Sri Lanka
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Cutural Triangle & Hill Country 7 nights

Day 1

You will be met & assisted on arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport by our Aitken Spence Travels Representative, and will drive to Anuradhapura (approx. 6 hrs by road).

Check in at the naturalistic Palm Garden Village with the evening at leisure.

Overnight stay at Palm Garden Village.

Day 2

After breakfast, take a tour of Anuradhapura.

One of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals and, now, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Anurudhapura is one of the most awe-inspiring symbols of the country’s history. Littered with dagobas, Anuradhapura commands a rich Sri Lankan heritage, indeed, one of the greatest and oldest civilizations in the world (spanning over 1300 years in its peak). The jewel in the city’s crown is certainly the Sri Maha Bodhi - the sacred Bo sapling extracted from the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Stroll through the sacred trails of the venerated city to adore the legacy that culminates in Ruwanweliseya, the gigantic dagoba resting alongside the Basawakkulama resevoir.

Transfer to the verdant Heritance Kandalama for a three night stay.

Day 3

After breakfast, visit Pollonaruwa.

800 years ago, kings ruled central Sri Lanka from this ancient city. Markets bustled with trade and devout Buddhists came to worship at the various temples. Now, the scattered walls of this World Heritage Site present a fascinating and unmissible experience for those wishing to immerse themselves in historic, Sri Lankan culture. Peppered with stupas, resting Buddha statues, irrigation canals and fantastically carved Hindu sculptures, Pollonarawu provides something of an aesthetic buffet for the discerning traveller. Examine the Hindu influence on the city’s architecture or sit by the side of Galviharaya and observe the gushing beauty of the enormous Buddhist statues. Nissankamalla Council Chamber is also a head-spinning wonder that harks back to the powerfile kingdom of time-gone-by, which rests beside Parakrama Samudraya.

After lunch you will go on an exciting game drive of Minneriya National Park in a 4x4.

Minneriya National Park is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The area was designated as a national park in 1997, having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938. This protects the catchment of Minneriya tank, a reservoir built by King Mahasen in the third century AD, and the wildlife of the surrounding area. The park is a dry season feeding ground, and scene of ‘The Gathering’ for large numbers of the wild elephant population dwelling in the forests of Matale, Polonnaruwa, and Trincomalee districts.

Transfer back to Heritance Kandalama.

Day 4

After breakfast this morning you will climb Sigiriya Rock.

The 5th century rock citadel of King Kasyapa and World Heritage Site, Sigiriya, represents a chief example, not only of ancient Sri Lankan engineering and supreme urban planning, but also of Sri Lankan art and culture. Step through the gigantic 'Lion Paws' overlooking the symmetrical royal gardens below, to bask in the splendour that once dominated this rock fortress. Surrounded by ramparts and moats, the Lion Rock, resembling the mythological 'City of Gods', is coated by frescoes that exhibit Gupta style paintings alike those found in the Ajanta caves of India. Walk in the shade of an eminent 'mirror wall' embracing the Western face of Sigiriya adorned with ancient artworks. Wander into the museum downstairs for an epic journey of yesteryears and education on the castle, ponds and irrigation systems that characterise this masterpiece of urban engineering.

Transfer back to Heritance Kandalama to spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure.

Day 5

Proceed to Dambulla (approx. 45 minutes by road).

In the city of Dambulla lies a hub which has been treasured by many kings since the 1st century B.C. Today, an icon in the face of Sri Lanka, Dambulla Rock Temple houses some of the most unique drawings in 5 magnificently located caves flanking the golden temple of Dambulla. Observe exquisite cave paintings along walls that shelter 150 statues of the Buddha. As you enter the retreat, look straight up to the gigantic Buddha statue glittering in gold over a land, which today houses an important junction in the country's economic and cultural uplifting.

Transfer to Kandy (approx. 2.5hrs by road), perhaps stopping to pick up some spices en route in Matale.

Take an afternoon tour of Kandy with your guide

Last ruled by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, before it was brought under the British rule in 1815, Kandy is a World Heritage Site and last royal capital of Sri Lankan kings. The city crafts an array of culture, history and heritage in the minds of visitors across the globe.

A stroll across this small lakeside town, cradled among the misty hills, will feature the Kandy City Centre, bundled with latest and world class brands, bazaar, an arts & crafts centre, as well as a gem museum and lapidary, and taking in the Temple of the Tooth Relic.

In the evening, witness a colourful and energetic cultural show.

Check in at the gorgeously boutique Kandy House for one night

Day 6

After breakfast, proceed to the Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya to explore the lush and exuberant flora (approx. 45 minutes by road).

You will have the option of being shown around by author and expert botanist, Bandara Palipana, who we cannot recommend highly enough (advance booking required).

At one time, these idyllic gardens were only accessible for Kandyan royalty, now; they are open to the public and attract over 2 million visitors annually. Just 4 miles outside of Kandy, the Botanical Garden is a flourishing national asset in the Wonder of Asia. Meander into the sprawling, 147 acre oasis, passing well tended lawns, pavilions & an octagon conservatory to be greeted by a vast expanse of magnificently landscaped lush, green turf. Towards the north of the entrance you will find a cafeteria serving Sri Lankan specialties under a roofed veranda. Here, one can recharge before coming to some of the garden’s highlights: the orchid house & giant Javan fig tree.

Transfer to Peradeniya Train Station after lunch. You will then take a scenic train journey from Peradeniya to Hatton (Approx. 2.5 hrs by train).

The train journey between Colombo and tea country is undoubtedly the best in Sri Lanka. Winding through the lofty hilltops, you will be exposed to unparalleled views of some of Sri Lanka’s most impressive scenery. You will be travelling in the privately-owned, ExpoRail carriage; the highest class available on this journey. Guests in the ExpoRail carriage enjoy air conditioning, plug sockets and a typical Sri Lankan meal served at –seat. The highlight of this option, though, is the open-air viewing deck at one end of the carriage, which offers an ideal platform for taking photos and absorbing the incredible surroundings.

Your Chauffeur Guide will come and collect you from the Hatton Train Station and transfer you to your Tea Trails Bungalow.

Check in at Ceylon Tea Trails, the world’s first tea bungalow resort.

Evening at leisure, we recommend a bungalow-to-bungalow hike with your butler, where you can enjoy your dinner at a bungalow of your choice.

Day 7

After breakfast, you will learn about the story of the world famous Ceylon with the resident tea planter at Tea Trails.

Perched at an altitude of 1250 metres, Sri Lanka’s panoramic Central Highlands are glorious to behold. Misty shelves of lush tea bushes banking around serene valleys make this not only one of the most dramatic settings in Sri Lanka but indeed the world. Often described by the Sri Lankan tourist industry as ‘little England’, the tea plantations in the Central Highlands now represent a harmonious collision of East and West. Victorian buildings pepper the landscape, juxtaposing the daily hubbub of tea pickers and water buffalo commuting through winding lanes. A hike through the green grass and red-brick walls presents breathtaking views of a buzzing countryside hamlet. Feel free to rent a bike for a gentle ride along the banks splashed by the waters of Lake Gregory.

Afternoon at leisure at the Tea Trails resort.

Day 8

After breakfast, depart for Colombo by road (approx. 5 hrs by road).

If time permits, perhaps stop at one of the many road-side stalls to pick up souvenirs, spices or a fresh fruit snack.

Return to Bandaranaike International Airport for departure to your next destination.
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