A Cultural Odyssey on a Tropical Isle

Overview

The teardrop-shaped island of Sri Lanka in the blue Indian Ocean brims with delights, from rainforests where elephants roam to emerald-green tea estates and 2,000-year-old royal cities. On our grand adventure, we visit Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka’s atmospheric medieval capital, hike up the stone steps of the 5th century fortress of King Kashyapa at Sigiriya, and watch a private demonstration of Sri Lanka’s traditional martial arts. We’ll also explore the cool, verdant mountain country where British tea estates once held sway, sample a cuisine flavored with curry and coriander, meet tea planters and orange-robed monks, and look for wildlife in tropical Yala National Park, with its wild elephant herds and fabulous birdlife.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
Anuradhapura / Polonnaruwa / Sigiriya

Our journey brings us to three magnificent World Heritage Sites: the Buddhist shrines and gardens of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s capital for 1,300 years and one of the greatest cities of its age, 10th century Polonnaruwa, with its graceful pagodas, and King Kashyapa’s impressive citadel at Sigiriya. We also visit a martial arts school to watch students perform anganpora, the graceful and ancient Sri Lankan fighting art.

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Days 6-10
Dambulla / Kandy / Nuwara Eliya / Ella

We climb up to the great cave-temple complex at Dambulla, enjoy a private lunchin the home of a local professor and art collector, and head into Sri Lanka’s famous tea country, with a walk through fragrant spice gardens. In Kandy, Sri Lanka’s cultural heart, we visit the 16th century Temple of the Tooth, and from our heritage hotel above colonial Nuwara Eliya, we walk through manicured tea plantations and learn the fine art of “tasting” tea. A scenic rail journey through hill country brings us to the peaceful mountain village of Ella, where we enjoy a bike ride and a lesson in preparing Sri Lankan cuisine.

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Days 11-13
Yala National Park / Galle

Yala, a dune-covered scrub landscape on the south coast, is home to throngs of painted storks and troops of monkeys chattering in the trees. Wild elephants can be seen in the park’s open, undulating terrain. After exploring the ancient seaside trading post of Galle, a World Heritage Site, depart on Day 13 via Colombo.

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Highlights

Highlights

Enjoy lunch in a local home, ride bikes in the village of Ella
Explore Anuradhapura, where Buddhist shrines date to the 3rd century BC, colonial Nuwara Eliya, and the Buddhist cave temples of Dambulla
Charming accommodations, from seaside hotels to a resort overlooking the rock fortress of Sigiriya
Meet monks, tea planters, artists, and students, and learn about Sri Lanka’s ancient traditions

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6495  
Arrive: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Depart: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Lodging: 12 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

A mix of easy to moderate walks and hikes, cultural explorations

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Adventures in Sri Lanka

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Adventures in Sri Lanka