotel (or similar)(breakfast and dinner included).

Day 4: Kandy

Today begins at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. These beautiful gardens are home to a vast selection of Sri Lanka’s native flora as well as many exotic species and a renowned orchid collection. Enjoy lunch at the Kandyan Arts Residency before visiting the Giragama Tea Plantation. This region of Sri Lanka is the heart of Sri Lanka’s renowned and historic tea producing industry and during your trip you’ll learn about the process the leaves go through between the plant and your cup. Stay: Golden Crown Hotel (or similar)(breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

Day 5: Kandy to Sigiriya

Sri Lanka is famed for its spice gardens, where many quality spices have been grown for centuries and exported far and wide throughout the world. Today, there’ll be the opportunity to visit one of these gardens and discover a little more about the varieties grown and the importance of the spice trade to the economy and culture of the island.

Later this afternoon you can join an optional excursion that takes you on a game drive into Minneriya National Park, one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. And if you happen to be travelling between the months of July and September, you’ll be able to witness one of the region’s most incredible wildlife experiences – ‘The Gathering’. During the dry season and periods of drought, the water dries up elsewhere leading elephants to migrate in vast numbers to the edge of the Minneriya reservoir where they can drink, feed, bathe and mate. Approx. journey time: 2½ hours, 60 miles. Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar)(breakfast, lunch and dinner included).

Day 6: Sigiriya

Following an early breakfast, head out to a local village and gain an insight into rural life on a nature ‘trek’ in the village of Hiriwadunna. You will be transported via a paddy farmer’s tractor and trailer through a shaded forest to the edge of a man-made reservoir that is covered with pretty lily pads. Cross the water on a traditional boat before continuing your village exploration on foot and discovering the everyday lives of Sri Lanka’s rural population.

Your afternoon is free to relax by the pool of your hotel. Alternatively, you can visit Sigiriya Rock, one of the island’s most iconic sites, on an optional excursion. In AD477 King Kashyapa built his palace and fortress upon the top of the 200-metre high rock and moved the capital of Sri Lanka here after deposing his father as King of Sri Lanka. He was later defeated by his brother and now all that remains are the ruins of his palace and city.  One of the most popular experiences in Sri Lanka is climbing to the top of the rock. We strongly recommend that you only embark on the ascent if you are fit, healthy and do not mind heights as there are approximately 1200 steps of varying steepness and difficulty levels. This is undoubtedly a tough physical challenge, however you will realise it is well worth the effort once you are admiring the views over the jungle and ruins of the ancient city below. As you make your way up the side of the rock, you’ll pass the famed Mirror Wall. Made of porcelain, it was said that it was polished to create a shine so the King could see his reflection in it. You’ll also come across countless frescoes before passing through the Lion Gate, so called because it’s flanked by two gigantic lion paws. From here its a short but steep climb to the top where you can see the remains of the palace and fortress. Back down at the base of the rock there are a collection of gardens, known as the water, boulder and terrace gardens. Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar)(breakfast and dinner included).

Day 7: Sigiriya to Negombo

Your day begins with a drive north towards Sigiriya, stopping en route at the Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most incredible sights on the island with over 150 statues of Buddha and intricately-painted murals that cover the cave’s walls and roof in five of the rock’s 80 or so caves. Travel west to the coastal town of Negombo where you will stay one night at the beachside resort, Jetwing Sea, stopping at a local restaurant for lunch on the way. If you choose to extend your holiday with a stay on the south west, south or east coasts, you will transfer to your chosen hotel today. Approx. journey time: 3¼ hours, 85 miles. Stay: Jetwing Sea (or similar)(breakfast and lunch included).

Day 8: Negombo to UK

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK.

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2020 package holidays escorted tours of Sri Lanka Holiday prices are per person based on two sharing.

Prices include flights, transfers and accommodation, and are subject to availability. Flights from Heathrow - other departures also available, call for details. Holiday code: K0919W.

Escorted tours of Sri Lanka - Essential Sri Lanka tour Escorted tours of Sri Lanka - Essential Sri Lanka tour