Sri Lanka Heritage
Type: Heritage Tour
Duration: 15 Days
Best Time to Travel: September – March
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Sri Lanka Heritage - Itinerary
Sri Lanka boasts some of the region’s best and beautiful hotels and resorts, many of which were originally colonial mansions or villas. Fortunately many have been restored and still retain their charm and elegance from a bygone age. At Pannala you can relax surrounded by 50 acres of swaying coconut palms at the delightful Horathapola Estate.
At Kandy we stay at the secluded Stone House, a former 1940s colonial mansion before driving up to Hatton, situated in the hills and the tea plantations of central Sri Lanka. Here we are guests at the bespoke Mandira Bungalow with its breath taking panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. On the southern coast at Galle we reside at the iconic Galle Fort Hotel.
Colombo - Pannala
Arrive at Colombo Airport where you will be met and welcomed by your Sri Lankan guide. Transfer by road to Pannala (approx. journey time 1 ½ hours) and your hotel Horathapola Estate for checking-in. The remainder of the day is free at leisure.
Horathapola Estate is a delightful colonial mansion surrounded by 50 acres of working coconut estate and lies hidden in the vast green coconut belt that stretches from Negombo to Puttalam and inland up to Kurunegala. Owners Javana and Pia Fernando have recently converted their family estate's grand mansion into a tranquil guesthouse that offers the ideal spot for spending the first or last few nights in Sri Lanka. The 1920's colonial mansion is surrounded by a large lawn with tall flowering trees and is part of a functioning estate. Take a walk under the shady trees, dip in the 50-foot rimless pool or Jacuzzi, relax in the extensive library or laze in the garden.
Today can be spent doing as little or as much as you wish. Optional extras include a bullock ride through the coconut plantation. Here the workers, who all come from the neighboring village, can often be seen tending to the palms. You can visit the nearby coconut processing factory which bottles coconut oil for export all around the world.
You can also have a cooking demonstration from the estate’s chef. Almost everything cooked here is organically grown on the estate – from fruits and vegetables to herbs and spices.
Pannala - Anuradhapura
After breakfast we drive to Anuradhapura (approx. 3 ½ hours) stopping en route in Dambulla to see the impressive Cave Temple. The man-made caves date back to the 1st century BC. Sited on a gigantic granite outcrop, which towers more than 160m above the surrounding land, the caves are completely covered by ancient frescoes depicting religious and secular scenes. Protected within the caves are hundreds of statues of Buddha, many carved out of the rock itself, of which the largest is the 15m long reclining Buddha.
Arrive in Anuradhapura and check in to your hotel – the Ulagalla Resort. Remainder of the day is free at leisure.
This morning you visit the imposing Rock Fortress at Sigiriya and make the ascent. The legendary sky citadel of Sigiriya (the Lion Rock), famous for its frescoes of ‘Celestial Maidens’ is possibly the most impressive site in Sri Lanka. Built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century on top of a vast 200m granite rock it took seven years to build and was abandoned after ten years of occupation when the King, defeated by his brother, committed suicide. Although it is a steep climb, the views and frescoes are definitely worth the effort. (This is not obligatory – some are content to climb to the halfway point which has excellent views of the surrounding countryside).
In the evening we visit Minneriya National Park for an evening game drive. Minneriya National Park is an ideal eco-tourism location. The park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to Sri Lanka’s favourites’ such as sambar deer, leopards and elephants. However the central feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank (built in 3rd century AD by King Mahasena). Later return to the Ulagalla Resort.
After breakfast you will have a guided tour of the Polonnaruwa ruins. Polonnaruwa was the island's medieval capital between the 11th and 13th century. Built alongside a large ancient artificial lake there are well-preserved ruins of palaces, bathing pools, stupas and exquisite rock sculptures of Buddha at the Gal Vihara.
Return to hotel and remainder of the day is free at leisure.
Anuradhapura – Kandy
After breakfast depart for Kandy (approx. 3 hours).
Arrive in Kandy and transfer to the hotel, The Stone House.
Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Ever since it was founded in the 16th Century, it has housed one of the most sacred relics of Buddhism – a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre and which is now protected within the gold-roofed Temple of the Tooth. See the blessing ceremony with all the fanfare, drums, trumpets and brightly coloured Monks performing their rituals.
This morning you have a sightseeing of Kandy. Kandy is the old capital of Ceylon and the seat of the last Singhalese kingdom. It is a charming city and is set around an ancient artificial lake amongst rolling hills that are covered by forests and tea plantations. Wandering about in Kandy is a fun experience, with crossroads and interconnecting byroads – all forming an intertwined complex. Most pavements are dominated by vendors selling garments, lotteries, toys and various fancy. The main market area in the heart of the town is frequented often for its array of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat stalls, sweets and clothes.
Return to hotel and free time to relax in the tranquil surrounds of the Stone House.
Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradiniya. Initially a royal park, in 1821 under British rule it became a botanical garden. Here, exotic crops such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona (quinine) – all of which were to become important to the country’s economy were first tested. The Botanical gardens are fantastic with an excellent orchid house and a wide variety of plant species from all over the world.
Return to hotel and rest of the day at leisure.
Kandy – Hatton
Following breakfast you will transfer to Kandy Railway Station and board the train which will take you up in to hills to Hatton. The journey takes roughly 3 hours as the train traverses mountain ranges, passing through tea plantations, eucalyptus forests and villages on a truly breath taking ride through stunning scenery.
Upon arrival at Hatton Railway Station you will be guide by your guide and proceed to your hotel – Mandira Bungalow. This former planter’s bungalow has been carefully restored to reproduce the age of the British Raj. It is replete with modern facilities so that guests can experience luxury and comfort. Much love and care have been taken to preserve the old-world charm of this boutique bungalow.
Today is a leisurely today to relax amid the beautiful surroundings of the bungalow. Later in the day you will visit a local tea plantation to see how the tea is sorted and treated. There will also be the chance to sample and buy some of the excellent teas on offer.
Hatton – Galle
Depart Hatton and the hill country as you gradually descend in the lowlands and the coastal town of Galle (approx. 5 hours).
Arrive in Galle and your hotel Galle Fort Hotel. One of the grand mansions of the fort, this iconic building has been many things to many people; a former gem merchants mansion, RAF barracks, a post office, bakery, lapidary and even a pitch for the forts juvenile cricketers; the Galle Fort Hotel is quintessential Galle, a beautiful, eclectic, eccentric gem of a place in the town that exerts a magnet appeal for history and culture buffs the world over.
The coastal town of Galle, the capital of the Southern Province, is best known for its impressive fort: a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best preserved colonial sea fortress in Asia. The fort was built and modified over 4 centuries; started by the Portuguese in the late 16th century it was later taken over by the Dutch and eventually by the British. Protected within its walls, bastions and ramparts is a complete town with narrow streets, churches and cloistered inner courtyards of shuttered mansions, which clearly bear testament to their colonial past.
Enjoy a fascinating evening walking tour of Galle Fort. The tour is part driven and part walking and covers the important highlights within the fort. These include the thick walled ramparts that withstood the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Explore the chain of huge bastions that guard Galle Fort, the Dutch Reformed Church, the Dutch Government House and the Maritime Museum. Also see Meera Mosque, built in 1904 as well as the All Saints Church.
Early morning with packed breakfast for Dolphin and whale watching. The seas off the coast of Mirissa are some of the world’s best for blue and sperm whale watching, an entrancing experience not to be missed. With the continental shelf so close to the surface, these magnificent creatures are continuously in view as they travel their ancient migration routes. Your early-morning expedition will be accompanied by a naturalist guide who will ensure you get the best views—and the best opportunities to capture once-in-a-lifetime wildlife photographs. You will then return to you hotel for some well-earned rest and relaxation.
Rest of day at leisure
Today is a free day to relax and enjoy the hotel and Galle itself.
Galle – Colombo
Depart Galle and drive north to the capital Colombo (2 ½ hours). Upon arrival, check in to Uga Residence. Uga Residence was built in the nineteenth century by a wealthy barrister, Sheikh Salehboy Moosajee, the halls and ballrooms of this grand Victorian townhouse once welcomed British governors, Indian maharajas, European nobility and the cream of the colonial Ceylon society. With its spacious, leafy gardens and private courtyards, its gourmet restaurant, swimming pool, gym and bar the Uga Residence is a delight.
On your last evening in Sri Lanka you will have an evening sightseeing tour of the capital.
Due to its large harbour and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation gained independence in 1948.
Transfer to the airport (approx. 1 hour) for your onward flight.
- Room accommodation in twin share
- Private air-conditioned car
- Experienced English speaking Sri Lanka Chauffeur guide
- Drinking water in car / minivan (2 litres)
- Daily breakfast (Dinners at Horathapola Estate)
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival and departure transfers
What's Not Included?
- International Flights
- Drinks during meals
- Optional tours
- Any personal expenses such as laundry, hotel phone etc
- Tips and gratuities
- Pangalla – Horathapola Estate (Deluxe Room) (www.horathapola.com)
- Anuradhapura – Ulagalla Resort (Ulagalla Chalet) (www.ugaescapes.com/ulagalla)
- Kandy – Stone House (Sudu Room) (www.stonehousekandy.com)
- Hatton - Mandira Bungalow (Deluxe Room) (http://www.zinchotels.com/zinc-journey-mandira-bungalows/overview)
- Galle – Galle Fort Hotel (Garden Room) (www.galleforthotel.com)
- Colombo – Uga Residence (Suite Room) (www.ugaescapes.com/residence)