(Negombo, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Induruwa)
Discover the land Marco Polo christened “the most beautiful island in the world” with this enticingly exotic journey through heart-pulling Sri Lanka. From sun kissed beaches, cool jungles, elephant safaris & turtle sanctuaries, to Buddhist blessings, sweet scented spice plantations & cave temples dating back to 1st century B.C., this tour is a feast for the eyes & soul. Explore the treasures of Sigiriya, Matale, Kandy, Gampola, Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Induruwa & Colombo, led by private guide. Follow in the steps of bygone kings in mystical palaces, relax during an herbal massage, make aromatic curries during a culinary class, visit artisans workshops, watch colorful Kandyan shows, bargain in bazaars, tour tea plantations, make friends at an elephant orphanage, help at a sea turtle hatchery, pass mangroves heavy with fruit on the Madhu River & much more. Boasting far more attractions than can ever be list, the once inaccessible, “Teardrop of India” simply cannot be missed.
A private vehicle with driver will provide a transfer from Negombo to Sigiriya. The approximate travel time is 2.5 hours.
Climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The 'Lion Rock' is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of this fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens encompass the base of the rock. Visit the frescoes of the 'Heavenly Maidens' of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster.
Start the day with an elephant back ride in the Habarana Jungle. This excursion will take you along one of the most picturesque treks through the jungle. Observe the bird life that can be found the surrounding forest and foothills. Thereafter, visit Polonnaruwa which was the second capital of Sri Lanka built in the 11th and 12th centuries AD and is now listed as a World Heritage Site. Discover the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya - 4 splendid statues of the Buddha in 'Upright', the Audience Hall, the Lotus Bath and the statue of king Parakramabahu. Also visit Parakrama Samudraya, which is a lake built by King Parakramabahu the Great. Polonnaruwa has many places of worship such as the Shiva Temple, the Lankathilake, the Watadage, the Galpotha, the Kiri Vehera and the remains of a former Temple of the Tooth Relic.
In the afternoon, enjoy a jeep safari of through Minneriya National Park. Located between Habarana and Pollonnaruwa, Minneriya is yet another haven for the elephants that migrate from surrounding jungles to enjoy the lush grass fields on the banks of the Minneriya reservoir, during the dry season. Monkeys as well as many resident and migratory bird species can be spotted along with reptiles such as the painted-lip lizard, the saltwater crocodile, the Indian python and the water monitor.
Drive from Dambulla to Kandy. Dating back to the First Century BC, the Golden Temple of Dambulla has been the centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus alike for 22 centuries. It is Sri Lanka’s most popular historic site. The Cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks is covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15 metre long reclining Buddha and vividly coloured frescoes on the walls and ceiling, making this the largest antique painted surface in the world. Continue to Kandy via Matale. Visit a spice garden in Matale, there you will see different spices and how some of these spices are grown and processed today spices are used mainly to flavor food. In medieval times, however, spices played a more important role as food preserving agents. In the absence of fridges and freezers, people used spices to preserve meat during the long winter months. Tasting of spiced tea, massage with natural products and demonstration of a preparation of curry and little massage with herbal oils of spices and plants. In the evening visit Temple of the Tooth relic - one of Buddhism's most sacred relics and draws followers of the Buddhist faith from all over the world.
Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a residence for baby elephants where you will be able to observe the young animals during feeding and bathing time. Continue to Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens. Peradeniya Botanical Garden was first built as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala king. The 147 acres provide an amazing variety of trees, plants and flowers. Afterwards your driver will take you to Kandy, which was last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. The town is now listed as a World Heritage Site. The name "Kandy" conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Explore Kandy Lake built by the last Sinhala king, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit Kandy Town and its bazaar, followed by the arts and crafts center, a gem museum and a lapidary. Thereafter witness a cultural show featuring traditional Sri Lankan dancing. Return to your hotel by Tuk Tuk.
After breakfast, make your way to the Peradeniya Railway Station and take a train to Gampola (20 minutes). Seats cannot be reserved in advance. Gampola is a large town located in amidst the central highlands of the country. Visit the longest Buddha statue in South Asia, the Saliyalapura Temple. Continue towards Nuwara Eliya, which is Sri Lanka's most popular hill resort and also the heart of Sri Lanka's tea zone producing a significant share of the world's best tea. Visit a tea plantation and taste a cup of tea. In the evening, take a walking tour of Nuwara Eliya known to the local people as “Little England”.
Explore the Kitulgala River where the film “Bridge Over The River Kwai” was recorded. Visit the turtle hatchery in Kosgoda, operated by the Wildlife Protection Society of Sri Lanka. Several species of turtles, especially the endangered hawksbills are can be observed here. The eggs, which are left uncovered on beaches up and down the coast, are most vulnerable. The goodwill of Kosgoda fishermen, who bring these eggs to the hatchery, have led to hatching and around 100,000 young turtles could be released into the wild. After the visit, continue to your hotel in Induruwa.
Do a city tour in Galle. The capital of the southern province is a city with a colorful history. UNESCO declared World Heritage Site the magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town. In 1587 the Portuguese annexed Galle from its Sinhala kings and built its first fortress naming it “Santacrusz”. Its old world charm appeals as a tourist destination. To this, it looks back to 500 years of nurture under Sinhala, Portuguese, Dutch and British stewardship. Thereafter proceed to Balapitiya. Enjoy a scenic cruise along the Madhu River, a relaxing trip with plenty of interesting stops. You pass dozens of islets forested with mangroves and can appreciate the timeless natural rhythms of rural life. Return to the hotel.
A transfer from Induruwa to Colombo for an afternoon tour of the capital city is provided. The sightseeing trip includes the Colombo Museum, the Old Parliament, Buddhist and Hindu Temples, Bayra Lake and the Pettah Bazaar. Finish the tour with a private transfer to Bandaranayke International Airport for your departure.
Along the Western coast of Sri Lanka mile upon mile of golden beach stretches as far as the eye can see and in the resort town of Negombo, hotels of many a description line its palm fringed shore. Glittering bright amongst them all is the luxuriant paradise of Jetwing Beach. Indulgently spacious in the inimitable style of Geoffrey Bawa – Sri Lanka’s most renowned architect, this is the perfect place for those with a penchant for stylish extravagance combined with the simple pleasures of a seaside holiday. Whether guests are coming alone or bringing their family; tots and all, here everyone is equally assured of a royal welcome and good times galore. Take playful days and restful nights aplenty, with equal measures of exuberance, pampering and leisure guests can handle in between. Luxurious rooms with every facility, speciality cuisine at three restaurants, a large pool and a spa with Ayurvedic treatments are just some of the things guests can indulge in at this plush seaside resort.
Jetwing's newest and most ambitious project located within 5km of the "8th Wonder of the World" Sigiriya - is the creation of a true Lifestyle Hotel. With the challenge of introducing a wetland system on reclaimed agricultural lands within the Dry Zone, provides the unique backdrop for this exciting new property. Whether it is the nature lover in you or the task of "finding yourself again", treat yourself to an experience; come be part of the lifestyle.
The Kandy House is a unique ancestral manor house providing seclusion and serenity for its guests in a lush, tropical garden setting close to Kandy. In 1804, the last Chief Minister of the Kandyan Kingdom, Ratwatte Adigar, committed an act of “defiant decadence” - he dared to build himself a palatial villa using roof tiles which at that time were decreed only for royal residences. 200 years later, Tim and Sarah Jacobson dared to start the process to turn it into a designer boutique hotel, in partnership with Channa Daswatte: to retain the charisma of this captivating house while taking it to the standard for 21st century guests. The resulting restoration sensitively blends modernized bathrooms with elegant antique furniture, and fresh touches of colour set off the traditional architecture.
Cocoon Hills is an exquisite 6 bed roomed English Mock Tudor Bungalow with a beautiful lawn and flower beds built nearly 25 years ago, nestled in the hill country amidst tea plantations and verdant mountains which exudes its personal charm within a setting of refined elegance. On a sunny day, the Bungalow allows guests to borrow its bicycles to peddle around the town, sightseeing.
Discover the pleasure of serenity in exquisite surroundings between tropical forest and lush greenery. Over a hundred years ago, the hill in the midst of the former Cinnamon Plantation was given a name by the local inhabitants. They christened it, “Sumanagiri”– the Silent Mount. Today, this land of Sumanagiri, stretched amongst 8 ½ acres has metamorphosed into Cocoon Resort and Villas.
India & Area
Jim Allard ,
December 09, 2014
"Sunita Singh did an outstanding job
Overall an excellent trip, well carried out.
The drivers in Delhi and overland from Agra to Udaipur made a great impression. Both were accomplished and accommodating. Access to transport in Delhi and Mumbai on our leisure days was noted and appreciated.
Guides in Delhi, Agra and Udaipur were standouts. The transfer reps all did an excellent job particularly since, on a number of occasions, they were there in the middle of the night.
All accommodations except for Mumbai were excellent. Memories of the culture of India ranks first but a close second in our minds will be the palace hotels.
The Leela Palace offers a peaceful and intimate refuge from the bustle of Delhi. Our reaction to the Nadesar was that it was the best hotel ever. Little did we realize each subsequent hotel in Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur would top that, except for the last in Mumbai.
We were there at an important moment in India's development and the various viewpoints in different cities reflects the promise and challenges facing the country.
Some thought the shock of Varanasi could be better absorbed later in the itinerary, however, the geography preempts that alternative.
Always room for improvement so we would offer the following
Biggest disappointment was the Taj Tower in Mumbai. Small rooms that could be anywhere on the planet. Better choice would be the old wing which matches up better with the overall experience.
Not all of the guides were understandable. They all seemed intelligent and knowledgable but were lacking in delivery of a dialogue. Some speak in a droning monologue that is difficult to follow and includes blinding detail that is soon forgotten.
Two glitches that were remedied: The pickup of the van in Agra had an impossible seating arrangement but that was corrected overnight to our complete satisfaction. The Lake Palace Rooms in Udaipur were initially a problem. One room was lovely but the other two were substandard, although the hotel said they were in the same class. Basically, the better room had the bathroom and closet along the full wall while the substandard alternative used only half the wall resulting in a minute closet, no shower, a single sink and no window. They initially stated that there was nothing better but within an hour the duty manager had found two adjacent rooms on another floor that had the double sinks, separate claw bath and shower overlooking the lake as well as better closet space. They graciously moved us while we were at dinner on the rooftop.
Finally there is always the gouging at shops where the guides get a commission. At a couple of stops this seemed egregious but we are all seasoned travellers and work around that annoyance.
Some of the others may wish to add to these comments but those are my thoughts.
Good memories, thanks"
India & Area
December 08, 2014
"Seamless first class organization and management of our tour.
Sunita Singh did an outstanding job setting up all our accommodations, guides and internal transport."
India & Area
November 28, 2014
"My Husband and I recently traveled to India the had the most amazing experience..
India is a remarkable country. it is the oldest civilization in the world and we were constantly marveling at the continuity of the culture over the millenniums.
We highly recommend that you book your India trip with the Kensington Tours INDIA Specialist, Senior Sales Consultant Sunita Singh who has lived in India & travelled extensively within the country and neighboring countries.
The entire trip was well planned and ran without a hitch. The guides were excellent, well educated, very knowledgable and extremely solicitous of us. A special recommendation to our driver Rakesh (spelling?) who negotiated the roads and sometimes heavy and interesting traffic with skill and good humor.
This was a private tour comprising of my husband and I. We were most impressed with the way the trip was organized and with the quality and care shown by every Kensington representative along the way.
We visited all the important destinations which exceeded our expectations. A wonderful aspect of traveling in this manner was that our guides were able to take us off the beaten path and we experienced local India in this way.
Our travels took us to Delhi, Varanasi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Udaipur, the temples in Ranakpur and Agra. Varanasi was the highlight of the vacation. It is such a spiritual and special place and well worth the detour. The hotels were all 5 star plus and luxurious. We especially loved The Lake Palace in Udaipur and the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur. The Oberoi in Agra was also amazing.
It was a treat and a privilege to travel through Rajasthan in this way. India is such a special country to visit."
India & Area
Mike Simon ,
May 06, 2014
"Kensington planned a wonderful fascinating itinerary for us. All of the guides were so accommodating and flexible, wanting to be sure we were being cared for. India can be a difficult place in which to travel without the proper drivers and guides. Kensington's staff was all top notch."
India & Area
Jim & Gayle Stinson ,
April 21, 2014
"Our individualized, private trip to India was just fabulous. Thanks to all for a trip of a lifetime!"
India & Area
Sharleen Dickson ,
April 21, 2014
"The driver and guides were excellent!"
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