(Sigiriya, Kandy, Colombo)
From Temples to National parks, emerse yourself in the contrasts of Sri Lanka. Featuring Unesco World Heritage Sites, National parks, Buddhist and Hindu Temples, this itinerary is your first introduction to a land of Culture and Nature. Sites include: Minneriya National park, Sigiriya Rock fortress, Dambulla Rock Temple, Temple of the Tooth Relic, the Elephant Orphanage, Tea Plantations, Spice Gardens and more. This tour is complete with english speaking driver, certified private guide, transfers and 4 star hotel properties.
Welcome to beautiful Sri Lanka. A private vehicle with driver will provide a transfer from Colombo International Airport to Sigiriya. Today, visit Ritigala Buddhist Monastery nestled deep inside the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve, found just off the Anuradhapura-Habarana road. It is the partially excavated ruins of an extensive Buddhist Monastery that was abandoned following invasions in 10th and 11th centuries and today holds special appeal with its curious blend of nano-safari and archaeology. Walking around the beautiful ruins does certainly give you a feeling of adventure in search of mythical pasts; it is easy to imagine yourself as Indiana Jones whilst clambering over the overgrown relics of a forgotten time.
Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982, Sigiriya is Asia’s best preserved city of the first millennium, showing complex urban planning around the base of the rock, combined with sophisticated engineering and irrigation skills in the palace perched on the summit. It is considered it to be one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world with visitors recording their impressions in some of the earliest-known graffiti. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster. Built by an obsessed monarch in the 5th century, Sigiriya or Lion Rock is an astonishing feat of engineering and construction. The most striking portion of Sigiriya, a terracotta and grey core of rock set in the cultural heart of Sri Lanka, rises a sheer 200 meters above a forested plain, its flattened summit sloping gently. A series of moats, ramparts and water gardens — remnants of an ancient city — spread out on two sides of the rock. The remains of a pair of giant stone lion’s paws are guarding the staircase that leads to the summit.
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.
Today leave Sigiriya and travel to Dambulla. Dating back to the First Century BC, the Golden Temple of Dambulla has been the center 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 of Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15 meter long reclining Buddha. Vividly colored frescoes on the walls and ceiling make this the largest antique painted surface in the world. Continue to Kandy via Matale. Visit a spice garden in Matale. See different spices and how some of the plants are grown and processed. Today spices are mainly used to flavor food. In medieval times, however, spices played a more important role as food preserving agents. Activities at the spice garden include tasting of spiced tea, massages with natural products and curry preparation demonstrations (extra charges may apply). In the evening visit the Temple of the Tooth relic that is one of Buddhism's most sacred relics. It draws followers of the Buddhist faith from all over the world.
After breakfast, make your way to the railway station at Peradeniya and take the 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. Proceed to Peradeniya and visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. Peradeniya Botanical Garden was first built as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala King. The 147 acres provide a wide variety of trees, plants and flowers. In the evening, enjoy a city tour of Kandy listed as World Heritage Site and the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. The name "Kandy" conjures visions of splendor and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the 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. Your evening concludes with a traditional Sri Lankan dance show. Return to your hotel by Tuk Tuk.
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. In the afternoon, enjoy a tour of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. Places of interest include the Pettah Bazaar for the bargain hunters, the old fort, Buddhist and Hindu Temples, Bayra Lake, Colombo Museum and the residential areas.
A private vehicle with driver will provide a transfer between your accommodation in Colombo and the international airport.
Hotel Sigiriya is located in a close proximity to the Sigiriya Rock that it seems as through the heritage site is yours alone to admire from the privacy of the hotel. The hotel offers the most scenic views of the rock fortress. The surrounding environs are lush green everywhere you look. As its honoured guest, you are welcomed with a refreshing drink made of local ambarella fruit handpicked for you from the surrounding areas. Hotel Sigiriya features 79 superior rooms, open-air lounge bar with direct Sigiriya rock view, Jungle Bar, pavilion type open-air Main Restaurant, outdoor freshwater pool and kiddies' pool, sports facilities, live oriental music entertainment, and conference facilities.
The Earl’s Regency is the ideal five-star luxury hotel from which to explore the attractions of Kandy and the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Situated next to the river and surrounded by hills, The Hotel offers a perfect oasis of calm where guests can retreat after a day of seeing the sights. Beautifully manicured gardens surround the tempting pool. We have 104 rooms. The hotel also has one of the largest conference facilities. Despite the size, the hotel is environmentally aware and do the best to minimize carbon footprint. The hotel also has a comprehensive energy conservation policy, with power cut-off switches, energy-efficient lighting (CFL bulbs), photo-active garden lights and solar-powered hot water systems.
The Taj Samudra set in 11 acres of landscaped gardens, facing the historic Galle Face Green with a panoramic view of the Indian Ocean and is just a short stroll from the city centre, museums and a variety of restaurants. Boasting a tranquil ambience and comfortable accommodation, this property is an ideal place for business as well as leisure travellers. It features one of Colombo's largest convention centres and is a distinctive setting for meetings and events, with the added convenience of hi-speed Internet access. You can invite up to 450 guests for an evening in the elegant Ball Room or treat them to an authentic Sri Lankan night on the lush lawns. A state-of-the-art gymnasium and a swimming pool are also on offer for guests to relax during leisure.
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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