Cultural Triangle with Nuwara Eliya and Bentota Beach
Arrival at Colombo Airport, Transfer and check in at the Taj Samudra, the Hilton Colombo or the colonial Galle Face Hotel Later explore the city. Colombo has a rich legacy of Portuguese, Dutch and British influence which is evident in the architecture, churches and monuments. Visit the commercial area of the Fort and you will be pleasantly surprised to see a thriving art scene, enjoy some fantastic culinary delights and shop for high-end brands at bargain prices. Shopping is a must at the bazaars of ‘Pettah’. Visit the Cinnamon Gardens and the promenade on the sea-front, the Galle Face Green or visit the beach at Mt. Lavinia, very popular with the locals. Overnight Colombo.
After breakfast drive to Habarna 170 km. Habarana is the central point of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. Check in at your hotel Chaaya Village / Cinnamon Lodge / Amaya Lake or similar. There are a number of lakes and reservoirs connected by canals in this area which not only provide water for irrigation but make the area breathtakingly scenic. Relax in the beautiful surroundings. Overnight Habarana.
After breakfast drive 57 km to Anuradhapura the first capital of ancient Sri Lanka and a World Heritage site. The place is noted for its charming antiquity dating back to the 5th Century BC or earlier. The Sri Maha Bodhi tree, over 2,200 years old, brought as a sapling from the tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment is found here. Visit the various ‘dagobas’ or relic chambers. One of the chambers is said to house the Buddha’s collarbone. The ancient monuments are embellished with stone carvings and sculptures. There are pleasure gardens, stone baths and ponds. Visit the ruins of the Brazen Palace, the multistoried residence for monks, an engineering marvel. Visit the various rock temples including the Samadhi Buddha. Most of these temples date back to the 2nd and 3rd Century BC. Later in the evening you can take a jeep safari to the Minneriya National Park and watch herds of elephants, deer and even leopards if you are lucky! Return to your hotel in Habarana. Overnight Habarna.
After breakfast drive to Polonnaruwa 55 km, the second capital of ancient Sri Lanka and a World Heritage Site. The monuments of this city are well preserved and give a clear picture of its medieval glory. The place is famous for its man-made reservoirs or lakes, the chief among them is the Parakrama Samudra larger in size than the Colombo Harbour. Visit the Royal Palace Complex with four huge images of the Buddha cut from a single slab of granite. In the evening visit Sigiriya another World Heritage Site. Visit the magnificent Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an awe inspiring rock complex sitting atop a 200 m rock outcrop. Built in the 4th century by a tyrant King fleeing exile, this fortress, now rated as the eighth wonder of the world, is an enthralling architectural marvel. Overnight Habarana.
After breakfast drive to Kandy 100 km via the famous Dambulla Caves dating back to the 1st Century BC, again a World Heritage Site, the Dambulla caves are a complex of five caves which provided refuge to an ancient king. Upon regaining his throne he had splendid carved images built into the rocks. The kings that followed made further additions. Visit the spice gardens in Matale where a great variety of spices and herbs are grown. You can buy your stock of cardamoms, cinnamon and pepper. Arrive in Kandy via the upper lake drive. Kandy is an exotic hill city and a World Heritage Site, surrounded by hills with a lake at the centre. Check into your hotel Amaya Hills / Chaaya Citadel or similar. Overnight Kandy.
After breakfast visit the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple is the most religious place for the Buddhists as it house the famous Tooth Relic of the Buddha brought from the ancient province of Kalinga in India in the 4th Century AD. Later visit the Royal Botanical gardens with a vast collection of orchids or an optional visit to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage the biggest breeding grounds for elephants. Overnight Kandy.
After breakfast drive to Nuwara Eliya 78 km. Check into your hotel Tea Factory or similar. The world’s best tea comes from this area. The hill slopes are covered with tea plantations with gushing water-falls. The climate is cool with bracing mountain air. The place is ideal for walking. There is a golf course here and the area is known for its British style country homes giving it a decided British character. Visit a tea factory to see how the world’s best tea is made. Overnight Nuwara Eliya.
After breakfast visit the famous Horton Plains 32 km. Trek along a 14 km stretch if you wish and visit the breathtaking Bakers Fall and the proverbial ‘World’s End’ which offers one of the best panoramic views in Sri Lanka. Overnight Nuwara Eliya.
After breakfast drive to Bentota Beach 240 km. The drive along the waterfalls is one of the most scenic. Bentota is the most popular beach resort in Sri Lanka. Check into your hotel Bentota Beach Resort or similar. Relax. Overnight Bentota.
Another glorious day on the beach. The beach offers sports like surfing, snorkeling, jet skiing etc. You can visit the Turtle Hatchery. Bentota village is an interesting place, you can hire a tuk tuk and go around the village. Overnight Bentota.
Another relaxing day on the beach. Overnight Bentota.
Drive 64 km to Colombo. Depending on your flight timing you can either go straight to the airport and catch your international flight or spend one night in Colombo to catch your flight home the next day.
Sri Lanka is a paradise for tourists with eight World Heritage Sites. Five are already covered in the Cultural Triangle – Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Kandy and Dambulla. The other three are the old town of Galle, the Singharaja Forest Reserve and the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. The Galle town is 120 km from Colombo and 56 km from Bentota. This is the place where the Portuguese first landed and were later defeated by the Dutch. The ramparts, churches, monuments retain their Dutch influence. The Singharaja Forest Reserve is 170 km from Colombo. It is situated in the low land wet zone of the country with heavy rainfall. The biodiversity is amazing. Rare species of birds, mammals, insects, butterflies are found here. The Central Highlands 195 km from Colombo and 36 km from Nuwara Eliya includes the Knuckles Conservation Forest, Horton Plains National Park and the Peak Wilderness Protected Area. Vast variety of flora and fauna exist here. This a great area for trekking. View the famous World’s End point, the Baker Falls and Bridal Veil.
Sri Lanka is not just known for its cultural triangle and beaches but also for its National Parks. Two natural forests – The Singhraja Forest Reserve and the Horton Plains National Park are World Heritage Sites. These are among the least disturbed forests in the world. The Yala National Park is among the oldest and the best known in Sri Lanka. Your chances of seeing a leopard here is pretty good. Elephants, sloth bear, deers, sambhars and wild buffalos can be easily spotted. At lease 120 species of birds can be found here. The Minneriya National Park is another popular wild life reserve.