Sri Lanka, like a small teardrop in the ocean, is where terraced Ceylon tea plantations are enveloped by misty highlands, herds of elephants criss-cross the lush wilderness, and balmy palm-fringed beaches are blessed by tranquil cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean.
Enjoy a tour of Sri Lanka’s premium natural and historical attractions, encountering wildlife, ancient and colonial architecture, and the gracious people of this beautiful land. Provides a varied itinerary covering guided sightseeing of Sri Lanka’s main tourist attractions, wildlife encounters, sampling tea at a plantation, and is suitable for travellers of all ages.
From the towering Himalayas, through the deserts of Rajasthan to the jungles and beaches of the south, the Indian sub-continent has long held an almost overwhelming attraction and mystery for travellers from East and West. Home to Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, Hindus and other faiths, India is both the world’s largest modern democracy and the cradle some of humanity’s most profound ancient philosophies, and their heritage of art, architecture, dress and food. Experience the legacy of Indian civilisation, and be struck by the beauty and craftsmanship of the monuments and architecture – with the Taj Mahal as an unforgettable highlight.
Optional Activity Day 6: Afternoon Safari at Yala National Park. Includes Transfers, guide, park entry, safari by jeep.
Fly to Colombo via a connecting city. On arrival, you will be met at the airport by a tour representative and transferred to your hotel.
Please Note: Depending on the city of departure, some flights may depart the night before (i.e. on Day 0). Flights will be via connecting cities and may involve more than one transit.
This morning, visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The orphanage was established in 1975 to house abandoned and injured elephants. Today, the number of elephants in the orphanage has increased to more than 40, including baby elephants brought in from various parts of the country and those born as a result of the captive breeding program.
Optional Activity: Habarana Village Tour. Experience a special village tour of Habarana. Hop on a bullock cart ride through verdant paddy fields and appreciate the simple lifestyle of the local farmlands and its people. Then, board a canoe for a short trip to a farmer’s house for a feel of authentic Sri Lankan countryside hospitality. Discover the life of a farmer in Sri Lanka and the variety of crops being harvested. Lunch is served at the farmhouse. Head back on a thrilling tuk tuk ride.
Journey on to the ancient city of Sigiriya this morning and climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, passing by a sheltered gallery of elaborate painted frescoes, as well as the pair of massive lion’s paws carved in stone, which give the palace-fortress its name. Sigiriya presents an impressive example of ancient city planning, along with elaborately laid-out royal pleasure gardens at the base of the massive stone block on which the palace is situated. Drive onwards to the UNESCO World Heritage Dambulla Cave Temple, which lies at the centre of the island nation, and was once the spiritual heart of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. This massive complex houses five sacred cave temples decorated with intricate Buddhist mural paintings and hundreds of invaluable statues, including 153 of the Buddha – the Cave of the Divine King holds a 14 meter-high Buddha carved into the cave wall itself, and the Cave of the Great Kings holds 16 standing and 40 seated statues of Buddha, and is decorated with tempera paintings on the cave ceiling, which show key episodes in the life of Gautama Buddha.
En route to Kandy, spend time in a spice plantation in Matale and discover the variety of plants being cultivated, from cinnamon to cardamom, and nutmeg to pepper vines. Drive to Kandy and visit The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is said to house one of the Buddha’s teeth, in accordance with the Temple’s place in the history of the dissemination of Buddhism to Sri Lanka and beyond. Enjoy a lively cultural dance performance tonight.
This morning, enjoy a train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya – the ‘City of Light’. On arrival, visit a Tea Factory & Plantation. The tea here is famous for its distinct flavour and aroma. Nuwara Eliya is known as the ‘Little England of Sri Lanka’ as it was first established in 19th century, by the British. This charming city is set against a backdrop of misty mountains and valleys, cascading waterfalls and acres of fragrant tea plantation.
Arrive in Yala and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Optional Activity: Afternoon safari at Yala National Park. Yala National Park was established in 1938 originally as a sportsman’s shooting reserve and is home to the world’s largest population of leopards. Travel by 4WD to get up close to elephants, wild boars, buffaloes, crocodiles, peacocks, jackals, sloth bears and more. You can also spot many colourful resident and migratory birds that are scattered throughout the national park.
Bid farewell to the wilderness this morning and retreat to the timeless seaside town and harbour of Galle. On arrival, explore Galle Dutch Fort, which was once the port of call for ships that sailed in from Europe. Visit a turtle hatchery and watch sea turtles being released back into the sea. Depart Galle this afternoon for Bentota, a quiet and soothing coastal town bordered by sun-baked sandy beaches and beautiful coconut palm trees affording dreamy views of the Indian Ocean.
Return to Colombo this morning. Transfer to the airport for your onward flight to India. On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Travel to Pushkar by road (approximately 7 hours). Check in to the hotel on arrival and relax before an afternoon visit to the holy waters of Pushkar Lake. This lake, situated in the centre of the city, is surrounded by numerous bathing ghats (stone steps) and more than 500 Hindu temples. Observe locals descend to the lake for ritual bathing before a visit to Brahma Temple, a temple dedicated to the Hindu lord of creation. A number of aarti ceremonies, involving chanting, draw crowds to this temple throughout the day.
Travel to Udaipur, the soulful lake city of Rajasthan (approximately 5 hours drive). Check in to the hotel on arrival and relax before an afternoon visit to Udaipur City Palace, the largest palace complex in Rajasthan. This palace is a unique blend of Medieval, European and Chinese architectural styles and overlooks the magnificent Lake Pichola. Stop by Saheliyon Ki Bari (‘Courtyard of the Maidens’) embellished by lush green lawns, marble art and fountains. Visit Jagdish Temple, an elegantly carved Indo-Aryan temple dedicated to Vishnu, with two massive stone elephants flanking the entrance. This evening, take a relaxing boat ride on Lake Pichola.
Journey to Jodhpur, the ‘blue city’. Many of the buildings in the old quarter of this city are painted a vibrant blue, making for wonderful views. Enroute to Jodhpur stop by Ranakpur and admire temples dedicated to the Jain faith, embellished with intricate white marble, which serves as a testament to one of India’s lesser-known religious traditions. On arrival in Jodhpur check in to the hotel and spend the rest of the evening at your own leisure.
After breakfast, explore the hauntingly beautiful Mehrangarh Fort, towering over Jodhpur. Perched on a rocky cliff, this fort is enclosed by thick protective walls, and its interior is made up of a series of palaces with sprawling courtyards. Spanning more than 5km across the city, this fort is one of India’s largest. Opposite the fort is the whimsical Jaswant Thada, a cenotaph-styled building with spectacular domes and intricate white marble latticework. Proceed to Jaipur, the state capital of Rajasthan, this afternoon (approximately 6 hours). Many of the city’s buildings are flushed with a vibrant pink hue. Enjoy the evening at leisure.
Ascend to the Amber Fort this morning by jeep. This massive fort sits on a hill overlooking the beautiful Maota Lake. Although the fort is in ruins, the royal palaces, gardens and temples housed inside still retain much of their grandeur. Later, visit the City Palace, a stunning palace complex divided into a series of regal courtyards, gardens and buildings. Then, head to the fascinating Jantar Mantar Observatory built by Maharaja Jai Singh in early 18th century and behold an impressive collection of enormous astronomical instruments that once was used to measure time, chart constellations and observe the planets and stars. Quick stop at Hawa Mahal (‘Palace of Winds’), an enchanting five-storey pink sandstone palace built in the 18th century by the king of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Visit stunning jewellery shops and hand-block print factories to see the traditional technique of textile printing.
Drive to the eventual Mughal capital, Agra. En route, visit Fatehpur Sikri, which was the capital of the Mughal Empire city during the 16th century. Today, this city’s buildings are still intact and showcase an excellent example of both Hindu and Muslim architectural styles. On arrival in Agra, check in to the hotel and relax. Later today explore Agra Fort, a massive red sandstone stronghold built on the banks of Yamuna River in 1565. The fort served as a military base and a royal residence during the Mughal reign over India.
Start with an early morning visit to the Taj Mahal, to watch the sun rise over this opulent monument to love. Return to the hotel for breakfast before departing for Tijara Fort (approximately 5.5 hours). The fort was once a historical ruin but has now been restored and converted into a hotel complex. Stay at the fort hotel for the night.
Return to Delhi after breakfast. On arrival, visit the ancient Qutub Minar. This complex is a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture with its alternating angular and circular fluting and verses from the Quran inscribed on the sandstone exterior. Stop briefly at the Baha’i Lotus Temple, a modern architectural wonder that features 27 white marble petals styled in the shape of a lotus. Drive past India Gate and the perimeters of Parliament House and the President’s House.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home via connecting cities.