Grand Tour of Sri Lanka
11 days with Cosmos Rating:
Day 1 COLOMBO.
Welcome to Sri Lanka’s capital city. Historically, Colombo was a trading port and a city of strategic importance to the Portuguese, Dutch, and British before Ceylon gained independence in 1948. Many colonial buildings can still be seen around the city alongside more traditional Sri Lankan architecture. This afternoon, embark on a sightseeing tour of this bustling city. Along the way, you will see the Galle Face Green promenade, Dutch Hospital precinct, Fort Railway Station, a Hindu Kovil, Beira Lake, and Independence Square. (D)
Please arrive at the hotel by Noon to join the afternoon sightseeing.
Day 2 COLOMBO–ANURADHAPURA–SIGIRIYA.
Journey through lush Sri Lankan countryside to Anuradhapura, the country’s ancient capital. The city is considered sacred to the Buddhist world and is surrounded by monasteries. Your city tour takes in the well-preserved ruins of this area and the SRI MAHA BODHI, or Bo Tree, the oldest recorded tree in the world. This remarkable tree was a sapling taken from the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi tree in India, under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. (B,D)
Day 3 SIGIRIYA.
This morning, visit the famous SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS, a giant magma plug which has served both as a long-standing Buddhist monastery and a fortress. Surrounded by a network of gardens and moats, it is a geological and anthropological landmark. The ancient ruins of the upper palace built by King Kasyapa can also be found on the summit, which, at 656 feet above sea level, affords magnificent views across the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside. On the way to the top, you will see the famous Cloud Maidens frescoes painted on the rock wall. Later, visit a nearby park for an afternoon SAFARI DRIVE, where you might spot elephants and sambar deer. (B,D)
Please note that you must climb steep steps to reach the top of Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
Day 4 SIGIRIYA–POLONNARUWA–DAMBULLA–KANDY.
Begin today with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed ruins of POLONNARUWA. After lunch, visit the fascinating DAMBULLA ROCK CAVE TEMPLE, containing well-preserved frescoes and statues of Buddha. Visit a SPICE GARDEN en route to Kandy, the cultural center of Sri Lanka. (B,D)
Day 5 KANDY.
A jumble of culture, history, and colonial buildings, Kandy is nestled among forested hills and is one of Sri Lanka’s most interesting cities. Visit the TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH and enjoy a comprehensive tour of this green city, taking in the colorful KANDY MARKET, the Upper Lake Drive, and the GEM MUSEUM. Also, visit the ARTS & CRAFTS CENTER and the PERADENIYA BOTANIC GARDENS, which are renowned for their collection of orchids, spices, and medicinal plants. This evening, be entertained at a CULTURAL SHOW with Kandyan dancers and drummers. (B,D)
Day 6 KANDY–NUWARA ELIYA.
Board a TRAIN for a scenic journey through the forests and tea plantations to the misty hills of Nuwara Eliya, also known as “Little England.” Set high above sea level and surrounded by rolling hills, its cool temperatures, humidity, and rainfall provide the perfect climate for tea production. This evening, take a sightseeing tour around the town. (B,D)
Day 7 NUWARA ELIYA–ELLA– TISSAMAHARAMA.
This morning, visit a TEA FACTORY and be enlightened on the tea manufacturing process. Continue to Ella and view the famous Demodara nine arch railway bridge located between Demodara and Ella railway stations. Later, a short 20-minute climb will take you to the top of Adams Peak for breathtaking views of a valley filled with tea plantations. Visit the famous RAVANA FALLS before continuing to Tissamaharama. (B,D)
Day 8 TISSAMAHARAMA. EXCURSION TO YALA NATIONAL PARK.
Today, enjoy MORNING & AFTERNOON GAME DRIVES in YALA NATIONAL PARK. Home to one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, sights of these beautiful creatures are not uncommon. Yala is also a bird-watcher’s paradise, with around 230 species recorded in the park. Also, you may spot elephants, sloth bears, water buffalo, macaques, and mugger crocodiles. (B,D)
Yala National Park is closed to visitors during September-October. At such times, the safari drive will take place in the Udawalawe or Bundala National Park.
Day 9 TISSAMAHARAMA–GALLE.
Travel to Galle, where the natural harbor offers gorgeous views of the ocean. Enjoy an afternoon city tour including GALLE FORT, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B,D)
Day 10 GALLE–COLOMBO.
Transfer to Colombo for an overnight stay. (B,D)
Day 11 COLOMBO.
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
All This Included
One of the world’s top five biodiversity hotspots, Sri Lanka offers not only opportunities for seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, but also stunning landscapes, beautiful coastlines, the world’s finest teas, and lots of historic sites with a culture dating back over 2,500 years. In fact, this “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” has been named one of Asia’s leading destinations and on this Sri Lanka tour, you’ll experience all of this and more.
Learn about Buddhism, the predominate religion in Sri Lanka, on your visits to Anuradhapura, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities; the pilgrimage site of Mihintale, Sri Lanka’s cradle of Buddhism; the Temple of the Tooth, where Buddha’s left canine is believed to be enshrined; and Bo Tree, the world’s oldest recorded tree (it was a sapling taken from the tree under which Buddha became enlightened). Marvel at Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a mountain monastery and fortress dating to the 5th century BC on top of a huge lava plug for an extinct volcano. At Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, enjoy the five preserved caverns with frescoes and Buddha statues.
Keep your eyes open for native animals on your jeep safaris in Yala National Park, a bird-watcher’s paradise with over 200 bird species as well as elephants, sloth bears, water buffalo, leopards, and more. Also visit Minneriya, Kaudulla, or Hurulu Eco Park, where you might spot elephants and sambar deer.
Other highlights include sightseeing in Kandy, one of Sri Lanka’s most scenic cities, set in the forested hills; a picturesque train journey; a visit to a tea plantation; a visit to the ruins at Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka’s second-most ancient kingdom and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and much more. For value-minded, savvy travelers, this Sri Lanka tour is sure to awaken and delight all of your senses!
COLOMBO: Ozo Colombo (MF)
SIGIRIYA: Hotel Sigiriya (T)
KANDY: Mahaweli Reach Hotel (F)
NUWARA ELIYA: Araliya Green Hills (MF)
TISSAMAHARAMA: Hotel Chandrika (MF)
GALLE: Amari Galle (F)
Pre and Post Add-ons
Extra nights per person in Colombo:
in single room $158; in twin room $90
Terms and Conditions
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.