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Sri Lanka For Solo Travellers

  • Sri Lanka For Solo Travellers

As soon as you arrive, your senses are overwhelmed by Sri Lanka! The warm tropical air, the colourful wild flowers and the jungle, the striking colours of the saris adorning every woman, the variety of exotic fruits and spices, the beauty of the countryside, the mystique of countless temples and orange-clad Buddhist monks and wild elephants – this is a varied place indeed! Marco Polo, arguably the greatest explorer of all time, described it simply as the finest island in the world! During its two thousand year history, Sri Lanka has attracted countless invaders and visitors from nearby India, the Arabs, the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British. The 145 years of British rule left an indelible mark on Sri Lanka’s culture and institutions – from a deep love of cricket to the red pillar-boxes still found on street corners. Today, this fabled island of spices and gems is a vibrant blend of entrancing Buddhist culture, ancient cities, wildlife- rich lowland jungles, home to leopards, elephants and monkeys, a mist-shrouded hill country and tropical palm-fringed beaches. Our tour takes you to all the major sites of historical and cultural interest, visiting three outstanding UNESCO World Heritage sites and finishing with two days’ relaxation in one of the country’s finest beach resorts. Three nights are spent in Sri Lanka’s fascinating ‘Cultural Triangle’, where we visit one of the best-preserved ancient sites on the Indian subcontinent. Sigiriya Rock, an impregnable 5th century palace and fortress clinging to the top of an immense granite monolith soaring up 600 feet is Sri Lanka’s most remarkable sight, with amazing views of the jungle-covered plain below. Around the base of the rock we see beautifully laid out fountains, gardens and bathing pools, incredibly still working, linked by an ingenious web of underground, gravity-fed water channels. The cave temples of Dambulla, another World Heritage site, highlight Sri Lanka’s extraordinary artistic heritage. Their entire walls and ceilings are completely covered by sumptuously painted, perfectly preserved frescoes and shrines, whilst hundreds of gold-coloured statues of all shapes and sizes positively glow in the darkness - truly amazing! Kandy, formerly isolated by dense jungle, was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is today custodian of Sinhalese culture. Here we visit the Royal Botanical Gardens which also contain, in a typical colonial house, the wartime HQ of Lord Louis Mountbatten and Far Eastern Command, as well as one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines, the Temple of the Tooth. Sri Lanka’s hill-country is remarkably beautiful. The dense jungle of the lowlands gives way to more open countryside, with charming small villages, extensive lakes and pine-covered hillsides, with a slightly cooler and less humid climate. It was here during the 19th century that the vast tea estates were created by the British. We visit one of the finest such establishments before staying in the hill-station of Nuwara Eliya, with its colonial-era racecourse, bowling green, half-timbered houses and churches. We also stay for two nights next to the county’s second-largest national park. The 380-square mile Yala National Park is famed for its high concentration of leopards. Its open undulating terrain with grassland and shrub jungle, as well as fresh and salt-water lagoons, make it ideal for spotting a wide variety of game including wild boar, sambar deer, sloth bears, plus over 200 bird species. We enjoy an exciting safari in the park. After our tour we drive to the west coast spending three nights by the stunning beaches of the Indian Ocean. One of the most enjoyable things about a visit to this beautiful island is its delicious cuisine! Indeed, Sri Lanka was one of the original ‘Spice Islands’ with cinnamon, cochinilla, nutmeg and all manner of other exotic flavours combined with fresh vegetables including peppers, aubergines and okra blending wonderfully with fresh seafood and meat giving a truly unique and delicious cuisine. A further attraction of this remarkable country are the Sri Lankans themselves, one of the most friendly and hospitable people you’re likely to meet and immensely proud of their beautiful homeland. The fertile plains, the colourful towns and villages, the lush forests of the interior with the vast plantations of tea, rubber and coconuts will entrance you while its history and traditions will capture your imagination. Riviera Travel » code: 1SR » id: 31599

13 Days from £1,879 per passenger

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Travelling to...

 

  • Sri Lanka
  • Asia
  • South Asia
 

Day 1

 

You should arrive at the airport where you will be met by your tour manager before your flight to Colombo.

 

Day 2

 

After your lunchtime arrival we stay for one night at the nearby four-star Taj Gateway Hotel with a welcome dinner included on the first night.

 

Day 3

 

Today the adventure begins and the sights and the sounds of Sri Lanka gradually unfold. The countryside is stunning – scenic paddy fields studded by water buffalos accompanied by wiry, loin-clothed farmers, extensive coconut groves, pineapple fields, working elephants with attentive mahouts astride their necks and everywhere the dense jungle interspersed by huge lakes. We visit the amazing, 1st century cave temples of Dambulla, a UN World Heritage site and a wonderful introduction to the Buddhist religion. Located within an immense granite outcrop, this series of five caves are richly adorned with remarkably preserved frescoes and over 150 Buddhist statues. In the caves’ semi-darkness, surrounded by the serene faces of dozens of beautifully painted statues, it’s not difficult to imagine the incredible sense of awe this sacred site held for generations of worshippers. We stay two nights at the three-star superior Sigiriya Village Hotel (2017 departures) or the four-star Habarana Village Hotel by Cinnamon (2018 departures).

 

Day 4

 

This morning you visit what for many will surely be the most memorable and fascinating monument in Sri Lanka: Sigiriya, or the Lion Rock, is a massive 183-metre granite tower with sheer cliffs on all sides, crowned by the remains of a 1,500-year-old royal palace. The entire site is encircled by a moat and ramparts enclosing a variety of water gardens, the remains of numerous buildings, and caves. As you approach Sigiriya rock, you see some of the finest ancient murals in the country – the ‘Cloud Maidens’ are found under a fold of rock, and show in exquisite detail a procession of jewelled, beautifully dressed women bearing offerings of lilies and lotus flowers. Facing us is the imposing final entrance to the palace above, the Lion Rock, a colossal head of a lion, built from brick and plaster in ancient times. Today, just the two front paws remain, their claws menacingly extended, still guarding the palace. It should be noted that there are numerous steps to the top of Sigiriya rock, but should pose no problem for those with normal mobility. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure to enjoy our hotel’s pool and facilities.

 

Day 5

 

This morning we leave Sigiriya for Kandy. Sri Lanka is noted for its magnificent spices so en route we visit a fascinating garden where we see many indigenous plants such as pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon before arriving at Kandy, the country’s royal capital. You stay two nights with dinner at the five-star Earl’s Regency Hotel, a castle in the clouds. Located in the hills above Kandy, this beautiful property offers a tranquil location with a choice of bars, lounges and restaurants as well as an idyllic pool.

 

Day 6

 

Kandy’s crowded and bustling streets teem with daily comings and goings – the many white-uniformed children returning from school and the myriad of shops. The centre is dominated by a beautiful lake and the fascinating Temple of the Tooth, said to hold Buddha’s tooth. This is Buddhism’s most sacred shrine on the island and during our visit, you may be lucky enough to witness one of the many ceremonies. You also visit the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens. Planted over 150 years and covering a huge 150 acres, the gardens hold thousands of plant species and some superb examples of mature tropical trees. Strolling through lawns, shady avenues and immaculately kept flower beds, we see exotic birds and the commemorative trees planted by Edward VII, George VI, Princess Anne and the Queen. Other highlights are the Avenue of Royal Palms and Bat Drive, where you can spot the large fruit-eating flying foxes hanging upside down. The gardens also house Lord Mountbatten’s imposing headquarters from World War II. Kandy is famous for its traditional dancing and so this evening we experience a colourful and hugely skilful display of this ancient art.

 

Day 7

 

After a leisurely breakfast we leave Kandy, driving through increasingly mountainous scenery to Sri Lanka’s premier tea-growing areas. Winding ever upwards, the lush tropical jungle gives way to tall pine forests and then box-like tea bushes begin – few at first and then seemingly covering every fold of the landscape like a huge green carpet. You visit one of the best-known tea estates to see how our favourite drink is rolled, dried and graded, followed by a refreshing cup of Ceylon’s finest. Nuwara Eliya, the main hill station, is nearly 2,100 metres above sea level and called ‘Little England’ due to its spring-like climate, parks and golf course. You stay at the four-star St Andrews Hotel, originally part of a Victorian mansion. It is famed for its classic 19th century public rooms and lovely, English inspired flower beds and lawns. Even high tea is served.

 

Day 8

 

We say goodbye to Sri Lanka’s hill country this morning on our way to Yala National Park in thesouth of Sri Lanka. At around midday we arrive at the Elephant Transit Home, supported by the UK’sBorn Free Foundation, at Udawalawe National Park, where you’ll be able to watch young elephant orphans being given one of their daily feeds. You stay two nights at the excellent four-star Jetwing Yala Hotel with dinner. The hotel is located just four kilometres outside the national park and features a pool, bar and restaurant, set in a stunning beach location.

 

Day 9

 

An early start this morning, accompanied by the unique sound of a tropical ‘dawn chorus’. As the morning mist disappears with the rising sun you explore the jungle and its incredible range of wildlife in 4x4 vehicles. The normally elusive leopard offers the Park’s most exciting game viewing and Yala has a high concentration of these big cats. They are the island’s top predator so are far less shy than elsewhere in the world. Yala is also known for its elephants, saltwater crocodiles, wild boar, sloth bears, monitor lizards and a huge variety of birdlife. After a late breakfast you can relax by the hotel’s pool before an optional second, early evening park drive. 

 

Day 10

 

After breakfast we head to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle, with its imposing 16th century Dutch fort, where you have a guided tour. We soon arrive at the excellent four-star superior The Lighthouse Hotel with breakfast and dinner. Designed by the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the hotel has an Old World charm and elegance, set among the sea and palms of the southern coast, and is easily accessible from the Dutch colonial town of Galle. The rooms are comfortably furnished and equipped with TV, safe, air conditioning, minibar, ironing board, free Wi-Fi, private balcony, and facilities for making tea and coffee. The hotel has various restaurants and bars offering local and international cuisine. Other facilities include two pools, a spa, tennis court and gym.

 

Day 11

 

We have two whole days to relax in the hotel and enjoy the palm-shaded beach and pool.

 

Day 12

 

The Second of our days relaxing at the hotel.

 

Day 13

 

You transfer to the airport for the return flight, arriving home later on the same day.

 

The price of this holiday is per person, based on one person in a double/twin room for sole occupancy. Price includes scheduled flights to Colombo, eleven nights’ accommodation at three and four-star hotels, all transfers, eleven meals, all local accommodation taxes and all flight taxes, all touring as mentioned, hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager. Included excursions are: guided visits to the Elephant Transit Home, Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla cave temples, Kandy city tour and Botanical Gardens, Kandyan dancing, visit to a tea estate and spice garden and 4x4 jeep drive in Yala National Park, Galle city tour Not included: Sri Lankan visa – see visa section for details

 

Stay in charming hand-picked three- and four-star hotels Experience superb scenery Visit Kandy and see the Temple of the Tooth See the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens, created over 150 years ago Guided tour of the 5th century Royal Palace and Citadel at Sigiriya Rock Visit to the Buddhist Monastery of Dambulla and its incredible Cave Temples Stay in the colonial hill station of Nuwara Eliya, centre of the Ceylon tea trade Visit the Elephant Transit Home, where elephant orphans are looked after, before being reintroduced into the wild Take a safari in Yala National Park, famed for its leopards and elephant herds Spend three nights relaxing on one of Sri Lanka’s idyllic tropical beaches Daily breakfast and eleven dinners included Escorted by our experienced tour manager Return direct scheduled flights

Jetwing Lagoon

 

Beautifully located between Negombo lagoon on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, the four-star Jetwing Lagoon is conveniently also just a short transfer from the airport, making it ideal for relaxing after your flight from the UK. The hotel boasts two pools, one of which is, at 100m, one of the longest pools in the country. There are also two restaurants and bars and an excellent Spa. All the 55 spacious and air-conditioned rooms are spread out in low-rise buildings amongst the grounds, most with a view towards the pool or lagoon. Each room has cool terracotta tiled floors and dark wood furniture and offers a separate shower and bath, hairdryer, safe, minibar, iron/board, cable TV, tea/coffee maker and free wifi. (http://www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwinglagoon/)

 

Cinnamon Citadel - Kandy

 

The recently-renovated four-star Cinnamon Citadel Hotel is located in a quiet position on a bend of the Mahaweli River, with magnificent views over the surrounding forested hills and a 15 minute drive from the centre of Kandy. The hotel’s sun terrace and large pool overlook the river, as does its main restaurant and popular lounge bar. There is also an air-conditioned fine dining restaurant. All 121 air-conditioned and comfortable rooms have a shower, hairdryer, minibar, safe, TV, tea/coffee-maker and a balcony overlooking the river.

 

St Andrews Hotel - Nuwara Eliya

 

The St Andrews Hotel is a former country house, a favourite destination for past British Governor’s, and located in the cooler mountains and tea plantations, is set among lovely landscaped gardens. The 56 rooms are nicely furnished, comfortable and in-keeping with the individual heritage style of the hotel. All the rooms have TV, safe, tea/coffee making and hairdryer.There is a restaurant offering a selection of local and international dishes, plus a billiard room and bar for snacks, afternoon tea is also served.

 

Jetwing Yala Hotel - Yala National Park

 

The recently upgraded and renovated four-star Jetwing Yala Hotel is on the beach and just 4 kilometres outside the National Park. It is a great base for spotting wildlife and to relax and unwind. The  80 rooms are tastefully furnished and have air conditioning, TV, minibar, safe, tea/coffee making and hairdryer, the hotel itself has a range of dining options. There is a large outdoor pool, spa & gym.

 

Lighthouse Hotel - Galle

 

The Lighthouse Hotel, designed by the renowned Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, has an old world charm and elegance set among the sea and palms of the southern coast and is easily accessible from the Dutch colonial town of Galle. The rooms are comfortably furnished and have TV, safe, air conditioning, mini bar and kettle.  The hotel has various restaurants and bars offering local and international cuisine, and facilities also include, two pools, spa, tennis court and gym

 

Sigiriya Village Hotel - 2017 departures only

 

The three-star superior Sigiriya Village is set within very spacious and peaceful grounds with views of the famous Sigiriya Rock from the swimming pool area. The high-ceilinged, open-sided main dining area overlooks the gently sloping lawns and the large pool and offers both buffet and a la carte options. There are nature trails through the 26-acre grounds, an Ayurvedic Spa, or maybe try some yoga. The 120 rooms are in chalet-style bungalows and are spacious, mostly on two levels and decorated in charming, typically Sri Lankan motifs. They are all air-conditioned, with en-suite shower, hairdryer, mini-fridge, TV, safe, tea/coffee-maker, free wifi and patio with garden view.

 

Habarana Village by Cinnamon - 2018 departures only

 

The four-star Habarana Village by Cinnamon is located on the shores of Habarana Lake and set in 27 acres of grounds. Facilities include an open-air restaurant, lounge bar, outdoor pool and the Azmaara spa. Take a stroll in the gardens or on the jogging path and you may spot geckos, monitor lizards, monkeys and plenty of birdlife. The 108 rooms are set in detached and semi-detached cottages and are all air-conditioned, with shower, hairdryer, safe, minibar, cable TV, tea/coffee-making facilities and complimentary Wi-Fi