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The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
The Island Hop takes you through Sri Lanka’s most interesting and beautiful landscapes – from the shimmering plains of the cultural triangle, to the lush tea-covered hill country and finally to the tranquil beaches of the South Coast. As always, we are able to tinker with this itinerary if you wish and add an extra night here and there. We can also discuss other hotel or villa options.
Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, transfer to a convenient hotel close to the international airport. Relax and unwind after your flight, preparing yourself for the adventure ahead.
Journey to the Cultural Triangle. En route visit Dambulla Cave Temple, a must-see with its rock ceiling covered in one large sweep of colourful frescoes, some of which dates back more than 2,000 years. This cave temple has the largest number of Buddha statues all housed in one place including a 14-metre figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the rock. Visit Polonnaruwa which became Sri Lanka’s royal medieval capital in 1073 and remained Sri Lanka’s capital until the late 13C. Today, the ancient city’s ruins remain in remarkably good nick and are a fascinating site to visit. The most impressive are the ancient sculptures of Lord Buddha at the Gal Vihara cut into Granite stone dating back to the middle of the 12C while the nearby Archaeological Museum adds extra interest. On the next day, rise early and climb the magnificent Sigiriya Rock, one of Sri Lanka's fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites. No matter how often you climb to the summit of this one-time fortress of the murderous, maverick Sinhalese king, Kassapa, the pleasure barely diminishes. Many scholars believe that Kassapa sought to rule as a God-king. About two hours can happily be spent walking through the water gardens, and then up the steep steps - either hewn out of the rock or on circular iron staircases - past the frescoes. You will be in no rush to abandon the spectacular views at the summit.
There is much more you can potentially see and do in the cultural triangle – as well as other famous sites such as Anuradhapura and Mihintale, you can visit the game park at Minneriya or engage in activities such as bullock cart rides, boating on the lakes, nature trails, bird watching and fishing. You may prefer to request an extra day here.
The journey from the cultural triangle to Sri Lanka's hill capital – the small lakeside city of Kandy – will occupy most of the morning. Visit the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy where a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha is enshrined since 4th Century AD. The temple has decorative walls, a golden roof and fine woodwork. Religious services with traditional music and drumming are held daily at dawn, mid-day and in the evening where guests can participate. You might also want to see Kandy's Botanical Gardens.
This morning you hop on aboard a train and wind into the Southern Highlands on one of the most glorious train journeys in the world. On arrival at your chosen station, go bird watching or venture off on a mountain trek. The hill country town of Haputale is picturesque and allows one to explore much including Lipton's Seat, best visited in the morning. Enjoy the tea experience with a walk through a tea plantation and a visit to a tea factory. There are also several picturesque waterfalls to be explored.
Head to the Deep South for a three-day beach stay. The string of sandy coves are secluded, long and unspoiled by overdevelopment. You might also consider the following activities whilst you are on the south coast: whale watching, snorkelling, sailing, river trips, and sea kayaking. Visit Rekuwa, a small fishing village near Tangalle, where a fascinating Marine Turtle Conservation project is helping to save this endangered species.
Today you head to the capital of city Colombo for your final two-day stay. En route, we recommend that you visit the historic 17C Galle Fort. Explore the maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with thriving colonial era buildings, sturdy ramparts looking out to sea, the lighthouse, and a growing collection of art galleries, museums, shops and several boutique hotels.
Colombo is a compact, easily-explored city, smarter by the month, and if its collection of boutique shops, bars and restaurants is not huge, this is more than made up for by their quality, atmosphere, friendliness and great value. You will leave with a few stray specks of sand still in your toes and, one trusts, some money left in your pocket. Who knows, when you return, as surely you must, you will wish to venture further afield.
Casa Heliconia is an exquisite holiday retreat on a fruit and vegetable estate only 45 minutes from the airport. It consists of just two chalets, a swimming pool pavilion and a lounge pavilion, all of which are immersed in lush tropical gardens. Sister property of the acclaimed Kandy House.
Amaya Lake is a simple hotel of four-star standard, which enjoys a peaceful and beautiful setting by the banks of Kandalama lake, in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. An excellent eco hotel, which retains a personal feel and offers low-level cabanas in tranquil woodland.
Clove Villa is a Sri Lankan owned private villa 15 minutes from Kandy town which offers a personalised service and comfortable accommodation in seven good-quality bedrooms. Designed with high timber roofs and tall glass windows, Clove Villa spreads across three floors.
Melheim Resort is a contemporary 14-room hotel on a ridge in Sri Lanka's enchanting southern highlands where morning mists can rise wispily from the valley below to reveal a stirring landscape
Coco Tangalla is a six-bedroom, colonial-period villa overlooking the south-coast beaches of Tangalle. The Main House and an adjoining annex lie at the highest point with the infinity swimming pool and gardens at lower levels. Managed by the owner of The Kandy House and The Last House.
Set on a quiet lakeside where sights and sounds of nature reign supreme, Villa Talangama is a luxurious Sri Lankan home meticulously laid out from its architecture and furnishings to the caring service of its staff. This villa is an ideal last stop on your holiday itinerary, an alternative to Colombo city. The airport is about 75 minutes drive.
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