Sri Lanka. Five Millennia of Spices, Artistry, & Architecture in the Indian Ocean.
"Our guide's knowledge and love of country were inspiring, our driver the best ever. As always, perfection from R. Crusoe & Son."
—Michele and Hannah
Spice traders, Buddhists, and powerful dynasties all made their way to Sri Lanka (once, Ceylon) long before Europeans headed there to take charge. Come explore the fascinating island nation of Sri Lanka, just off the southern coast of India. UNESCO has come before you and named many of the nation’s incredible ancient sites to its World Heritage list. See many of them during your visit.
India, Sri Lanka
This is a 14-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create a Sri Lanka journey of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Day 1: United States
• Overnight flight to Sri Lanka.
Overnight in flight
Day 2-3: Colombo, Sri Lanka
• Arrive Colombo, leisure time.
• City tour including Parliament House, Paradise Road, Bawa house, market.
Overnights in Colombo
Day 4-5: Anuradhapura
• Drive to Anuradhapura.
• Ruwanweliseya Stupa, Sri Maha Bodhiya.
• Leisure time with options for activities in and around resort, organic garden tour.
• UNESCO World Heritage site tour.
Overnights in Anuradhapura
Day 6: Sigiriya
• Drive to Sigiriya, UNESCO site visit.
Overnight in Sigiriya
Day 7: Polonnaruwa, Kaudulla National Park, Sigiriya
• Tour medieval Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO site.
• Rice mill visit.
• Kaudulla National Park elephant safari.
• Return to Sigiriya.
Overnight in Sigiriya
Day 8: Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy
• Kap-Ela elephant experience.
• Drive to UNESCO site of Dambulla, tour cave temples.
• Private spice farm tour and cooking lesson.
• Drive to Kandy, follow Upper Lake Drive to Market Square and batik and gem workshops, Temple of the Tooth.
Overnight in Kandy
Day 9: Kandy, Hatton, Tea Trails
• Kandy Royal Botanical Gardens.
• Train to Hatton.
• Leisure time around the Tea Trails, options for biking, hiking, tennis, spa treatments.
Overnight in Hatton
Day 10: Hatton, Tea Trails
• Activity options at the resort.
• Artisanal tea expert lesson and tour, option to Dunkeld Tea Information Center.
• Leisure time.
Overnight in Hatton
Day 11: Hatton, Koggala, Galle, Weligama
• Seaplane charter flight to Koggala, drive to Galle.
• Tour Galle UNESCO old town.
• Drive to Weligama.
Overnight in Weligama
Day 12: Kahanda Village, Weligama
• Option for bike or tuk tuk through countryside from Kahanda Village, cinnamon harvesting lesson, Museum of Folk Culture, Foundation of Goodnesss tsunami project, Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery.
Overnight in Weligama
Day 13: Weligama
• Morning option to fish market.
• Whale- and dolphin-watching by private launch with marine naturalist.
• Leisure time at resort.
Overnight in Weligama
Day 14: Weligama, Colombo; Ubnited States
• Morning at leisure in Weligama, drive to Colombo, connect with your flight home.
Per person sharing room from $9,480 for this 14-day sample itinerary.
Internal air per person (estimate) $630
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son travel specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Maniumpathy Hotel. An exclusive eight-suite boutique hotel housed in a colonial mansion in the heart of Colombo. The surrounding neighborhood is filled with art galleries, chic boutiques, coffee houses, restaurants, upscale shops, and national monuments. Amenities include a pool and two restaurants.
Ulagalla Resort. Once the ancestral estate of local nobility, this hotel features a 150-year-old mansion at its center surrounded by 20 private luxury villas spread across 58 acres of lush parkland. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group. Amenities include a pool, spa, and one restaurant-bar.
Jetwing Vil Uyana. In the shadow of Sigiriya fortress, this delightful eco-hotel was created as a private nature reserve consisting of a wetland system with lakes and reed beds. The 36 guestrooms are set within 28 acres of paddy, forest, water, gardens and marshland. Expect rural simplicity combined with lavish modern comforts. Wildlife shares the property; watch for the gray slender loris and other endemic creatures. Amenities include a spa, fitness center, pool, wine cellar, library, boutique, three restaurants, and one bar.
Kings Pavilion. A boutique hotel that preserves traditional rustic charm infused with touches of luxurious modern elegance. The nine-guestroom property is flanked by two mountains, and guests can enjoy unobstructed views of both. Amenities include a pool, spa, library, and one restaurant-bar.
Hatton (Tea Trails).
Ceylon Tea Trails. This colonial property, comprised of five restored tea planter residences, boasts period furnishings, gracious butler service, and fine cuisine. At an altitude of 4,100 feet above sea level, the resort borders Sri Lanka’s UNESCO-listed Central Highlands and offers breathtaking views of mountains and tea fields. Each villa has its own manager, chef, butler, and houseboys, and each has four to six guestrooms as well as a private pool. Amenities include in-room spa treatments, croquet sets, tennis, and one restaurant-bar.
Cape Weligama. A 30-minute drive from Galle, this Relais & Châteaux property stands on 12 manicured acres atop a promontory 120 feet above the turquoise water of the Indian Ocean. Around the property stand 39 guestrooms in stylish villas. The hotel captures Weligama’s spectacular sunsets, as does the crescent-shaped infinity pool. Amenities include 14 swimming pools, a spa, fitness center, golf carts, two beaches, water sports, and three restaurant-bars.
Sri Lanka, Formidable Treasury of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The tiny island nation of Sri Lanka, just off India’s southern tip, is about the same size as West Virginia, but it boasts a remarkable six UNESCO World Heritage sites. No surprise, once you know that the history of the island stretches back to the ninth century B.C. (though prehistoric humans inhabited the island 35,000 years ago).
Herewith, a quick roundup of the UNESCO sites and their significance.
The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in A.D. 993. It comprises Brahmanic monuments as well as monumental ruins of a fabulous garden-city created in the 12th century. Kings ruled the central plains of Sri Lanka from Polonnaruwa when it was a thriving commercial and religious center. From here, merchants haggled for rare goods, and the pious prayed at its numerous temples. Today, the glories of that age can be found in archaeological treasures that illustrate how the city looked in its heyday. The archaeological site has hundreds of ancient structures—tombs and temples, statues and stupas—within a compact area. Its Quadrangle alone is worth the trip.
The Ancient City of Sigiriya. The ruins of the capital built by the parricidal King Kassapa I (A.D. 477–95) stand at the summit of a granite peak—the Lion's Rock—that dominates views of the jungle from all sides. A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site. Iconic Sigiriya is perhaps the nation’s single most dramatic site. Climb a series of vertiginous staircases along sheer walls, you pass a series of quite remarkable frescoes and the colossal lion's paws carved into the bedrock. The surrounding landscape includes lily pad-filled moats, water gardens, and serene sacred shrines. There is also an excellent on-site museum. Sigiriya absolutely mustn’t be missed.
The Golden Cave Temple of Dambulla. A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. Its Buddhist mural paintings are of particular importance, as are the 157 Buddhist statues. Major attractions are spread over the five sanctuary caves, which contain statues and paintings related to Gautama Buddha and his life. Ancient cave murals covering about 23,000 sq. ft. depict the temptation by the demon Mara and Buddha's first sermon. Prehistoric Sri Lankans lived in these caves before the arrival of Buddhism, as evidenced by local burial sites with human skeletons about 2,700 years old.
The Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications. Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese (who built the fort in 1588), Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South or Southeast Asia and illustrates the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian tradition from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The fort is filled with interesting historic remnants including the Dutch Reformed Church and its belfry (1707-1709); the old Dutch government house; the residence of the commander; the Great Warehouse built in 1669 to store spices and ship equipment (it now houses the National Maritime Museum); the Old Dutch Hospital; Meera Mosque, built in 1904; the Buddhist temple at the site of the Portuguese Roman Catholic church; the All Saints Anglican Church (1871); the 1882 Clock Tower; and the Galle Lighthouse.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura. This sacred city was established around a cutting from Buddha's Bodhi Tree of Enlightenment brought there in the third century B.C. by the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns. Anuradhapura, a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years, was abandoned after A.D. 993. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries, and monuments, is now accessible once again.The sprawling complex contains a rich collection of archaeological and architectural wonders: enormous stupas, soaring brick towers, ancient pools, crumbling temples. Today, several of the sites remain in use as holy places and temples.
The Sacred City of Kandy. Locally known as the city of Senkadagalapura, Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhala kings, whose patronage enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the British occupation. Kandy is also home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), a famous pilgrimage site. During puja (offerings or prayers), the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists alike. However, you don’t actually see the tooth. It is kept in a gold casket shaped like a stupa, which contains a series of six stupas of diminishing size.
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