WELCOME TO THE PEARL OF THE SOUTH SEAS – SRI LANKA!
Arrive on day one and be greeted at the airport by your tour guide, who will load your luggage into a tuk tuk as you ride through the tree lined and sunbaked streets of Negombo to your first hotel. Today is your day, explore the canals, the lagoons or get your base tan on the beach, for in the evening we meet as a group and hit the town for your welcome dinner and drinks.
DAY 2 – TODAY THE ADVENTURE REALLY BEGINS!
Fill up on a delicious breakfast in the hotel before we hop on a private bus to start our journey to Sigiriya. On the way we will stop off to explore the magnificent Dambulla Caves, history and religion bounce off every painted wall and stone Buddha statue, leaving you with an unrivalled sense of spirituality. Then we'll continue on to check into our stunning hotel in Sigiriya, the jewel of the Cultural Triangle. We will finish our epic day with a sunset climb to the quiet Buddhist monastery of Pidurangala, to get an open and unobstructed shot of what it is we'll be climbing in the morning!
DAY 3 – SIGIRIYA ROCK
An early wake up time today as we put on our hiking shoes, grab our camera and head out to climb the incredible Sigiriya Rock. Protruding produly out of the earth, ruins of a grand palace provide evidence all around the grounds of a once violent and noble Sri Lankan history. View the ancient wall paintings, the sanskript marked mirror wall and the huge stone lion paws guarding the ascent to the summit. The views from the top are unrivalled as you travel through time examining the ruins. This afternoon you have the option to go on an extra safari in Minneriya national park, where elephants patrol the land (please note, this safari is included during whale watching off season). To fill those hungry bellies, we stop by a local family for lunch who will prepare a traditional feast for us before taking a well-deserved rest on a lounger in the afternoon sun.
DAY 4 – LETS TRAVEL SOUTH – KANDY AND COOKING CLASS
Today we say goodbye to Sigiriya and embark on our travels down south towards Sri Lanka's second largest city, Kandy. We will stop at a spice garden on the way to learn about where our favourite spices come from and have a cooking class where we'll learn the secret to a perfect Sri Lankan curry! Here, our local chef will teach you how to make dhal and chicken curry as well as fried cashew coconut sambal and poppadoms. Then we'll continue our drive to Kandy, check in to our next accommodation and take in the sights and sounds of this bustling city with a Tuk Tuk tour!
DAY 5 – TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH & TRAIN INTO THE MOUNTAINS
Eat your breakfast overlooking the hills of Kandy before we head into town to visit the sacred Temple of the Tooth. This is a religious shrine which is said to house the tooth of Buddha himself. We then jump on the bus and travel through the mountainous region of the hill country. The hills are ablaze with small green tea plants which Sri Lanka is famous for. We stop by a functioning tea factory to learn how the tea is processed and ends up in your cup at home, whilst actually learning how 7 different types of tea are made all from the same plant! A trip to Sri Lanka is not complete without experiencing life on the train and the journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella is dubbed as the best journey in the world. 180 degree views of tea plantations, waterfalls, lakes and local villages pass on by as your train traverses the tracks cut into the mountainside. Try the sweet milk tea on board, converse with friendly locals and take pictures to make you the envy of all your friends back home. After we check into our hotel, we'll head into Ella for dinner and drinks in everyone's favourite mountainous town.
DAY 6 – FREE DAY IN ELLA
Today is yours to do as you please. Ella plays host to some of the best Ayurveda massage parlours in Sri Lanka. A thousand year old technique which removes any aches or pains you may have, or simply as an excellent way to relax. Your tour guide will let you know what other activities you can do in the area.
DAY 7 – SAFARI TIME
Today we will rise early to explore some of the hidden gems of Ella, such as the 9 Arch Bridge and Little Adam's Peak. Afterwards we will continue our way down South and check into our epic campsite, just 45 minutes away from the stunning Uda Walawe National Park! Our hosts will greet us with welcome drinks and a delicious Sri Lankan buffet lunch. After we've eaten we jump into jeeps and go on safari, searching the wilderness for herds of elephants, buffalo, crocodiles, monkeys, eagles, hawks, peacocks, mongoose and if you're lucky, leopards. Truly a once in a lifetime experience, your day in the national park will be a tough one to beat. After driving round the park, we'll head back to camp where our hosts will have a BBQ dinner waiting for us, the best way to end an amazing day.
DAY 8 – IT'S TIME FOR THE BEACH
Take the morning to chill out by our campsite pool and just enjoy your surroundings – monkeys, elephants and peacocks roam the fields around the campsite, so be sure to be on the lookout. After breakfast we'll drive to the South West Coast, arriving at the stunning beach side town of Mirissa. A place where the world class waves hit the sand, where turtles inhabit the water, and where the beer is ice cold. After a week in the hill country, this is exactly what you need.
DAY 9 – WHALE WATCHING
Today we wake up early and head to the beautiful golden sand beach. We jump on board one of THE best boats in the area to view the largest animals in the world. Watch as blue whales, jump, swim and dive around you and be blown away by their size. After a morning on the boat, we head back to relax for a while before heading to our second spectacular beach destination; Hikkaduwa!
DAY 10 – BIKE THROUGH RICE PADDIES AND VILLAGES
After breakfast by the beach, we start our bike ride through some beautiful local villages and rice fields, stopping to drink a fresh king coconut in a secluded tropical garden & even to a dog care clinic to those that would like to visit. Afterwards, we'll give you some time to take photos of the area or to buy souvenirs from one of the many boutique and unique stores. The perfect place to write a postcard and send it home with tales of your incredible time over the past 11 days. Then we'll drive down to the stunning Galle Fort, a city encased in walls, where Dutch, Portugese and British Colonial buildings still stand proud. The cobbled streets lead to the sea, where crazy Sri Lankan locals swan dive into the ocean.
DAY 11 – TURTLE SANCTUARY & COLOMBO
After your breakfast, we will pack up our things for the 2 hour drive along the coast to the bustling capital city of Colombo. On the way we stop off at small turtle sanctuary, where baby turtles learn to take that first swim and injured adults are rehabilitated back into the wild. Across the road we'll view the humbling 2004 Tsunami Memorial, where you can listen to survival tales and view pictures of the event. We then arrive into Colombo and check into our boutique hostel, you'll have some free time to visit the national museum or art gallery close by, or take a tuk tuk and run around the manic streets of the Pattah Markets for some final souvenir shopping. We'll then meet together in the evening for a final dinner together before saying our goodbye!
DAY 12 – TIME TO SAY GOODBYE!
Time to say our final goodbyes with the friends you have just made over the course of an incredible 12 days. Whatever your next destination may be, we hope we have educated you on a country that provides so much, that possesses incredible variation in exploration and we hope we have inspired you to explore more.