- Ground Operators
The “Sri Lanka Explorer” is the definitive Sri Lanka departure, allowing you two full weeks to fully absorb the most comprehensive experience that this exotic destination has to offer. Featuring the highlights of the Quick Escapes journey, as well as the additional sites from the Essential Sri Lanka departure, the Sri Lanka Explorer features visits to UNESCO World Heritage site of Anuradhapura, the country’s ancient capital, and the sacred mountain, Mihintale; a journey to “World’s End” on the Horton Plains; and one of Sri Lanka’s amazing National Parks, Yala, to experience the incredibly diverse wildlife that call the island home. Experience the beauty of Sinharaja Forest Reserve before concluding your exploration of Sri Lanka at your ocean-side retreat in Beruwala – the Sri Lanka Explorer has it all!
Easy to Moderate Touring
Easy to Moderate Touring generally indicates walks or time on one’s feet of 3-5 hours each day during sightseeing excursions; possible adverse weather conditions (heat, humidity); and some driving on dirt or poorly maintained roads. Please note that road conditions in Sri Lanka leave a lot to be desired: The traffic can appear to be wild and unregulated, and horns are used more often than brakes. Bathroom facilities during excursions and long drives are frequently nonexistent or limited to the facilities at a local restaurant or shop. Overnights will be in deluxe accommodations/lodges. Elevation throughout the trip remains below 5,000 feet.
Flexibility, a good sense of humor, and an adventurous spirit are essential on this tour.
Day 1: Arrive Colombo, Sri Lanka
You will be met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your flight schedule, you may have time to explore this city, the capital of Sri Lanka, which has been heavily influenced by the cultures and religions of its inhabitants past and present—including Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, and British.
Cinnamon Grand Hotel
Day 2: To Habarana via Dambulla
This morning, drive to the Cave Temples in Dambulla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 1st century B.C.E. that contains over 150 images of the Buddha. Proceed to Habarana, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s “Cultural Triangle,” where you have the option to take an elephant-back safari through the village.
Cinnamon Lodge Hotel
Day 3: Excursion to Hiriwadunna and Sigiriya
After an early breakfast, make the quick trip to Hiriwaduna, where you’ll enjoy a walk and bullock cart ride through this archetypal Sri Lankan village. In the nearby forest you may glimpse birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. Late in the afternoon, climb the 5th-century rock fortress of Sigiriya (another UNESCO World Heritage Site), famous for its entrancingly beautiful frescoes.
Cinnamon Lodge Hotel
Day 4: Excursion to Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park
Set out for Polonnaruwa, the UNESCO-protected ruins of a medieval city. The entire landscape is punctuated by huge reservoirs once used for irrigation, and the monuments give clear evidence of the glory of Sri Lanka’s past. On the way back to Habarana, you have the option to take a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park, where in certain months as many as 300 elephants gather at a watering hole.
Cinnamon Lodge Hotel
Day 5: Excursion to Anuradhapura and Mihintale
This morning you drive to Anuradhapura, which in the 5th century B.C.E. became Sri Lanka’s first capital and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also the center of the island’s Buddhist civilization—with many religious sites of note that you will visit—and is home to the oldest documented tree on earth (over 2,200 years old). Not far from the main town, you’ll also visit Mihintale, a forest-clad mountain that is sacred because it is here that Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C.E.
Cinnamon Lodge Hotel
Day 6: To Kandy via Pinnawala
Today you drive to Kandy, making several stops en route. The first is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, on the banks of the Maha Oya River—home to dozens of these gentle giants that have been orphaned or displaced from their natural habitat. Then it’s on to three temples: the 14th-century Gadaladeniya Temple, reminiscent of South Indian architecture; Lankathilaka Viharaya, famous for its intricate stonework; and Embekka Devalaya, with superb wood carvings along its pillars. Afterward, continue to Kandy and check into your hotel.
Cinnamon Citadel Hotel
Day 7: To Nuwara Eliya
This morning, explore the hill town of Kandy, the last stronghold of the Sri Lankan kings and the site of the renowned Temple of the Tooth Relic. Afterward, drive to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s premier hill resort with a decidedly British character. The surrounding slopes are carpeted by velvety tea plantations, one of which you’ll visit to see the process of producing the country’s most famous export.
Day 8: Excursion to Horton Plains
Early this morning, set out for Horton Plains, Sri Lanka’s highest plateau at 7,200 feet above sea level. From here, it’s a two- to three-hour hike to Worlds End—where the plateau plunges 1,000 feet in a sheer drop—and the beautiful Bakers Falls. After returning to your hotel, the rest of your day is at your leisure.
Day 9: To Yala National Park via Ella
Today you make the journey to Yala National Park. On the way, visit the picturesque town of Ella, blessed with some of the most beautiful views in Sri Lanka. Yala, the second-largest of Sri Lanka’s national parks, is known for elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile, and wild boar. This evening you take a game drive into the park.
Cinnamon Wild Hotel
Day 10: To Sinharaja Forest Reserve via Weligama and Galle
Continuing the wildlife theme, today you drive to Sinharaja Forest Reserve. On the way, stop in Weligama to see the famous stilt fishermen. Spend a few hours also in Galle, the port where the Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka in 1505 and today a living UNESCO World Heritage Site. Captured and fortified by the Dutch who ruled maritime Sri Lanka in the 17th and 18th centuries, the city still retains the air of old Holland. Your hotel for this evening lies on the border of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
Day 11: Exploring Sinharaja
This morning, go for a guided walk through the rainforest, with its amazing biodiversity of fauna and flora—particularly birds. The rest of the day is at your leisure; enjoy the birdsong from your chalet’s private deck.
Day 12: To Beruwala via Kosgoda
After breakfast transfer to your beach resort, visiting a turtle hatchery in Kosgoda en route. The balance of the day is free to relax.
Cinnamon Bey Hotel
Days 13, 14, & 15: In Beruwala
Enjoy three full days of R&R beside the Indian Ocean. Your hotel has a spa, pool, fitness center, and several restaurants on site.
Cinnamon Bey Hotel
Day 16: Depart Sri Lanka
You will be transferred back to the airport in time for your flight home.
2015 Trip Dates
Private Departures Only – On Demand Year-round
Trip Duration: 16 days/15 nights
Starting City: Colombo (airport code – CMB)
Ending City: Colombo (airport code – CMB)
2015/2016 Land Cost
Low Season: May 1 – July 15 & September 1 – October 31
2 – 3 participants: $2,350 per person
4 + participants: $2,125 per person
Shoulder Season: March 1 – April 30 & July 16 – August 31
2 – 3 participants: $2,600 per person
4 + participants: $2,325 per person
High Season: November 1 – February 28
2 – 3 participants: $2,900 per person
4 + participants: $ 2,650 per person
Minimum: 2 participants
Internal Asia Airfare: none
IMPORTANT NOTE: Kindly note that names of hotels mentioned above only indicate that the Land Cost is based on usage of these hotels; it is not to be construed that accommodation is confirmed at these hotels until and unless we convey such confirmation to you. In the event that any of the above-mentioned hotels are not available, we shall book alternate accommodation at a similar or next-best available hotel, and shall pass on the difference of rates (supplement or reduction, as applicable) to you.
Included in Land Cost:
• All accommodations, based on double occupancy
• All transportation in a private, air-conditioned vehicle
• Breakfast each day
• All arrival/departure airport/hotel transfers
• All entry fees at all temples, museums, and monuments on sightseeing excursions
• Services of an English-speaking chauffeur/guide during your entire stay
• Elephant-back safari through Habarana
• Jeep safari through Minneriya National Park
• Hiriwaduna village experience
• All service charges and current government taxes
• Two bottles of water per person per day
• TourDirect’s Medical ($25,000), Accident and Evacuation Insurance ($500,000) and Assistance Plan
Not Included in Land Cost:
• International airfare to/from Sri Lanka
• Lunch and dinner throughout the tour
• Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone calls, shopping, etc.
• Movie, video, and still camera fees
• Gratuity to Chauffeur/Guide
• Gratuities to other local staff (bell boys, etc.)
• Trip Cancellation insurance
At TourDirect, we will assist you in obtaining any necessary visas or other travel permits required for your journey, all done through our Visa Service Partner. Detailed visa instructions, application forms, and information about applicable visa fees will be included in your Pre-Departure Packet.
You must have a valid passport with an expiration date more than 6 months from the date of your return to the U.S. The passport must also have at least 2 blank pages for each country that you will be visiting in Asia.
All visitors to Sri Lanka must apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) prior to their arrival. An actual visa is given upon your arrival in Colombo.
No immunizations are required for entry into Sri Lanka or to return to the U.S. However, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from (or have recently visited) a country that has risk of yellow fever. Several immunizations are recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control. A copy of the CDC’s recommended immunization list and additional health information will be included in our Pre-Departure Packet.
Please let us know if you wish to extend your stay to visit other sites in Sri Lanka; extensions are also possible to neighboring countries such as India and the Maldives.
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