The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Our Arugam Bay Explorer tour is for those seeking simplicity and utter relaxation. Escape the stresses of daily life and retreat to the quiet areas of Sri Lanka, places which offer a laidback atmosphere and picturesque surroundings. The three main locations of this itinerary – Arugam Bay, Ella and Negombo – offer a welcome breath of fresh air for those seeking unpretentious accommodation and utter escapism from the outside world. Spend days on the beach surfing or enjoying some exhilarating water-sports; take the train from Kandy into the tea country, one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world; trek through the lush hills surrounding Ella; explore the still-active 17th century canal system on the north-west coast by bike or by boat, and go on a jeep safari in Uda Walawe National Park, which is home to huge herds of wild elephants. The nature of this itinerary means that it is only available with Simply Red and Classically Red properties – but, as always, it can be tweaked to suit your preferences.
Arrive in Sri Lanka and drive straight to Kandy, the last royal capital of the island and a city which to this day remains very proud of its cultural heritage. Settle into your hotel and rest to prepare for exploring this lively city on your second day. In the morning, escape the crowds and visit the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens which are home to over 4,000 species of plants and over 10,000 trees, whose sprawling canopies offer many welcome patches of shade and branches strong enough to support the hundreds of giant fruit bats found here. In the evening visit the Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most significant Buddhist temple which houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha.
Your train ride today will take your breath away. One of the most scenic rail journeys in the world, the route from Kandy into Sri Lanka’s hill country climbs 6,000ft above sea level and moves through a dramatic landscape of undulating tea fields punctuated by stretches of pine forest, rushing waterfalls and deep gorges. Your chauffeur-guide will drive to Ella with your bags and meet you off the train, so sit back, relax and take in the incredible views of the surrounding landscape.
There are many ways to spend your fourth day in Sri Lanka. If you are feeling active, hike up Ella Rock, or clamber up the steps of Little Adam’s Peak, a short but steep ascent which offers panoramic views of the Ella Gap from the top. Visit Ravana Falls, a beautiful cascading waterfall a short way out of Ella town – in the dry season, when the water flow is less, you can hike up to Ravana Ella Cave, where legend has it King Ravana hid a kidnapped princess. If hiking isn’t for you, take a guided tour of a tea factory to see the full production process of this drink, from the plucking of the leaves to the packages we purchase.
Prepare for three days of relaxation and spiritual escape in this wonderfully laidback beach town. Arugam Bay is listed as one of the top ten spots in the world for surfing and boasts surf points suitable for all levels of skill, ranging from beginners to experts. The best time for this sport is from July to September when the swells are high and the wave breaks are thrilling. However, it is not all about the sun and surf on the south-east coast: climb up to Kudumbigala Monastery, thought to date back to 300 BC, and enjoy spectacular views of the Indian Ocean, or visit Kumana National Park which houses elephants, buffalo, deer, various types of water birds and endangered marine turtles.
Today you leave the beautiful beaches of the Arugam Bay behind and travel inland to Uda Walawe, where you will spend one night. Visit Uda Walawe National Park, home to approximately 500 wild elephants which move through the park in herds of up to 100. Leopard, Sloth Bear, Water Buffalo, deer and mongoose can also be seen here, as well as crocodiles and Monitor Lizards which lurk in the Uda Walawe Reservoir.
End your holiday at the lively beach town of Negombo on the north-west coast, which originally rose to popularity due to its proximity to Colombo’s international airport. The colonial influences of the Portuguese and Dutch are widely evidenced in this area: explore the Dutch network of canals linking Negombo with Colombo’s seaport by bike, boat or on foot, or visit the ruins of 17th century Negombo Fort and admire the architecture of the Catholic churches also built at that time. Head south to the Muthurajawela Wetlands which lie just south of Negombo Lagoon, an incredibly biodiverse area where a variety of mangroves and medicinal plants thrive alongside numerous types of birds, butterflies and fish, as well as Pythons, the country’s largest snake, Monitor Lizards and crocodiles. Indulge in some water-sports, or simply relax on one of the long stretches of sandy beaches.
Hideaway is a homely guesthouse with comfortable cottages and some a/c rooms situated on a six-acre estate which attracts plenty of birds and even the occasional monkey. Although Hideaway doesn’t have direct access to the beach, a five minute stroll takes you to one of the main surf points in Arugam Bay.
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.
Grand Uda Walawe Safari Resort is a modern four-star hotel which lies just 10 minutes away from the Uda Walawe National Park entrance. Set in seven acres of tropical gardens, this 57-room hotel is a welcome addition to an area where accommodation options are limited.
Jetwing Beach is tastefully designed along contemporary lines with Bawa influences, taking the surrounding seaside landscape into full view. Interiors are minimalist and elegant with cement floors and walls enhanced with dramatic contemporary art. The hotel is very much a home away from home, and has something special for everyone.
Zion View is a family run guesthouse in Ella standing at the edge of a cliff with spectacular views of Ella Gap, and conveniently placed for Ella train station. All bedrooms open out to a spacious balcony with mountain views.
Red Dot selects only the best accommodation in Sri Lanka, in its particular price range. Please suggest which of the three categories might most appeal to you. (You can tick more than one box).
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