Serene Sri Lanka Tour

Experience the wonders of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle on this varied, nine-day group tour. Offering superb value for money, with world-class luxury accommodation throughout, it takes in the cream of the island’s historic monuments and scenery, and yields a vivid taste of the local Sinhalese Buddhist culture.

Day 1
Fly overnight from the UK to Colombo.

Day 2
On arrival, you’ll be met by your guide for the transfer inland to Cinnamon Lodge, Habarana for 7 nights. The hotel is built in a traditional, Portuguese-style villa. All of the rooms and suites are, of course, air- conditioned. Meals are served in a beautiful, open-sided dining hall.

Day 3
Following a leisurely breakfast, you’ll be briefed on the timetable for the coming week at a Welcome Meeting hosted by your guide and enjoy a leisurely morning. In the afternoon you will enjoy a visit to the nearby Dambulla Caves, Sri Lanka’s largest and best-preserved cave- temple complex located on a huge granite inselberg, the site occupies a wonderfully atmospheric spot, with views extending over the tropical canopy to distant Sigiriya and beyond.

Day 4
In the morning you will visit the world-famous archeological site of Polonnaruwa. Set in an area of gently undulating woodland, this is the most spectacular and compact of Sri Lanka’s many ancient ruins. From the 11th to 13th centuries, a succession of kings developed an immense city here, ranged around the Parakrama Samudra, a huge, shimmering, artificial lake that once supplied the city with water and kept it cool in the hot season. In the afternoon you have the option of an optional excursion to the nearby Minneriya National Park where, in the summer months, between 50 and 300 wild Asian elephants congregate in a vast herd – one of wild Asia’s most compelling spectacles.

Day 5
In the morning you will visit a local family home to help prepare a traditional Sri Lankan meal as an offering for local monks. Once the food is ready, accompany your host family to the village temple to present the offering. In the afternoon, another optional excursion is available to the UNESCO-listed fortress-palace at Sigiriya. These spectacular 5th-century ruins rest on the top of a towering rock outcrop that can be scaled by means of steep staircases and catwalks to see the ruins of the palace and the wall paintings of apsaras, or ‘heavenly nymphs’.

Day 6
Today you’ll drive south through the lush mountains of central Sri Lanka to Kandy, the island’s second city. First port of call will be the ‘Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya’. After lunch, you will continue to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist shrine.

Day 7
The seventh day of your trip is a rest day, but there is an optional excursion to Anuradhapura, the greatest and most resilient of all Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals. Founded in 377 BC, it thrived for over a thousand years until its destruction by Indian invaders in 993AD.

Day 8
In the morning you will drive across the island to the east coast city of Trincomalee. Your first stop will be stately Fort Frederick, built by the Portuguese to guard the town’s impressive harbour. You also visit Koneswaram Temple, nearby Swami and stop for lunch at the Cinnamon resort and enjoy a refreshing ocean dip and laze on the beach in front of the resort.

Day 9
Check out after breakfast, then board the coach for your transfer to Colombo airport, where you’ll catch your flight back to the UK.

For the duration of your tour you’ll be based at the five -star Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana. Close to a major crossroads at the heart of the island, this fabulous resort is perfectly placed for explorations of the archeological sites comprising the so-called ‘Cultural Triangle’. Most of the monuments you’ll visit require no more than 40 minutes’ driving to reach (although to get to Kandy and the East Coast you’ll be on the road for a longer).

The lodge has all the facilities you’d expect from an international-grade five star, including a luxurious spa and large open-air swimming pool. The rooms – in double-storey, colonial-style blocks scattered around immaculate tropical gardens – are spacious and light, with high ceilings and traditional pan-tiled roofs.

Family Friendly
Departure dates are designed to coincide with school holidays. The hotel you’ll be staying in has excellent facilities for younger travellers, with a dedicated kids’ play park in addition to a large open-air pool, bicycles for hire and tennis courts. Fully trained staff are also on hand to keep an eye on your children should you wish to cut loose for spa session or supper à deux. Crucially, the location of the hotel, at the heart of the cultural triangle, means that journey times to and from the sights are manageable for the majority of children.