10 Nights / 11 Days
10 Nights / 11 Days
Your holiday begins as soon as you land at the Colombo International Airport! It is modern but friendly, and the airport officials here are warm and helpful. After the airport formalities are complete, our designated chauffeur will greet you with a trademark Sri Lankan smile and guide you to an air-conditioned vehicle for your passage to the hill capital of the island, Kandy. The ride usually takes between 3 to 3½ hours.
You’ve endured a drive of many miles today. Check into the hotel and unwind as the evening progresses. You’ve got an activity-packed day tomorrow!
The most important meal of the day, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. Check out thereafter and you’ll make your way to a few of the region’s most important temples including Lankathilaka Vihara, Gadaladenyia Vihara, and Embekka Devalaya.
Lankatilaka Vihara is a Buddhist temple built in the mid-14th Century. You’ll hear of how its South Indian architect combined unique Sinhalese and Dravidian architectural features in its construction. It is immediately understood how this temple came to be known as an architectural highlight of the Gampola era.
The Gadaladenyia Vihara sits only a couple of miles away. It is also called Saddharmatilaka Vihara and Dharma Kirthi Viharaya. It is an ancient Buddhist temple sitting on a rock outcrop, and it combines a series of Hindu and Buddhist architectural features.
Thereafter, you’ll head to Embekka Devalaya. Here, the worship of Kataragama Deviyo is practiced by local devotees. A lesser-know deity called Devatha Bandara is also worshipped at Embekka Devalaya. The ornate wood carvings here stand out. We think for a moment of how religious worship would have taken place here centuries ago.
These 3 temples present an alternate view of the island’s relatively unknown places of worship.
We’ll head back to the hotel, thereafter. You’ve got plenty of time to relax till later afternoon.
At around 3pm in the afternoon, you’ll proceed to the day’s next part. A one-of-a-kind experience of Kandy by tuk tuk!
We look at Kandy afresh. It’s old and new sit close to each other. This makes the tuk tuk ride all the more interesting. We’ll look at how this hill capital came to be favoured by pilgrims and conquerors alike.
Kandy is not like most other parts of this island. Its culture and customs grew in isolation, perhaps due to its hilly landscape. Hills, mountain ranges, rivers and lakes cover its terrain completely. You’ll quickly see how these were used as natural ramparts to ward off attacks. The Kandy Lake is iconic and here you’ll meet your host for this unique experience. The walk around the lake allows you to take in the entire city, and he’ll touch on all there’s to know in its vicinity. You’ll make your way towards the Garrison Cemetery, a reminder of the city’s colonial past. Your host will point out the names of locals who helped shape Kandy, and the role of the British in its early days. The tuk tuk ride begins shortly! Sit comfortably inside as you are taken atop the hills that criss-cross the city. A giant Buddha statue sits high above the center of the township. While seated here, you’ll have a chance to take in a series of stunning vistas. Breathtaking is a term that comes to mind. Helga’s Folly, an eccentrically flavoured hotel, is kept for the end of the tuk tuk safari through Kandy! Rejuvenate yourself here, after the high-intensity ride you just experienced. Here, you’ll get to learn about Helga herself. The Hollywood stars she has hosted over the years make for fascinating stories.
Head back to the hotel and indulge in a bit of rest and relaxation, after the long yet interesting day you’ve had absorbing parts of the island’s Central Province.
Indulge in a local or continental breakfast this morning. Once you check out of the hotel, we’ll make our way to Gal Oya located in the southeast part of the island. It will take us about 3½ to 4 hours to get there.
Once we check into the hotel, you can put your feet up a little and recover from the long drive. Later on in the afternoon, we’ll tread a forest path for an encounter with the Aboriginal folk of Sri Lanka.
Your hotel sits in close proximity to an extremely important and special community of local people. This is home to the Veddha – the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of Sri Lanka. This settlement represents one of the only surviving Veddha communities. The Village Chief will take you through the jungles where his ancestors lived for centuries. His narrative brings the forest alive. He carefully explains how his tribe uses medicinal plants and lives amid this thick vegetation. He points to their ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings. To see, close up, how these hunter-gatherers once lived in the jungles of Gal Oya is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Return to your lodge and spend time, unrushed, well into the evening. Only in Sri Lanka can you experience living so close to its native folk.
You’ve got plenty of time to sleep in and have breakfast slowly. Towards noon, we’ll make our way to Gal Oya National Park for a unique safari experience.
* A 12:30pm start is ideal as it lets you enjoy a late picnic lunch beside the Gal Oya River, next to a waterfall, or facing the park’s abundant scenery. And you’ll get to swim in the river before continuing with the jeep or walking safari, if you start early.
Gal Oya National Park is not one of the island’s best known national parks. It remains undiscovered for the most part. The jeep ride into the forgotten Nilgala section of the park is straight out of a movie. The host narrates how this area was once protected by ancient rulers for its plentiful medicinal plants and birdlife. The creatures here are relatively shy and sometimes hard to spot; however, the park is home to almost every creature found elsewhere on the island.
And you’ll almost always spot herds of elephants, four distinct species of deer, and a number of bird species as well. This safari is quite different to what you’ll find in the African continent or elsewhere on this island. Depending on your appetite for adventure, you can choose to hike to the Makara river mouth. You’ll be accompanied by one of our expert naturalists and the hike will allow you to take in the jungle, on foot, with the chance to experience wildlife close up.
Head back to the lodge and rest your weary feet all evening, after the adventure-filled day you’ve just had!
Have a solid local or continental breakfast this morning, as you’ll be on the road for a while! We’ll check out of the hotel a while later and make our way to Arugam Bay, on the southeast coast of the island. It’ll take us around 4 to 4½ hours to get there.
The change in landscape is drastic as we approach Arugam Bay. Pristine beaches line the entire coast. We’ll head to the hotel, check in, and you’ll have the rest of the evening to put your feet up a little and rejuvenate.
After a spot of breakfast, we’ll make our way to Kumana National Park for a one-of-a-kind safari experience.
Kumana National Park is critical to the Sri Lanka’s birdlife. It is home to large populations of waterfowl and wading birds. Many species of birds nest and breed in Kumana. As you drive into its grounds, their colours stick out far and wide: on treetops, in swamps, gliding high above, on the surface of lagoons, and everywhere conceivable. A large network of lagoons and tanks support the, nearly, 255 species of birds that thrive here. You’ll also find elephants, wild boar, crocodiles and large turtles across this vast expanse. It holds many mysteries. Kumana is a safari experience with a difference.
After a day out in the sun, you’ll get back to the hotel and have ample time to relax till late in the evening. The day’s experience will leave its mark on you slowly.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! So indulge a little, and we’ll make our way to coastal Batticaloa, thereafter, for a cooking class featuring local lagoon crabs. This experience will start at around 1100 hours. It’ll take us around 2½ to 3 hours to get to Batticaloa from Arugam Bay.
The flavours of the east coast are different. You’ll closely absorb them as you help prepare this authentic local meal.
The best way to pick up the ins and outs of any cuisine is by trying to cook it yourself. And so, this experience is hands-on. A seasoned local chef will carefully show you how to prepare the distinct elements of this meal. The experience is built around locally-sourced seafood and produce. Fresh lagoon crabs caught at the local lagoon and curry leaves plucked straight from the garden outside are some of the main features of this meal. A meal is more flavourful when you’ve put in a bit of effort. So sit down and savour a local feast unlike any you’ve had or helped prepare before. The fiery coconut sambol and the flavourful crab curry, laid atop a steaming plate of white rice, will allow you to dive deep into the flavours of the eastern part of the island. Top it off with a local desert specially prepared by your chef for the afternoon.
* This experience can be shaped as you like, around your palette and food preferences. It includes a range of exotic spices, liberally used in local cooking, which you can pick up, smell, and taste as you please.
Head back to your hotel in Arugam Bay with a full stomach! You can unwind all evening while reflecting on the distinct flavours of the island’s eastern coast.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before checking out of the hotel this morning! We’ll head to Wellawaya after that. Should take us around 2½ to 3 hours to get there.
As we approach Wellawaya, the terrain changes quickly. Situated in Uva Province, it is one of the island’s least inhabited areas. It is green in most directions and large parts are untouched. Let’s check in to the hotel and you’ll have a few hours to put your feet up. We’ll step out for a walk through this village, later on in the day.
This is life as it should be lived. At least this is what we think! This experience presents rural life in Sri Lanka in its pristine form. The village landscape is characterized by thick vegetation as far as the eye can see. Your host will take you on a leisurely stroll through Wellawaya’s paddy fields, the village tank, and even smaller plots where local vegetables are cultivated. Life here is simple, slow-paced and warm smiles are common. You begin to yearn for more of this experience. Right then, we head to an actual village home to savour a meal prepared the traditional way. Depending on how you feel, you can either have lunch at this village home, or tea along with local sweetmeats. The experience is somewhat overwhelming as we’re reminded of how simply and happily it is possible to live, even in this day and age.
We make our way back to the hotel. You’ve got a full evening to do as you please before you retire for the night. With nature within touching distance, it is easy to get a good night’s rest.
You’ll have a chance to savour a local breakfast this morning. Relax for a while, and we’ll unhurriedly take in an experience centered around local paddy farming and harvesting.
Agriculture has played a big role in the development of the island over millennia. Rice is the most important crop here and it is no wonder that it is a staple in the local diet. Cultivation of the rice paddy is a science in itself, and it is usually cultivated during the Maha and Yala seasons. They are synonymous with the two monsoon seasons impacting the island: the Maha season coincides with the northeast monsoon from from September to March, and the Yala season with the southwest monsoon between May and August. Your host for this experience will touch on a few key facts involving paddy cultivation. For centuries now, the cultivation of paddy and how well the community does, have been closely linked. Numerous customs and rituals developed around the many activities that go into paddy farming and harvesting. These are strictly followed by the farming community at Kaduruketha, to this day. You’ll get to see the paddy farming and harvesting festivals, up close, and even participate in them. It is unlike any experience you’ll have anywhere else on Earth!
* The Yala season farming festival takes place in April and its subsequent harvesting festival in July.
* The Maha season farming festival takes place in November and its subsequent harvesting festival in February.
We make our way back to the hotel, thereafter. The uniqueness of the day’s experience slowly seeps into your being. The serenity all around is addictive.
Indulge in a local or continental breakfast before you check out of your hotel. The descent towards the southern coast of Sri Lanka is slow! The drive to Galle will take around 4 to 4½ hours.
Once you check in to the hotel, you’ve got adequate time to unwind before you head to the Galle Fort at around 1600 hrs. The Battles & Bastions experience unravels the core of the iconic Galle Fort.
The Galle Fort stands tall. It is visible from almost everywhere in Galle. Inside its walls, the sights and sounds are captivating. Your host knows this place inside out. He’ll take you through its network of streets, unhurriedly.
How was this coastal city named? What are the changes the Fort underwent as it, and the island itself, changed hands from the Portuguese, the Dutch, and lastly, to the British? The host will narrate with ease, the answers to these questions and why this place reserves a special place in history. The streets, bylanes, and alleyways here are pure magic. The names of some of them reflect specific incidents and people from its colonial past. Structures, old and new, sit side-by-side. We’ll hear about how some of the structures within the Fort have evolved gradually with the passage of time, after numerous battles. This was once a critical port for trader from across the ocean. You begin to picture what they were like, how they were dressed...You’ll climb the bastions with your host and get a chance to take in the panoramic view of this unique coastal city. He’ll touch on the myths as well as the recorded history of Galle Fort, and personal accounts of the destruction left behind by the Tsunami in 2004. We make our way towards the iconic Galle Lighthouse as the sun sets slowly in the distance. There truly is no place like this, anywhere else.
We head back to the hotel, thereafter. The rest of the evening is yours to do as you please. The one-of-a-kind Galle Fort experience will leave you smiling gently as you retire for the night.
It is your last day on the island. You can choose whether to engage in a bit of rest and relaxation at the hotel or to check out of the hotel soon after breakfast, depending on your flight’s departure time. It takes around 2 to 2½ hours to get to the airport from here.
Your island holiday is drawing to a close but the memories from over a week’s worth of experiences will last a lifetime. Recollect them with your chauffeur as you drive to the airport and maybe write and let us know how you felt throughout.
We’ll miss showing you around our island but we really hope you come back soon. There’s plenty more to see within our shores!
Knowledge and expertise can make your holiday more canker free and fun filled.