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The Emerald Isle

10 days/9 nights

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Sri Lanka is an island nation that rests at the toe of India. This tear-drop shaped paradise remains off the high-profile radar, offering travelers an incredible offshore garden. Visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Galle Fort, tea plantations in the rolling hills of Nuwara Eliya, and cultural center of Kandy. Also, experience a jeep safari in two national parks!

Highlights

Ancient city of Polonnaruwa

Kandyan dance performance

Dambulla cave temple

Tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya

Galle Fort

 

Not quite ready to pack your bags? Download our free Sri Lanka Destination Guide.

         

Itinerary

Itinerary Details: 10 days/9 nights

Day 1: Sri Lanka Arrival

Arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka. After exiting customs formalities, meet our representative and transfer to your hotel. Sri Lanka, the island nation home to more than 20 million people, is a strategic naval link between West and Southeast Asia. The nation famously exports tea, coffee, and coconuts and boasts a rich cultural heritage. Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, is a vibrant mix of modernity and colonial ruins. Because of its natural harbor and positioning along East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders from 2,000 years ago. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 2: Colombo - Habarana

After breakfast, drive to Sigiriya (3 hours) and climb the Rock Fortress. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 meters (660 ft) high. According to an ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, the site was selected by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) for his new capital. He built his palace on the top of this rock and decorated its sides with colorful frescoes. On a small plateau, he built a gateway in the form of an enormous lion. The name of this place is derived from this structure —Sīhāgiri, the Lion Rock. The capital and the royal palace were abandoned after the king's death and it was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. It is considered one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning. Transfer to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

Day 3: Habarana - Minneriya - Habarana

In the morning, visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. (Option to cycle instead of walk.) Polonnaruwa is an ancient Sri Lankan kingdom and remains one of the best planned archaeological relics in the country. The UNESCO site houses the ruins of a garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century and Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas. 

Later, enjoy a 4x4 jeep safari in Minneriya National Park. Minneriya is one of Sri Lanka's formative national parks where elephants and other wildlife can be observed. Return to your hotel and overnight.

Day 4: Habarana – Kandy

After breakfast, drive to Kandy. En-route visit Dambulla Cave temple. Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area but the major attractions are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings.

Situated beside a lake in the hills, Kandy is considered Sri Lanka's cultural center.  In the evening, enjoy a traditional Kandayan dance performance. Evening at leisure and overnight.

ST's Hotel Recommendation

Elephant Stables

A luxury boutique hotel with sweeping views of the Kandy hills, Elephant Stables offers a modern, contemporary twist on colonial charm. Take a dip in the inifinity pool, view the classic car collection, or sample the signature cocktail, the Elephant Unstable!

Day 5: Kandy - Nuwara Eliya

In the morning, visit Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Tooth It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country.

Later, continue to Nuwara Eliya. Nuwara Eliya is the heart of Sri Lankan hill country. It is the home of the famous Ceylon Tea and the rolling mountains are a carpet of velvety green tea plantations interspersed with tumbling waterfalls. In the afternoon, visit the Ramboda Waterfalls and a tea plantation. Evening at leisure and overnight in Nuwara Eliya.

Day 6: Nuwara Eliya/Horton Plans

Day at leisure to explore the tea plantations. Optional drive to Horton Plains by jeep for a picnic breakfast. The Horton Plains are the headwaters of three major Sri Lankan rivers - Mahaweli, Kelani, and Walawe. In Sinhala, the plains are known as Maha Eliya and stone tools dating back to Balangoda culture have been found on site. The vegetation is grasslands interspersed with montane forest and includes many endemic woody plants. Large herds of Sri Lankan Sambar Deer feature as typical mammals, and the park is also an important birding region with many species not only endemic to Sri Lanka but restricted to Horton Plains. Overnight.

Day 7: Nuwara Eliya - Yala

This morning, drive to Yala National Park, the most visited and 2nd largest sanctuary in Sri Lanka. En-route, view the famous Rawana Falls and Ella Gap. In the afternoon, enjoy a safari by jeep in Yala. Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and, along with Wilpattu, was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka. It is recognized for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds. Yala hosts a variety of ecosystems ranging from moist monsoon forests to freshwater and marine wetlands. The number of mammals that have been recorded from the park is 44, and it has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. Also, the area surrounding Yala has hosted several ancient civilizations.  Overnight in Yala.

Day 8: Yala - Galle

After breakfast, drive to Galle (5 hours) and transfer to your hotel. Galle is a fortified old city founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. Stone sea walls, expanded by the Dutch, encircle car-free streets with architecture reflecting Portuguese, Dutch, and British rule. Now a World Heritage Site, it is a lovely place to wander and explore. Afternoon at leisure and overnight.

Day 9: Galle

Day at leisure to explore the seaside town. Stroll the beaches or visit the Galle Fort. Also known as the Ramparts of Galle and the Dutch Fort, it was built by the Portuguese in 1558, fortified by the Dutch in 1649, and came under British control in 1796. The fort layout resembles a small town and residents still live inside the walls, including Sinhalese, Dutch, Germans, Portuguese, English, and Muslim Moors. Overnight.

Day 10: Departure

Today, transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Bon Voyage!

Inclusions and Exclusions

Inclusions

  • Hotel accommodations with breakfast
  • Private A/C vehicle and driver
  • Private, comprehensive touring with a private guide
  • Entrance fees to the monuments
  • Kandyan dance performance
  • Jeep safari in Yala National Park and Minneriya National Park
  • Private airport transfers with assistance
  • Road/interstate taxes, fuel surcharges, and parking fees

Exclusions

  • International Airfare
  • Any items of a personal nature
  • Additional meals
  • Gratuities

Supplemental Information

Supplemental Information

  • U.S. citizens visiting Sri Lanka must have either an Electronic Travel Authorization or a visa to enter Sri Lanka. 
  • To protect your travel investment, Sodha Travel strongly recommends Travel Insurance.
  • Visit our FAQ page for additional information on traveling to Sri Lanka.

Map

The Emerald Isle Map

The Emerald Isle