HIDDEN SRI LANKA


15 Days / 14 Nights

ANURADHAPURA & MIHINTALE

Part of the Cultural Triangle, Anuradhapura was ancient Sri Lanka’s first capital and was founded during the fourth century BC by Sinhalese King Pandukabhaya. The city was established around the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree, which is said to be the oldest tree planted by hand in the world. Of huge spiritual meaning to Buddhists, the tree is believed to have grown out of the sapling of the original fig tree in India under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Mihintale, with its pristine white stupa among lush forest is set to the east of the ancient city and is considered to be the cradle of Sri Lankan Buddhism.


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POLONNARUWA

Second to Anuradhapura and on a smaller scale, Polonnaruwa was the capital of the Chola and Sinhalese kingdoms some 1,000 years ago. Today it is an impressive archaeological site on the Cultural Triangle, packed with ancient structures including tombs, temples and stupas.

References to Buddha are ever present here including the Polonnaruwa Vatadage, a circular structure containing a statue of Buddha in the centre, and Gal Vihara, carved out of a single rock and featuring a large 15ft statue of the posture known as ‘sitting Buddha’.


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MINNERIYA

Close to Polonnaruwa lies the Minneriya Sanctuary, scene of what is commonly known as ‘The Gathering’. Between the months of August and October, the area attracts the largest concentration of Asiatic elephants in the world as they come to drink the waters and graze on the rich green grass. The park is also home to other wildlife including sambar deer, buffaloes and crocodiles. Birdlife including herons, painted storks and cormorants also gather in large numbers. If visiting Polonnaruwa and Minneriya in the same day, stop at the family-run Priyamali Gedara for a traditional Sri Lankan farm lunch of rice and curry.


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SIGIRIYA

Sigiriya rock fortress is a 370-metre-high rocky outcrop in the heart of the Cultural Triangle. The renowned rock citadel was built during the fifth century under King Kassapa, abandoned for centuries and only rediscovered by a British archaeologist in the late 19th century. A climb to the top offers stunning views of the surrounding lush landscape and an insight into the people that once lived here while the beautiful water gardens and historic museum at the bottom are also worth visiting.


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DAMBULLA

Dambulla’s Buddhist temple complex is one of the best-preserved in Sri Lanka. The five caves are located at the top of a steep hill and contain an impressive collection of Buddhist murals and statues, including a 15-metre-long reclining statue of the god. The caves’ history is thought to date back as far as the first century BC when King Valagam Bahu took refuge here and had the interior of the caves carved into temples. This site is one of Sri Lanka’s highlights for tourists and Buddhist pilgrims alike.


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ANURADHAPURA & MIHINTALE

Part of the Cultural Triangle, Anuradhapura was ancient Sri Lanka’s first capital and was founded during the fourth century BC by Sinhalese King Pandukabhaya. The city was established around the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree, which is said to be the oldest tree planted by hand in the world. Of huge spiritual meaning to Buddhists, the tree is believed to have grown out of the sapling of the original fig tree in India under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Mihintale, with its pristine white stupa among lush forest is set to the east of the ancient city and is considered to be the cradle of Sri Lankan Buddhism.


POLONNARUWA

Second to Anuradhapura and on a smaller scale, Polonnaruwa was the capital of the Chola and Sinhalese kingdoms some 1,000 years ago. Today it is an impressive archaeological site on the Cultural Triangle, packed with ancient structures including tombs, temples and stupas.

References to Buddha are ever present here including the Polonnaruwa Vatadage, a circular structure containing a statue of Buddha in the centre, and Gal Vihara, carved out of a single rock and featuring a large 15ft statue of the posture known as ‘sitting Buddha’.


MINNERIYA

Close to Polonnaruwa lies the Minneriya Sanctuary, scene of what is commonly known as ‘The Gathering’. Between the months of August and October, the area attracts the largest concentration of Asiatic elephants in the world as they come to drink the waters and graze on the rich green grass. The park is also home to other wildlife including sambar deer, buffaloes and crocodiles. Birdlife including herons, painted storks and cormorants also gather in large numbers. If visiting Polonnaruwa and Minneriya in the same day, stop at the family-run Priyamali Gedara for a traditional Sri Lankan farm lunch of rice and curry.


SIGIRIYA

Sigiriya rock fortress is a 370-metre-high rocky outcrop in the heart of the Cultural Triangle. The renowned rock citadel was built during the fifth century under King Kassapa, abandoned for centuries and only rediscovered by a British archaeologist in the late 19th century. A climb to the top offers stunning views of the surrounding lush landscape and an insight into the people that once lived here while the beautiful water gardens and historic museum at the bottom are also worth visiting.


DAMBULLA

Dambulla’s Buddhist temple complex is one of the best-preserved in Sri Lanka. The five caves are located at the top of a steep hill and contain an impressive collection of Buddhist murals and statues, including a 15-metre-long reclining statue of the god. The caves’ history is thought to date back as far as the first century BC when King Valagam Bahu took refuge here and had the interior of the caves carved into temples. This site is one of Sri Lanka’s highlights for tourists and Buddhist pilgrims alike.

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Day 1 : Fly to Colombo (N)

Day 2 : Kegalle
Take the afternoon train to Rambukkana and transfer to the Rosyth Estate House, a colonial planter’s bungalow, for a 2-night stay. (D)

Day 3 : Kegalle
Explore the tea estate or relax by the pool and take in the stunning views. (B, D)

Day 4 : Kandy
Transfer to Bougainvillea Retreat for 3 nights. (B)

Day 5-6 : Kandy
Explore the delights of Kandy including the Temple of the Tooth, Royal Botanical Gardens, and local markets and artisan workshops. (B)

Day 7 : Gal Oya National Park
Travel to Gal Oya National Park for 2 nights at the Gal Oya Lodge. (B)

Day 8 : Gal Oya National Park
Take a boat safari on Senanayake Samudraya lake in search of the endemic birdlife and elephants. 4x4 safaris, nature walks and opportunities to meet the indigenous Vedda tribes are also available. (B)

Day 9 : Ella
Travel to Ella for 2 nights at 98 Acres Resort Spa. Climb Little Adam’s Peak. (B)

Day 10 : Ella
Range of optional activities including tea plantation visits, hiking, birdwatching and cookery lessons. (B)

Day 11 : Uda Walawe National Park
Travel to Uda Walawe National Park for 2 nights at Kalu’s Hideway. (B)

Day 12 : Uda Walawe National Park
Morning safari in the national park in search of elephants and exotic birds. (B)

Day 13 : Thalpe
Visit the Elephant Transit Home en route to Thalpe for 3 nights at Apa Villa. (B)

Day 14-15 : Thalpe
At leisure or take a tour of Galle. (B)

Day 16: Fly home (N)

GUIDE PRICE $2465 PER PERSON

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