INTRODUCTION

COLOMBO (NEGOMBO BEACH AREA) AND OUR STARTING HOTEL
The Colombo international airport is situated about an hour's drive north of the city of Colombo, near Negombo Beach on the west coast of the island. This area has many modern hotels offering guests excellent accommodation, good service and a relaxing beach atmosphere.
Jetwing Blue, our starting hotel, is located right on the Indian Ocean.
For guests who are flying half-way around the world, we suggest you take it slow for a day or two to give yourself time to adjust to the new time zone and the heat. The Jetwing Blue is especially suited to relaxing and rejuvenating.
If you wish to arrive one or two days early, please call us to discuss options.

THURSDAY 7 FEB, 2019

NEGOMBO, SRI LANKA - GUEST ARRIVALS (D)

Welcome to Sri Lanka!
For all guests who have already stayed a night or two at the hotel, breakfast is available this morning at your convenience.
Today is set aside for arrivals of the remaining guests.
You will be met at the Colombo airport and transferred to the hotel where the tour leader will assist with your check-in and answer any questions you may have.
Late in the afternoon, around the time of happy hour, please join the tour leader for complimentary drinks and a quick ‘Orientation to Sri Lanka’. This session will cover important items related to the entire trip including personal security, money matters, daily activities, health, day packs, food and beverages, transportation, luggage considerations and more. We highly recommend that everyone attend this session.
Dinner and overnight at the Jetwing Blue Hotel.

FRIDAY 8 FEB

NEGOMBO TO PALAGAMA BEACH AT KALPITIYA (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.
After breakfast, we begin our drive northward to Kalpitiya, about three hours along the coast. This isolated part of western Sri Lanka offers pristine sandy beaches, simple rustic resorts and excellent dolphin sighting opportunities.
Upon arrival, we check in for an overnight stay.
The resort is situated on a deserted stretch of the beach and offers a very unique concept of eco-beach accommodation in comfortable cabanas with en-suite western bathrooms.
Lunch will be served near the beach.
The afternoon is free to enjoy swimming, sunning or relaxing.
Happy hour and dinner at the resort.
Overnight at Palagama Beach Resort.

SATURDAY 9 FEB

INDIAN OCEAN - KALPITIYA - CULTURAL TRIANGLE (B, L, D)

Early this morning we’ll head out a few miles into the Indian Ocean in small motorboats to see if we can be lucky enough to spot some dolphins.
At this time of year many hundreds of dolphins are often observed in large pods. Spinner dolphins are the most common and the most spectacular as they engage in acrobatic leaps out of the water. While airborne, they rotate along their longitudinal axis – hence their name. Other possible sightings may include Bottlenose, Risso and Indo-Pacific Humpbacks, popularly known as "Pink Dophins".
We'll spend a few hours out in the ocean looking for dolphins then we’ll return to the resort in time for breakfast. After breakfast we’ll have some free time for swimming or relaxing prior to packing up and checking out.
Lunch at the resort.
We then depart on our drive to Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle about four hours away, in the centre of the island.
The cultural triangle contains the World Heritage sites of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the famous Sigiriya rock fortress, Aukana Buddha and the rock temple caves at Dambulla.
During our stay here, we may try to limit sightseeing activities to the cooler times whenever possible and therefore the exact sequence of visits will be determined by our guide depending on traffic patterns, local events, weather and the interest of the group.
This afternoon we will arrive at our hotel, where luxury meets nature surrounded by lakes and water streams. This beautiful hotel boasts a modern day water harvesting design revisiting the 2,000 year-old water garden at Sigiriya Rock. Here we can relax in an atmosphere of rural simplicity combined with the comforts of the present day.
Dinner and overnight at Water Garden.

SUNDAY 10 FEB

CULTURAL TRIANGLE (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the resort.
This morning we will likely visit the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya (UNESCO World-Heritage).
The ruins of the capital built by the parricidal King Kassapa I (477–495) lie on the steep slopes and at the summit of a granite peak (the 'Lion's Rock') standing some 370 meters high. Access to the summit is via a series of galleries and staircases, the top part of which originally emerged from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster. Part of this lion still remains on the site.
For those who wish to ascend to the fortress at the top of the rock, the climb is not as strenuous as it looks and we can take it slow and easy. Lunch at the hotel.
After lunch we may likely visit the Aukana Buddha. Rising to a height of over 11 meters, this statue is the tallest and most well-preserved ancient rock statue of Buddha in Sri Lanka. It is in the standing position and is carved in the round from a single piece of rock. The Aukana Buddha is a masterpiece. The serene expression of the statue and the gracefully carved robe with its neat pleats bring in elements of extreme delicateness unseen in most rock sculptures.
Dinner and overnight at Water Garden.

MONDAY 11 FEB

CULTURAL TRIANGLE (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the resort.
After breakfast we will likely depart for the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (UNESCO World-Heritage).
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. It comprises not only the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas but also the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.
Lunch at “The Lake”, a local hotel or at a similar location.
We then will visit the Golden Temple of Dambulla, another UNESCO World-heritage site, dating from the first century B.C. A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The site contains 157 statues and Buddhist mural paintings which cover an area of 2,100 square meters.
We then return to the hotel. You may wish to relax or to explore the surrounding area by bicycle.
Dinner and overnight at Water Garden.

TUESDAY 12 FEB

CULTURAL TRIANGLE – KANDY (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the resort.
Today we leave the Cultural Triangle and head south toward the city of Kandy.
On our drive southward, as we near the town of Matale, we’ll visit an exotic Spice Garden where we’ll take a garden tour and explore the taste and aroma of world famous spices as well as learning about many of the healing properties of the herbs and ayurvedic medicinal plants grown in the garden. We then continue our drive southward.
Kandy is another UNESCO World-heritage site and a former stronghold of the Sinhala Kings, the last Royal Kingdom to resist the British until it fell in 1815. The city lies at almost 500 meters above sea level, so it is cooler than the cultural triangle.
As we arrive in Kandy, we’ll have lunch at the Cinnamon Citadel or a similar location.
We then check in to our wonderful hotel.
Happy hour, dinner and overnight at Kandy House.

WEDNESDAY 13 FEB

KANDY (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.
Kandy is an attractive city, developed around two open spaces: an elongated square at the end of which are the administration buildings of the old capital; and, an artificial lake that is quadrangular in form. A public park adds to the attractiveness.
Our guide will help us determine which sites to visit today depending on our interests.
Garden lovers will have an opportunity to spend some time in the Royal Botanical Gardens. Its treasures of tropical flora include fine collections of orchids, aromatic spices, medicinal herbs, palms and rare or endangered plant species. These gardens were the naturally-camouflaged operations headquarters of Supreme Allied Commander Lord Louis Mountbatten during World War II.
We may also visit the gems information centre.
Lunch at the Empire Cafe.
We will then visit the famous Temple of the Tooth, a 17th-century structure believed to house the left upper canine tooth of the Lord Buddha himself. This precious relic attracts white-clad pilgrims bearing lotus blossoms and frangipani each day. The temple is built on a base of granite that was inspired by the temples of Sri Lanka's former capital city, Anuradhapura. An array of limestone, marble, sculpted wood and ivory contribute to the richness of the inside of the temple.
Dinner and overnight at Kandy House.

THURSDAY 14 FEB

KANDY - TEA COUNTRY (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.
This morning we drive southward to our bungalows situated in beautiful tea plantations at 1250 metres altitude in the hills of central Sri Lanka.
We arrive in time for a superb three-course lunch at your bungalow.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. You may wish to put on your walking shoes and stride out into the picturesque tea plantations right at your doorstep. Choose anything from a simple twenty-minute walk to a longer and more energetic hike. The choice is yours.
Alternately, you can simply relax at the bungalow.
Afternoon tea, happy hour, dinner and overnight at Ceylon Tea Trails.

FRIDAY 15 FEB

TEA COUNTRY (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the bungalow.
This morning our resident tea planter will take all of us to the local tea processing plant, show us the entire process from bush to cup and teach us the art of becoming a discerning tea taster. This is a wonderful experience and one you won’t want to miss.
Afterwards we might even visit the nearby Warleigh Church built in 1878 by early British planters.
Lunch at the bungalow.
Afternoon free. If you wish, you can certainly walk or bike through the countryside.
Later in the afternoon we have tea, happy hour then dinner.
Overnight at Ceylon Tea Trails.

SATURDAY 16 FEB

DRIVE TO YALA (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the bungalow.
This morning we reluctantly leave tea country and begin our long drive toward the south coast and Yala National Park. Our route will take us through rolling tea country with steep-sloped plantations perched above the rivers and valleys far below.
As we leave tea country behind, we will descend towards the plains through heavily-wooded valleys and eventually hit flat land again. We’ll arrive at Yala National Park, likely in time for a late lunch.
The park offers wildlife enthusiasts an opportunity to see wild boar, deer, crocodiles, elephants, mongoose, monkeys and an incredible selection of birds in their natural surroundings. But the park is most well-known for its leopards.
The actual number of game drives and the timing will be advised after arrival.
Dinner and overnight at Chena Huts.

SUNDAY 17 FEB

YALA (B, L, D)

If there is a game drive this morning, it may start early, when wildlife sightings are at their best. Afterwards, we’ll return to the camp for a leisurely breakfast or brunch.
We can then relax in these incredible surroundings or take a stroll in the area.
Dinner and overnight at Chena Huts.

MONDAY 18 FEB

YALA TO GALLE (B, L, D)

Today may begin with an early morning safari.
We then return to the camp for breakfast.
Afterwards we reluctantly leave Yala and start our drive westward toward the city of Galle.
At an appropriate time and place, we’ll stop for lunch along the south coast of the island.
In the late afternoon we'll arrive in Galle.
Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.
Galle Fort has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. The huge stone ramparts separate the fortified, sleepy colonial town from the busy, modern town of Galle. The Fort provides its visitors with many happy hours of wandering and discovery.
Dinner and overnight at Fort Bazaar Hotel.

TUESDAY 19 FEB

GALLE (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.
At least part of today will be spent with our guide as we take a walking tour through the narrow streets of the fort.
We'll visit the magnificent Dutch reformed church. As is the case in other historic Dutch churches, there are a large number of tombstones on the walls and floors. The earliest tablet on the floor of the church dates from 1662.
On our walk we'll also likely stop in at the Mansion Museum, a privately-owned museum situated in a colonial Dutch house inside the fort. The museum displays thousands of household articles collected by the owner's family over the years including stationary, tablecloths, antiques, gems and jewelry, Chinese Porcelain plates, tea cups, phonographs and so on.
Lunch at a local restaurant in Galle.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Grab your camera and head out for a stroll through the fortified town. There is a lot to discover in Galle and it is best to do it on foot. Local maps are available.
Dinner is planned at the famous Lighthouse Hotel.
Overnight at Fort Bazaar Hotel.

WEDNESDAY 20 FEB

GALLE TO COLOMBO TO KOTUGODA (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.
This morning we check out and begin our drive north towards Colombo.
On our way, we'll stop at the Tsunami monument which was erected to remind us of the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean countries on December 26, 2004. Early in the afternoon we’ll arrive at our hotel in Kotugoda, just north of Colombo and enjoy lunch.
The hotel is one of the highest-rated boutique hotels in Sri Lanka. It offers colonial charm and exceptional service within five acres of serene tropical landscaped gardens.
Join us for happy hour and dinner at the hotel this evening.
Overnight at Wallawwa Hotel.

THURSDAY 21 FEB

KOTUGODA - COLOMBO - KOTUGODA (B, L, D)

Breakfast at the hotel.
This morning we embark on a full-day tour of Colombo with our guide. The exact order of events will be determined locally depending on traffic patterns at the time we set out.
The program will likely include a few of the following: Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple & Simamalaka Shrine (a spiritual end to our trip), The Barefoot Book Shop, Colombo National Museum and/or Dutch Museum, Town Hall & Independence Square, Old Parliament House, Sri Kailawasanthan Swami Devasthanam – the oldest Hindu Kovil in Colombo.
We'll also have lunch today in Colombo at the Gallery Café or similar.
In the afternoon we return to the hotel.
Enjoy some free time to get organized and rest up for your departure for home tomorrow.
This evening we’ll have a final happy hour and a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Overnight at Wallawwa Hotel.

FRIDAY 22 FEB

DEPART COLOMBO (B)

Guests depart for the airport at different times today to check in for their flights home.