Eco Culture Tours
Sri Lanka Map

Pearl of the Orient Tour – 11 Days

7 Day Orient Tour

Highlights:

  • Camp under the canopy of a mangrove forest
  • Observe orphaned baby elephants as they feed at the Elephant Transit Home
  • Worship at the Kataragama temple, and join in a mesmerising religious pooja
  • Climb the magnificent Sigiriya rock fortress – a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Explore Galle’s 17th Century Dutch Fort
  • Be captivated with Sri Lanka’s wildlife at Yala National Park
  • Walk through the majestic ruined city of Polonnaruwa
  • Enjoy the mountainous outdoors in cool and misty Nuwara Eliya

SriLanka Tour Map

Arrival Day

Arrive at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) and transfer directly to a star-class hotel in Negombo, a coastal town a few minutes drive away. It’s the perfect location to relax after your long flight, and to begin to enjoy the sights and sounds of the island.


Day 1

Sigiriya tour fortress
Journey from the coast to Sri Lanka's hill capital - the small lakeside city of Kandy. On the way, visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, a sanctuary for the island’s abandoned or orphaned wild elephants. Here, the elephants roam free and you can enjoy the sight of smaller elephants being hand-fed with giant milk bottles or watch them at play in the water of a nearby river as they take their twice-daily bath.

Your introduction to the amazing historical sites of the country will happen with a visit to the Sigiriya rock fortress, one of Sri Lanka's UNESCO world heritage sites. This was the rock citadel of an ancient King, Kassapa, and is considered one of the wonders of the world. Walk through its water gardens, and then up the steep steps - either hewn out of the rock or on circular iron staircases - past the famous mirror wall with its frescoes – and then to the spectacular views at the summit.


Day 2

ride elephant tour
Located in the centre of the cultural triangle, the Minneriya National Park is an ideal place to see some of Sri Lanka’s famous wild elephants, birds and many other wildlife. During the dry season (June-Sept) visitors can see herds of up to 150 elephants feeding and washing, as well as toque macaques, sambar deer and leopards. The birds include cormorants and painted storks.

Take a break from it all by having some fun, and an Elephant ride at Habarana will give you many memorable thrills. Seated comfortably on a cushioned wooden platform fixed to the back of the elephant, you can sway to the rhythm of a pachyderm’s walk, as you wander through rural roads and villages.


Day 3

Polonnaruwa tour ruins
Start your day with a visit to the World Heritage city of Polonnaruwa, the capital of ancient Sri Lanka from around AD 1070.

Among the most noteworthy buildings in ancient Polonnaruwa was the Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu I, which is said to have had seven stories and 3m-thick walls. Although the Palace itself is in ruins, the frieze of elephants in the main Audience Hall and the many carvings and moonstones along the entry ways to the palace buildings are worth exploring.

There are many places of Buddhist worship in this ancient city. The “Polonnaruwa Quadrangle” houses many of these, including the Vatadage with its central dagoba and four Buddha statues, the Thuparama gedige (a hollow temple with thick walls) with images of the Buddha in the inner chamber, the Hatadage and many small shrines. There are also shrines to the Hindu God Shiva scattered close to the Quadrangle.

The Lankatilake viharaya is a huge structure, with 17m high thick walls which leads to a huge, standing Buddha. Another popular Buddhist site is the Kiri Viharaya (literally, Milk white temple) which is said to have been built by King Parakramabahu in honour of his wife, Queen Subadra. The Gal Viharaya is a cluster of carved Buddha images, which would have formed part of an extensive monastery on this site. Four separate images of the Buddha are carved from one long slab of granite, a feat of artistry. The finest of the images is credited as the Standing Buddha, which measures at 7m tall.

There are networks of gardens, ponds, water gardens and bathing pools scattered throughout this ancient city, painting a picture of the extensive and thriving capital it was in its heyday.


Day 4

Dambulla Cave Temple
Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, another amazing historical site with its rock ceiling covered in a large swath of colourful frescoes, most of which dates back to over 2,000 years. This cave temple has the largest number of Buddha statues all housed in one place including a 14 metre long, recumbent Buddha carved out of the rock.

Follow this visit with a quick tour of a nearby Spice Garden, which will introduce you to the many varieties of spices for which this island nation is famous. Learn how the different spices are used in local cuisine as well as in the herbal medicine of Ayurveda.

Continue your travels by journeying to the beautiful city of Kandy, at the centre of which is the Temple of the Tooth where a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha has been enshrined since the 4th Century A.D. Buddhist poojas and events are held daily at dawn, midday, and in the evening where guests can participate. The services are accompanied with traditional music and drumming. The temple is one of Sri Lanka’s holiest Buddhist sites, and is filled with beautiful stone and wood carvings, wall murals and intricately detailed statues.

The Royal Botanical Gardens is located just outside the city of Kandy, in Peradeniya. Originally a garden built for the Queen and Court ladies of the Kandyan royalty, the gardens were developed during the British period into one of Asia’s foremost botanical gardens. At the end of your experience at this beautiful garden, you will travel to the hill country area of Ella.


Day 5

Srilanka Train Tour
Take a memorable journey by train, meandering through the tea plantation-covered mountains, misty hills and winding tunnels. Travel to the mountainous city of Nuwara Eliya, climbing uphill upto 6,000 ft above sea level is one of the greatest rail journeys in the world.

Enjoy the experience of exploring Nuwara Eliya, which was “founded” by explorer Samuel Baker in 1846 and became a popular holiday spot for British colonials who wanted to get away from the sweltering heat of coastal cities and into the cool climes of the mountains.


Day 6

Spend a day in the great mountainous outdoors of Sri Lanka’s central mountain region. You can choose between two different adventures for this day:

(if you are visiting during the climbing season of December – April):
Adam's Peak climbing
Sri Pada, or Adam’s Peak, is a 2,234m high mountain which is sacred to all four main religious groups in Sri Lanka – the Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and the Christians. The giant footprint at the top is variously claimed as an imprint either of Lord Buddha, God Shiva, Adam, or St. Thomas, the Christian Apostle who preached in south India. The climb is best attempted at night and if you’re lucky and up early the vista can reward one of the finest sunrises in Asia as well as an awe-inspiring view from the top. During the pilgrimage season, you can join hundreds of devotees as they chant and climb up the steep stone steps.



Sri Lanka trekking
The Horton Plains National Park is considered one of the richest biodiversity hotspots in Sri Lanka and is located at the foot of two of Sri Lanka’s tallest mountains, the Kirigalpotta (2395m) and Totapola (2359m). The Plains are a plateau, undulating and covered with grassland, patches of thick forest, waterfalls and streams and rocky outcrops. The vast Horton Plains Park covers around 3,160 ha in total.

Horton Plains and the adjoining Peak Wilderness Sanctuary are home to some of Sri Lanka’s most endangered plants and animals. Nearly 750 species of plants have been so far identified here, and when walking through its rich forest areas you will find that the forest canopy reaches nearly 20 metres in some places. There are dozens of wild orchids here, and 16 of them are endemic to Sri Lanka.

Among the wildlife in this Plain, 24 species of mammals, 87 species of birds, nine species of reptiles and eight species of amphibians have been identified. Among the most commonly seen mammals are the Sambar Deer, wild boars, Langurs, Giant Squirrels and if you are lucky you may even see a Leopard. One of the world’s most endangered primates, the Horton Plains Slender Loris, also calls this area home.

Perhaps the most popular tour destination at Horton Plains is World’s End, a sheer cliff precipice at the Southern end of the park. The drop from World’s End is 870m and has a breathtaking view on clear days, although most times it is covered in a thick white mist. Another popular visitor attraction is Baker’s Fall, a magnificent 20m waterfall that is named after explorer Samuel Baker who is credited with having discovered and established the township of Nuwara Eliya.


Day 7

Kataragama culture tour
Your travels will now take you to Sri Lanka’s best known Wildlife park, the Yala National Park located on the south east corner of the island. It has the highest variety of wildlife recorded in any National park in the country and is home to many species of animals including sloth bear, herds of elephants, sambar, deer, crocodiles and the endangered leopard subspecies - Panthera Pardus Kotiya, which is only found in Sri Lanka.

From Wildlife to culture, continue your journey into understanding Sri Lanka by visiting the Kataragama temple, an ancient pilgrimage site where all religions are worshipped. It is believed that King Dutugemunu, an ancient King of Sri Lanka, built a shrine here for the worship of the Kataragama God in the 2nd century BC. Each day, at specific times, Kataragama’s Hindu shrines come alive when poojas (devotions) are presented to the Gods – baskets filled with fruit and flowers, burning incense and oil lamps, dashing of coconuts, clanging of bells, and the continuous chanting – a mesmerizing experience for any visitor.


Day 8

Galle fort tours
After your tour of the Park, you will continue your journey through Sri Lanka by travelling down to the city of Galle, on the country’s southern coast.

Explore the Dutch Fort at Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was originally built by the Portuguese and then further developed by the Dutch and the British, and covers nearly 4 sq km. Buildings of interest include the Dutch Reformed Church, All Saints Church, Amangalla Hotel (formerly the New Oriental Hotel), the lighthouse and bell tower. The Dutch also developed what was then an innovative tide-based sewage-system within the Fort. A maze of narrow roads lined with small houses and shops with Dutch names still remain.

And then continue your day exploring the south of the country with a visit to a Moonstone Mine, and see how the semi-precious stone is mined as well as learn about the many different varieties and grades of Moonstones at the visitor centre. You can see or even go down into the deep, narrow shafts of the mine, if you wish!


Day 9

Bird Watching tour
Travel along the southern coast until you arrive at the coastal town of Ambalangoda. Here you will visit the Nagenahiru Center for Environment at Madampa Lake Wildlife Sanctuary, a local organisation which works in raising awareness on environment conservation with local schools and communities.

Enjoy a bird watching excursion on the Lake by boat, and exploring the expanse of mangrove forest. You can experience outdoor camping under the canopy of the Mangrove Forest, with a special performance of local music, dancing and puppetry. Do some night fishing and enjoy your catch at a special Campfire BBQ, as a wrap up to a memorable eco-cultural visit.


Day 10

Bentota beach holiday
Spend a day relaxing at the beach in Bentota, soaking up the sun, the warm waves of the Indian Ocean and the beauty of Sri Lanka’s coastline.

Visit a Turtle hatchery and see how turtle eggs are protected and hatched, and then carefully released into the ocean. Learn about the century-old habits of the great Turtles who return each nesting season to the same beach, almost to the exact same location as the previous year, to lay their eggs.


Day 11

Colombo tours Srilanka
Complete your holiday by travelling to the modern capital city of Colombo and taking a city tour, with stops for shopping, a visit to the National Museum or dining before you head back to the airport for your return flight.