An island of national parks venerated temples, tea plantations, and rose-gold beaches: Sri Lanka
packs in plenty of experiences. Our Travel consultants can help you plan a Sri Lanka holiday that
encompasses your interests and shows you lesser-visited corners of the island.

A Sri Lanka adventure if you’re short of time, this one-week itinerary offers you the highlights of
Sri Lanka in a convenient 7-day trip. Offering balmy, equatorial temperatures, diverse wildlife,
dramatic landscape from fragrant spice gardens to central highlands and vibrant culture and
history, this is a place that will leave you wanting to come back for more. You will visit an
elephant orphanage, see a traditional Puja ceremony and visit a tea factory to see how pure
Ceylon tea is produced on this mini-adventure.

As always, we are able to tinker with this itinerary if you wish and add an extra night here and
there. We can also discuss other hotel or villa options.

 

Itinerary highlights

  • Relax in the beautiful countryside.
  • Explore some of Sri Lanka’s cultural treasures.
  • Spot elephants on safari.
  • Enjoy the sunset and moonrise.
  • Drink tea surrounded by tea plantations.
1

Day 1 : Airport / Negombo Approx. Travel time 35 min without stops

Upon arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport you will be met by our Airport Representative who will hold a board with your name at the arrival lounge where our operator will meet you, address any last minute questions you have about the itinerary and introduce you to your chauffeur guide or guide who will be your travel companion and explorer around Sri Lanka. The drive to the Negombo takes about 30 minutes. You can check in, unpack your bags and relax. There is a great spa for those interested in relieving the tensions of the flight.

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Leaving the hotel, you travel northeast on back roads through small towns and large coconut and pineapple plantations. If you wish, you can stop to enjoy a thambili (king coconut), a popular roadside refreshment in Sri Lanka.

Lunch, on your own, is at Saraketta. After lunch, you continue on to the hotel to check in, wash up and explore.

About 4PM, when the air is cooler and pleasant, your guide will lead you through ancient pleasure gardens to visit the fortress of Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, built on top of a huge boulder in the 5th century. Hieroglyphs from Sigiriya suggest that the site was occupied from very early times, long before its fortress was built from 477- 485 AD. When the citadel ceased to be a palace, it was taken over by monks until 1155 and then abandoned. The palaces and famous frescos more than make up for the steep climb up 600 steps. Before starting the climb, you pass 

through 5th century water gardens with walks, pavilions, ponds and fountains that are gravity fed, as they were 1500 years ago. At the foot of the climb are the preaching rocks and the natural overhang is known as Cobra Hood. The rock has an inscription from the 2nd century BC and the ceiling is decorated with floral paintings. The first stop on the climb is the Fresco Gallery, painted under an overhanging rock. Of the original 300 or so paintings, artistically on a par with those in Ajanta in western India, only 21 remain. Immediately beyond is the mirror hall, a highly polished rock with verses written between the 7th and 11th century by visitors and pilgrims. Lion Terrace marks the half-way point of the climb and the final stairway takes you to the top of the rock and the ruins of the summer palace.

Check at the respective hotel for Overnight Stay. 

3

Day 3 : Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa / Minneriya / Sigiriya

Heading out around 8AM, you will explore more of the Cultural Triangle. Polonnaruwa was the island’s medieval capital between the 11th and 13th centuries. Today the ruins stand as testimony to a lavish phase of building alongside an artificial lake created by the early kings. Within the enclosed walls are palaces, stupas, image houses, monasteries and bathing pools. The kings of Anuradhapura used Polonnaruwa as their residence in 369 BC, and made it their capital city in the 8th century. In 1982 this was designated a world heritage site.

Special note is the moonstone over the entrance and the four Buddha statues. The Hatadage, or the house of eight relics, is supposed to have been built in “60 Singhalese hours” – a day in that era. With extraordinary moonstones at its entrance, the Hatdage is also referred to as the Temple of the Tooth. The Sri Lankans believe that Buddha’s tooth may have been housed here for a time. The main attraction of the Northern (Group, and one of the foremost attractions of Sri Lanka is the Gal Vihara or the Cave of the Spirits of Knowledge. It forms a part of Parakrambahu’s monastery, which has a gigantic Buddha seated on a pedestal under a canopy carved out of an 8 meter rock and a 14 meter statue of the recumbent Buddha. There are remarkable shrines here depicting scenes from the Jatakas, the accounts of the previous lives of the Buddha. In the afternoon, you will visit Minneriya National Park, just half an hour from Polonnaruwa. The park covers 8,890 hectares and consists of a mixed forest of evergreen shrubs, a favorite habitat for animals, which include leopards, deer and wild elephants. The parkms main feature is the former reservoir or tank built by King Mahasen in the third century AD. During the dry season from June to September, this is a fantastic place to watch herds of elephants come to graze and bathe. It has recently been discovered that the park witnesses the largest elephant gathering in the world during these months. You can also see huge flocks of birds, including cormorants and painted storks that come to fish in the shallow waters.

Return to the hotel for overnight stay.

4

Day 4: Sigiriya / Kandy

Today you travel to Kandy known for its mild climate, colonial architecture and amazing Perahera festival that is held here in July/August for 10 Nights. The festival involves a vibrant, colourful procession of sacred Buddhist relics through the streets of Kandy accompanied by dancers, musicians, artists and 100+ elephants. Kandy is also home to the Temple of the Tooth, the most sacred in Sri Lanka.

The trip to Kandy takes about 3 hours. En route, you first stop at the Dambulla rock temple, given World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1991. The caves served as the refuge for King Valagambahu when he was in exile for 14 years. When he regained his throne at Anuradhapura in the first century BC, he had a magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla. The paintings and sculptures in the cave are a mix of religious and secular themes. There are several reclining Buddha’s, including a sculpture of the dying Buddha. The frescoes, which decorated the ceilings and walls, date from the 15th to 18th century and show scenes from the life of Buddha as well as Sinhalese history. Cave 2 is the largest, with over 150 statues, illustrating the Mahayana influence on Buddhism through the introduction of Hindu deities such as Vishnu and Ganesh. From Dambulla, your path takes you to Ena de Silva’s private estate. In 1962 40-year-old Ena de Silva moved into the unique courtyard house that architect Geoffrey Bawa had built for her in Colombo, and started to experiment with batik making. Assisted by Laki Senanayake and her son, Anil, she established Ena de Silva Fabrics and went on to produce such masterpieces as the ceiling of Bawa’s Bentota Beach Hotel, and the banners that hang in front of Sri Lanka’s parliament. In 1982, she returned to her ancestral home in the hills above Matale, and founded a women’s cooperative to make batiks and needlework, along with a brass foundry and wood-carving workshop. The cooperative has now existed for more than a quarter century, and continues to make modern fabrics and carvings inspired by traditional Sri Lankan design. After lunch and time to wander the estate and see the crafts, you will continue your drive up to Kandy and check into the respective hotel. About 5PM, you will be taken to rajhu’s house to witness the sunset or moonrise with a cup of tea at Rajhu’s house. Rajhu is one of the few wonderful artists living in Kandy, and you can join him for herbal tea or juice. Here you will have the opportunity to paint alongside Rajhu and his daughter Rudrani. Raju’s studio is set on a beautiful hilltop overlooking the surrounding mountains.

On completion return to the hotel for Overnight Stay.

5

Day 5 : Kandy

Kandy was the capital of Sri Lanka and the home of the venerated Kandyan kings who fiercely and successfully defended their kingdom against Portuguese and Dutch invaders for 300 years. It eventually fell to the British in 1815, but the salubrious hill station has maintained its position as an epicenter of Sinhalese culture and the site of an important spiritual pilgrimage for Buddhists. The region’s friendly people still lovingly keep many of the legends, traditions, and folklore alive.

You leave the hotel at 9am and begin the day with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens; first conceived as a -ueen’s pleasure garden in the 14th century. Your guide for this tour will be Bandara Palipana, a professor of botany from Peradeniya University. The gardens were formally opened in their current guise in 1821. Walking around these tranquil, immaculately designed lawns, borders, pavilions and plant houses, you could easily think you are in England but the heat and extraordinary diversity of the tropical plants give the game away. The Botanical Gardens are as popular with Sri Lankans as travellers, are easy to visit on foot, and large enough to guarantee that there is shady seating available for each visitor. You might want to dine at the Empire Café for lunch. Your path next leads to the British Garrison Cemetery. Some might raise an eyebrow at the prospect of visiting a cemetery but this is no ordinary one, and well worth a visit. In the very heart of Kandy lies a 3⁄4 acre plot of land wherein rest many men, women and children, mainly colonial British, cut off from life, many in the flower of their youth, others 

blossoming into manhood, and with only a bare handful reaching the proverbial three score years and ten. The cemetery was opened in 1822 and closed by Governorms Proclamation in the mid-1870s, except for those with a relation already buried therein. After recent restoration, anyone interested is now more than welcome to visit this slightly bizarre but incredibly insightful reminder of the past. Here you will connect with Kandy in the 19th century. (A small donation for the caretaker is welcome). The adjacent building is the Kandy National Museum, established during Sri Wickrama Rajasingha era and then known as the Palle(Vahala. This pallevahala building was used to deposit the various items of historical value made by the Kandy Art Association, established in 1832, and technicians of Matale district. The building was opened for the public as a museum in 1942, and contains over 5000 objects depicting various historical and cultural events of the Kandyan period from the 17th to the 18th centuries AD. You also have time to enjoy the local market.

The afternoon finishes with a cup of tea at -ueens Hotel. Depending on timing, you can return to the hotel for a bit and then, in time for the evening puja, visit Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa, a magnificent shrine, with decorative walls, a golden roof and fine woodwork. Entering the shrine over a moonstone step, you pass a stone depicting the Indian goddess Lakshmi and a wall with frescoes depicting the Buddhist conception of hell. The upper stories house the relic of the tooth, caged behind gilded iron bars. Behind the tooth relic sanctuary is a hall with a number of golden Buddha statues and modern paintings, showing Buddha’s life and the arrival of Buddhism on the island. Religious services (pooja) are held daily at dawn, midday, and in the evening and can be viewed by visitors. The services are accompanied with traditional music and drumming.

On completion return to the hotel. 

6

Day 6 : Kandy / Hatton (Train Ride)

Leaving Kandy around 10am, you head to tea country, catching the train from Peradeniya to Nawalapitiya. The Express train leaves at around 12 Noon, and you want to arrive at Peradeniya Station a little earlier. Your guide will show you around the station and introduce you to the train engineers and the proud station manager. The train ride from Kandy to the heart of Sri Lanka’s Tea Country is one of the most scenic in Asia. As you meander out of Kandy, dense jungle opens into cloud forest with undulating vistas of immaculate tea bush carpets in between. Startling orange minivet birds perch on outrageously vivid spathodia blossoms, hairpin bends cling onto hillsides somewhere between soaring peaks and dramatic ravines, thundering waterfalls tumble and glassy lakes reflect the astonishing scenery.

You disembark, and your driver will collect you from the station and take you to the hotel.

Here you have two choices – the legendary Tea Trails Hotel or Mas Villa – also lovely.

The countryside of the tea country is a dream for walkers. Visitors can wander through farmland and also escape into the forests to in search for botanical species, small mammals and birds. Cycling is another way to explore the region more extensively.

7

Day 7: Hatton

The eponymous English cuppa might have been somewhat stronger if not for the 1865 coffee blight. Old Ceylon’s up-country coffee plantations were devastated – but not the spirits of the pioneering planters. They threw in a crop of tea and never looked back. Sri Lanka is still the world’s largest exporter of tea and major industry has never looked so good Directly and indirectly, over one million Sri Lankans are employed in the tea industry. A large proportion of the workforce consists of young women, and the minimum working age is twelve. As tea plantations grew in Sri Lanka and demanded extensive labor finding an abundant workforce was a problem for planters. Sinhalese people were reluctant to work in the plantations. Indian Tamils were brought to Sri Lanka at the beginning of the coffee plantations. Immigration of Indian Tamils steadily increased, and byx 1855, there were 55,000 new immigrants. By the end of the coffee era, there were some 100,000 in Sri Lanka. Today, as a community, they are still instrumental to the tea industry.

Today, depending on where you are staying, you have two options:

Option A: Tea Trails Experience – This morning, you can either walk down to the Tea Factory and meet Andrew – a true walking encyclopedia not only of Tea but of the area. For the rest of the morning, he will regale you with stories and you can learn about the processing procedure and how different types of teas are created. The afternoon will be free to bike or walk through the area and talk with people on your own. Along the way, you have beautiful views of Adams Peak in the distance.

Option B: Mas Villa Experience – After breakfast, you visit the Rothchild’s tea plantation, one of the oldest in Sri Lanka, where you gain interesting insights into the growth and manufacture of tea – Sri Lankams most famous crop. After visiting the plantation, you stop at a factory, to see how the teas are made and processed.

You then head to the town of Nuwara Eliya, where you can have some lunch and then explore the town. You will return to Mas Villa in time for High Tea.

8

Day 8:Hatton / Colombo

After a hearty breakfast, you have two options. 1. You can either drive all the way back to Colombo (about 5-6 hours) 2. Drive back to Kandy and then take a scenic Sea Plane ride back to Colombo

Late this afternoon, you have an exclusive city walk with resident Mark Forbes. Mark takes you right into the birthplace of what is modern day Colombo and its throbbing city pulse.

Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri JayawardenapuraKotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life and colonial buildings and ruins and a population of 647,100. Due to its large harbour and its gifts, via the unmissably original Barefoot, to the black runs of the Pettah, Colombo’s teeming, tantalizing pavement bazaar – spices, sharbat, cell-phones, a big smack of South Asia, just under the shadow of its second-tallest building.


And if all this character and color is too much, you never have to look far for a shady mango tree to recover under. Tonight, you can dine at The Ministry of Crab. Dharshan Minidasa, in partnership with two of Sri Lanka’s best known faces – cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene – claims to be the best place in the world to sample the renowned Sri Lankan crab. Occupying prime space in the landmark Dutch Hospital complex, the restaurant specializes in serving enourmouns crustaceans that would otherwise be whisked away to more prosperouus consumers in Singapore and Malaysia.

9

Day 9: Colombo / Airport

You can make a fairly leisurely start for the drive to Katunayaka airport, a 1 hrs journey from Colombo. Here you will be met by the airport representative and directed to the correct check in areas, ready for your flight.

Accommodation options in Negombo
Wattura Resort & Spa (Luxury Boutique) http://watturaresortandspa.com/
Jetwing Beach (Luxury) https://www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwingbeach/#gref
Heritance Negombo (Luxury) https://www.heritancehotels.com/negombo/
Arie Lagoon (Mid-Range)  http://www.arielagoon.com/ 
Goldi Sands (Mid-range) http://www.goldisands.com/
Accommodation options in Sigiriya
Water Garden Sigiriya (Luxury Boutique) https://www.watergardensigiriya.com/
Heritance Kandalama (Luxury) https://www.heritancehotels.com/kandalama/
Signature by Amaya (Luxury) https://www.amayaresorts.com/amayasignature/
Sigiriyana by Thilanka (Mid-range) https://sigirianaresort.com/
Elephas Resort Sigiriya (Mid-range) http://www.elephassigiriya.com/
Accommodation options in Kandy
Stone House (Boutique) http://www.stonehousekandy.com/
Kandy House (Boutique) https://www.thekandyhouse.com/
Santani Wellness Resort (Boutique) https://www.santani.lk/
Amaya Hills (Luxury hotel) https://www.amayaresorts.com/amayahills/
Grand Kandyan (Luxury Hotel) https://www.grandkandyan.com/
Cinnamon Citadel (Luxury Hotel)  https://www.cinnamonhotels.com/cinnamoncitadelkandy
Thilanka Hotel (Mid-range) https://thilankahotel.com/
Suisse Hotel (Mid-range) http://www.hotelsuisse.lk/
Queens Hotel (budget)  http://queenshotel.lk/

Accommodation options in Colombo

Uga Residence Colombo (Boutique)  https://www.ugaescapes.com/residence/  
Maniumpathy (Boutique) http://www.maniumpathy.com/
Tintagel (Boutique) http://www.paradiseroadhotels.com/tintagel/
Cinnamon Grand (Luxury hotel) https://www.cinnamonhotels.com/cinnamongrandcolombo
Galle Face Hotel (Luxury/Colonial) https://gallefacehotel.com/
Mt. Lavinia Hotel (Luxury Colonial) https://www.mountlaviniahotel.com/
Ramada Colombo (Mid-Range)  http://www.ramadacolombo.com/ 
OZO Colombo (Mid-range) https://www.ozohotels.com/colombo-srilanka/rooms
Fairway Hotel (Budget)  https://www.fairwaycolombo.com 

Price Includes

  • In-destination transfers with and English-Speaking chauffeur driver (vehicle available for all excursions on the tour)
  • All accommodation on Bed and Breakfast 
  • WIFI available in the vehicle throughout the tour
  • 01 litter of mineral water for each guest on all transfer days
  • Sigiriya Rock fortress, Dambulla cave temple, Polonnauwa ancient site, Kandy, and Peradeniya 
  • Entrance fees & jeep hire for National Park visit in the Cultural triangle (Minneriya / Kadulla or Eco park)
  • Ticket for the train ride from Peradeniya to Nawalapitiya.

Price Excludes 

  • Dinner and Lunch throughout the tour
  • Beverages, soft drinks during meals
  • Medical expenses
  • Tipping and porter charges
  • Expenses of personal nature
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa charges – current charges
  • Boat excursions on the east coast for Delphine / Whale watching  
  • Jeep safari to Yala, Bundala Weheragala /Lunugamvehera National Parks
  • Cycling in Galle with adventure guide
  • Zipline adventure in Ella
  • Tuk tuk ride in Haputale

Special notes

  • Meet & assistance at the Airport on arrival / departure by company representative
  • Standard check in time is 1300hrs and check out is 12noon at all hotels.
  • All prices are quoted in USD inclusive of all taxes. 
  • Meal times at hotels – Breakfast 07.00am to 10.00am / Lunch 12.45pm to 2.30pm at hotel / Dinner 7.30pm to 10pm
  • Rates are subject to change in the event of any charges to statutory government taxes.

Cancellation &  refund policy

  • 10% of the total value of the booking will be charge if canceled 31 days prior to arrival.
  • 50% of the total value of the booking will be charge if canceled 14 days prior to arrival.
  • 100% of the total value of the booking will be charge if canceled less than 14 days prior to arrival.
  • However certain Villa booking cancellations will change from the above.
Bluestartours and Travels
Bluestartours and Travels
Bluestartours and Travels
Bluestartours and Travels
Bluestartours and Travels

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