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Sri Lanka - through the eyes of Stefan

Duration : 10 Nights / 11 Days


Packed into this compact Paradise Isle is diversity that will take you months to discover. To give you a glimpse into its heart & soul, Stefan, a son of the soil will chaperone you on this tour. Sharing his knowledge and experience of Sri Lanka’s colourful heritage, he will make what seems like an ordinary, an extraordinary experience. Stefan will delight you with myths, tales and background of the locations visited - over a glass of wine or at meals. Tap into his knowledge of how to capture that moment on camera…

accommodation for this tour has been handpicked – exclusive properties with their very own story.

Stefan – author of 4 coffee table publications, the latest of which is “Isle of Mystique- Isle of Legend, Glimpsing Eclipsed Sri Lanka’, was born and raised in Colombo, He attended the prestigious private school St. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia and migrated to Australia in April 1977. He retired, at senior rank from a very successful career in NSW Corrections after thirty-six years of distinguished service

He now travels widely in Sri Lanka with notebook and camera in hand, to remote places and records life styles, sacred sites, archaeological sites and customs of the people. He has taken to cycling through Sri Lanka and completed two rides with a group of friends from Polonnaruwa to Arugambay in January 2016 and from Jaffna to Kalpitiya in August 2016. Stefan says “you see more and feel more when you cycle“ (as opposed to driving through communities). His current photographic feature of the recently discovered rock art in Sri Lanka has stimulated great interest in general. With an eye for the unusual and photographs that illustrate the pulse and heartbeat of Sri Lanka, Stefan continues to capture moments that reveal an eclipsed Sri Lanka to all who view his work.

Commenting on his lifelong interest in Sri Lanka’s archaeology, history, wildlife, rail, traditional fishing methods and fishing craft, Stefan says that one life time is not sufficient to cover all aspects of Sri Lanka that intrigue him. ‘Whilst I am totally fascinated with the wildlife in places like Africa, South America, India and South East Asia, nothing stirs in me like the wildlife of Sri Lanka. From my earliest childhood days I would watch the fog swirling around the peak wilderness and thick mountain jungles and I knew I had to get up there to discover its hidden, amazing diversity'’

Stefan also states "I have chosen to travel and photograph in places that fill my soul as opposed to places that merely fill my sense of vision...,"

Day 1 - NEGOMBO

Ayubowan! A warm welcome to our Island Nation!!!

Relax and unwind from the long journey in preparation for your holiday. Chill on the beach or treat yourself to a rejuvenating massage in this popular beach resort in the West Coast of the country.

Stefan will give you an insight on the traditional fishing craft and methods of fishing used in this area and the ancient nautical culture of the island.

Negombo is a fishing village that has turned into a major tourist hotspot, located 5 KM from the International Airport. The Negombo lagoon, famed for its fresh seafood, supplies this town with its catch-of-the-day.

The architecture at Wallawwa is based on a traditional homestead with luxuriously appointed rooms set in a beautiful tropical landscaped garden, a perfect sanctuary of peace and tranquility to recuperate after a long flight.

Day 2 - NEGOMBO TO DAMBULLA

Your journey begins with a drive through rural Sri Lanka to Dambulla in the Dry Zone past little villages and cultivations. Note the undulating and changing landscape. Visit the Golden Temple en route to your hotel.

Stefan will give you the background to cave and rock art in Sri Lanka and the recent amazing rock art discovered in the Island 20-25 years ago.

The Dambulla Golden Temple a UNESCO World Heritage site, at the heart of the cultural triangle has been a sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries. An impressive cave monastery and one of the largest in South Asia, its five magical, dimly lit grottos are crammed with 157 statues and decorated with some of the finest murals in the country in a sq. area of 2000m, offering a picture-perfect snap shot of Sinhalese Buddhist art at its finest.

Later in the afternoon, set out on a jeep safari to the Minneriya National Park set amidst a beautiful landscape of open country and an ancient reservoir, to witness the single largest gathering of elephants rated as the World’s 6th greatest wildlife spectacle by Lonely Planet.

The Kalundewa Retreat, an idyllic 100-acre property that boasts acres of rice paddies, a lake, orchard and farm incorporating rural village life in an exceptional setting, provides a unique experience. Its exclusive chalets have won a number of awards for its architecture, food & service. The retreat provides a perfect base to exploring this region.

Day 3 - DAMBULLA

Head out to Polonnaruwa and explore this medieval capital and its well-preserved ruins. The 2nd recorded ancient kingdom in Sri Lanka now declared a UNESCO World Heritage site; Polonnaruwa is one of the best-planned archaeological relic sites. There are scores of ancient structures from temples to stupas, tombs and an immense reclining Buddha carved into the rock.

Stefan will explain that it is equally famous for its reservoir the Parakrama Samudra, the best example of advanced irrigation, engineering and construction prevalent during ancient times that has stood the test of time and remains operational even today.

Day 4 - DAMBULLA TO TRINCOMALEE

Start with an exhilarating climb up Sigiriya - an ancient palace fortress, which sits atop a granite outcrop, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is arguably the most extraordinary of all Sri Lanka’s medieval capitals dating back to the 5th Century.

Stefan will give you the history of the legendary King Kasappa who constructed this Palace, its connection to an amazing rock temple near by and how he wrested the crown from his father.

After drinking in the views from atop Sigiriya, continue on a scenic drive heading towards the East coast.

Trincomalee “Few things surpass the tropical beauty of this harbor” – Samuel Baker, Eight Years in Ceylon, 1855. Trinco as it’s referred to has been celebrated since antiquity for its superlative deep-water harbor, ranked the 2nd best natural harbor in the world. The harbor has been fought over repeatedly from ancient times, during the colonial period and even attracted the hostile attentions of the Japanese Air force during World War II

A beautiful unpolluted stretch of beach where surf and sand come together to create a backdrop that embraces nature incorporating existing trees and natural plant life into the hotel’s design.Jungle Beach gives you the feel that you are in a luxurious tree house.

Day 5 -TRINCOMALEE

The setting is beautiful, straddling a narrow peninsula between the Indian Ocean and the inner harbor, rising up to the imposing Swami rock

A boat trip past the Swami Rock to Sober Island – first occupied by the French followed by the British who developed it for their military requirements. Explore this picturesque island and enjoy its cuisine before embarking on a tour of the town which possesses an understated but distinct charm all of its own, with an interesting old fort and sleepy backstreets lined with pretty colonial villas dotted with mosques, churches and dozens of colourful little Hindu temples.

Day 6 - TRINCOMALEE

A short leisurely drive brings you to Girihandhuseya Chaitiya Tiriyaya Vatadage. Explore this ancient site, the Vatadage and its famous Buddhist temple. Tamil Brahmi inscriptions from the 2nd century B.C. have been found in this area. Stefan will share with you, the enthralling legend that swirls around the establishment of this ancient site and its connection to the Buddha.

Spend the rest of the day at leisure snorkeling at Pigeon Island, playing a round of golf or simply relaxing on the beach.

Day 7 - TRINCOMALEE

Bid farewell to the coast and head inland for a change of scenery. Your experience is incomplete without a traditional meal of rice and curry served on a nelum kole (lotus leaf) in Matale, a region famous for its spices where cardamom, vanilla, cinchona, jackfruit & cocoa thrive. A briefing of other Ayurveda plants and their benefits during a visit to a spice garden could be of interest.

Continue on to the island’s cultural heart and last Kingdom – Kandy, the Hill Capital of Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to the island’s most sacred shrine the 17th century temple, the Sri Dalada Maligawa or The Temple of the Tooth.

Stefan will narrate details of how the capture of the last King of Kandy in 1815 took place and the amazing story of the theft of the last Sinhala Kings crown from the Kandy Museum in 1960.

Enjoy exploring this city which bustles during the day, its sacred square and old city centre within the temple complex, its lakeshore, markets, art centers & graceful colonial buildings. Finish off with a visit to the Temple in the evening.

Mountbatten Bungalow an old colonial structure, which functioned as a war office during World War ii, alleged to have been the Kandy residence of Lord Luis Mountbatten, picturesquely set on a 6 acre property of carefully tended lawn and tea garden, a 15 minute drive from the city makes a perfect base.

Day 8 - KANDY TO NUWARA ELIYA

Begin with a trip to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens! Don’t miss its enormous collection of orchids.

A rail experience is the best way to absorb the beautiful scenery presented during this train ride from Kandy to Nanu Oya, the closest town to Nuwara Eliya, perched high up in the hills, nearly a mile above sea level. Piduruthalagala, Sri Lanka's tallest peak is only a short way away.

The Tea Factory – yes indeed! A converted tea factory with spectacular views of mist shrouded tea plantations, luxuriously appointed rooms and an ambience that resonates with everything that is tea – a memorable experience awaits!

Day 9 - NUWARA ELIYA

A replica of English country towns with their lush greenery and profusion of gorgeous flora, Nuwara Eliya is touted as "Little England" with its Victorian houses, a colourful park, golf course, Lake Gregory and racecourse.

Stroll through the beautiful Hakgala Botanical Gardens established in 1861, home to a unique collection of orchids and roses.

Perhaps a round of golf or explore Nuwara Eliya’s spectacular surrounding countryside and tea estates with a visit to a tea factory thrown in for good measure.

Day 10 - NUWARA ELIYA TO COLOMBO

Complete your experience of this island nation with a night over in its capital Colombo. Drive down to the city past Kitulgala where a scene from the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was filmed, approx. 170 kms which will take you about 4,1/2 hours.

Explore this vibrant city’s crowded streets and bazaars with its tuk-tuks weaving among its kamikaze traffic. Colombo’s impressive commercial and cultural life grows apace with a heady mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern progress, which defines its character. Showily opulent and shiny office blocks rub shoulders with tumbledown local cafes and shops, where serene Buddhist shrines and colonial churches stand cheek-by-jowl with ornate brightly coloured Hindu temples - all evidence of a rich mix of races and religions that has blossomed into this cosmopolitan city.

A tour of the rebuilt and revitalized Pettah, the more colonial styled Fort area, the renovated Dutch Hospital, the Independence Square, the Nelum Pokuna theatre hall and the Victoria Park are all elegant architectural landmarks that the city can justly be proud of.

Enjoy a sundowner out on the terrace of the Galle Face Hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean, followed by a walk to the downtown Fort area and its environs. Stroll through its streets lined with colonial buildings and drink in the atmosphere of this old quarter. A special dinner awaits!!!

The Galle Face Hotel – with its iconic history and location dating back to 1864, now beautifully restored to its original glory, is your perfect base for your final night

Day 11 - DEPARTURE

Bid farewell to Colombo as you head to the airport for your flight home.

Extension Tours

The Kandy Esala Perehera: One of Asia’s most celebrated festivals, where the casket of the tooth relic is paraded through the streets of Kandy on the back of an elaborately costumed tusked elephant. Several traditional dancers, drummers and torchbearers accompanied by over a hundred beautifully costumed elephants form this spectacular procession.

Day trip to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage: : spend a few hours getting up close to observe the world’s largest troupe of captive pachyderms feeding or romping in the water. The elephants here, range from newborns to elderly matriarchs, and include abandoned as well as those elephants injured in the wild.

Day trip to Galle: Take a scenic drive on the Expressway to visit the ancient Galle Fort dating back to the Dutch period, Sri Lanka’s best-preserved townscape enclosed within a chain of huge bastions. Explore its atmospheric old streets, dramatic ramparts, natural harbor, the maritime museum and St Mary’s Cathedral. Savour the easy pace of life, its arty restaurants and watering holes. Tea at the iconic Amangalle Hotel, which has been lovingly restored, is an experience!

What to Pack

- Light clothing for the beach
- Comfortable walking shoes & flip-flops
- Warm clothes for the Tea Country (temperature 15C)
- Knees to be covered when visiting Buddhist Temples

COSTING

An option of 3 types of accommodation is available.

Signature
(Boutique/Small luxury Hotel category)
Luxury
(5* category)
Value
(4* category)
The Wallawwa Jetwing Beach Gateway Hotel
Kalundewa Retreat Heritance Kandalama Amaya Lake Hotel
Jungle Beach Trinco Blu by Cinnamon Golf Link Hotel
Mountbatten Bungalow Kandy Earl’s Regency Hotel Amaara Sky Hotel
The Tea Factory Grand Hotel St. Andrew’s’ Hotel
Galle Face Hotel The Cinnamon Grand The Steuart by Citrus
Cost per person sharing a double room starting from AUD3895 Cost per person sharing a double room starting from AUD2635 Cost per person sharing a double room starting from AUD2106

Price includes

  • Accommodation at star category hotels
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle
  • English speaking Chauffeur Guide
  • Local government taxes & service charges
  • Meals: Breakfast at Hotels
  • Price excludes

  • Visas
  • Insurance
  • Airfare
  • Airport taxes
  • Camera & video permits at the Cultural sites
  • Any expenses of a personal nature
  • Tips and porterage
  • Toll Fees
  • All entrance fees to attractions
  • Lunch & Dinner on Tour


  • Highlights

  • Sightseeing in Negombo
  • Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Polonnaruwa Ancient Ruins
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Girihandhuseya Chaitiya Tiriyaya Vatadage
  • Sightseeing in Kandy
  • Temple of the Tooth Relic
  • Tea Factory Visit
  • Hakgala Botanical Gardens
  • Sightseeing in Colombo

  • Optional Tours

  • Hiriwaduwa Village Visit
  • Tea Plantation Visit
  • Cycling in Sigiriya
  • Cycling in Polonnaruwa
  • Whale Watching in Trincomalee
  • Mask Making
  • Culinary Cooking in Kandy

  • Your Route