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!
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.
Sri Lanka Price Includes
- Enjoy peace of mind with Flexible Booking*
- Covid Cancellation protection included as standard
- Happy by day two or we’ll bring you home with a full refund
- Return flights & transfers
- 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 4×4 drive in Yala National Park, famed for its wildlife
- Relax with two days on one of Sri Lanka’s idyllic tropical beaches
- Hand-picked four-star accommodation including all local taxes
- Daily breakfast and eight dinners
- Services of an expert tour manager
Subject to availability. Single supplements apply. Click here for departures exclusively for solo travellers.
*Book a new holiday with Rivera Travel and you can enjoy the flexibility to change your booking before travel, with no fees and no questions asked. You can change your booking up to 45 days before departure for 2021 holidays. New bookings for 2022 can be changed for free up until 31 December 2021. Full terms and conditions can be viewed here.
Day 1 – Departure
You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Colombo.
Day 2 – Arrival in Colombo
After your lunchtime arrival we stay for one night at the four-star Arie Lagoon Hotel.
Day 3 – Dambulla
Today the adventure begins and the sights and the sounds of Sri Lanka gradually unfold. The countryside is stunning – scenic paddy fields studded by water buffalos accompanied by wiry, loin-clothed farmers, extensive coconut groves, pineapple fields, working elephants with attentive mahouts astride their necks and everywhere the dense jungle interspersed by huge lakes.
We visit the amazing, 1st century cave temples of Dambulla, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a wonderful introduction to the Buddhist religion. Set in an immense granite outcrop and reached by a number of steps, this serie of five caves are richly adorned with remarkably preserved frescoes and over 150 Buddhist statues. In the caves’ semi-darkness, surrounded by the serene faces of dozens of beautifully painted statues, it’s not difficult to imagine the incredible sense of awe this sacred site held for generations of worshippers.
We stay two nights at the four-star Habarana Village Hotel by Cinnamon.
Day 4 – Sigiriya Rock
This morning you visit what for many will surely be the most memorable and fascinating monument in Sri Lanka: Sigiriya, or the ‘Lion Rock’, is a massive 600ft granite tower with sheer cliffs on all sides crowned by the remains of a 1,500 year old royal palace. The entire site is encircled by a moat and ramparts enclosing a variety of water gardens, the remains of numerous buildings and caves. As you approach Sigiriya rock, you see some of the finest ancient murals in the country – the ‘cloud maidens’ are found under a fold of rock and show in exquisite detail a procession of jewelled, beautifully dressed women bearing offerings of lilies and lotus flowers.
Facing us is the imposing final entrance to the palace above: in ancient times the colossal head of a lion (hence ‘Lion Rock’) was built in brick and plaster, visitors entering through its mouth. Today, just the two front paws remain, their claws menacingly extended, still guarding the palace. It should be noted that there are numerous steps to the top of Sigiriya rock, but should pose no problem for those with normal mobility.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy our hotel’s pool and facilities.
Day 5 – Kandy
This morning we leave Sigiriya for Kandy. Sri Lanka is noted for its magnificent spices so en route we visit a fascinating garden where we see many indigenous plants such as pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon before arriving at Kandy, the country’s royal capital.
You stay two nights with dinner at the four-star Cinnamon Citadel Hotel, beautifully located overlooking the scenic Mahaweli River and surrounded by peaceful forested hillsides. The hotel as a pool overlooking the river, with a colonnaded lobby, a charming bar and restaurant.
Kandy is famous for its traditional dancing and so this evening we experience a colourful and hugely skilful display of this ancient art.
Day 6 – Kandy
Kandy’s crowded and bustling streets teem with daily comings and goings: the many white-uniformed children returning from school and the myriad of shops. The centre is dominated by a beautiful lake and the fascinating Temple of the Tooth, said to hold Buddha’s tooth. This is Buddhism’s most sacred shrine on the island and during our visit (today or tomorrow morning), you may be lucky enough to witness one of the many ceremonies. You also visit the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens. Planted over 150 years and covering a huge 150 acres, the gardens hold thousands of plant species and some superb examples of mature tropical trees. Strolling through lawns, shady avenues and immaculately kept flower beds, we see exotic birds and the commemorative trees planted by Edward VII, George VI, Princess Anne and the Queen.
Other highlights are the Avenue of Royal Palms and ‘Bat’ Drive where you can spot the large fruit-eating ‘Flying Foxes’ hanging upside down! The gardens also house Lord Mountbatten’s imposing HQ from World War II.
Day 7 – Train to Nuwara Eliya
Today you leave Kandy and the train from Peradeniya Station to Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya. We journey through increasingly mountainous scenery including some spectacular views of Sri Lanka’s premier tea growing areas. Lush tropical jungle gives way to tall pine forests and then box-like tea bushes, few at first and then seemingly covering every fold of the landscape like a huge green carpet right to the landscape horizon. Arriving early afternoon to Nuwara Eliya, the main hill station, is nearly 7,000 feet above sea level and called ‘little England’ due to its spring-like climate, parks and gold course. You stay one-night at the four-star Golden Ridge Hotel, located within a 5 acre ridge.
Day 8 – Tea and Elephant Transit Home
As the early morning mist arises, we visit one of the best-known tea estates to how our nation’s favourite drink is rolled, fried and graded, followed by a refreshing cup of Ceylon’s finest. We say goodbye to Sri Lanka’s hill country and journey south arriving to the Elephant Transit Home, supported by the UK’s Born Free Foundation, located at Udawalawe National Park, where you’ll be able to watch young elephant orphans being given one of their daily feeds.
You stay two nights at the three-star superior Chaayra Resort and Spa Hotel, located near the towns of Tissamaharama and Kataragama.
Day 9 – Yala National Park
An early start this morning, accompanied by the unique sound of a tropical ‘dawn chorus’. As the morning mist disappears with the rising sun you explore the jungle and its incredible range of wildlife in 4×4 vehicles. The normally elusive leopard offers the Park’s most exciting game viewing and Yala has a high concentration of these big cats. They are the island’s top predator so are far less shy than elsewhere in the world. Yala is also known for its elephants, saltwater crocodiles, wild boar, sloth bears, monitor lizards and a huge variety of birdlife. After a late breakfast you can relax by the hotel’s pool before an optional second, early evening park drive (book and pay local).
Day 10 – Kalutara
After breakfast you return to the west coast via a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle, with its imposing 16th century Dutch Fort. In late afternoon you arrive to the five-star Anantara Kalutara Resort, a contemporary style hotel featuring local traditions. Uniquely located on the south west Sri Lankan coast where the Kalu Ganga River estuary lagoon meets the Indian Ocean set on a narrow peninsular with 360 degree ocean and lagoon views.
Days 11-12 – Free Days
You have two entire days to do as you wish. Perhaps relax in your hotel, rejuvenate at the spa or simply enjoy the pool.
Day 13 – Fly Home
You transfer to the airport for the return flight, arriving home arriving home early evening the same day.
- London Heathrow
- 17th January 2022
- 31st January 2022
- 14th February 2022
- 28th February 2022
- 14th March 2022
- 28th March 2022
- 6th June 2022
- 19th September 2022
- 17th October 2022
- 14th November 2022