The spiritual temples, astonishing forts, hidden beaches and unfailingly welcoming locals make Sri Lanka an idyll crammed full of highlights.
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You’ll be met on arrival and transferred the four-and-a-half hours to your hotel in the Cultural Triangle, from where you’ll have easy access to some of Sri Lanka’s most amazing cultural sites.
Stay: Three nights in a Paddy Dwelling at Vil Uyana – including breakfast
This morning you’ll visit the 200-metre high rock fortress of Sigiriya, one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll climb to the flat summit (1,200 steps) to reach the ancient citadel of King Kashapa – an astounding 70-hectare fortified town complete with moat, rampart, gardens and frescoes.
The next day brings you to Polonnaruwa. The 2nd capital of Sri Lanka was built in the 11th and 12th centuries AD, it is now a World Heritage Site. There is a great local restaurant here where you can stop for lunch.
On day four you’ll be driven to Kandy, pausing along the way at the magnificent Dambulla cave temples with their intricate wall paintings and impressive Buddha statues – almost bursting out of their confined caverns. Upon arrival in Kandy you’ll be taken to your hillside boutique hotel with its splendid views.
The following day you’ll have time to walk around the city’s large, sacred lake and talk to the unfailingly charming locals. The highlight of your tour will be the mighty Temple of the Tooth. This gleaming white wedding cake of a building was created to house the Relic of the tooth of Buddha and is the scene of many colourful festivals throughout the year. Kandy also offers the beautiful Peradeniya Botanical Gardens – 147 acres of manicured lawns, exotic trees and flora, including fabulous orchids.
Stay: Two nights in a Deluxe Room at the Kings Pavilion – including breakfast
From Kandy you’ll board a train to Ella in the highlands where you will be spending the next couple of days. Enjoy snacks from your picnic basket as you take in the wonderful views. Upon arrival, you will be transferred the remaining short distance to your hotel.
You will have plenty of time to explore the estate and its surrounds at your leisure. There are some wonderful walks in Ella and the tea estates that surround the bungalow can be explored on your own or with a butler guide. At the local Finlay’s Tea Factory, you can learn about the tea production process on an absorbing guided tea factory tour.
Little Adam’s peak is Ella’s best-known attraction. It is a short half hour climb to the top of the 1,141 metre peak, and provides breathtaking views of an endless valley, tea plantations and waterfalls. Ella Rock is another must climb for those into hiking, while the local Ravana Ella Falls is one of the widest falls in Sri Lanka.
Stay: Three nights in a Honeymoon Deluxe room at 98 Acres Resort – breakfast included
This morning you’ll make your way towards Balapitiya. En route, your driver will take you to the historic fort town of Galle. The Dutch originally built the fort – much of it from huge blocks of coral – to protect one of their prime trading ports. Its history is tangible as you walk around the tiny streets radiating out from an iconic white lighthouse, and today it is reckoned to be the largest inhabited fort in the world. Certainly one of the most charming; with locals selling their hand-made lace, snake and monkey charmers, a grand mosque and original Dutch churches.
After lunch, transfer further northwest along the coast to Balapitiya and your luxurious hotel just steps from the super soft sands of Balapitiya’s beach. Spend three nights in total tranquillity.
Stay: Three nights in an Ocean View Bedroom at Kumu Beach – including breakfast
You will be driven back to Colombo Airport for your flight home.