Sri Lanka is one of Howzat Travel’s favourite destinations… the people are friendly and welcoming, the food is fantastic and the culture is fascinating – and there is a host of options to keep travellers entertained on free days. The buzz after a day at leisure in Sri Lanka is something really special, with everyone sharing stories of brand new experiences they have had that day. The scenery is breathtaking and the country is brimming with culture, so make sure you make the most of your trip with this range of sightseeing options…
Sunday 11th November – Galle/Yala
After breakfast leave for Yala en route visit stilt fishing at Weligama – Check in at Jetwing Yala (Superior Room) – During the afternoon visit Yala National Park by Safari jeep to witness game – Afterwards return to the hotel for an overnight stay.
Monday 12th November – Yala/Nuwara Eliya
After breakfast leave for Nuwara Eliya – Check in at Grand Hotel (Deluxe Room) – In the afternoon leave on a sightseeing tour of Nuwara Eliya driving through ‘Little England’ – Afterwards return to the hotel for an overnight stay.
Tuesday 13th November – Nuwara Eliya/Kandy
After breakfast leave for Kandy en route visit a Tea Plantation and Factory – On arrival in Kandy proceed on a sightseeing tour of Kandy – Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, and is a World Heritage Site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town & Bazaar, the arts & crafts centre, a gem museum & a lapidary and the Temple of the Tooth Relic – Afterwards transfer to your hotel.
Price on request – please contact us for a quote if you would like to add this to your tour
Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, and is a World Heritage Site. The name Kandy conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town and Bazaar, the arts & crafts centre and a gem museum and a lapidary. In the evening visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic and thereafter witness a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing.
Price: £30 per person
Climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress which is a world heritage site, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The ‘Lion Rock’ is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 meters from the scrub jungle and was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock. Also visit the world-renowned frescoes of the ‘Heavenly Maidens’ of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster.
Price: £55 per person
Visit the Dambulla Rock Temple. Climb up to the temple, which was donated by King Walagambahu in the 1st century BC to Buddhist monks. Dambulla is a World Heritage site and is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of five caves with over 2000 sq. meters of painted walls and ceiling is the largest area of paintings found in the world. These caves contain over 150 images of the Buddha, of which the largest is the colossal figure of the Buddha carved out of rock spanning 14 meters.
Price: £36 per person
Polonnaruwa was the 2nd capital city of Sri Lanka, built in the 11th and 12th centuries AD and is a world heritage site. Here you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya – where four splendid statues of the Buddha can be seen in the ‘Upright’, ‘Sedentary’ and ‘Recumbent’ postures carved out of rock – the Audience Hall, the Lotus Bath, King Parakramabahu’s statue, and the Parakrama Samudraya lake built by King Parakramabahu the Great. There are also monuments of famous places of worship such as the Shiva Temple, the Lankathilake, the Watadage, the Galpotha, the Kiri Vehera and the remains of a former Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Price: £52 per person
The Minneriya Tank was created by King Parakarambahu at the height of Polonnaruwa’s glory as the capital of Sri Lanka. The national park, based largely around the huge tank (reservoir), was created rather more recently but serves as an important gathering place for Sri Lanka’s large population of elephants.
It is a great place for elephant spotting all year round – though as the dry season makes water scarce between June and September, more and more elephants gather on the shores of Minneriya Tank. Indeed by late August and September, the awe inspiring site of up to 300 elephants can often be seen, in a phenomenon known as ‘The Gathering’.
It is the largest concentration and gathering of Asian elephants that can be seen anywhere in the world. Watching baby elephants playing with each other, bull elephants tussling for dominance and the great matriarchs surveying the scene is not a sight you are likely to forget in a hurry. Aside from the elephant, Minneriya is also home to some 23 other species of mammals: some, like the Deer and Sambur you will see, some like the Leopard and the Sloth Bear will probably prove elusive.
The arid dry zone is a paradise for many species of Lizard and you will see them here in all their colour if you look carefully enough, as well as snakes like the Indian Python and the Mugger Crocodile. Above all, of course, are Sri Lanka’s wonderfully varied bird population. Among the 150 or so species, you may see the beautiful painted stork, the Pelican and various imposing eagle species, as well as the endemics: the Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl, the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, and the Sri Lanka Gray Hornbill.
Price: £48 per person
Enjoy a Sri Lankan village experience where a walk along the village path will bring us to a “Wewa” typical village lake. The village homes are totally different to the built up urban areas of Sri Lanka. The small houses are surrounded by green woods on the edge of which their home gardens extend. It is common to spot the watch huts in the fields from which the men sit up on the lookout for wild Elephants and Wild Boar during the night.
Cross the lake by canoe observing the rich birdlife. Once we reach the farm, the lady of the house will gladly demonstrate her cooking abilities using a traditional hearth. We can also participate, if you wish, in this experience before enjoying her delicious meal.
Price: £36 per person
Visit a Martial art head master’s home in Ritigala to discover the forgotten art of Sri Lanka, “Angampora”. The once glorious tradition of martial arts in Sri Lanka, with fierce fighters whose strength and actions were subtly controlled by the influence of Buddhism, fought next to the kings in battles as they thought it was their duty. It is one of many layers that go beyond the fighting techniques that many consider to be a philosophy, having Buddhism as the cornerstone of the tradition. Having a British ban imposed on Angampora since 1818, the fighters resort to secrecy to pass on this ancient tradition, making it a well-kept secret in Sri Lanka that most people are not privy to.
Once completed, enjoy a typical Sri Lankan lunch at the Head Master’s House.
Price: £48 per person
Climb the Pidurangala Rock, the massive rock formation almost directly opposite Sigiriya. Pidurangala has an equally majestic view of rolling lake and land vistas. Short of viewing it through drone footage, the summit of Pidurangala is also the best place to get an eyeful the rock fortress itself. It’s not merely all about stunning views though: Pidu isn’t just another nameless rock, it has its own little history and backstories. Other than just being a climbable rock which is nearly the same height as Sigiriya, Pidurangala was also a meditative retreat for monks. The hill is peppered with caves and little cells which were allegedly used by them. It’s said that when King Kasyapa built the Sigiriya rock fortress, he relocated the monks there to Pidurangala, and then refurbished and expanded the monastery under his patronage.
Price: £12 per person