Departures from April to October 2019
A thirteen-night tour for solo travellers taking you deep into the past to find old Ceylon with its sacred caves ancient temples and lost cities.
As soon as you arrive, your senses are overwhelmed by Sri Lanka! The warm tropical air, the colourful wild flowers and the jungle, the striking colours of the saris adorning every woman, the variety of exotic fruits and spices, the beauty of the countryside, the mystique of countless temples and orange-clad Buddhist monks and wild elephants – this is a varied place indeed! Marco Polo, arguably the greatest explorer of all time, described it simply as the finest island in the world!
During its two-thousand-year history, Sri Lanka has attracted countless invaders and visitors from nearby India, the Arabs, the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British. The 145 years of British rule left an indelible mark on Sri Lanka’s culture and institutions – from a deep love of cricket to the red pillar-boxes still found on street corners. Today, this fabled island of spices and gems is a vibrant blend of entrancing Buddhist culture, ancient cities, wildlife- rich lowland jungles, home to leopards, elephants and monkeys, a mist-shrouded hill country and tropical palm-fringed beaches.
Our tour takes you to all the major sites of historical and cultural interest, visiting three outstanding UNESCO World Heritage sites and finishing with three days’ relaxation in one of the country’s finest beach resorts. Two nights are spent in Sri Lanka’s fascinating ‘Cultural Triangle’, where we visit one of the best-preserved ancient sites on the Indian subcontinent. Sigiriya Rock, an impregnable 5th century palace and fortress clinging to the top of an immense granite monolith soaring up 600 feet is Sri Lanka’s most remarkable sight, with amazing views of the jungle-covered plain below. Around the base of the rock we see beautifully laid out fountains, gardens and bathing pools, incredibly still working, linked by an ingenious web of underground, gravity-fed water channels.
The cave temples of Dambulla, another World Heritage site, highlight Sri Lanka’s extraordinary artistic heritage. Their entire walls and ceilings are completely covered by sumptuously painted, perfectly preserved frescoes and shrines, whilst hundreds of gold-coloured statues of all shapes and sizes positively glow in the darkness - truly amazing! Kandy, formerly isolated by dense jungle, was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is today custodian of Sinhalese culture. Here we visit the Royal Botanical Gardens which also contain, in a typical colonial house, the wartime HQ of Lord Louis Mountbatten and Far Eastern Command, as well as one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines, the Temple of the Tooth.
Sri Lanka’s hill-country is remarkably beautiful. The dense jungle of the lowlands gives way to more open countryside, with charming small villages, extensive lakes and pine-covered hillsides, with a slightly cooler and less humid climate. It was here during the 19th century that the vast tea estates were created by the British. We visit one of the finest such establishments before staying in the hill-station of Nuwara Eliya, with its colonial-era racecourse, bowling green, half-timbered houses and churches.
We also stay for two nights next to the county’s second-largest national park. The 380-square mile Yala National Park is famed for its high concentration of leopards. Its open undulating terrain with grassland and shrub jungle, as well as fresh and saltwater lagoons, make it ideal for spotting a wide variety of game including wild boar, sambar deer, sloth bears, plus over 200 bird species. We enjoy an exciting safari in the park. After our tour we drive to the west coast spending three nights by the stunning beaches of the Indian Ocean.
One of the most enjoyable things about a visit to this beautiful island is its delicious cuisine! Indeed, Sri Lanka was one of the original ‘Spice Islands’ with cinnamon, cochinilla, nutmeg and all manner of other exotic flavours combined with fresh vegetables including peppers, aubergines and okra blending wonderfully with fresh seafood and meat giving a truly unique and delicious cuisine. A further attraction of this remarkable country are the Sri Lankans themselves, one of the most friendly and hospitable people you’re likely to meet and immensely proud of their beautiful homeland. The fertile plains, the colourful towns and villages, the lush forests of the interior with the vast plantations of tea, rubber and coconuts will entrance you while its history and traditions will capture your imagination.
You will be met at the airport by a member of the team before your flight to Colombo.
We will arrive around lunchtime and transfer to our excellent hotel, the four star Jetwing Lagoon. We will have plenty of time to freshen up, relax and use the hotel’s facilities this afternoon before our Welcome Dinner at the hotel where we will get a chance to chat with fellow travellers and our tour manager.
Today our adventures truly begin as we head through the lush countryside to the amazing 2000-year-old cave temples of Dambulla. Incredibly preserved frescoes and scores of serene Buddhist statues will give a genuine sense of awe. We continue to Habarana where we will stay for two nights at the four-star Habarana Village Hotel by Cinnamon.
One of Sri Lanka’s most famous and most cherished sites is Sigiriya, or Lion Rock. The sheer granite tower is topped by the ruins of a 1500 year old palace, guarded by a statue of giant front claws of a lion. We will get the opportunity to ascend the steps to the top of the rock with magnificent views of the moat and water gardens below. We return to the hotel where we enjoy dinner this evening.
After breakfast we first visit a spice garden where we will get to see the living plants which give us the many dried spices which we are so used to. We will also learn how local people use the different spices, not just for flavour, but for many health benefits. We continue to the royal capital of the island, Kandy. We stay for two nights at the wonderful Cinnamon Citadel Hotel. We are also treated this evening to a performance of traditional music and dance.
After breakfast this morning we will get chance to see Kandy up close. The focal point of the city is a beautiful lake, but Kandy is perhaps best known for the Temple of the Tooth. This is one of the holiest places for Buddhists in the world. It is said to contain the tooth of Buddha and is housed in a stunningly intricate temple that our local guide will lead us through today or tomorrow morning. Afterwards we will have a chance to enjoy the huge Royal Botanical Gardens of the city where you may well spot some ‘flying foxes’ hanging upside down in the tall trees.
Today we leave Kandy and venture into the mountainous centre of the country which is the heartland for Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Acres upon acres of rich green tea plants stretch across the area and we will enjoy learning a little more before enjoying a brew ourselves. We continue on to Nuwara Eliya, known by some as ‘Little England’ due to its colonial influenced town. We stay tonight in the superb four-star St Andrews Hotel built in the style of an English manor house.
Leaving the mountain behind us this morning we head for Yala National Park. On our way we will stop at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home which is supported by the UK’s Born Free Foundation. Here we will observe orphaned elephants being given their daily feeds. We then continue on to our hotel for the next two nights, the four-star Jetwing Yala. It is ideally positioned just outside the park itself on a beautiful beach.
An early start this morning, accompanied by the unique sound of a tropical ‘dawn chorus’. As the morning mist disappears with the rising sun you explore the jungle and its incredible range of wildlife in 4x4 vehicles. The normally elusive leopard offers the Park’s most exciting game viewing and Yala has a high concentration of these big cats. They are the island’s top predator so are far less shy than elsewhere in the world. Yala is also known for its elephants, saltwater crocodiles, wild boar, sloth bears, monitor lizards and a huge variety of birdlife. After a late breakfast you can relax by the hotel’s pool before an optional second, early evening park drive.
UNESCO designated Galle as a World Heritage Site and today we will get the opportunity to discover it for ourselves. We will visit the imposing Dutch fort which dates back 500 years. Afterwards we continue on to our beautiful hotel – The Lighthouse. Located on a fabulous stretch of beach and with numerous facilities to enjoy, we will stay here for the next three nights.
After a fantastic ten days of discovery we can enjoy two days to relax and unwind. Our wonderful hotel has various restaurants to sample in the company of your travelling companions, or perhaps take a dip in the pool, a stroll along the palm fronted beach or simply sit with a drink and soak up the Sri Lankan sunshine.
We will transfer to the airport before our flight home, arriving later the same day after a wonderful journey around the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on one person in a double/twin room for sole occupancy. Price includes scheduled flights to Colombo, eleven nights’ accommodation at three and four-star hotels, all transfers, eleven meals, all local accommodation taxes and all flight taxes, all touring as mentioned, hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.
Included excursions are guided visits to the Elephant Transit Home, Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla cave temples, Kandy city tour and Botanical Gardens, Kandyan dancing, visit to a tea estate and spice garden and 4x4 jeep drive in Yala National Park, Galle city tour
Not included: Sri Lankan visa
Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for Sri Lanka at least a month before departure. Whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that we enjoy several walking tours around a number of historical sites where paths are uneven and uphill. Therefore, this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitabilty of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Colombo - Bandaranaike International Airport||Colombo||40 mins||Galle||Colombo - Bandaranaike International Airport||2 hrs 30 mins|
All British passport holders will require a visa prior to travel to Sri Lanka. A Tourist Visa will cost US$35 per person and the visa will need to be applied for online using an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) System. This can be obtained by logging on to www.eta.gov.lk
Here you will need to complete the online application form and submit it accordingly. The majority of the application form requires personal information. You will also be asked to provide the address of your accommodation in Sri Lanka, which will be the first hotel of your tour:
Telephone: 00 94 31 22 33 777
Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after the intended return date and there are at least two completely empty pages.
Without an approved ETA you will be denied entry to the country. Visa costs are subject to change without notice and are non-refundable.
Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to application.