A Gem in the Indian Ocean
- KANDY – The cultural capital of Sri Lanka with its vibrant traditional arts scene, a superb array of Buddhist temples and palaces, and a beautiful location amidst the island’s precipitous central hills
- GALLE FORT – A perfectly preserved colonial time capsule oozing old-world atmosphere with characterful Dutch-era mansions encircled by ramparts and bastions with the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean just beyond.
- YALA NATIONAL PARK – Sri Lanka’s foremost wildlife destination and home to the world’s highest concentration of leopards alongside elephants, fabulous birdlife, monkeys, crocodiles and more, all amidst unspoiled jungle and salty lagoons.
- COLONIAL CEYLON – The provenance of Ceylon tea, grown around old British tea towns such as Nuwara Eliya.
- POLONNARUWA – Home of Sri Lanka’s finest collection of ancient Buddhist art and architecture, from magnificent rock-carved statues to exquisitely decorated temples.
- SIGIRIYA – An unforgettable rock-fortress towering high over the surrounding plains, one of Sri Lanka’s most dramatic natural sights, and full of historic interest, too.
- GREAT SCENERY – Mountains, forest, tea estates, plains, jungle, lagoons, and beach!
- DISTINCTIVE CUISINE – Tropical fruits, spices aplenty, unusual vegetables, fat prawns, superb rice and curries somewhere between Indian and Thai-style cooking.
- SOME UNIQUE ACCOMMODATIONS – Including a few by Sri Lanka’s renowned 20th-century architect Geoffrey Bawa and a brilliantly converted old tea factory.
- Download Detailed Itinerary
The island of Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon under British rule) has seduced travelers for centuries. It is one of the biggest little countries in the world, and its appeal and pleasures are myriad. Few places have as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites (eight) packed into such a small area.
Poised just above the equator in the balmy waters of the Indian Ocean it has a legendary reputation for natural beauty. A teardrop falling from the tip of India is how some geographers have described its shape or that of a pearl. A bit smaller than Ireland, a bit larger than West Virginia, this modestly sized island-country gem is nonetheless packed with impressive ancient architecture, culture, history, cuisine, nature, and wildlife!
We begin in the Cultural Triangle where more than a thousand years of history is apparent. The remarkable achievements of the early Sinhalese civilization can still be seen in the ruined city of Polonnaruwa, boasting the island’s finest collection of ancient Sinhalese art and architecture; the cave temples of Dambulla, a treasure trove of Sri Lankan Buddhist art; and the towering rock outcrop of Sigiriya (rising 1,200 feet straight up), home to the fascinating remains of one of the island’s former capitals, complete with ancient graffiti and elaborate water gardens.
In the verdant highlands of the Hill Country we explore beautifully situated Kandy — the symbolic heart of the region, the cultural capital of the Sinhalese people, and home to the famous Temple of the Tooth. It also boasts a pleasing old quarter, a pretty central lake, and the beautiful Peradeniya Botantical Gardens, which we also visit. Also in the hills we stay a night in the British-established venerable town of Nuwara Eliya, the center of the country’s tea industry and in a very pretty setting.
Dropping down to the southeastern coast we come to Yala National Park, Sri Lanka’s most rewarding national park and home to the world’s densest concentration of leopards alongside elephants, fabulous birdlife, monkeys, crocodiles and more.
Rounding the coast brings us to the marvelous old Dutch fort city of Galle, colonial Sri Lanka at its most perfectly preserved. Built by the Dutch, colored and styled by the Sri Lankans, and overlaid with tropical vegetation by nature, the result is enchanting. We finish off with a brief exploration of Colombo, the nation’s energetic capital.
• 11-night trip encompassing the best of Sri Lanka
• Deluxe, beautiful hotels throughout
• Most meals included
• Venture Out escort accompanying the group as well as a licensed National Guide