3/126 Albert Road, Warragul VIC 3820 Phone: (03) 5623 5151 Fax: (03) 5623 4952 Email us EMERGENCY NUMBER +61 (0)419 213 274
Captivating Isle of Sri Lanka
10th – 25th November, 2018
Personally escorted by Jacquey Turner
YOUR TOUR ESCORT
JACQUEY TURNER, your tour escort, has more than 32 years’ experience as a highly successful travel agent and tour guide. Jacquey’s attention to detail and personal care ensures that everyone travelling in her group will have a most enjoyable holiday experience.
$10,780 per person twin share
YOUR TOUR INCLUDES:
All costs are based on the exchange rate prevailing as at 31 October 2017
Sri Lanka boasts a rich natural heritage, with amazing wildlife and biodiversity and incredibly for an island of its size can boast of iconic mega fauna such as leopards, elephants and sloth bears. The island is also regarded as a biodiversity hotspot and teams with endemic birds, reptiles, amphibians as well as plant species found nowhere else on earth.
With numerous man-made lakes and rivers running through its interior, lush tropical rainforests, mangroves and coastal lagoons, misty highlands laden with waterfalls and dry zone scrub jungles, Sri Lanka comprises of a wide range of picturesque landscapes and natural habitats which can be compared to that of a much larger continent.
The island has a rich cultural heritage dating back over 2500 years, with amazing architectural monuments and incredible feats of engineering which can be linked to the origins of Buddhism in the country with magnificently constructed Stupas and the ruined remains of ancient kingdoms. The hidden treasure of Sri Lanka is its people, a rich multi-cultural and multi religious society. The warm hospitality and friendly nature of Sri Lankans will make anyone feel welcome.
Boasting of a unique culinary heritage, Sri Lankan cuisine is rich in spices with its own distinct flavour and is a fusion of traditional dishes mixed with influences from traders and colonial powers.
With palm-fringed beaches, diverse wildlife, spectacular landscapes, cultural heritage, and delicious food, Sri Lanka truly is the complete package when it comes to finding the perfect holiday destination with a unique array of different experiences on offer.
We depart Gippsland in the morning to transfer to Melbourne Airport for our afternoon flight to Sri Lanka.
On our arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport Sri Lanka, in the late evening, we will be met by an Airport representative and transferred to the arrival lounge to ensure we have a VIP fast track arrival.
After breakfast check out and proceed to Pinnawala. The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a breeding ground and orphanage for wild elephants, founded in order to care and provide protection for the many injured and orphaned elephants stranded in the jungle. We will arrive early to watch the herd as they enjoy a breakfast of leaves and shoots, and we will then have the chance to witness the excitable young calves enjoy a bottle feed. Before we leave we can watch the whole herd make their way through the town for bath time in the Maha Oya River. These huge mammals adore their time in the water and we can share in their enjoyment as they splash around, roll in the dirt or delight in a coconut shell massage from one of their human friends.
We shall enjoy a local lunch at the Pinnalanda Restaurant whilst watching these gentle giants make their way to the river and back.
After lunch we shall continue on to Kandalama where we will be welcomed at HERITANCE KANDALAMA, or similar, for a three-night stay. On arrival the ladies will greet us with “Ayubowan – May you live long” dressed in traditional sarees with a tropical flower and the lighting of the traditional oil lamp. Tonight, we enjoy a delicious dinner at the hotel.
After breakfast we proceed to Hiriwadunna. This half day excursion includes a visit to the traditional village in Habarana in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, where we will get the opportunity to interact with villagers and to experience their day- to-day life.
As we turn off inland at the village of Hiriwadunna in Habarana we will be welcomed by the cheerful bullock cart drivers and their age-old bullock carts, pulled by one or two strong bulls per cart. Bullock carts were once a common mode of travel; however, they are rarely used nowadays.
Our journey will bring us near the scenic Hiriwadunna Lake where we will be able to enjoy the view with some welcome refreshments. A short walk will take us further in to the village, passing by the occasional tree house built by farmers to protect their crop, as well as acres of paddy fields, Chena crops and of course local scarecrows!
As we arrive at a village house, we will be welcomed by the smiling faces of the owners. We can enjoy the hospitality of these humble villagers as they serve us a simple Sri Lankan village lunch prepared in the traditional way using earthenware pots and firewood as fuel.
After lunch we travel to the Polonnaruwa Medieval Capital. An interesting blend of archaeological monuments, Polonnaruwa was the second kingdom of Sri Lanka and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The iconic manmade reservoir, was appropriately named Parakrama Samudra, or ‘the sea of Parakrama’, due to its enormous size. Look out for the famous Gal Viharaya or, ‘Rock Temple’ where we will see four colossal statues of the Buddha cut into the stone, reflecting peace, serenity and strength. Polonnaruwa also boasts ruins of ancient palaces, intricately carved moon stones and royal baths.
We can take part in an exclusive, private Monks Pirith ceremony – this unique experience will be a sermon ‘Bana’ based on the teachings of Lord Buddha, after which guests will have the blessed cords tied around their right wrists.
We return to the hotel and can enjoy rest of day at leisure. We will get together again for a buffet dinner at the hotel.
After breakfast we will visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sigiriya is an enormous rock boulder rising up 200 metres out of the surrounding jungle. World Heritage Site Sigiriya, otherwise known as Lion Rock, is a sky citadel with the most amazing views of the surrounding countryside from its ancient rock fortress. The climb takes approx. 1 hour with a brief stop to view the cave paintings on route.
In the evening, after dinner at the hotel, we shall visit a temple nearby the hotel.
After breakfast we will visit the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple.
Dating back to the 1st Century BC, Dambulla was a vast cave complex, converted into a rock temple and still regarded now as one of the most important Buddhist monasteries. Covering the rock ceiling is the largest collection of paintings in Sri Lanka within a cave temple. We will also see the highest number of Buddha statues found in one single place here. As we wander through the temple, notice the serenity and the exceedingly well-preserved nature of the place. It is no wonder the Rock Temple has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We proceed to Kandy via Matale and enjoy some local lunch at the spice gardens followed by the visit around the garden which houses various types of spices.
We shall then check-in to EARLS REGENCY, or similar, for two nights and relax for the rest of the day. We shall enjoy dinner at the hotel.
This morning we will travel to Peradeniya to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens.
We shall join Bandara Palipana, an experienced botanist, on a fascinating walk through the scenic Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, located in the hill capital of Kandy and home to over 4000 species of plants and trees.
Palipana is the author of Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya and has worked in the gardens for well over 30 years. Listen as he shares stories of the garden’s history and the precious live collections gathered over the past centuries.
He explains how this ancient royal pleasure garden transformed into a botanical garden in 1821 and about the ‘Grand Circle’ where world leaders have donated and planted trees since 1875. As we stroll along under the canopy of the trees, he will point out features such as the bamboo collection, Palm Avenue and the herbal plants which are in fact his favorite. Undoubtedly the most colorful collection is the orchids, where a priceless collection of over 300 varieties bloom in all their glory.
After our visit of these beautiful gardens we shall have lunch at a local restaurant before we enjoy a brief city tour of Kandy. The city of Kandy was the last Kingdom of Sri Lanka and has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will notice a more comfortable temperature here, compared to the tropical climate prevailing throughout the rest of the island.
The Sacred Temple of the Tooth is certainly the most revered and iconic place to visit in this cultural capital but other highlights include the historic Kandy Lake, the Royal Botanical Gardens and the scenic Victoria Golf Club. Whilst we are in Kandy, we shall see beautiful silverware, brassware and gem-studded jewelry, carefully carved and designed by the Kandyan craftsman, who are known to be the most skilled in the country. Kandy can be a bustling place in the day so there is nothing quite like a late evening stroll around the serene lake with a view to the Sacred Temple and the distant sound of drums in the background.
After breakfast we will depart the hotel and transfer to Peradeniya to board the train to Hatton.
This journey is considered as one of the most scenic railway journeys through the highlands of Sri Lanka. As we pass through the lush green tea estates we will experience the unmistakable aroma of pure Ceylon tea. The mist covered mountains and the scenic waterfalls truly compliment this beautiful landscape.
We shall be met at the station and transferred to our luxury bungalows at the CEYLON TEA TRAILS, or similar, where we will spend the next two nights.
Today is at leisure for you to enjoy the surroundings and facilities of the bungalows. Enjoy an essential Tea Trails experience – a Resident Tea Planter will demonstrate the age-old tea making process. The daily complimentary group tour ends with a tasting of different grades of this great brew.
A leisurely walk or an adventure trek is a delightful way to experience the varied landscapes, exotic flora, abundant birdlife and the sweet rhythm of life in a tea garden.
All bungalows have a croquet lawn where you can unleash devious tactics against your fellow travellers, a Pimms No 1 in hand. Or simply laze in one of the bungalows.
The world’s first tea bungalow resort, Ceylon Tea Trails is an icon for small luxury resorts. Comprising of five restored colonial era tea planter residences, the period furnishings, gracious butler service and gourmet cuisine create an ambience that has made Tea Trails the gold standard for luxury bungalows in Sri Lanka.
Situated at an altitude of 1250 metres near Hatton in central Sri Lanka, the resort borders the World Heritage Central Highlands and offers breathtaking panoramas of mountains and lush tea fields.
After an early breakfast we will check out from Tea Trails and travel to Yala where we will check-in at CHENA HUTS, or similar, for two nights.
Chena Huts offers access to Sri Lanka’s largest and oldest national park which has the highest leopard population density in the world. Yala stuns visitors with its variety of biomes –monsoon, semi-deciduous and thorn forests, grasslands, freshwater, marine wetlands and sandy beaches where the only footprints you will see belong to foraging birds and animals.
Broadcasting 44 different resident mammal species and dozens of reptile species including turtles, crocodiles, flying snakes and elegant fan-throated lizards. Yala has no less than 215 resident and migrant birds, of which the flamboyant peacock is one of the most common.
Enjoy an optional afternoon game drive where you may see elephant, sloth bear and leopard and visit the Philanthropy project supporting the local populations and leopards. Or simply relax at your Chena Hut and soak in the atmosphere and location.
Today we shall enjoy a morning and evening game drive with time to relax between drives.
Our early morning and late afternoon game drive will elevate our chances of spotting the most animals, although the mini night safaris on the outskirts -which use night-vision infrared lights – are also extremely fun. Whilst searching for the elusive leopard, herds of spotted deer, Mugger crocodiles, wild boar, wild buffaloes, langurs, and peacocks also provide brilliant photograph opportunities.
Time to leave Yala and after breakfast we will travel to Galle / Koggala.
On the way to Galle there is also an opportunity to witness men fishing on stilts. Stilt fishing is a method of fishing unique to the island country of Sri Lanka. The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a petta tied to a vertical pole and driven into the sand a few meters offshore. From this high position, the fisherman casts his line, and waits until a fish comes along to be caught. The practice is believed to have started during World War II when food shortages and overcrowded fishing spots prompted some clever men to try fishing on the water.
On our arrival in Galle, we will check in to the FORT BAZAAR, or similar, for the next three nights.
After a well relaxed breakfast, we shall enjoy a city tour of Galle.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city of Galle mixes the exotic with the colonial. The impressive Fortress, originally built by the Portuguese and followed by the Dutch, exists still today with only a few changes and is a living example of the interaction between European architecture and South Asian traditions during the 16th to 19th Centuries.
There will be time to explore the Galle Fort on foot at your own pace, perhaps paying a visit to the Maritime Museum, the Old Dutch Reformed Church, the Sun and the Moon bastions, the lighthouse and the trendy souvenir shops afterwards.
In the early morning we will travel to Mirissa to board the Whale watching boat exclusively reserved for our group. Whale and dolphin watching off Sri Lanka’s south west coast is an exciting and unique activity and the frequent sightings all year round has put Sri Lanka and the Mirrissa area on the world’s top places for sperm and blue whale sightings. Whilst out on the boat it is common for us to be accompanied by pods of acrobatic spinner dolphins.
Breakfast will be provided onboard and we will have lunch at a local restaurant before returning to the hotel to relax for the rest of the day. Tonight, we will enjoy a scrumptious dinner at the hotel.
We check out of our hotel in the morning and shall then transfer to Colombo with a stop for lunch on the way. On arrival we shall check in at the GALLE FACE HOTEL, or similar, for one night. There will be time to relax before dinner at Sea Spray Restaurant at the hotel.
There are few hotels in the world with a history as long as that of the Galle Face Hotel. Colombo’s most iconic building, the hotel dates back to 1864 and was one of Asia’s first Grand Hotels. With a prime location in front of the harbour, in earlier days the Galle Face Hotel was the first building seen by visitors arriving by boat to the island and serves as a piece of living history within the capital.
Time to enjoy our breakfast before we engage in an interactive walking tour.
We join Mark Forbes, native Dutch Burgher and passionate photographer, on a gentle walking tour through his city. He will lead us through the streets and listen as he recounts stories of the island’s capital city.
Our journey starts at the Old Dutch Hospital, a colonial treasure and former hospital from the 17th century, which now hosts high-end restaurants and boutiques. We continue into the commercial hub of Colombo Fort, away from the tourist hotspots, and learn about the colonial buildings and important monuments whose stories have helped shaped the Colombo of today.
We will stop for a refreshing cup of Ceylon tea and, if you have the energy, Mark will lead us to the bustling Pettah Bazaar. The bazaar is both a wholesale and retail market place, selling everything from trinkets to textiles, from vegetables to electronics and of course, plenty of spices. Flexibility is key to this entertaining and gentle walk with Mark.
Our afternoon will be spent at the iconic Galle Face Hotel as we are seated in the open air restaurant overlooking the ocean. The waiters will bring over a selection of food to our tables on three tiered plates.
The assortment will include classics such as cucumber sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and Battenberg cake alongside some local specialties. This will all come served with a side of iced coffee and a wide selection of loose leaf Ceylon teas.
The gentle breeze coming in from the ocean makes this a very pleasant place to while away the afternoon hours. As we indulge in the sweet and savory delicacies we will witness the daily flag lowering ceremony, just one of the rituals kept alive to acknowledge the vast history behind.
A late check out from your room is included. We will transfer to the airport in the evening for our flight back to Australia.
We shall arrive back in Melbourne in the early afternoon and will be met and transferred by coach back to Gippsland.