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Itinerary

Tour Itinerary

Explore ruins and archaeological sites with local experts, take in a lecture on elephant conservation, search out leopards at Wilpattu National Park, enjoy a taste of tea at its source, learn about local ingredients and flavours during a cooking demonstration

  1. Day 1
    Colombo
    Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included.
    Activity: The adventure begins tonight. Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you're back in time to meet the group. Check for the meeting time on the welcome note at the hotel. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour. Please note that normal check-in times apply at our start hotels, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early.
    Transport: You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel to start your adventure.
    Accommodation: The Steuart by Citrus (or similar)
  2. Day 2
    Colombo/Wilpattu National Park
    Begin the day with a visit to a coconut plantation. Coconut is one of Sri Lanka's major exports, and many local industries utilize coconut-based by-products. Continue north to Wilpattu National Park, one of the oldest parks in the country and home to a significant leopard population. Explore the park on a 4x4 with a local expert, hearing about conservation efforts and the issues of human encroachment on wildlife reserves, and keep an eye out for elephants, wild boar, sloth bear, spotted deer, and of course, leopards. Spend the night at a safari camp located just outside the park.
    Activity: Visit a local coconut plantation and learn about the importance of this crop to local people and the country as a major export. Sri Lanka is fortunate that the coconut palm is native to the island and lush plantations cover a large portion of coastal areas. Many local industries are founded in coconut based products using all parts of the fruit including the kernel, shell, husk, and fiber.
    Activity: Explore Wilpattu, one of the largest and oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka, renowned for its leopard population. Explore the park by jeep with a local expert to observe the local flora and fauna, but be on the lookout for the parks most famed resident, the leopard. Also discuss wildlife conservation in the area and the conflicts of human encroachment on wildlife reserves.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Accommodation: Big Game Camp Wilpattu (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  3. Day 3
    Wilpattu National Park/Anuradhapura
    Travel to the sacred city of Anuradhapura, an ancient capital of Sri Lanka dating to the third century B.C. Take your time to wander the palaces, gardens, Buddhist temples, and monasteries of this splendid UNESCO World Heritage site, and opt to explore the ruins by bike with a professional cycling guide.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Activity: Tour the ruins and monasteries of Sri Lanka's first capital. A symbol of Sinhalese power, this is the nation's most extensive and important ancient city.
    Accommodation: Palm Garden Village (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast
  4. Day 4
    ANURADHAPURA/HABARANA/DAMBULLA
    Venture to the thriving village of Habarana, where we'll get a chance to glimpse daily rural life. Explore the area by traditional bull cart, visiting lush vegetable fields and rice paddies. Take a stroll through town and meet some of Habarana's residents. Float in a canoe down a picturesque lake, and sit down for a lunch of local specialties. Later, continue to Dambulla for the evening.
    Activity: Visit the thriving Village of Habarana for a glimpse of authentic rural life in Sri Lanka's North Central Province. Travel by foot, traditional bull cart and canoe in this scenic region, visiting farms of lush vegetable fields and rice paddies, surrounded by a landscape of green jungle and picturesque lakes. Walk through the town to meet some of its residents and vendors and gain an understanding of their largely agricultural life. Take a canoe ride on the lake, then sit down to a lunch of local specialties.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Accommodation: Sigiriana Resort by Thilanka (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
  5. Day 5
    Dambulla
    This morning, discover one of Sri Lanka's most iconic sights—the striking fortress of Sigiriya, or the Lion's Rock. This royal city and UNESCO World Heritage site was built in the fifth century on the slopes and summit of an imposing granite peak. Climb up a series of steep steps to reach the top, and encounter beautiful gardens, caves, monasteries, and palaces adorned with frescoes. Enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle, and return to Dambulla for some free time around town.
    Activity: Be mesmerized by this rock fortress, which captivates every visitor with its well-laid out gardens, caves, monasteries, and palaces adorned with beautiful wall motifs. Start at the water gardens and climb more than 1,200 steps to reach the top. Pass caves with frescoes and boulders to find the ruins of a palace on the flat surface of the old volcanic magma rock. The rock rests 370m (1,213 ft) above sea level with a shear drop on all sides.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Accommodation: Sigiriana Resort by Thilanka (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast
  6. Day 6
    Dambulla/Kandy
    Set out to explore the impressive Dambulla Cave Temple, the largest and best-preserved collection of cave shrines in Sri Lanka. Admire stunning Buddhist murals and a trove of Buddha statues, including a spectacular reclining Buddha carved out of solid rock. Then visit a spice garden in Matale to learn about the therapeutic uses of local spices. Continue to Kandy and enjoy a tour of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, an important pilgrimage site which houses a tooth of the Buddha. This evening, we'll take in a performance of traditional music at a cultural show.
    Activity: Visit the ancient Dambulla cave temples at one of the most well-preserved temple and cave sites in Sri Lanka. See Buddhist mural paintings that line the walls of the seventh-century caves as well as a collection of hundreds of statues of Buddha in different poses.
    Activity: Visit a spice garden and marvel at the various spices used as natural medicines and as condiments in food.
    Activity: Enjoy a tour of the Temple of the Tooth, which houses an important relic - a tooth of Lord Buddha kept in a well-preserved golden casket. Learn about the importance of this site from local guides.
    Activity: Be swept away by an entertaining performance that will provide insight into the local culture in Kandy.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.

    Meals: Breakfast
  7. Day 7
    Kandy
    Kandy served as the last capital of Sri Lanka's Sinhala dynasty before the British took complete control of the island in 1815. Spend the day exploring the city, visiting the breathtaking Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya, once accessible only to the royal family. Afterward, stop by Sthree Craft Shop and Café, a G Adventures-supported social enterprise that works to empower local women and youth. View a handicraft demonstration and hear a talk about the enterprise before enjoying a tasting of local teas, accompanied by scones and pastries. Later, opt for a stroll through the city and around Kandy Lake, or enjoy a rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage.
    Activity: Enjoy a leisurely walk in the colourful Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. See 300 varieties of orchids of Sri Lanka as well as a range of other plants.
    Activity: Stop by Sthree Craft Shop and Café, a G for Good-supported social enterprise created in partnership with The Women's Development Centre, an organization that supports training and work opportunities for local women and disabled youth from the Kandy area. "Sthree" means "women" in both Tamil and Sinhala - fitting as the shop and café is both a place for local women to hone their hospitality skills, while selling handicrafts sourced from all over Sri Lanka.
    Activity: Visit Sthree Craft Shop and Café to indulge in High Tea and a handicraft-making demonstration from a member the shop's training program. Sit down for a talk from one of the project organizers about what they do, while you enjoy a taste of local teas and an assortment of sweet cakes and pastries.
    Free Time: Opt to visit an Ayurvedic hospital to learn about Ayurvedic oil massage treatments or explore the well-laid out walkways of the city and don't miss the famed Palm Avenues.

    Meals: Breakfast
  8. Day 8
    Kandy/Nuwara Eliya
    Travel through scenic mountains to the town of Nuwara Eliya, in the heart of Sri Lankan tea country. Visit a tea plantation to gain insight into the cultivation and production of this beloved beverage, and savour a cup of perfectly blended Ceylon tea. Then head out on a tour of Nuwara Eliya and its lush surroundings, once governed by English and Scottish planters, following cool, misty roads through blankets of tea bushes. This afternoon, opt to take high tea at the colonial-era Grand Hotel, originally the holiday home of Sir Edward Barnes, the fifth Governor of Ceylon.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Activity: The town of Nuwara Eliya produces the finest Orange Pekoe Ceylon tea, and is inhabited mainly by tea planters and plantation workers. Pay a visit to one of the factories to learn all about tea production.
    Activity: Enjoy a tour of colonial Nuwara Eliya and its lush surroundings. Follow misty roads, through lush green blankets of tea bushes into a cooler climate, that remind visitors of an English countryside atmosphere. Once governed by English and Scottish planters - the area still offers colonial bungalows, hedgerows and one of the finest 18-hole golf courses in the world.
    Accommodation: Grand Hotel (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast
  9. Day 9
    NUWARA ELIYA/HORTON PLAINS NATIONAL PARK/UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
    Venture out early this morning into Horton Plains National Park, a protected natural area encompassing high altitude grasslands and hilly cloud forest. Enjoy a picnic breakfast, and culminate your trek at a point known as World's End—a majestic drop that provides incredible views over the verdant plains and coastline to the south. Then continue to our tented camp on the border of Udawalawe National Park. This evening, enjoy a cooking demonstration by the camp chef, learning about local specialties.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Activity: Get close to nature and stunning scenery on this Horton Plains Trek. Hike 9km (6 mi) into the Horton Plains and walk through the clouds to discover a majestic drop that provides amazing views over the plains into the sea.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Activity: Enjoy a cooking demonstration and see how local Sri Lankan delicacies are prepared.
    Accommodation: Big Game Camping Udawalawe (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  10. Day 10
    UDAWALAWE NATIONAL PARK
    A sanctuary for large herds of elephants, Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places in the world to observe these majestic pachyderms. Embark on a jeep safari through the park seeking out the abundant wildlife, including water buffalo, jackals, and various species of deer. Afterward, visit the Elephant Transit Home, a refuge and rehabilitation center for orphaned elephants. Watch the resident elephants as they feed, play, and mingle with each other, and hear from one of the facility's conservationists.
    Activity: Drive through this massive nature reserve and keep an eye out for the mighty Sri Lankan elephants - they live in abundance here and often wander along the road. Make several stops to observe these beautiful animals.
    Activity: Sri Lanka is home to a significant elephant population - estimated at approximately 4,000. The Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home was established in 1995 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation, to treat and rehabilitate injured elephants that have been found in the area - before releasing them back into the wilderness. Drop by this incredible facility to watch - rather than touch - these gentle giants as they feed, play, and mingle with each other. Meet one of the centre's conservationists who will talk about the work they do here, including its challenges and its successes.
    Accommodation: Big Game Camping Udawalawe (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  11. Day 11
    Udawalawe/Negombo
    Drive to Negombo and spend the day at leisure. This small port town has seen Portguese, Dutch, and British rule—reflected in the architecture of the old quarter—and used to be a centre of the cinnamon trade. Choose to visit the Old Dutch Fort, step into one of the town's ornate Catholic churches, or enjoy a stroll on the beach.
    Transport: Settle in and scan the scenery from the convenience of a private vehicle.
    Accommodation: Jetwing Sea Hotel (or similar)

    Meals: Breakfast
  12. Day 12
    Negombo
    Depart at any time.
    Activity: Not ready to leave? Your CEO can help with travel arrangements to extend your adventure.

    Meals: Breakfast

OR Call Us For a Free Quote 1-800-935-2620

Inclusions

Meals:
11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners

Transportation:
Private vehicle, boat, 4x4, walking

Inclusions
Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Wilpattu Safari and Conservation Talk, Wilpattu National Park Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Agricultural Village Experience, Habarana Your Journeys Highlight Moment: High Tea and Handicrafts, Kandy Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Elephant Rehabilitation Centre, Udawalawe Your G for Good Moment: Sthree Craft Shop and Café, Kandy Your Hands-On Moment: Visit a Coconut Plantation, Colombo Your Foodie Moment: Sri Lankan Cooking Demonstration, Udawalawe. Arrival transfer. Tour of Anuradhapura ruins. Tour the Sigiriya rock fortress. Dambulla cave temple visit. Visit a Matale spice garden. Tour the Temple of the Tooth. Cultural show. Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. Tour Nuwara Eliya area and a Ceylon tea plantation. Hike in Horton Plains National Park. Safari drive in Udawalawe National Park. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

OR Call Us For a Free Quote 1-800-935-2620

Accommodations

Hotel/lodges (9 nts), tented camp (2 nts).

OR Call Us For a Free Quote 1-800-935-2620

Questions & Answers

Question: How many suitcases can I take with me on my trip?

Each person is allowed one "check-in," and one "carry-on." Remember to take all valuables with you as "carry-on", because electronic equipment, cameras, laptops, jewelry, business documents and money are not covered by the airlines' liability, so always carry them aboard with you.

Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?

Airfare from your point of origin to and from the trip is not included in the land price.

National Geographic Tours Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4.2
Accommodations
3.6
Itinerary
4.4
Professional Staff
4.8
Repeat with Operator
4.2
Value for Money
3.9

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Ratings based off 42 reviews about National Geographic Tours - currently showing 2 reviews with comments only

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