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Fly to Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. You’ll be met at the airport and given a mobile phone so you can contact your driver at any time. From the airport, you’ll be chauffeured to Negombo and your luxurious hotel perched on the town’s golden sands.
Stay: One night in a deluxe room at Jetwing Beach – bed & breakfast
This morning you’ll visit Negombo Fish Market before making the four-and-a-half-hour journey to Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle. The following morning you’ll visit the 200-metre high rock fortress of Sigiriya, one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll climb to the flat summit to reach the ancient citadel of King Kashapa – an astounding 70-hectare fortified town complete with moat, rampart, gardens and frescoes.
The next day brings you to Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the complex of ancient monuments, stupas, palaces and temples. You’ll visit no less than two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – one of them the oldest historically documented tree in the world, the 2,200-year-old sacred Bo Tree. Believed to be an offshoot of the tree beneath which Buddha attained enlightenment.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe room at Jetwing Lake – bed & breakfast
On day six you’ll be driven to Kandy, pausing along the way at the magnificent Dambulla cave temples with their intricate wall paintings and impressive Buddha statues – almost bursting out of their confined caverns. Upon arrival in Kandy you’ll be taken to your beautiful boutique hotel with its splendid city views.
The following day you’ll have time to walk around the city’s large, sacred lake and talk to the unfailingly charming locals. The culmination of your walk will be the mighty Temple of the Tooth. This gleaming white wedding cake of a building was created to house the Relic of the tooth of Buddha and is the scene of many colourful festivals throughout the year. Kandy also offers the beautiful Peradeniya Botanical Gardens – 147 acres of manicured lawns, exotic trees and flora, including fabulous orchids.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at Theva Residency – bed & breakfast
If you’re lucky enough to be in the observation car, your train journey from Kandy to Hatton, Nuwara Eliya will present you with stunning countryside, lush valleys and towering mountains grazed by white clouds. You’ll be met at the station and driven to your hotel – a charming 19th-century villa surrounded by rolling tea fields on the Strathdon Estate. During your stay you’ll have time to visit a working tea factory and explore the quaint, English-flavoured town of Nuwara Eliya on foot or by bike.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at Strathdon by Jetwing – half board
The next stop on your Sri Lankan adventure is Udawalawe National Park, home to wild elephants who gather in herds of up to 100. The park itself is enclosed by verdant hills and dominated by teak forests, scrub jungle, grassland and the Udawalawe reservoir. You’ll be staying just 9km from the park at Eliyanth Udawalawe, your base for an afternoon safari in search of elephants, sambar deer, wild boar, leopard, buffalo and various birds. You’ll also visit the Elephant Transit Home that works to rehabilitate orphaned elephant calves.
Stay: One night in a river view room at Eliyanth Udawalawe – bed & breakfast
This morning you’ll have time for a final morning safari through Udawalawe before making your way towards Balapitiya. En route, your driver will take you to the historic fort town of Galle. The Dutch originally built the fort – much of it from huge blocks of coral – to protect one of their prime trading ports. Its history is tangible as you walk around the tiny streets radiating out from an iconic white lighthouse, and today it is reckoned to be the largest inhabited fort in the world. Certainly one of the most charming; with local ladies selling their hand-made lace, snake and monkey charmers, a grand mosque and original Dutch churches.
After lunch, transfer further north-west along the coast to Balapitiya and your luxurious hotel situated near the town on a secluded stretch of a wide sandy bay. Spend three nights in total tranquillity.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe room at Shinagawa Beach – bed & breakfast
From Balapitiya you will be driven back to Colombo to connect with your flight home.
Catherine was so friendly, helpful & efficient that right from the start we felt our holiday was being well organised.- A.S. and T. Everson, Netherlands