Covering all the ‘musts', from Colombo's city sights to the Lion Rock, Temple of the Tooth and Udawalawe National Park, this trip also reveals many Sri Lankan surprises.
You'll enjoy Insider moments like… passing hill stations and plantations on a train journey deep into Sri Lanka's tea country, before plucking fresh tea leaves and learning the art of ‘tasting' at a Ceylon Tea factory. And feeling the warm hit of local spices as you enjoy lunch with a local family in Katugastota.
Board your overnight flight to Asia (not included).
Begin your City Tour this morning at Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya, one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. Marvel at its eastern architecture, remarkable frescoes and learn of the many legends that surround this religious site. Continue on your tour and see the Old Parliament House, the Town Hall and Independence Square, before making a stop at the oldest Hindu Kovil in Colombo, Sri Kailawasanthan Swami Devasthanam. This afternoon enjoy some free time to relax, explore further or take part in an Optional Experience. Later see another charming side of Colombo as you drive around the city by ‘tuk tuk'. Make a stop to sample some local snacks and experience the flavors and spices of Ceylon, a Cultural Insight, before returning to your hotel.
This morning get a deeper insight into a simpler lifestyle as you leave the city behind and head for the village of Horakelle. Take a walk around a tranquil garden surrounded by a coconut plantation, spice trees and fruit trees. A bit later meet a local villager and assist in preparing lunch, a Cultural Insight. Then continue on to your next destination the Cultural Triangle whose enchanting sites date back to the 4th century B.C. En route discover the Dambulla Rock Cave Temple, part of a complex that lies atop a massive hill on the edge of the town and is one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. It is renowned for its unique sculptures and the largest mural paintings. Later check into your hotel.
This morning get an early start to avoid the heat of the day and visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress from the 5th Century that rises from the jungle. Choose to climb to the top of ‘Lion Rock' or just go up halfway to the ‘Lions Paw'. Alternatively take a stroll around the gardens at the base and admire the scenery. Enjoy a later breakfast before continuing to Polonnaruwa, once the site of Sri Lanka's second medieval capital. The landscape is studded with well-preserved archaeological sites. Return to your hotel for a relaxing evening.
This morning your choice of activities gives you two Cultural Insight experiences in the village of Habarana. Choose between taking part in a traditional folklore dance lesson with a Local Specialist or visit a forest hermitage to see the dwelling of a Buddhist monk and learn about the art of meditation. Continue your journey on to Kandy and on arrival check-in to your hotel. Enjoy some free time to relax or go out and explore the city with a walk around the lake or a visit to a local market. This evening visit the Temple of the Tooth, where a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha is enshrined. At dusk observe a religious service (pooja) accompanied by traditional music and drumming.
This morning depart the hotel by tuk-tuk and travel to the village of Katugastota to meet a Local Specialist, a senior from the village who will demonstrate how to play a beat or two on the ‘Beraya' (a traditional drum). Ancient sources reveal that these drums were used for special occasions and have become an integral part of life in Buddhist Temples. Take a walk through the village to the home of a local family for a special Be My Guest lunch. The family lives in a small traditional house built in the late 1950's with a Kandyan style garden that has many spice trees planted for their own personal use. The staple food of Sri Lanka is rice, which is eaten for lunch with a combination of spicy curries. Engage in conversation with the family to learn all about local life in the village; they have some great stories to tell! Later return to Kandy for a free afternoon and evening.
This morning travel by train through Sri Lanka's tea country to Gampola. Along the way you will see the hill villages and observe the daily lives of the local people. See how Ceylon tea is made and become a discerning tea taster on a Tea Factory tour, a Cultural Insight. Learn the art of picking the tender tea shoots, generally referred to as ‘plucking'. Take part in a tea plucking competition - it is not as easy as it looks but is great fun! For lunch enjoy a Regional Meal of ‘lamprais', rice boiled in stock accompanied by curry and baked in a banana leaf in the oven. Continue to Nuwara Eliya, dubbed the ‘Little England of Sri Lanka' and located in the misty hills of the island. The colonial atmosphere remains preserved and it resembles a British countryside complete with rose gardens, hedges and red-roofed bungalows.
This morning travel to Hakgala to take part in a unique reforestation program by assisting with the planting of trees to help save Sri Lanka's elusive Loris, a slender nocturnal animal that spends most of its life in trees. This will be followed by a short session conducted by a Local Specialist to learn more about this beautiful yet rather exceptional creature; how it is threatened by habitat destruction and the importance of protecting it. From here continue to Udawalawe National Park, home to scenic landscapes and rare wildlife. Tour the park by jeep and observe the animals in their natural habitat. Dinner this evening will be at the hotel.
This morning visit the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home, a halfway house that cares for wounded adult elephants and orphaned baby elephants run by the Born Free Foundation. Continue to UNESCO World Heritage site, Galle. Old Galle is a unique example of a preserved 17th century colonial fortress. This afternoon take a walking tour of Galle Fort to view the great ramparts, massive bastions, pepper pot towers and wander the narrow streets that display its Dutch heritage. Peep through frangipani filled courtyards at houses, galleries and shops selling antiques, spices, pictures and hand-woven sarongs. Free time this evening to relax or explore further.
10 nights' accommodations, 10 buffet breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners.
|Depart Date||Return Date||Price||Discount||Availability||Price|
|31 Aug 17||11 Sep 17||$2,650pp||Request Quote Book Now|
|28 Sep 17||9 Oct 17||$2,650pp||Request Quote Book Now|
|26 Oct 17||6 Nov 17||$2,750pp||Call 1-877-622-9109|
|9 Nov 17||20 Nov 17||$2,750pp||Request Quote Book Now|
|23 Nov 17||4 Dec 17||$2,750pp||Call 1-877-622-9109|
|7 Dec 17||18 Dec 17||$2,775pp||Call 1-877-622-9109|
|21 Dec 17||1 Jan 18||$3,575pp||Request Quote Book Now|
Solo Travelers: These dates offer a discounted single supplement rate.
Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.
Single Room Supplement: from $820.
Room Share: Guaranteed Room Share is not available on this trip.
Visas are generally required for Sri Lanka, please call for details.
Early Payment Discount: Pay in full to save the amount listed above. For details, click here.
AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift! Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.
Past Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the price of the vacation.
Special Discounts: At times we offer discounted departures. These discounts are valid for new bookings only and are not combinable with any other discounts other than our Past Traveler Discount and $100 AARP Member Discount. Other restrictions may apply, please call for details
U.S. citizens traveling to Sri Lanka must have a current passport that is valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here. Travelers visiting Sri Lanka will also need an entry visa. We will send you application forms to complete to obtain your visa prior to departure. Visa costs and entry requirements can change at any time. Please visit travel.state.gov to learn more.
The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee. The most convenient way to obtain cash is to use your ATM card at local banks. We recommend you also bring a valid credit card for purchases while you are traveling. It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before you leave home so they don’t flag your purchases as potentially fraudulent charges.
One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling is sampling the local cuisine. Sri Lankan cuisine includes many curry and rice based dishes. Exotic fruits provide fresh and unique flavors to many dishes, especially coconut, wood apple and jackfruit.
In Sri Lanka it is not common practice to leave a tip when dining out, although leaving small change or rounding up is always appreciated.
At the end of your guided vacation, it is customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity. We recommend the equivalent of $4 per person/per day for your driver and $6 per person/per day for your Travel Director. Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is the equivalent of 1-2 dollars per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit. A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.
We suggest bringing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that can be layered for your trip. Sturdy walking shoes are important for sightseeing excursions; a hat, lightweight jacket, and shawl or scarf could also come in handy. Keep in mind that your shoulders and knees should be covered while visiting religious sites. For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.
Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.
You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions. All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers. In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group.
If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.
We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.
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