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Sri Lankan Discovery

1 country
6 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites
Festival departure: 31 July, 4 & 6 August 2019 departures will enjoy the Kandy Festival
SPECIAL DEPARTURE 31 JUL, 4 & 6 AUG 2019 - KANDY FESTIVAL
Watch in awe as decorated elephants and thousands of dancers, drummers, torchbearers and whip-crackers in traditional costumes weave their way through the crowds in Sri Lanka's biggest and most spectacular festival. Our departures include seats to a special viewing gallery to watch the pageant.
One of Asia's true hidden gemsBe charmed by the unspoilt natural beauty, friendly people and ancient history of Sri Lanka. Discover the island’s beautiful culture, lush jungles and fascinating ancient cities. Explore exotic tea and spice plantations and witness the plentiful wildlife in national parks.Immerse yourself in the local cultureOur Sri Lankan journey begins with a tour of the famous Negombo Fish Markets, followed by a cruise along the calm waters of the jungle-fringed Gin Oya River. Listening to the tranquil sounds of the abundant birdlife, we'll watch the sunset before joining a local family for a hosted dinner on the banks of the river. An unforgettable experience.Enjoy the tropical scenery & ancient ruinsFrom here, we explore Sri Lanka’s secluded monastic ruins of Ritigala. Located in a lush forest, the ruins are hidden within a beautiful setting of streams and pools. Our next stop is Sigiriya, considered to be one of the Wonders of the Ancient World and a must-see in Sri Lanka. This famous rock fortress and palace is set amongst beautiful gardens. Soak up the atmosphereOur journey continues to Kandy, where we’ll visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. If you take this tour in August, you’ll also experience the colourful Kandy Festival - one of the most important festivals on the Buddhist calendar. Next it’s on to the Matale Spice Plantations and tea-growing region of Nuwara Eliya. Here we’ll have time to sample Ceylon tea and learn about the tea-making process. We then head to the coast, where we get to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, stunning beaches and crystal clear waters.

Inclusions

Travel

  • Return economy-class flights from Australia to Sri Lanka. Taxes included
  • Airport transfers on the first and last day of tour
  • All touring in air-conditioned vehicles (excluding jeep-safari vehicle and water-based activities)
  • Tipping Made Easy, $200pp pre-paid

Accommodation & Meals

  • 15 nights in good quality hotels (3-4 star)
  • Day use of hotel on day of departure
  • Enjoy a Sri Lankan BBQ dinner prepared by a local family
  • 15 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 13 dinners, including group welcome and farewell dinners 

Tour Guides

  • English-speaking locally based guides
  • English-speaking national guide throughout (based on a min. of 7 passengers)

Porterage

  • Porterage included where available

Sightseeing

Negombo and nature

  • Observe Negombo's everyday life at the local fish markets, watching the fishing trade go about their business selling an amazing variety of fish and seafood, fresh from the early morning's catch.
  • Cruise the beautiful Gin Oya River, surrounded by lush vegetation, while listening to the amazing bird sounds as the evening breaks. Watch the sun set over the beach before joining a local family for a hosted barbecue on the banks of the river. 
  • Visit the Coconut House, which is a wonderful opportunity to see how a local family utilises every element of a coconut tree.

Ancient city ruins

  • Take a fascinating journey through one of the oldest and largest of Sri Lanka’s ancient cities, Anuradhapura.  This sacred city was the political and religious capital for around 1,300 years before being abandoned in 993, after an invasion. Remarkably hidden in dense jungle for many years, it is now accessible and is home to the oldest documented tree in the world, the Sri Maha Bodhi. 
  • Tour the secluded monastic ruins of Ritigala, located in a lush forest rarely visited by tourists. This mystical place is incredibly beautiful and unspoilt, with shady forests filled with streams, pools and granite boulders and ancient elegant stone pathways that lead to ruins of various meditation platforms and ayurvedic hospitals.
  • Visit the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, the island's capital between the 11th and 13th century. Built alongside a large artificial lake, there are well-preserved ruins of palaces, bathing pools, stupas and exquisite rock sculptures of Buddha at the Gal Vihara.

Sigiriya, safaris, spices and serene temples

  • Enjoy an afternoon jeep safari in Minneriya National Park searching for Sri Lankan wildlife including sambar deer, leopards and elephants. The central feature of the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank, built in the 3rd century AD by King Mahasena. During the dry season (June-September), this tank is an incredible place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze as well as huge flocks of birds, cormorants and painted storks to mention just a few. 
  • Enjoy a 4 night stay at our spectacularly located hotel in Sigiriya, with views of the majestic Sigiriya rock fortress.
  • Tour the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya. Explore the ruins of the capital, built by the Parricidal King Kasyapa (477-95). This UNESCO World Heritage site is both a geological and historical marvel. Formed by magma from an extinct volcano, for centuries it was home to buddhist monks. 
  • Visit a typical home in a Sri Lankan village for lunch. Walk through the paddy fields and enjoy the cool breeze whilst getting acquainted with local village life. 
  • Tour the serene cave temples of Dambulla, filled with hundreds of hand-carved statues and hand-painted frescoes. These cave temples were built by King Valagam Bahu in the 1st century BC in gratitude for the shelter he sought in the caves when fleeing India's invaders. The caves are completely covered by ancient frescoes depicting both religious and secular scenes.
  • Visit the Matale Spice Plantations, growing a variety of spices such as cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg. Sri Lanka is renowned for its spices having been initially colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and British.

The cultural heart of Sri Lanka

  • Tour the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy. Ever since it was founded in the 16th century, it has housed one of the most sacred relics of Buddhism, a tooth of Buddha collected from his funeral pyre. It is now protected within the gold-roofed Temple of the Tooth. Witness the blessing ceremony with all the fanfare, drums, trumpets and Monks dressed in bright colours performing their rituals. 
  • Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya. Initially a royal park, in 1821 under British rule it became a Botanical Garden. Here exotic crops such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona (quinine) were first tested and went on to become important to the country's economy. 
  • Visit the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe.
  • Enjoy a cultural show and local traditional Kandyan dance performance including the cobra dance and mask dance. 

Unwind with a cup of Ceylon tea in Nuwara Eliya and enjoy the magnificent scenery

  • Join the locals and marvel at the stunning highland scenery for a short journey by train before continuing by road to the colonial city of Nuwara Eliya, winding through lush countryside and tea plantations.
  • Learn about the tea-making process and sample some high-grade Ceylon tea at a plantation. It all started around 1867 when Ceylon tea was first being developed by British planter James Taylor. The rest is history! 
  • Visit the St. Clair and Devon Falls, just outside Nuwara Eliya. Known as Little Niagara of Sri Lanka, St. Clair Falls is one of the widest falls in Sri Lanka. Nearby Devon Falls was named after an English coffee planter by the name of Devon, whose plantation is situated nearby.

Safaris and the south coast

  • Enjoy a jeep safari in Yala National Park, with one of the highest density leopard populations in the world.
  • Drive along the stunning south coast to the great walled city of Galle and see the World Heritage-listed Dutch Fort.
  • Spend 2 nights relaxing on the coast in Galle.
  • Learn about the endangered leatherhead and loggerhead turtles at a local hatchery.
  • Witness the unique stilt fisherman as they go about their trade

Cosmopolitan Colombo

  • Tour Sri Lanka's bustling capital of Colombo and stay in the historic Galle Face Hotel.
Tour Provider Bunnik Tours
Number of Days
17
Price From
AUD $5,695
Start Location
Sri Lanka
End Location
Sri Lanka
Age Range
Avg. 50+
Group Size
4 to 20
Tour Style
Comfort
Tour Themes
Festival, Slow paced
Physical Rating
Moderate
Incudes Flights
Yes
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
31 Jul 201916 Aug 2019Fully BookedAUD $5,835 
04 Aug 201920 Aug 2019Fully BookedAUD $5,835 
06 Aug 201922 Aug 2019Fully BookedAUD $5,835 
24 Aug 201909 Sep 2019Fully BookedAUD $5,435 
14 Sep 201930 Sep 2019Fully BookedAUD $5,235 
05 Oct 201921 Oct 2019Guaranteed DepartureAUD $5,235
09 Nov 201925 Nov 2019Guaranteed DepartureAUD $5,535
23 Nov 201909 Dec 2019Guaranteed DepartureAUD $6,035
30 Nov 201916 Dec 2019AvailableAUD $6,035
04 Jan 202020 Jan 2020AvailableAUD $6,235
18 Jan 202003 Feb 2020AvailableAUD $5,935
25 Jan 202010 Feb 2020AvailableAUD $5,935
01 Feb 202017 Feb 2020AvailableAUD $5,935
15 Feb 202002 Mar 2020Guaranteed DepartureAUD $5,935
29 Feb 202016 Mar 2020Guaranteed DepartureAUD $5,935
07 Mar 202023 Mar 2020AvailableAUD $5,935
14 Mar 202030 Mar 2020AvailableAUD $5,935
21 Mar 202006 Apr 2020Guaranteed DepartureAUD $5,935
ItineraryExpand
Sri Lankan Discovery
Day 1. Depart Australia - Arrive Negombo

Welcome to sunny Sri Lanka, the teardrop-shaped island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day 2. Negombo

We begin our sightseeing tour late this afternoon so you can relax after your flight.  [B,D]

Special Experience: Cruise along the calm waters of the jungle-fringed Gin Oya River, listening to the tranquil sounds of the abundant birdlife. We'll watch the sunset before joining a local family for a hosted dinner on the banks of the river.

Day 3. Negombo - Sigiriya

This morning we embark on a city tour of Negombo including a stop at the fish markets when they are full of life. We then depart Negombo for Sigiriya, travelling north into the Sri Lankan highlands. On the way we'll stop at the stunning Cave Temples of Dambulla. Housing hundreds of statues of Buddha, they are also completely covered in ancient frescs. [B,D]

Day 4. Anuradhapura & Ritigala Excursion

We visit the impressive ruins of Anuradhapura, the largest and oldest of Sri Lanka’s ancient cities, dating back to the 6th century. We’ll explore the gleaming white dagobas and Sri Maha Bodhi, before travelling to the Ritigala Medicinal Forest to discover the ruins of an ancient hermitage, set deep in the jungle. [B,D]

Day 5. Polonnaruwa & Minneriya National Park Excursion

Our day begins with a visit to the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa. Brimming with archaeological treasures, we’ll discover the well-preserved ruins of palaces, stupas, bathing pools and exquisite rock sculptures of Buddha. This afternoon we tour Minneriya National Park by jeep, where we’ll hopefully spot sambar deer and elephants. [B,D]

Day 6. Sigiriya

Today we explore the famous rock fortress of Sigiriya - ‘Lion Rock’. Built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century, this impressive site is located on top of a vast 200-metre-high granite rock, some 750 steps up! [B,L,D]

Special Experience: Visit a traditional Sri Lankan village and be welcomed into a local home. Learn about daily life and traditional farming, and then feast on local delicacies!

Day 7. Sigiriya - Kandy

After breakfast we begin our journey to Kandy. Along the way, we will stop at a spice plantation in Matale. We will also visit the Coconut House, which is a wonderful opportunity to see how a local family utilises every element of a coconut tree. When we arrive in Kandy later this afternoon we’ll visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. [B,D]

Day 8. Kandy

The former capital of Ceylon and the last seat of the Sinhalese kingdom, Kandy is known as Sri Lanka’s cultural heart. This morning we visit the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya, with its beautiful orchid house. [B,D]

Special Experience: Watch a traditional cultural performance by locals.

Day 9. Kandy - Nuwara Eliya

Special Experience: We travel to the lush tea-growing region of Nuwara Eliya by train and road, visiting a tea plantation to learn about Sri Lanka’s most famous export. Of course, we’ll enjoy a cup while we’re there. [B,D]

Day 10. Nuwara Eliya

We tour the picturesque colonial town of Nuwara Eliya. Built by the British in the 19th century to escape the sweltering heat of the lowlands, this town still retains the charm of bygone days. We’ll also visit beautiful St Clair and Devon Falls before enjoying high tea at the Grand Hotel. [B]

Day 11. Nuwara Eliya - Tissamaharama

Travelling south towards the coast, we visit the spectacular waterfalls at Ella. We will also make a stop at the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe. This afternoon we arrive in Tissamaharama (or Tissa). Set amongst rice paddies and ruins, it is also the gateway to Yala National Park. [B,D]

Day 12. Yala National Park

This afternoon we embark on a safari in Yala National Park - the oldest and best-known of Sri Lanka’s national parks. Created in 1938, the diverse range of habitats, including scrub jungle, brackish lagoons, lakes and rivers are home to leopards, elephants, wild buffalo, deer, black bears, macaques, jackals and a variety of birds. It’s believed to have one of the highest-density leopard populations in the world. The national park also boasts a large number of important cultural ruins indicating previous civilisations. [B,D]

Day 13. Tissamaharama - Galle

Driving along Sri Lanka’s beautiful south coast, we make our way to the Dutch colonial town of Galle. Here we’ll take a city tour and visit its UNESCO World Heritage-listed sea fortress. We'll then stop to visit a hatchery that was set up to conserve the turtle population and also witness the unique stilt fisherman as they go about their trade. [B,D]

Day 14. Galle

We enjoy a scenic cruise along the Madu River, watching locals go about their daily lives. We’ll then visit a moonstone mine at Meetiyagoda. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure. [B,D]

Day 15. Galle - Colombo

We make our way to the island nation’s capital, Colombo. We’ll take a guided tour of the city, including a stop at the famous Cricket Club Café. Tonight we enjoy a group farewell dinner. [B,D]

Day 16. Depart Colombo

Today is at leisure before we bid farewell to Sri Lanka this evening and begin our journey home. [B]

Day 17. Arrive Australia

 

Level of fitness: This tour features 2+ hours of walking, often across uneven ground and in areas of high altitude or heat and humidity on 1 or more days.