An Insider's Journey into the Island of Serendipity

Overview

With our veteran Trip Leader Annie Hawkins, discover the legendary temples, verdant tea plantations, welcoming people, and 2,000-year-old culture of Sri Lanka. We explore the 12th century temple-ruins of Polonnaruwa, hike up the stone steps of King Kashyapa’s fortress at Sigiriya, visit cool highlands where tea is cultivated, sample Sri Lanka’s famous fish curries, and look for wildlife at Yala National Park, haunt of elephant and leopard. Annie’s deep local connections bring us into the heart of Sri Lanka as we meet a wonderful array of people, from tea planters and art collectors to monks who follow the traditions of Theravada Buddhism, introduced to the island in the 3rd century BC.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
Colombo / Anuradhapura / Polonnaruwa / Sigiriya

In Colombo, once the traditional gateway to the Orient, we explore the blend of east and west, then head out to visit the royal cities of ancient Sri Lanka. We discover three World Heritage Sites: the Buddhist gardens of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s capital for 1,300 years, 10th century Polonnaruwa, with its graceful pagodas, and King Kashyapa’s impressive citadel at Sigiriya. We’ll also be welcomed at a local school and in the historic village of Angampora, where we can watch students at a martial arts academy perform angampora, the 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 lunch in the home of a local professor and art collector, and travel up to tea country. In Kandy, the hill capital and last stronghold of the Sinhala kings, we’ll see the famous 16th century Temple of the Tooth, and from our heritage hotel above colonial Nuwara Eliya, walk through tea plantations and learn the fine art of “tasting” tea. A short rail journey brings us to the peaceful town of Ella, where we can enjoy a village bike ride and a lesson in preparing Sri Lankan cuisine.

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Days 11-13
Yala National Park / Galle

In Yala, we look for fabulous bird life, troops of monkeys chattering in the trees, and herds of wild elephant. After walking the ramparts of the historic seaside trading post of Galle, founded as a Dutch fort, we depart on Day 13 via Colombo.

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Highlights

Highlights

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 chalets set among rice paddies
Be welcomed into Sri Lankan culture, meeting monks, tea planters, artists, and students

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6795  
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