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Suggested flights (not included in the cost of the tour) Sri Lankan Airlines flight departing London Heathrow at 20.30 hrs.
Arrive Colombo at 12.45 hrs. Transfer to Maniumpathy, a luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of Colombo, where two nights are spent. Facilities include a pool, casual dining, fine dining and a personalised butler service.
Light lunch by the pool at the hotel followed by an afternoon at leisure. Early evening visit to Gangaramaya Temple, an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture, and a sunset stroll on Galle Face Green, a kilometre-long stretch of lawn and promenade dating from 1864. Sundowners at the colonial Galle Face Hotel. Stop off at the illuminated Malakaya Meditation Centre on way back. Jaffna dinner at the hotel.
Morning city tour of the old town including a private tour of the house of the late Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa and a walking tour of the Fort area and the famous Pettah open air bazaar and market.
Lunch in Voc Café at the Dutch Burgher Union. In the afternoon visit the textile shop, ‘Barefoot’ which was started by the artist, writer and designer Barbara Sansoni 40 years ago. Also visit the famous Paradise Road and the Gallery Café, which used to be Geoffrey Bawa’s office. Dinner under own arrangements.
Take the Blue Train to Kandy and then drive to Madulkelle Tea & Eco Lodge where two nights are spent. Nestled on a picturesque tea plantation, on the Knuckles Mountain Range 1000 metres above sea level, the hotel has secluded lodges with comfortable amenities and magnificent views of mist covered mountains, lush green valleys and crystal-clear streams.
Lunch under own arrangements at the hotel. Afternoon at leisure. Late afternoon walk through the forest and terraced paddy fields to Mini World’s End Point and Hatale Waterfall. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning tour of the Madulkelle tea plantation and factory, following the journey of the tea leaves from their the plucking by the female estate workers through to their sorting and processing to make of the famous Ceylon tea. Lunch at the hotel. Afternoon at leisure to enjoy the hotel’s pool and spa or walking trails. Dinner at the hotel.
Drive to Gal Oya Lodge in Gal Oya National Park where two nights are spent. The small wildlife lodge is constructed from natural materials that have all been locally sourced and is set against a backdrop of low-lying mountains in 20 acres of private forest and close to the country’s largest lake.
Lunch at the hotel. Late afternoon walk with a chief from the neighbouring Vedda tribe, one of the last remaining communities of the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of central Sri Lanka. He will explain his tribe’s use of medicinal plants, the location of their ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings, as well as how hunter-gatherers sustained themselves in the ancient jungles of Gal Oya. This is followed by followed by sundowners and a swim at a waterfall. Dinner at the hotel.
Optional dawn walk with a resident naturalist, through the trees and around the lake enjoying the abundant birdlife such as kingfishers, eagles, kites and many aquatic birds. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Take a boat safari on the lake which is the best way to spot the wildlife. With a little luck you will see elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake’s edge.
Lunch included in the safari. Afternoon to relax by the hotel’s pool. Dinner at the hotel.
Drive to visit the magnificent Buduruwagala rock temple, a group of seven carvings on the site of an ancient Buddhist temple. The rock cut Buddhas are the largest standing Buddhas in Sri Lanka and date back to the 9th and 10th centuries. Continue to Living Heritage Koslanda where three nights are spent. This unique boutique hotel is set in the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country. surrounded by the magical forests on its own estate, with tea plantations beyond. Traditional architecture and design are fused modern facilities and the experienced chefs deliver mouth-watering Sri Lankan cuisine.
Lunch under own arrangements at the hotel. Take a guided nature walk through the protected forest trails of the hotel’s estate along the Nahavila Oya River. See flora and fauna such as pepper vines and wild coffee bushes, jack fruit and kumbuk trees, giant squirrel, toque macaques, butterflies and birds. Swim and have tea at a stunning private waterfall. Return to the hotel for a cooking class learning to make string hopper, one of Sri Lanka’s favourite roadside snacks. Dinner at the hotel.
This morning, take a scenic journey by train from Haputale to Demodara through fields of tea as far as the eye can see, passing the Nine Arch Bridge. Walking tour of the hill town of Demodara known for its spiral railway line, popularly known as the ‘Demodara Loop’. The railway line passes under itself, going around the loop and emerging from a tunnel, which runs directly beneath the Demodara railway station.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Drive back to Koslanda with stop at the Ella Gap with it stunning views. Remainder of the day at leisure to enjoy the hotel’s spectacular hilltop infinity pool. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning tuk tuk ride up to Lipton’s Seat for tea and wadai snacks. One of Sri Lanka’s most impressive viewpoints, the Scottish tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton used to survey his land from here.
Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon walk to see the local villages and Buddhist sites or a spice plantation. Dinner at the hotel.
Drive to Galle and check in at the Fort Bazaar in Galle Fort. Set amidst ageing coral walls on historic Church Street, this stunning hotel is fresh and contemporary and its chic, understated interiors feel distinctly Moroccan, as does its fabulous cuisine, both of which richly reflect the fort’s Moorish history. Facilities include a spa.
Lunch under own arrangements on arrival or en route. Walking tour with Chris and Carolyn of Galle Fort which covers some 90 acres and was originally built by the Portuguese, though later extended by the Dutch in 1663. Dinner at The Bungalow.
Optional dawn photo safari around the fort and fish market. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Visit the colourful vegetable market.
Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon at leisure. Biriyani dinner at Sha’s Kitchen in a local house with Mrs Shahira Mahuroof.
Optional dawn photo safari. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Late morning drive to Balapitiya. Stop en route to visit the fishing port and market at Ambalongoda, famous for its devil masks. Travel by tuk tuk to visit Galagoda Shailatharama Temple which houses the longest Reclining Buddha in South East Asia. Check in at Kumu Beach hotel in Balapitiya where two nights are spent. The contemporary boutique beach hotel has chic living and dining areas basking in the open air, a generous lawn with infinity swimming pool and a spa. Balapitiya’s powder-soft beach is footsteps away.
Lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning boat trip on the Maduganga Estuary, an area of wildlife filled wetlands, edged by mangrove forests, to a cinnamon plantation or to Kothduwa Island. Here visit the serene Koth Duwa Raja Maha Temple which is believed to have once sheltered the sacred relic of the tooth of Buddha. Lunch at the hotel. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner at the hotel.
Morning at leisure. Transfer to Colombo International Airport.
Lunch under own arrangements. Suggested flight (not included in the cost of the tour Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL 503 departing Colombo at 13.05 hrs arriving London Heathrow at 19.00 hrs.
How Sara managed to put this together in the short time is nothing short of miraculous. It was seamless!- DS, Peru - October 2019