This leisurely paced 15 day itinerary features a selection of Sri Lanka’s unique and elegant boutique hotels – a truly indulgent way of touring this fascinating country.
Visit two of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the spectacular rock citadel of Sigiriya and the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple. Stay at the exclusive Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge with its breathtaking views of mist covered mountains, lush green valleys and crystal clear streams.
Take the time to indulge in a spa treatment at the Stone House in Kandy – offering magnificent views over lush green hills and valleys to the central mountains. Visit historic Galle with its unique blend of Persian, Arab, Greek, Roman, Malay, Indian, Chinese, Dutch & British influences before you relax on the beautiful beaches of Bentota from your private beach side hideaway.
Day 1 Colombo
You will be met on arrival at Colombo International Airport and transferred to your hotel, The Wallawwa, for an overnight stay.
A small property of seventeen guestrooms, it has a real sense of tranquillity. It is set in a lush tropical garden with glorious large trees and a magnificent pool. There are plenty of outdoor spaces for relaxation – verandas dotted with couches, a pretty courtyard and pond, and comfy chairs set out under umbrellas. A popular feature here is the spa – a wonderful place to unwind after a long international flight.
Day 2 Dambulla
Depart for Dambulla, making a stop en route to visit the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Festooned with a marvellous array of sculptures and murals, these temples, dating from 1st century BC, are the most beautiful in the country.
Continue on to your accommodation at Dambulla, Kalundewa Retreat. This is an idyllic hide-away nestled in 40 hectares of land, an extension of a secluded rural village and farming community. It boasts a large collection of herbal plants, varieties of fruit trees and an extensive vegetable garden. It is also blessed with many waterways, which have been restored from derelict conditions.
Take a dip in the ‘Ulpatha’, a natural spring with cool sparkling water converted into a pool, hidden away under giant trees, surrounded by breathtaking views. This evening enjoy your dinner by the lake’s edge, on the pool deck, on a floating raft or under the stars in a rice field.
Day 3 Dambulla
Rise early this morning for your visit to another of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the spectacular rock citadel of Sigiriya. Rising 200 metres above green scrub jungle, this massive rock embellished with the remains of one of the country’s most remarkable royal palaces is a stunning sight. It includes caved temples, frescoes, bathing pools, ponds and Asia’s oldest surviving landscaped gardens.
Later drive to the marvellous ruined city of Polonnaruwa. Once the country’s capital, this is home to some of medieval Sri Lanka’s finest art and architecture, including the giant Buddha statues of the Gal Vihara.
Day 4 Madulkelle
Depart Dambulla this morning for Madulkelle, making a stop en route at Matale where you will have an opportunity at Matale to explore the delightful green and fragrant Spice Garden. Enjoy a hot cup of spice tea or cocoa tea as trained herbalists introduce you to a variety of different spices, explaining how they are grown and processed and their Ayurvedic uses.
Your accommodation at Madulkelle, Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge, nestles on a picturesque tea plantation, on the Knuckles Mountain Range 1000 meters above sea level. The lodges’ main attractions though are their breathtaking views – mist covered mountains, lush green valleys, crystal clear streams, as well as the sounds of chirping birds and the sighting of the occasional deer or giant squirrel outside your front door. Food here is a special treat, with around 60% of the organically grown vegetables, fruits and herbs used in the hotel kitchen harvested from its own garden.
Seating areas placed within the tea estate, are ideal for a quiet read, meditation or just to spend some quiet time alone with nature.
Day 5 Madulkelle
Today is at leisure. You can simply spend the day lazing by the infinity pool with its fabulous views of the Madulkelle Village and the majestic Knuckles Mountain range and indulge in a rejuvenating treatment in the Spa.
Alternatively, the hotel offers a range of activities and excursions including: hiking and trekking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, yoga sessions and cooking classes.
Day 6 Kandy
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before departing Madukelle for the historic city of Kandy, located in the hills at the heart of Sri Lanka.
Your accommodation here, Stone House, is located on a secluded plateau in the hills of Kandy, with magnificent views over lush green hills and valleys to the central mountains. This 1940’s built colonial mansion has been converted in to a luxurious, architect-designed boutique hotel with each elegant room designed using a blend of local culture and western influences – including artworks by renowned local artists – to create an inviting individual décor.
You may like to indulge in a spa treatment, take a dip in the pool, stroll in the beautifully landscaped tropical gardens or have a browse in the library. If Sri Lankan cuisine is of interest, be sure to take a cooking class with the chef at some point during your stay here. If you want to explore the surrounding area you can take a tuk tuk ride around the town or make use of the mountain bikes on offer.
Early this evening attend a display of traditional Kandyan dance. Following the performance visit the Dalada Maligawa – the Buddhist ‘Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic’, which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Here you can witness the evening puja ceremony, a daily religious observation that has been followed for generations.
Day 7 Kandy
Kandy is a delight to explore. Spend this morning touring this atmospheric town with your guide, beginning with a drive around its lovely centrepiece, Kandy Lake. Stroll through the bustling town centre and colourful bazaar, visit the arts and crafts centre, a gem museum and a lapidary.
You may also like to visit the lovely Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya. Once the pleasure garden of 14th century Kandyan queen, today it is one of the best gardens in Asia with over 4,000 tropical and subtropical flora, including spice and herbal gardens as well as a stunning collection of orchids.
The afternoon is at leisure.
Day 8 Colombo
After breakfast depart for Colombo.
You have the option to make a stop en route at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage – an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants. Established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation, today it houses the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. This is an opportunity to observe the care and daily routine of these gentle creatures, such as the bottle-feeding of calves, and to view elephants from the broad river bank as the herd interacts socially, bathing and playing.
Your accommodation here, the elegant Lake Lodge, is perfectly situated to combine the peace and quiet of a residential lane location with the convenience of being in the heart of the business district of the city. Recently refurbished, its stylish interiors and comfortable surroundings aim to offer guests a ‘home away from home’ experience.
Day 9 Colombo
This morning enjoy a guided walk through the city of Colombo with its fascinating variety of colonial architecture, beautiful mosques and Hindu temples. Interact with locals as you shop for gifts from streets devoted to different products – from gold to Ayurveda items –and sample typical Sri Lankan food and beverages in the amazing atmosphere of the hundred year old vegetable market.
This evening enjoy dinner at Ministry of Crab. Located in the Old Dutch Hospital district, this popular restaurant was started by a couple of Sri Lankan cricketers and deserves all the praise it’s getting.
Day 10 Galle
Depart for Galle this morning. A UNESCO `World Heritage City’, this is the most perfectly preserved colonial town in Sri Lanka. Although a prominent seaport long before western rule in the country – Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians and Chinese all traded through Galle port – the city’s ‘modern’ history began with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1502. In 1640, the Portuguese surrendered to the Dutch East India Company and Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, during the Dutch colonial period.
Your accommodation here, Rampart Street, is located inside Galle Fort itself. A recently refurbished heritage property, it has been styled in an elegant combination of colonial charm – with antique furniture, rich fabrics and tapestries – and modern amenities that cater to all creature comforts. It comprises only four guest rooms, a spacious common living room, a plush TV room and a number of outdoor living areas.
The remainder of the day is at leisure. You may like to take a refreshing dip in the villa pool – this is one of the few properties within the Galle Fort that provides the luxury of a private swimming pool.
Day 11 Galle
Spend this morning with your guide exploring the fortified city of Galle. The Old Town of Galle and its fortifications were built by the Portuguese who arrived in the 16th century. Learn about some of the fort’s important heritage monuments, including the Dutch Reformed Church, the old Dutch government house, the residence of the Commander, the National Maritime Museum, the Old Dutch Hospital, Meera Mosque, All Saints Anglican Church, the Clock Tower and the Galle Lighthouse.
The afternoon is at leisure. A nice end to a day here is a sunset walk along the fort’s ramparts overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Day 12 Galle
Today is at leisure. If shopping is of interest, Galle is renowned for its intricate lace and ebony carvings.
Day 13 Bentota
After a leisurely breakfast, depart Galle for the short drive to Bentota and your ‘home’ for the next two nights, Paradise Road The Villa Bentota – a unique and private beach side hotel.
The world renowned Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, was originally drawn to this property in the 1970s, converting the then dilapidated ancestral home into the country’s first boutique hotel. In 2007 the property was acquired by ‘Paradise Road’ (the company that owns the famous Colombo shop of the same name), who refurbished and extended it in keeping with the original design. A new wing and entrance pavilion and a new swimming pool were added and the gardens were re-landscaped. Re-opened in 2009, today the hotel comprises fifteen rooms and suites with all modern amenities. Each room is unique in decoration, style and layout.
Day 14 Bentota
Today is at leisure. The beaches of Bentota are perfect for swimming, lounging and sunbathing and walking along. In addition, the hotel offers a number of activities.
Just ten minutes down the Galle Road, the Bentota Lake provides the perfect location to water ski, ride a jet ski or go for a group trip on a banana boat.
A boat safari is a unique experience for nature lovers. The mangroves of Sri Lanka are protected by the environmental authorities and contain some of the island’s beautiful wildlife. The lakes of Bentota and surrounding areas provide a memorable discovery trip with temples hidden on islands and breathtaking views.
The turtle hatchery is another attraction. The hatcheries house turtles that have been saved from fisherman or injury and also play a huge role in protecting the endangered species by safely providing nesting grounds. On the right day visitors can help release baby turtles into the wild.
Day 15 Colombo
Depart Bentota for the 2-hour drive to the Airport to board your flight home.
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