Serendipitous Sri Lanka
Boasting no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, and listed as one of the top 10 biodiversity hotspots of the world, Sri Lanka is a place of sheer delight and unexpected discoveries. Join Sri Lankan native Richard Mendis as he reveals all the magic of this enchanting teardrop-shaped island, from the dazzling Indian Ocean coastline to the undulating tea plantations and the verdant highlands. Wander among the ruins of the vast ancient cities of former Sinhalese kingdoms, marvel at ancient and modern architecture, and relish the intoxicating scents from fragrant spice gardens. It’s no wonder that Sri Lanka is called ‘the Wonder of Asia’.
In the morning, depart Australia on Qantas flights to Singapore. On arrival in Singapore, check in to the hotel for overnight stay.
Depart Singapore mid-morning on Sri Lankan Airlines bound for Colombo. On arrival in Colombo, transfer to the hotel and enjoy some time at leisure before a city orientation tour in the mid-afternoon, followed by a welcome dinner with Richard and fellow travellers.
Check out of the hotel and travel to Dambulla, located in the heart of Sri Lanka’s so-called ‘Cultural Triangle’, comprising numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Arrive in Dambulla in the late afternoon, and in the evening enjoy dinner at the hotel.
After breakfast, visit Polonnaruwa, the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese kingdoms and one of the best planned archaeological sites in the country. In the 11th century it became a magnificent walled city with an extensive irrigation system of channels and lakes.
After lunch, return to the hotel for some free time before visiting a nearby elephant sanctuary. Dinner tonight is in the hotel.
This morning, visit Sigiriya (‘Lion Rock’), a striking sandstone monolith which rises a sheer 200 metres from the ground. It is surrounded by the remnants of an ancient city with a series of moats, ramparts and water gardens, and a pair of giant stone lion’s paws guards the staircase that leads to the summit, which was once occupied by a royal palace.
In the early afternoon, return to the hotel for some free time before leaving on a late-afternoon excursion to the Dambulla caves complex. One of the very icons of Sri Lanka, this spectacular cave monastery is still home to Buddhist monks, and is covered with exquisite 2,000-year-old murals while the shrines also house a collection of statues of Buddha, including a 15-metre-long reclining Buddha. Return to the hotel for dinner.
Check out of the hotel and visit the local Dambulla market, abounding with fresh vegetables, before driving to Kandy, last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, which is nestled in the green hills of the island’s lush interior.
Check in to the hotel and enjoy some time at leisure before visiting the sacred Temple of the Tooth. The temple houses one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics – the left canine tooth of the Buddha himself – and over the millennia since his death, wars have been fought for the possession of this sacred symbol of the Buddha’s power and protection. Today, the Temple of the Tooth attracts Buddhist devotees from all over the world. The Royal Complex, situated around the Temple of the Tooth and Kandy Lake, represents the zenith of ancient Sri Lankan architecture. Return to the hotel for dinner.
This morning, visit the Royal Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Home to nearly 4,000 species of plants and encircled by a river, the gardens boast an impressive avenue of coconut palm trees, a fragrant spice garden, giant bamboo plants, an orchid collection and a gargantuan Javan fig tree. In the late afternoon, attend a Kandyan dance performance, including the cobra dance, the mask dance and the gini sisila, a dance demonstrating power over fire. The entire frenetic and colourful spectacle comes to a climax with an amazing fire-walking act. Dinner afterwards is at a local restaurant.
Check out from the hotel and depart Kandy for Nuwara Eliya, situated around 2,000 metres above sea level, high in the tea country of Sri Lanka’s central highlands. Founded as a hill retreat for the British during colonial times, several buildings and parks here retain features from a bygone era of fox hunting, polo and cricket. Dinner is at the hotel.
Rise early and fortify yourself with a hearty breakfast before setting out for the Horton Plains National Park. On arrival in the park, walk to the fabled World’s End, a sheer cliff with a drop of about 1,200 m to the jungle below. On a clear day, you can spot the Indian Ocean some 80 kilometres in the distance. Return to Nuwara Eliya for lunch at a local restaurant, and then enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Dinner is at the hotel.
Check out of the hotel and depart Nuwara Eliya, visiting first the Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Located under the mighty Hakgala Peak, these are the highest botanical gardens in the world and contain English oaks, Himalayan pines, Japanese cedars and Californian cypresses.
Continue to Nanu Oya railway station, departing on the afternoon train that weaves its way through verdant hills to the town of Ella, surrounded by tea plantations. The stunning Ella Gap allows spectacular views across the southern plains of Sri Lanka. Dinner is at the hotel.
This morning, set out on a walk to nearby Little Adam’s Peak, and after a short half-hour ascent, crest the 1,141-metre summit to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding valley, tea plantations and waterfalls.
Spend the afternoon at leisure to enjoy the peaceful surrounds or take a stroll through the vegetable fields. Dinner tonight is at the hotel.
In the morning, check out from the hotel and travel to Udawalawe National Park. After checking in to the safari resort-style hotel, situated just a five-minute drive from the park’s entrance, embark on a sunset jeep safari drive in the park, with the chance of spotting elephants, sloth bears, birds and possibly even an elusive leopard. Return to the hotel for dinner.
A day of travel takes you from the Udawalawe National Park, via an elephant transit sanctuary for lunch, to the captivating Portuguese and Dutch coastal fortress town of Galle. Dinner this evening is at the hotel.
After breakfast, visit Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest surviving European-built fortress in Asia. First built by the Portuguese in 1588, when the Dutch gained control of the fort (and the fertile cinnamon-growing region around it) in 1640, they extended it with the construction of its three bastions – Sun, Moon and Star. Command of the fort passed to the British in the 18th century. Some of the most significant buildings still remaining include the Dutch Reformed Church, the old Dutch Government House, the Old Dutch Hospital, the Meera Mosque, All Saints’ Anglican Church, the Clock Tower and the cast-iron Galle Lighthouse.
Return to the hotel in the early afternoon, with lunch and the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Dinner is at a local restaurant.
Check out of the hotel and depart Galle for ‘Lunuganga’, the former country estate of celebrated Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, and enjoy a guided tour of Lunuganga’s expansive gardens.
After lunch, continue to ‘Brief’, the former home and garden of Bevis Bawa, brother of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1929, Brief is a hillside garden overlooking a former rubber plantation. The house, which is also open to view, contains many wonderful artworks including a magnificent mural of Sri Lankan life by Australian artist Donald Friend, painted in the Modernist style of Marc Chagall.
In the late afternoon, arrive at the beachside hotel in Negombo for your final night in Sri Lanka. This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner with Richard and fellow travellers.
In the morning, check out from the hotel and transfer to Colombo airport for a Sri Lankan Airlines flight to Singapore, followed by an onward connection with Qantas to Australia.
Return to Australia in the morning.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking
Final payment due
20 February 2018
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions
Tour price includes
- Return international flights from Australia on Qantas / Sri Lankan Airlines in economy class. Upgrade to Business class available (additional cost).
- Overnight accommodation in transit in Singapore including breakfast
- Accommodation in 4 and 5 star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner); juices, soft drinks and local beer with meals
- Transfers on arrival and departure if travelling on suggested flights
- Comfortable air-conditioned coach transport throughout
- Comprehensive sightseeing including entrance fees as per itinerary
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage in Sri Lanka
Tour price does not include
- Overnight accommodation in transit in Singapore (if flights are not booked through Renaissance Tours)
- Transfers on arrival / departure if not travelling on suggested flights
- Video and camera permits (where required)
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry etc.
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance
- Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)
Prior to travel all tour members must obtain an ETA which can be obtained online (current cost USD 35). ETA holders will be issued a 30 day Short Visit visa at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. For further information visit https://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/center.jsp?locale=en_US
Singapore – Crowne Plaza Changi Airport+
Colombo – Cinnamon Grand
Dambulla – Amaya Lake
Kandy – Thilanka Hotel
Nuwara Eliya – Grand Hotel
Ella – Elle 98 Acres Hotel
Udawalawe – Kalu’s Hideway
Galle – Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel
Negombo – Jetwing Blue Hotel
+ Overnight at Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Hotel is only included if Renaissance Tours has booked your flights.
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted