This is an innovative itinerary designed to discover some of the hotspots of biological and cultural diversity of Sri Lanka. This itinerary will allow you to visit some of the most important archeological sites of Sri Lanka and the best of its nature. The island may be small in size, but the variety of habitats, and the wildlife found here, would do justice to a country many time its size. This 14 days tour will show you all the ancient ruins, Unesco heritage sites, spices plantations, organic crops and even a safari to admire – if you are very lucky – the magnificent elephants and leopards in the Yala and Gal Oya’s National Park. You will visit the main cities such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and Kandy with their important tourist attractions. There will be also some stops in places which are less touristic but more authentic, such as Kurunegala, where you could live many experiences such as the visit of a fair trade cooperative, which is partner of Altromercato, the biggest italian fair trade organization, and you will live an “Altromercato Experience”; the visit of the organic gardens and rice fields to discover local agriculture techniques.
The trip in Sri Lanka (ancient Ceylon) starts from Negombo and continues in the northern city of Kurunegala, with the visit of the fair-trade project. Then you will visit one of the ancient capitals, Anuradhapura with her huge stone tanks that collect monsoon rainwater, the Ruwanweli’s stupa and other many attractions. you’ll go to Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya to watch all their important UNESCO heritage’s historical sites and the caves of Dambulla, where you’ll admire the wall paintings on the life of Buddha. From here you’ll move to the interior of Sri Lanka in one of the most uncontamineted forest of the island, Gal Oya’s National Park, where you will stay in a beautiful eco-resort located into the forest. The National Park is truly one of the secret treasures of Sri Lanka, where you could have boat safari and see elephants while they are swimming. Here you’ll have the rare possibility of meet the one and only Sri Lanka’s indigenous community, the Vedda (Vanniyaletto).
The tour will continue to Kandy and to the Buddhist temple that preserve the relic of the tooth of Buddha, then with the visit the Botanical Garden of Perdanya. Later we will visit Nuwara Eliya’s city, called Little England, because during British domination, the British generals took advantage of its altitude to escape the summer heat of the plain; here you could visit tea plantations and the processing method of one of the most popular tea in the world. From here you will go to the beautiful, silent and strange world of the Horton Plains. Here you will discover the surprising diversity of wildlife trekking in the shadows of Sri Lanka’s second and third highest mountains. A toy train will bring you from Nuawara Eliya to Ella, where you will visit tea plantation and go for a hike to Little Adam’s Peak.
You will next visit the city of Kattaragama, where you could watch the religious practices of a pilgrimage town that welcome devotees of differents religions. This has been identified as the sacred place of Buddhism, Hinduism and an aboriginal faith, known as Vedda. Then, you will go for a jungle safari into Yala’s National Park, one of the few parks in the world which boasts a high density of leopards.
You next discover will be the most preserved rainforest of Sinharaja where you will experience an unique trekking inside the richest store of biodiversity in Sri Lanka. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve represents Sri Lanka’s only rainforest and it is a living repository of a pristine ecosystem. The forest’s high biodiversity includes flora endemic to the country as well as some endemic to the forest itself. The last destination of this tour will be the beach town of Mirissa, one of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka.
Here you will experience the thrill of searching for blue whales and dolphins, as they swim in their natural habitat in Mirissa on a guided boat tour.
A once in a lifetime experience!
Registration can be requested for group travel or for self-travel. For group travel, registration is not binding. Upon reaching the minimum number of members necessary for the formation of the group, usually 4 or 6 people, you will be asked for confirmation of booking and payment of a deposit.
1° DAY: COLOMBO – NEGOMBO
Early arrival in the morning. Meeting with one of our representatives. Transfer to Negombo. Free time for the rest of the day to relax.
Overnight in Negombo.
2° DAY: NEGOMBO – ANURADHAPURA
Early departure to Kurenagala (about 2 hours trip). You’ll spend the day with Selyn Fair Trade, an organization of artisans that takes part to the Altromercato Experience project. You will discover this authentic and interesting Fair Trade reality; a weaving centre, where expert hands “create” wonderful toys, not only with hand looms. The first stop of the visit will be at the printing department, where the production process of textiles starts with the yarn dyeing. Lunch at the centre. Then you’ll move to watch artisans women managing the manual weaving on the loom and, if you would, you could try this beautiful art. Then you’ll visit also Selyn’s kindergarten and the factory where, thanks to the Fair Trade, products are sold. Lastly, you’ll visit Wanduragala’s shop, where you’ll find products and gifts to bring home. After the visit, transfer to Anuradhapura and check in to the hotel.
Overnight in Anuradhapura (B,L,D).
3° DAY: ANURADHAPURA – AVUKANA – DAMBULLA
After breakfast, transfer to Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka from IV century b.C. till XI century a.C.. The beauty of the city will leave you breathless. You’ll see the Jayasri Maha Bodhi ( the sacred fig), the statue of Samadhi Buddha, the sculpture in stone in the Isurumuniya’s temple, Ruwanweli’s stupa and many others attractions of this great 2500 years old city. Very interesting are the huge stone tanks used to collect and carry the water of the monsoons. This magnificent and old irrigation system, with tanks and canals, is the main attraction of Anuradhapura. Departure for Aukana (45 minutes), ancient buddhist site, for the visit of stone sculptures. After the visit, return to Dambulla.
Overnight in Dambulla (B, D).
4° DAY: DAMBULLA – POLONNARUWA – DAMBULLA
After breakfast, departure to Polonnaruwa (1 hour and half); UNESCO heritage site, also famous for his similarity with Angkor Wat, with the royal palace and the public hearing room. You’ll have a special lunch in a farm near Pollonnaruwa. In the afternoon, trip to Sigiriya where we’ll take a 25 minutes visit of Sigiriya’s fortress, which dates back to the Mesolithic period and is more than 5000 years old. Enjoy the climbing to this ancient fortress, wanted by king Kashyapa. Known also as the Lion Rock, it has interesting frescoes and graffiti.
Overnight in Dambulla (B,D).
5° DAY: DAMBULLA – MEET THE VEDDA MAHIYANGANA
After early breakfast visit the Dambulla cave complex, where there are 5 caves carved into a 150m high rock with wall paintings of the life of Buddha. Transfer to Mahiangana and check in the hotel. Today you will have the chance to meet the Vedda (Vanniyaletto), the indigenous people of Sri Lanka. The term Vedda (or hunter) is a name given by Sinhala-speakers, while Veden is the term used in Tamil. The people refer to themselves as Vanniyaletto (forest dwellers). Meet your guide and tracker at the hotel lobby. On the way to the village, you will get the opportunity to visit the ‘Mawaragala forest monastery’. As you enter the village, you will meet the Chief at his residence and seek his permission to tour the village. Next, you will head towards the museum where you will receive a flambeau and a demonstration of traditional hunting methods, cultural activities and folk dance. Visit the village and explore their life style and cultural practices.
Overnight in Mahiyangana (B, D)
6° DAY: TREKKING ON WHEHERAGALA MOUNTAIN
Early morning (if you start at 5 am you will have the chance to see the sun rise) meet your guide and tracker at the hotel lobby and start your journey by crossing the lake by boat. On top of the Weheragala mountain, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the locale where you will spot about 5 lakes, paddy fields and temples. On your return, you will enjoy some refreshments and a live cooking demonstration in a village house at the edge of the mountain. Walk back to the hotel through the village. Later transfer to Kandy (around 2,30 hours). On the way visit the much revered Mahiyangana Temple, a site pilgrimage of Buddha’s first visit to the island, and among Sri Lanka’s most sacred places. Later afternoon or evening visit the temple of the sacred Tooth, very famous relic venerated by buddhists.
Overnight in Kandy (B, D).
7° DAY: BOTANICAL GARDEN VISIT
Breakfast. In the morning visit of Kandy and of its famous and wonderful botanical garden. Departure with car/bus; the road climbs up the hill which is rich of tea plantations that offers unforgettable images. After about two hours and half we’ll arrive in Nurawa Eliya; this place was also called “little England” because in the period of British domination, the British generals took advantage of its altitude to escape the summer heat of the plain. On the arrival at Nuwara Eliya, check into the booked hotel. Afterward, visit a tea plantation and “Pedro” Tea factory. Return to the hotel, for a dinner and overnight stay.
Overnight in Nuawara Eliya (B, D).
8° DAY: TREKKING IN THE HORTON PLAINS
Early morning at 0600 hrs, leave to Horton plains by jeep (optional) with picnic breakfast. Horton Plains is a plateau at an altitude of 2,100–2,300 meters (6,900–7,500 ft) which is rich in biodiversity. Many species found here are endemic to the region. It is also a popular tourist destination and is situated 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Nuwara Eliya. The walk is about 9 km and it takes 3-4 hrs. You can witness different varieties of animals such as leopards, indigenous monkeys, Sri Lankan Sambar deer. You can see the Mini world’s end as well as the Great world’s end in your walk. The world’s end is a special landscape area which you can see the southern coastal area. Return to hotel. In the evening, city tour of Nuwara Eliya followed by a walk in the market place included with a vast range of vendors in a small complex such as vegetable stalls, fish and dried fish stalls, butcher shops filled with dashing colors. Back to the hotel, for dinner and overnight stay.
Overnight in Nuawara Eliya (B, D).
9° DAY: HIKE TO LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK
After breakfast leave for Ella by train. This is the most beautiful train journey in Sri Lanka, as it travels through numerous mountain tunnels, tea plantations, eucalyptus forests, valleys and the famous Nine Arch Bridge providing you amazing views. The chauffeur will pick you up at Ella Railway Station. Arrive in Ella, check into the hotel. Late afternoon hike in Little Adam’s Peak in Ella. Starting from Bandarawela walk in the rail roads, forests, mountains with panoramic views, Climb Ella Rock, Little Adams’s Peak and reach Ella town. This is approximately 4 hours of trekking trip. Later return to hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
Overnight in Ella (B, D).
10° DAY: SAFARI IN YALA NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast visit the famous Ella waterfalls and see it cascading downhill peacefully. From the hills of Ella descend to the jungles of Tissamaharama and yala National park. After lunch proceed to the spiritual city of Kataragama. Once in Kataragama visit the Kataragama shrine, dedicated to God Skanda (Murugan) the God of Love and War. It is believed that this Devala was started in the 2nd Century B.C. by King Dutugemunu (167 –137 B.C.). Today Kataragama is a place of worship for Buddhists, Hindus and some Muslims. Later transfer to tissamaharama eco-resort. In the evening visit one of the foremost places to visit in Sri Lanka, the Yala National Park is famous for the elusive leopard and has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world. The sloth bear and Asian elephant that are also part of Sri Lanka’s Big Five can be spotted. With some good luck you will witness all these creatures and more over an evening jeep safari accompanied by a naturalist guide.
Overnight in Tissamaharama (B, D).
11° DAY: JUNGLE TREKKING IN SINHARAJA
After breakfast transfer to Sinharaja Rain Forest (3 ,5 hours drive approximately). On arrival check in the hotel. In the the afternoon walk to the tea estate village and later have a rainforest walk. Sinharaja, the largest great lowland Gondwanan Rainforest in Southern Asia is the richest store of biodiversity in Sri Lanka. Sinharaja covers a narrow silver of land 21 km long and 3.7 km wide, covering an area of roughly 11,187 hectares. This rainforest is home to the highest concentration of endemic species of plants and animals, several of which are rare or endangered. It contains 36 percent of all vertebrates found in Sri Lanka and 43 percent of all endemic species found on the island..
Overnight in Sinharaja (B, D)
12° DAY: JUNGLE TREKKING IN SINHARAJA
Early morning start for bird watching trail. Sinharaja Rain Forest is home to over 25 endemic species and a myriad of others, Sinharaja is fondly referred to as a bird watcher’s paradise. Indulge in the sound of the leafy everglades, in wait of the prize, Blue Magpie or the Sri Lanka White Eye. Later return to the hotel for breakfast. Later go fora jungle trek through the quaint paths of Sinharaja where placid undergrowth lie in wait for the appreciation of all who wish to indulge in the tranquil wilderness of Sri Lanka’s world renowned rainforest. In the afternoon transfer to Mirissa (around 2,5 hours by car). Check in the hotel and rest by Mirissa beach.
Overnight in mirissa (B, D).
13° DAY: WHALE WATCHING IN MIRISSA
After breakfast, go for an exciting whale and dolphin watching. Often spotted blue whales are the biggest animals in the world and Mirissa is the best place for whale and dolphin watching tours in Sri Lanka. Whale watching season in Mirissa is from November to April. Afternoon free to relax on the beach.
Overnight in mirissa (B/L).
14° DAY: transfer to COLOMBO
After breakfast, transfer to Colombo for your international flight.
All the itinerary has been designed in order to promote direct or indirect benefits for local communities, environment and cultural heritages. When possible, we have selected traditional accommodations sensible to social and environmental issues, following general principles and practices of responsible tourism.
During the journey we’ll stop in Kurunegala, you’ll have the chance to discover an artisans cooperative, the Selyn Fair Trade one, partner of the fair trade consortium of Altromercato for an Altromercato Experience. You’ll be introduced in this true and interesting reality of fair trade by visiting the cooperative during their work hours. During your journey, you will also have the opportunity to meet the local communities and to discover their initiatives of biological agriculture. The local guide will shows you many local spices, vegetables and fruits to indicate their agriculture techniques.
The best way to get in touch with the local communities is to spend a day with them to better understand their lifestyle.
During the journey it is advised to follow a conduct which respects local culture to avoid any hassles or unwanted troubles along your journey. In particular, avoid displays of affection in public places, such as hugging, kissing etc., as this behaviour is not appreciated by local people.
It is also important to follow a certain dress code. There are basically two reasons why it is recommended to be careful about what clothes you wear here. The first reason is to avoid hurting local people’s feelings and second is to protect yourself from the unstable weather conditions. Besides, mosquitoes are a huge issue and it is advised to keep your arms and legs covered (don’t forget to bring mosquito nets and repellents, especially for backwaters cruises). Sri Lanka’s time zone is +4:30 hours, 3:30 hours with daylight savings time, so you could have some problems with the jet lag. It is advised that you get onto this time zone as soon as you leave home and try to eat and sleep according local time. Also, if you reach India early in the day, try to stay awake – this will help the body’s internal clock to reset. A conscious approach to travel requires a considerable capacity and willingness to adapt and adjust to the local environment and culture. If you wish to travel with us we request you to be open enough to experience local culture, religious and traditions without bias and pre-conceived ideas you might have before the departure and which belong to our Western cultural way of thinking.
Exploring with fresh eyes, with patience and openness, you will be able to access the real essence of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage through the places and people you meet. With this little effort, you will truly enjoy the beauty of a totally different culture and the wonder of nature.
Once you make this little effort, you’ll be truly able to enjoy of the beauty of a completely different culture and of the wonders of the nature.
We selected beautiful and traditional heritages resorts with all the facilities throughout the tour. When possible, resorts have been selected carefully according to criteria of social and environmental impacts.
Private vehicles o mini-buses with conditioned air according to the number of participants for all the itinerary in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka the climate is tropical, hot and humid all the year and it is marked by the monsoons that determine the trend of the rains. The best period for visit Sri Lanka is in the dry season from December to March for the western and southern coasts and from May to September for the eastern coast. Having said that the positive note is that there will always be a part of the country where the climate is perfect to organize a journey in Sri Lanka, and however being close to the equator, the temperatures are more or less constant all year long.