Arrive at any time today, keeping in mind that the welcome meeting will be at 6:00pm. Please look for a notice from your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) for the location of the meeting and any other important instructions. This will be followed by an optional group dinner which will help us get to know the other families of the group.
Negombo first flourished as the center for cinnamon export, which is native to Sri Lanka. Portugese and Dutch settlement in the area led to the construction of beautiful churches and several architecturally stunning buildings. There are plenty of fish markets in town and several canals that link estuaries and lagoons around the region together. Fishing is the main export of Sri Lanka and nothing better than to go to the seaside and watch the fishermen bring in their boats, clean the nets, dry the fish and trade with the buyers. We then take a serene boat ride through the Dutch canal lining the marshy lands of Negombo. Getting a closer look at the lives of people living here; toddy tapping, cultivations, coconuts being collected by the locals. The area is great for bird watching as many species like to frequent the canal waters. The later half of the afternoon we will visit an orphanage which is working towards educating and providing for children affected mentally and physically by the vagaries of war. Driving through the countryside we arrive at Sigiriya.
Here we visit the the World Heritage Site, the Golden Cave Temple of Dambulla . The 7th century caves have Buddhist mural paintings and hundreds of statues of Lord Buddha in different poses. This is one of the most well-preserved temple and cave sites in Sri Lanka. In the evening we hope to witness a beautiful sunset over the Kandalamma Lake. On the morning of Day 4 we will go on a walking tour of a Sri Lankan village to learn about the local way of life while getting a chance to try the local cuisine at a lunch prepared by the families of the community. After the cultural tete-a-tete with the villagers we will visit Sigriya Rock Fortress. Built by King Kasyapa in 5th century, this Rock fortress mesmirizes every visitor, lined with well-laid out gardens, caves, monasteries, and palaces with beautiful wall motifs. This was surely a heaven in yonder years. The rock itself is supposed to be old volcanic magma rock. Rising 370m above sea level with a shear drop on all sides. The climb of more than 1200 steps to the top starts in the water gardens, passing caves with frescoes and boulders, to the ruins of a palace on the flat surface at the top. In the afternoon you have the option to go for a tour of Puwareliya, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, where you can cycle through the ruins of Puwareliya. Negombo - Sigiriya Travel distance: 156 Km Estimated travel time: 4.5 hours
We drive further north across Sri Lanka and over to the East Coast. For many years, this region of Sri Lanka was not open to tourists, but now this relatively unknown area is becoming more available to everyone. The secluded bays and pristine beaches have been used for major surf competitons, and the natural, deep water harbour is undeniably picturesque. We have time to relax here on the beaches. Depending on the season, we might see whales along the coastal waters here.
The diversity of Sri Lanka is such that each location we visit is very different, the climate and eco-system changing everywhere we go. This is apparent as we drive from the coast at Trincomalee up into the central province, where the landscape becomes greener and more verdant. We arrive to Kandy in the afternoon. This evening we visit a traditional Kandyan dance show, where we can see the traditions of the former Kingdom of Kandy. On Day 8, our CEO will take you for a stroll around Kandy Lake and you'll visit the famed Temple of Tooth relic which houses a tooth of Lord Buddha in a well-preserved golden casket. the morning can be spent exploring the town with your CEO. Opt to take a walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peredeniya, exploring the 300 varieties of orchids of Sri Lanka. Explore the well-laid out walkways and don't miss the famed Palm Avenues. In the evening enjoy the Kandyan cultural dance performance at the Cultural Centre.
Nuwara Eliya is a town founded by Sir Samuel Baker, a British Officer who explored of Lake Albert and the Nile. The town produces the finest Orange Pekoe Ceylon tea and is inhabited mainly by tea planters and plantation workers. En route we will visit one of the factories to learn about the processes of tea. The town, also known as Little England, offers a lot of options to its visitors. Plenty of nature trails, walks in the plantations, golfing, horse riding, etc. A visit the tea plantations with the workers to learn how to pick the tea. The plantation families will allow us to visit their homes as they explain the hardships of the industry. You also have the option of going on an early morning 9 kms trek into the Horton plains as you literally walk thorugh the clouds to the majestic drop overlooking the plains into the sea. If you are an avid golfer you can hire a caddy and try golfing the 18 holes golf course of Nuwara Eliya Golf Club near the Victoria Lake or just wander around the lake to take in the views. Kandy - Nuwara Eliya Travel distance: 87 Km Estimated travel time: 4 hours
The sleepy village of Ella is perched precariously up in the mountains. Continuing from Nuwara Eliya through the hills, we reach the valley where Ella is located. If you prefer, you might want to take the Hill train up to Ella, a great way to get to meet some of the locals. We spend the night in Ella, before we take a hike through the hills, and reach the Ella Gap. This point between the mountains offers views all the way down to the south coast on a clear day. Keep an eye out for the Great Basses lighthouse in the distance!
We make our way back to Sri Lanka's capital today. Along the way we make our way through the jungle, and we have time to stop for a rafting trip. The Kelani River flows from the mountains down to Colombo. We stop at Kitulgala, where we switch to rafts and take to the river. After a full safety briefing, we float down river through small rapids, and enjoying the jungle scenery all around us. We drive from here to Colombo where we spend the night.
We transfer to the airport, where our trip ends, and we say goodbye to new-found friends