Secret Sri Lanka
Trip code: WV16SSL
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Though small in size, Sri Lanka is abundant with culturally and historically significant sights set across beautiful landscape that ranges from cooler tea plantations to tropical coastlines. Staying at accommodation that will take your breath at every stop, our Secret Sri Lanka itinerary redefines luxury travel.
Luxury in relation to travel in Sri Lanka is more than just great hotels in fabulous locations – that’s easy to replicate. What’s harder to replicate, and what defines luxury as we see it, are exclusive experiences. Travel that’s intimate, knowing secrets about locations and getting to see them in a way others don’t. Personal experiences that are authentic yet belong to you alone.
Our Secret Sri Lanka itinerary is a private tour of Sri Lanka that features unique moments, combined with some of the best boutique and luxury accommodation in Sri Lanka. Read on for our suggested itinerary or get in touch to tell us about your dream trip and have us create a custom made itinerary just for you.
Day 1 Colombo
You will be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel, Maniumpathy. Originally a stately colonial home, with a history spanning over a century, the property has been converted into an intimate hotel with just eight suites. A stay here gives you a unique opportunity to get a feel for the life lived by its past owners – five generations of one family.
Maniumpathy is located in the Cinnamon Gardens area of Colombo. It is close to the city’s leading shopping centres and just a short distance from its popular tourist attractions. Surrounded by art galleries, chic boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops it is a great place from which to begin your exploration of Sri Lanka’s vibrant multi-cultural capital city.
Day 2 Colombo
Take a private walking tour this morning. Your personal guide will structure it according to your interests. In addition to experiencing first-hand the indelible mark left by the Portuguese and the amazing architecture of the Dutch and British, you will learn of the new developments facing this city. The walk will engage your senses, especially taste and smell as you try local food and beverages along the way.
The afternoon is at leisure. Enjoy dinner this evening at Ministry of Crab – a restaurant that celebrates Sri Lanka’s seafood – in particular, as the name suggests – its wonderfully sweet and succulent crab!
Day 3 Colombo
Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa (1919-2003), is considered to be one of the most important Asian architects of the 20th century and examples of his designs can be seen all over the country.
This morning take a guided tour of No 11, 33rd Lane. In 1958 Bawa bought the third in a row of four small houses, which lay along a short cul-de-sac at the end of a narrow suburban lane and converted it into a pied-à-terre. He continued to develop the property over the years as neighbouring bungalows became available. A constantly evolving project, it was designed to create an illusion of space in the congested urban environment of Colombo.
The afternoon is at leisure. For dinner you can choose between two of the city’s exciting restaurants – Kaema Sutra and Uga Residence. The former features traditional Sri Lankan cuisine re-imagined, whilst the latter features international cuisine that is given a Sri Lankan bent through the use of local Ingredients.
Day 4 Anuradhapura
Transfer to the domestic terminal this morning to board an 8-seater plane to Anuradhapura.
This is a unique way to view one of Sri Lanka’s most famous historical sites, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Set in green scrub jungle, this massive rock was a retreat for Buddhist monks in ancient times. The well-planned monastic complex includes caved temples, frescoes, bathing pools, ponds and Asia’s oldest surviving landscaped gardens. To view it from the sky is a very special experience.
You have the option on landing to explore the site, including climbing the rock’s 1000 steps.
Afterwards check in to your accommodation, Ulagalla, a stunning eco resort situated on a 23-hectare estate nestled among two sparkling reservoirs, lush green paddy fields and lily ponds. Once the ancestral home of local Anuradhapura nobility, the property features a 150-year-old mansion at its centre, with twenty luxurious ecologically built villas with private plunge pools. Beautifully landscaped gardens filled with flowering plants and an Olympic size infinity pool completes the picture.
Day 5 Anuradhapura
Today is free to relax and enjoy some of the many resort activities that include guided nature walks, jungle kayaking, village bicycle excursions, horse riding, archery, kite making and flying and cooking lessons.
Alternatively, you may like to spend the day simply lazing and taking dips in the beautiful infinity pool or indulging in some well-deserved pampering at the spa.
If you want to venture further afield you can explore the ancient cities of Anuradhpura, Sigiriya and Dambulla.
Day 6 Kandy
Depart Anuradhapura today for Kandy. Established in the 14th century, the Kingdom of Kandy became the country’s capital city in the 16th century. Under the patronage of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka indigenous culture flourished for more than 2,500 years until the occupation by the British in 1815. Steeped in political, cultural and religious history, Kandy today is a UNESCO World Heritage city.
Spend the afternoon exploring Kandy, starting at Kandy Lake. The town centre, close to the lake is a delightful jumble of old shops, antique and gemstones specialists, a bustling market and a good selection of restaurants. A drive up to Upper Lake offers a panoramic view of the city.
Early this evening attend a traditional Kandyan dance performance. The dancers wear frilled costumes with glistening headdresses and breastplates; the show’s highlight is the fire walking at the end of the performance.
Afterwards visit the stunning 17th century temple, Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), one of the most sacred places for Buddhists all over the world.
Day 7 Hapatule
Transfer to the railway station this morning to board a train to Hapatule. You will be met on arrival and driven to Thotalagala Tea Plantation Bungalow.
Located high in the central hills, 1372 metres above sea level, this beautiful tea estate was founded 145 years ago. Steeped in history, it is part of Agarapatana Plantations, a collection of estates that totals almost 8000 hectares of the finest high grown tea that Sri Lanka produces.
The planter’s bungalow itself, with its sweeping vistas of the surrounding area, is encircled by 8 hectares of lawns and flowerbeds. Built in the 19th century, it has been recently restored to its former glory. It is filled with memorabilia from the British Colonial era, paying respectful homage to the traditional lifestyle of the intrepid tea planters of the past. (Its seven themed suites are based on personalities that shaped the history of this province). The teak panelled smoking room is the ideal place to retreat to for an after dinner cognac.
Thotalagala is also a working estate. Take a walk through the endless tea gardens, travel back in time, walk in the footsteps of Sir Thomas Lipton and immerse yourself in the traditional lifestyle of a colonial tea planter.
Day 8 Hapatule
What better way to begin a day at leisure than with a picnic breakfast ? Find a secluded spot, spread your blanket on the ground and enjoy a specially prepared hamper of goodies, including freshly baked breads and sparkling wines.
The remainder of the day is free to relax in this blissful environment. However, if you want to explore the surrounding area there are a number of interesting places to visit, such as Dambatenne Tea Factory, Lipton’s Seat, Diyaluma Falls, Horton Plains National Park and Nuwara Eliya.
End the day as you began it with a meal outdoors. Enjoy a BBQ of premium grade meats on the grill accompanied by wines from the estate’s cellar – elegantly served by the light of flaming torches.
Day 9 Tangalle
Depart Hapatule today for Tangalle and your ‘home’ for the next three nights, The Last House. Situated at the end of unspoilt Mawella beach, this serene tropical hideaway beside the Indian Ocean is perfect for a luxurious, peaceful beach escape.
Built by Sri Lanka’s greatest architect, Geoffrey Bawa, The Last House (his final project) is a wonderful example of his philosophy of adapting architecture to suit the environment. A small property – it comprises just six bedrooms – it is set in tropical gardens with a central swimming pool. Décor throughout is largely a mix of fresh white walls and grey polished cement floors, serving as a backdrop to a mixture of antique and contemporary furniture, with splashes of bright colours. Settle in on arrival and the remainder of your time here is at leisure.
Day 10 Tangalle
Your accommodation here is well placed to undertake a number of activities and explore some of Sri Lanka’s primary attractions.
If wildlife is of interest, you can enjoy the company of large herds of elephants at Udawalawe Reserve; visit the Bandula Bird Sanctuary – a large proportion of its over 100 species are indigenous; or visit the Turtle Conservation Area at Rekawa by night (to view turtles as they arrive to lay their eggs). Whale watching and dolphin watching in Sri Lanka have become a key part of any visit to the island, and trips can be organized from Mirissa only 45 minutes away.
If Geoffrey Bawa’s architecture is of interest, you can visit nearby Ruhuna University and Claughton House. The Dutch Fort at Matara is also worth a visit as are the Mulkirigala Caves where you can see the temple and monastery carved out of the rock.
Day 11 Tangalle
Day at leisure. If you ventured out yesterday, you may like to spend your last day here at the property. Enjoy a variety of beach games, cycling on the beach or in the countryside, surfing and boarding in the Indian Ocean, or leisurely croquet on the lawn.
For some exploration at sea, there is a small fishing-boat available for hire to try your hand alongside Mawella’s fishermen, dive off the boat to swim or snorkel, or just observe the Blow Hole at Kudawella from the sea.
Day 12 Galle
Depart Tangalle this morning for the short drive to Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage City and the capital of Sri Lanka during the Dutch period. The walled city has stood since the early 16th century, through the colonial periods of the Portuguese (1587 AD), Dutch (1640 AD) and British (1796 AD).
This afternoon take a walking tour that explores the unique history of the magnificent 36-hectare hexagonal stone Galle Fort, revealing colonial buildings still in use today, busy narrow streets proffering the crafts of many generations, and the ramparts and seawall, where locals gather to fly kites and play cricket.
End your day with drinks on the roof top terrace of your heritage hotel where you can marvel at the changing colours of a spectacular sunset.
Day 13 Galle
Today is at leisure. Galle Fort is a delightful place to explore on foot with its narrow, cobbled streets, laid back cafes, boutique hotels, and artisan workshops. Outside the fort’s walls are long stretches of beach backed by coconut palms and lush hillsides.
Day 14 Colombo
Transfer to the airport to board your departure flight.
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