Arrival to Sri Lanka, Your Jonathans representative will meet you at the airport, and drive you to Habarana in the North Central plains of Sri Lanka, paying a visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage en route (Depends on your Arrival flight time). Providing a caring home for abandoned and wounded elephants, it is a much loved destination for tourists and locals alike. Here, adults and baby elephants from around Sri Lanka thrive, and a captive breeding program is also proving to be highly successful. The feeding and bathing times are generally the ideal times to visit when you can observe these gentle giants at their best
Lunch at local restaurant
Enjoy an exciting safari at Minneriya National Park where you can watch elephants in their rightful home – in the wilds. One of the most spectacular wildlife events in Sri Lanka is ‘The Gathering’, where hundreds of elephants arrive by the herd from the surrounding areas to the Minneriya reservoir. As the water level recedes at the height of the dry season, they gather to feast on the lush grass, and quench their thirst for water and play.
Overnight Stay at Habarana/Dambulla
After breakfast, set off to discover the 8th wonder of the world The Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Dating back to the 5th Century A.D, this astounding ‘city’ on the summit of a high outcrop was the royal citadel of King Kassapa for over 18 years. A miraculous feat of artistry and engineering, its unique features and exquisite frescoes continue to amaze all who visit it, even today. Sigiriya may have been inhabited through prehistoric times.
It was used as a rock shelter mountain monastery from about the 5th century with caves prepared and donated by devotees to the Buddhist sanga . The garden and place were built by king Kasyapa 477-495 AD following Kasyapa’s death it was again a monastery complex upto the 14th century after which was abandoned. The ruins were discovered in 1907 by British Explorer John Still.
Today Sigiriya is famous for its Mirror wall which consists of poems and paragraphs carved by visitors to the rock many years ago and for its magnificent frescoes of Shapely bejeweled maidens vibrant colours and the water garden similar to the Ajantha frescoes of India. Sigiriya is in fact the best preserved city center in Asia from the first millennium and has been named as a UNESCO word heritage site and 08th wonder of the world.
Hiriwaduna Village Tour
This is a typical countryside experience to the rural village of Hiriwadunna The trek begins with a beautiful walk along to a man-made reservoir. You will also experience a boat ride, bullock cart ride, rural vegetable cultivation, paddy fields and enjoy an authentic Sri Lankan rotti (a traditional food ) at a Village house.
Overnight Stay in Sigiriya
Dambulla Cave Temple
After breakfast proceed to Kandy visiting Dambulla cave temple
Dambulla is a world heritage site in Sri Lanka located north of Kandy in Matale district. The town of Dambulla is built around a large granite outcrop concealing an impressive Buddhist cave temple complex Raja Maha Vihara dating from the 1st century BC. It is the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka.
The murals covering an area of 2,100 sq. ft. meters including depictions of Buddha’s temptation by Mara and Buddha’s first sermon. Dambulla Cave Temple is the best preserved cave temple complex in the country with beautiful statues and paintings.
Lunch at Local restaurant
Thereafter leave for the hill capital of Kandy, visiting a spice garden at Matale en route. Our spices have been sought after for centuries, and continue to be a celebrated export, even today.
Enjoy a city tour of Kandy – the last kingdom of the Sinhalese, taking in the sights of Upper Lake Drive and the Market Square on the way to pay homage to one of the most sacred religious sites in Sri Lanka. The Temple of the Tooth ( Dalada Maligawa) is believed to house the ‘tooth relic’ of the Lord Buddha. A walk around the town will let you indulge in some souvenir hunting with intricate treasures in wood, copper, silver, brass, ebony, bronze, ceramics, lacquer work, handlooms, batiks factory, gem museum and reed-ware to choose from.
Round off your day with a cultural show, where the vibrant costumes and pulsating rhythms of traditional dance forms from centuries old rituals will enthrall you.
Overnight Stay at Kandy
After breakfast, head ‘up country’ and the city of Nuwara Eliya, stopping by at the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens en route. 147 acres of lushness with over 5000 species of trees and plants many of which are rare or endemic; a spice garden and an Orchid house are yours to explore. Continue to Nuwara Eliya, visiting the Ramboda waterfalls and a tea factory along the way.
The old colonial outpost still referred to as ‘Little England’ Nuwara Eliya certainly lives up to its name. Perched 6200 feet above sea level, the climate too, adds to the illusion of one stepping into an old English town, where neat hedges, quaint cottages and beautiful old buildings stand as serene as they did well over a century ago – the magnificent Grand Hotel presiding over them all. There is, of course, an old golf course as well as horse racing events to complete the picture.
Overnight Stay at Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast drive to Galle Leave for an excursion to the Heritage city of Galle. For centuries Galle has stood strong against invasions – from colonial powers and nature’s volatile outbursts. The famous Dutch Fort was first built by the Portuguese, fortified by the Dutch and preserved by the British. Battered daily for over 400 years by the ocean it even survived the onslaught of a tsunami and is enjoyed today by residents and visitors alike.
The colonial architecture of the walled city too has resisted the advance of modernity and holds tightly to its past glory.
Continue the journey along the coast taking in the unique sight of Stilt Fishing along the shores of Ahangama. An iconic image of Sri Lanka, Stilt Fishing is a skill handed down from one generation to the next: an ancient tradition that is sadly on the decline.
Further along the coast, you will visit the Turtle Hatchery at Kosgoda – a successful conservation effort established to protect Sri Lanka’s turtles from extinction. (optional depending on time – watching corals in HIkkaduwa)
Leasure at beach Overnight Stay at Hikkaduwa
After lunch leave to the airport for your departure flight on the way do a Colombo city tour and shopping