As soon as you arrive, your senses are overwhelmed by Sri Lanka! The warm tropical air, the colourful wildflowers and the jungle, the striking colours of the saris adorning every woman, the variety of exotic fruits and spices, the beauty of the countryside, the mystique of countless temples and orange-clad Buddhist monks and wild elephants – this is a varied place indeed! Marco Polo, arguably the greatest explorer of all time, described it simply as the finest island in the world!
During its two thousand year history, Sri Lanka has attracted countless invaders and visitors from nearby India, the Arabs, the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British. The 145 years of British rule left an indelible mark on Sri Lanka’s culture and institutions – from a deep love of cricket to the red pillar-boxes still found on street corners. Today, this fabled island of spices and gems is a vibrant blend of entrancing Buddhist culture, ancient cities, wildlife-rich lowland jungles, home to leopards, elephants and monkeys, a mist-shrouded hill country and tropical palm-fringed beaches.
Our tour takes you to all the major sites of historical and cultural interest, visiting three outstanding UNESCO World Heritage sites and finishing with three days’ relaxation in one of the country’s finest beach resorts. Two nights are spent in Sri Lanka’s fascinating ‘Cultural Triangle’, where we visit one of the best-preserved ancient sites on the Indian subcontinent. Sigiriya Rock, an impregnable 5th Century palace and fortress clinging to the top of an immense granite monolith soaring up 600 feet is Sri Lanka’s most remarkable sight, with amazing views of the jungle-covered plain below. Around the base of the rock we see beautifully laid out fountains, gardens and bathing pools, incredibly still working, linked by an ingenious web of underground, gravity-fed water channels.
The cave temples of Dambulla, another World Heritage site, highlight Sri Lanka’s extraordinary artistic heritage. Their entire walls and ceilings are completely covered by sumptuously painted, perfectly preserved frescoes and shrines, whilst hundreds of gold-coloured statues of all shapes and sizes positively glow in the darkness - truly amazing! Kandy, formerly isolated by dense jungle, was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is today custodian of Sinhalese culture. Here we visit the Royal Botanical Gardens which also contain, in a typical colonial house, the wartime HQ of Lord Louis Mountbatten and Far Eastern Command, as well as one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines, the Temple of the Tooth.
Sri Lanka’s hill-country is remarkably beautiful. The dense jungle of the lowlands gives way to more open countryside, with charming small villages, extensive lakes and pine-covered hillsides, with a slightly cooler and less humid climate. It was here during the 19th century that the vast tea estates were created by the British. We visit one of the finest such establishments before staying in the hill-station of Nuwara Eliya, with its colonial-era racecourse, bowling green, half-timbered houses and churches.
We also stay for two nights next to the county’s second-largest national park. The 380-square mile Yala National Park is famed for its high concentration of leopards. Its open undulating terrain with grassland and shrub jungle, as well as fresh and saltwater lagoons, make it ideal for spotting a wide variety of game including wild boar, sambar deer, sloth bears, plus over 200 bird species. We enjoy an exciting safari in the park. After our tour, we drive to the west coast spending three nights by the stunning beaches of the Indian Ocean.
One of the most enjoyable things about a visit to this beautiful island is its delicious cuisine! Indeed, Sri Lanka was one of the original ‘Spice Islands’ with cinnamon, cochinilla, nutmeg and all manner of other exotic flavours combined with fresh vegetables including peppers, aubergines and okra blending wonderfully with fresh seafood and meat giving a truly unique and delicious cuisine. A further attraction of this remarkable country is the Sri Lankans themselves, one of the most friendly and hospitable people you’re likely to meet and immensely proud of their beautiful homeland. The fertile plains, the colourful towns and villages, the lush forests of the interior with the vast plantations of tea, rubber and coconuts will entrance you while its history and traditions will capture your imagination.
- NEW! Return flights from Manchester available on selected dates
- Explore four UNESCO world heritage sites of the Golden Temple Dambulla, sacred city of Kandy, Sigiriya and the old town Galle Fort
- Experience superb scenery, shimmering paddy fields, rubber and spice plantations, verdant tea estates, swaying coconut groves, and exotic wildlife
- Guided tour of the 5th-century Royal Palace and Citadel at Sigiriya Rock plus a guided climb of the rock
- Visit Kandy and see the Temple of the Tooth, said to house Buddha’s tooth, plus visit the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens
- Guided tour of the local tea-growing areas in Nuwara Eliya with a Ceylon tea tasting
- Visit feeding time at the Elephant Transit Home, where elephant orphans are looked after, before being re-introduced to the wild as endorsed by the Born Free Foundation
- Enjoy a 4x4 drive in Yala National Park, famed for its wildlife
- Relax with two days on one of Sri Lanka’s idyllic tropical beaches
- Services of our experienced tour manager
- Return travel from the UK with transfers to and from the hotel included
- Hand-picked four-star accommodation, including all local taxes, with daily breakfast and dinner for all 2019 departures
- 2020 departures 8 nights with daily breakfast and dinner and 3 nights with breakfast at the five-star Anantara Kalutara Resort
- Departures available exclusively for solo travellers
- Departures up to November 2019 & January to October 2020
- The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a room. Single rooms available at the relevant supplement. Price includes scheduled flights to Colombo, eleven nights’ accommodation at four-star hotels (2019 departures), (four-star hotels and one five star hotel all 2020 departures) all transfers, daily breakfast and dinner (2019 departures), (daily breakfast and eight dinners for 2020 departures) all local accommodation taxes and all flight taxes, all touring as mentioned, hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.
- Visa not included
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