Splendors of Serendib

A wide-ranging exploration of Sri Lanka's cultural, natural, and historical sights
Overview

overview

A teardrop-shaped island nation off India’s southeast coast, Sri Lanka, rich in natural beauty and cultural splendors, is a world apart and offers a fantastic combination of tropical forests, beaches, otherworldly landscape, Buddhist ruins, and diverse wildlife.  Sri Lanka is also a well-known producer of tea, coffee, coconuts, rubber, and native cinnamon; it’s home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, and its animal and bird life abound. On this trip, you will visit Habarana, Polonnaruwa, Minneriya National Park, the rock fortress of Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, the rock temple at Mihintale, Dambulla, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Galle, a wonderful blend of cultural and historical attractions sure to intrigue and delight.

This trip combines well with travels in South India. Contact us for more information on how to make the most of your time in this amazing corner of the world.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Colombo/Kandalama

    On arrival at the Colombo International Airport, you will be met and transported to Kandalama, where the remainder of the day will be yours at leisure to rest from your travels and acclimate to this amazing country. You'll be conveniently based here for the next four nights.

    Meals
    Dinner
    Lodging
    Heritance Kandalama (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Dambulla/Polonnaruwa
    Explore the ruins at Polonnaruwa

    After breakfast, drive to Dambulla, a World Heritage site and the largest cave temple in Sri Lanka. Dambulla consists of five caves that contain over 150 images of the Buddha in total, the largest of which is 42 ft tall.

    Later, transfer to Polonnaruwa, the island's medieval capital (also a World Heritage Site). Walk around the ancient ruins, sit by the artificial lake that covers 6,000 acres, and view the remains of the Royal Palace.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Heritance Kandalama (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Sigiriya
    Explore Sigiriya Rock

    Today, you’ll climb the spectacular fifth century rock fortress of Sigiriya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of Sri Lanka’s most significant attractions. Built by King Kasyapa (477-495 AD), the “Lion Rock,” as it’s known, is a citadel of unusual beauty rising more than 650 feet above the jungle in a sheer and mysterious manner. The rock was initially the innermost stronghold of a large (175+ acre) fortified town that later became a monastic refuge in the 16th-17th centuries. It then fell into disrepair and was only rediscovered during 19th century British colonial rule. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens, including beautiful water gardens with royal bathing pools, moated islands, and pavilions, ring the base of the rock. While at the site, you’ll also visit the world-renowned frescoes of the “Heavenly Maidens” of Sigiriya in a sheltered rock niche approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster and, despite being only 22 of what were some 500 frescoes originally, are in remarkable condition, with colors still glowing brightly.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Heritance Kandalama (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Anuradhapura/Mihintale
    The Jetavanaramaya is a stupa located within the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

    Today you will drive to Anuradhapura, the first capital and once the grandest city of ancient Ceylon, where Sinhalese kings ruled for more than a thousand years. It is the home of two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and while there, you’ll visit several places of historical and archaeological interest. For example, Sri Maha Bodhi (sacred bodhu tree), is more than 2,200 years old and the oldest documented tree in the world. It was brought to the site as a sapling, where Prince Siddhartha is said to have attained enlightenment. The Brazen Palace, built more than 2,000 years ago, is remarkable for its 1,600 stone columns, all that’s left of a magnificent nine-story home to more than 1,000 monks. Ruvanvelisaya, also more than 2,000 years old, is the most famous of all the dagobas, or Buddhist monuments. The Samadhi Buddha statue (4th century) depicts the Buddha in a state of “samadhi,” or deep meditation, and is one of the finest statues in the country. Isurumuniya rock temple (3rd century BC) is well known for its very fine, well-preserved rock carvings.

    In the afternoon, head to the high rocky ruins of Mihintale, where Buddhism was first introduced more than 2,300 years ago. Climb a grand stairway of some 1,840 ancient granite steps to the summit from which there is a great panoramic view of the surrounding countryside. Along the way, the hillside is filled with shrines, sculptures, stupas, and rock dwellings.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Heritance Kandalama (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Matale/Kandy

    Travel to the town of Matale to see a spice garden, where you will learn about different spices, including how they are grown and processed. Also, observe a demonstation to learn how the spices are used in traditional medicine of Sri Lankan dishes. Afterward, continue on to Kandy and check into your hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Chaaya Citadel Hotel Kandy (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Kandy
    View of Kandy town

    Experience Kandy, the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Drive around lovely Kandy Lake, built by the last Sinhala king, Sri Wickrama Rajasingha, in 1807. Also visit the town, including (time permitting) its bazaar, the arts and crafts center, a gem museum, and a lapidary. This is followed by a visit to the Temple of the Tooth relic and a cultural show.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Chaaya Citadel Hotel Kandy (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Nuwara Eliya
    Visit a working tea estate

    Depart for Nuwara Eliya, an old British village known for its location in the heart of tea-growing country, its invigorating mountain climate and scenery, and its quaint hilltop resort atmosphere.  Along the way, stop at a tea plantation and tea factory, where it is said the best tea in the world is produced. Upon arriving in Nuwara Eliya, you'll visit another tea factory and estate to learn all about the country's tea industry.  Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, Pidurutalagala (about 8,300 feet) is also located here. You'll stay in the town of Nuwara Eliya for dinner and overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jetwing St. Andrews Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Galle
    Spend a couple of days exploring intriguing Galle

    After breakfast, you will depart for Galle, which was once the chief port of Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was named by the British), and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was and is still well known for its hand-made lace. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure, either for relaxing at your hotel or exploring on your own.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Galle Fort Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Galle
    Explore Galle Fort and other city sights

    Head into Galle town for a city tour, including Galle Fort, spanning some 90 acres, which was originally built by the Portuguese and later extended by the Dutch in 1663. There is also a very interesting Dutch Museum. Return to your hotel, where the evening is yours at leisure.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Galle Fort Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Colombo
    See temples and other sights in Colombo

    Following a relaxing morning in Galle, you will drive to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city and former (now administrative) capital, where you’ll take a city tour of both old and new sights. With a long history dating back to the 5th century when it was a stop on the sea trade route between Asia and the West, Colombo is changing quickly these days, with skyscrapers being built in some old sites and old world charm preserved in others. Visit British-era colonial buildings, the old clock tower, the Pettah bazaar (a great place for picking up a few mementos of your travels), mosques, churches, and Hindu and Buddhist temples. Head to your hotel for dinner and your last night in country.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    The Gateway Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Colombo/Onward
    Bid farewell to the country and its many colorful sights

    After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home, or perhaps onward for more adventures in this fascinating corner of the world. If your schedule permits, ask us for suggestions on extending your trip.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Dec 8-18, 2014
Mar 30-Apr 9, 2015
Dec 7-17, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$3,450
The cost quoted is the Land Cost and is subject to change. This covers accommodations, transfers, activities, touring, guide services and meals as described in JOURNEYS' Trip Notes. The quoted Land Cost will apply when group size falls in the specified range and when travel is on the indicated dates.
Single Supplement:
$900
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
11 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
3
Luxury boutique hotels
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
2
Luxury boutique hotels

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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