Classic Sri Lanka is the quintessential Sri Lankan journey. Begin your trip in Negombo, the coastal town twenty minutes from the international airport and then head to Dambulla, in the midst of the islands’ cultural triangle. Proceed to the hills thereafter, beginning with Kandy, the hill country capital of Sri Lanka. Your journey will take you deep in to the islands lush tea country next, with Nuwara Eliya being the next destination. Head to the south thereafter, stopping by at Yala, famous for its National Park. End your trip with a beach stay in Galle, the stunning south coast town home to the UNESCO world heritage site, Galle fort.
Classic Sri Lanka highlights the eclectic cocktail of wide ranging experiences Sri Lanka has to offer; from History, culture, nature to stunning beaches and inspiring food adventures, not forgetting what makes Sri Lanka the resplendent island what it is, the People.
You will be picked up at the arrival lounge, by your private chauffeur, who will accompany you throughout the Sri Lankan tour. Proceed to the coastal town of Negombo, twenty minutes from the international airport. Check in at the hotel and spend the evening at leisure.
After breakfast at hotel, enjoy a village cycle ride. Thereafter, proceed to Dambulla (Approx. 4.5 Hrs). En route, visit Anuradhapura ancient city. Thereafter, continue to Dambulla. Check in at the hotel & spend the evening at leisure. Enjoy a lake BBQ dinner later in the evening.
Anuradhapura Ancient City
Ancient cities don’t get much bigger than Anuradhapura, and few capitals around the world have ever been as long lasting. Dating back to the fourth century BC, Anuradhapura was the spiritual and secular capital of the island for well over a millennium. At its height, the city was dotted with monasteries and home to over 10,000 monks, many of these monasteries and colossal dagobas can still be seen today. The story of Anuradhapura can be mystic at times, and visitors to the sacred site have been said to feel stillness in time.
Anuradhapura consists of more than a dozen archaeological sites. Typically one moves around from site to site either by bike or inside the vehicle. The most important / significant sites are the 3 largest man mad stupas in Sri Lanka, which were – at the time of the pyramids of Egypt – the second largest man-made structures in the world. Then Sri Maha Bodhi, is a Sacred Fig said to be the southern branch from the tree under which lord Buda was enlightened. Altogether the visit to Anuradhapura takes approximately 2 to 3 hours.
Enjoy breakfast at the resort. Thereafter, Visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue to Hiriwaduuna, and Enjoy a tour of a rural village in Sigiriya with a farmers lunch. Enjoy the “Discover Ritigala Sanctuary” experience after the local lunch. Return to the resort and spend the evening at leisure.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, built on top of a huge boulder in the 5th century. A palace. A rock fortress. The hidden castle of King Kasyapa. A Buddhist monastery from the 14th century. Similar to the cosmic mountain of Meru? The eighth wonder of the world? No place in Sri Lanka has generated as many theories and legends as the 180m monolith, set amidst stunning scenery.
Sigiriya consists of 1200 steps. The first part of the visit is a leisurely walk through the pleasure gardens. Then one starts to climb. There are two areas where one can take a break on the way up. The entire duration of the experience takes approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on the speed at which you want to climb. Water is provided. If it looks like it might rain don’t forget to take an umbrella from the vehicle.
Rural Village Experience
Enlightening and exhilarating, this village safari gives you a glimpse of a uniquely interlinked Sri Lankan village life where the villagers go about their daily lives with the greatest respect to nature. Spend a morning in the remote village of Hiruwadunna – an area the locals call ‘God’s village’ and said to be a refuge of King Wasaba (66-110 AD). A wonderful and delicious farmers lunch is included.
Explore Ritigala’s jungle enshrouded paths on this guided walk and hear the secrets of the forest dwelling Buddhist monks who were once its inhabitants.
As you begin the gradual ascent through ancient jungle over tumbling, untouched steps, it is hard not to feel like you are discovering Ritigala for the first time. There are 700 acres of monastic areas in this region, however, the reserve here is home to flora and fauna found only in Ritigala in the dry zone. There are many tales of how this came to be, your guide will share some of these as you traverse seemingly endless paths and flights of carved stairs in dappled sun-lit jungle. This was once a place of meditation, congregation, teaching and general life for a monastic community who devoted their lives to living simply in the forest.
Enjoy breakfast at the resort and Proceed to Kandy (Approx. 2.5 Hrs). Explore Kandy City & Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Check-in at the resort afterwards. Discover the art and philosophy experience, later in the afternoon. Return to the resort afterwards, and spend the evening at leisure.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a UNESCO world heritage site partly due to the temple.
Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the Sacred Relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers, called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present.
The visit typically lasts 1 hour. First you walk towards the temple through the gardens. Your guide will buy you the entrance tickets. We recommend buying a lotus flower right at the entrance – 100 LKR per set. Buy it yourself for the experience, why not? Your guide will walk you through the various chambers explaining the history and significance of the temple.
Kandy was once the capital of the venerated 16th century 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. Many of the legends, traditions, and folklore are still lovingly kept alive by the region’s friendly people.
The city tour will include a visit to the local markets, lake area, and Kandy town.
Your guide will park the car and walk through Kandy’s streets with you. He will show you the vegetable, meat and fish markets and walk along the main streets of Kandy ending / or starting at the Queens Hotel. This visit is very much tailored to your interests and to the time you have. Nothing is set in stone. The walk could be a 30 minute walk or a 1.30 minute walk. Kandy is safe, but still keep your valuables, as streets are sometimes congested with pedestrians. If you are walking with small children hold their hand. Appreciate the hustle and bustle, and the madness of it all around you. Your guide will attempt to make sense of it all for you.
Art and Philosophy Experience
Whilst you are in Kandy, the artistic heart of Sri Lanka, visit two of the island’s best and most captivating artists in the region’s countryside.
Well-known for dancing and artwork including religious frescos, Kandy has fascinated and produced a marvellous group of artisans. For hundreds of years, some of the best national art originates from the emerald Kandyan hills. You will be welcomed with a glass of juice and serene views from your hosts’ veranda before exploring the house and gaining privileged access to this father and daughter’s celebrated artwork. This is a private experience at your hosts’ own home and their inspiring studio, settled in the leafy hills of central Sri Lanka. Spend the evening drinking tea on the veranda, chatting about philosophy, music and of course art.
Enjoy breakfast at the resort and Proceed to Nuwara Eliya by train (Carriage class based on availability). Check in at the resort and spend the day at leisure
Nuwara Eliya by train
One fabulous way of exploring the tea country is to jump aboard the train. The dramatic landscape of the highlands stirs the senses as you wind past lush tea plantations, majestic peaks and rushing waterfalls.
The Sri Lanka Railways – the government railway network was first started in 1864 during the colonial period. The main reason for building a railway system in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was to transport tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo. Today, Sri Lanka Railways runs on Victorian-era infrastructure and aging equipment. Slowly this is changing and the railway systems are modernising. With modernisation greater efficiencies will be achieved, however part of the old world charm that surrounds train travel in Sri Lanka will be lost forever.
The train departs from Nanuoya. Your guide will take you to the station usually 45 to 30 minutes in advance. He will have your tickets and will hand them over to you. You may leave your luggage in the vehicle. The vehicle will drive to the station where you will be picked up – on the other side. Take only essentials. Your guide will accompany you into the station and show you where the platform is and reconfirm the arrival time with the station master. Feel free to walk around the train station. Some are wonderfully nostalgic. Don’t be afraid to ask the Station Master questions about their systems and the technology they use. Ask the station master to explain the ‘tablet’ system – it’s fascinating. The question is “what is the tablet system”, “how does it work”. Your guide will give you water to take with you. When the train arrives he will show you to your seats. If you are travelling with a National Guide he will go with you on the train. If you are travelling with a Chauffeur Guide he will drive the vehicle to the train station down the line where you will be picked up. Your chauffeur guide may be pressed to ‘rush off’ so that he can make it to the other station on time.
Enjoy the breakfast at resort, and Visit a tea factory. Return to the resort and spend the evening at leisure. Enjoy a high tea later in the afternoon.
Tea Factory Plantation
Nuwara Eliya – which means the City of Light enjoy spring like weather throughout the year. Surrounded by hills and tea plantations, Nuwara Eliya is a quaint town with English country style houses, half-timbered bungalows and large rose gardens keeps the atmosphere of a misplaced British village.
Blessed a with wholesome climate, breathtaking views of valleys, meadows, mountains and greenery; it’s hard to imagine that Nuwara Eliya is only 180 km from the hot and humid capital Colombo. For a picturesque stroll, stop by the well-maintained Victoria Park or head for Gregory’s Lake, which is located just south of the town. In April and May the town is crowded with Sri Lankan’s for the horse races.
Enjoy breakfast at the resort and Proceed to Yala (Approx. 6 Hrs). Check in at the resort and go on an afternoon jeep safari at the Yala national park.
Jeep Safari – Yala National Park
Yala National Park is the second largest, yet most famous national park in Sri Lanka. Yala is famous for its high concentration of leopards in the world. In its essence, the park consists of shrub jungle with rock outcrops along with several fresh water and salt water lagoons. Some of the most prominent sightings in Yala are of leopards, elephants, sloth bears, sambar, spotted deer, jackals, wild boar and buffaloes, langur and macaque monkeys. Yala is also famous for its bird life. There are around 130 species of birds that have been spotted at the premises including black necked stork, sandpipers, pelicans, egrets, hoopoes, parakeets and bulbuls. One could spot peacocks as soon as they enter the park unlike the evasive jungle fowl, the national bird of Sri Lanka.
Enjoy the breakfast at the resort. Thereafter, proceed to enjoy a fresh water fishing excursion followed by a lake picnic lunch. Return to the resort and spend the day at leisure.
Fresh Water Fishing Excursion
If you wish for a more relaxing activity, a catamaran ride alongside a local fisherman in the Weerawila Lake is a must. Meandering along the calm waters of this lake, with just the swish of the oars and the melodic sounds of the birds breaking the silence is a spectacular excursion. Dawn is the perfect time to go across the Weerawila Lake with the sun sparkling on the water and if you are lucky you might grab the ‘catch of the day’. Lake side picnic lunch is included.
Enjoy the breakfast at the resort. Thereafter, proceed to Galle (approx. 3hrs) and check in at the resort. Enjoy the taste of the east cooking experience with lunch. Thereafter, experience a Galle fort walk with a local. Return to the resort and spend the day at leisure.
Taste of the East Cooking Experience
Cook Biryani in a hands-on class with descendants of Muslim settlers. Pick, marinade and season ingredients from your host’s garden for your delicious dishes. Lunch is included for you taste your new found cooking skills.
Galle was once a trading hub for Arab merchants and with them came many dishes, perhaps most quintessential is Biryani. Often served at Muslim family celebrations and festivities, Biryani comprises side dishes such as raita, cashew curry, Malay pickle, curried peas and meats and other spiced vegetables that accompany flavoured rice. This lesson in your host’s own kitchen is authentic and fun as you join her daughters to craft a meal which you will all sit down and eat together as a family.
Experience Galle Fort
Travel the fort with your well-informed host from its striking bastions and grass-covered ramparts to small cobbled streets lined with intriguing buildings.
Begin your walk from the newer and now main entrance which, after climbing some stone steps, you will be stood upon. Survey the inside of this remarkable fortification, the Indian Ocean beyond and iconic cricket ground as your host regales you with historic tales of its creation and threats. Meander your way past some of the fort’s best known landmarks but look out also for some lesser known gems. With 150 acres to explore, this tour follows a route that whets the appetite, with a comprehensive and captivating selection of facts and stories drawing from religion, history, architecture, daily life and the devastation of the 2004 Tsunami.
Enjoy breakfast at the resort. Proceed to the airport for departure (Approx 3 hrs)