Sri Lanka
The island paradise of Sri Lanka is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches, misty mountain landscapes, extraordinary wildlife, lush tropical flora and cultural diversity.

The island paradise of Sri Lanka is renowned for its palm-fringed beaches, misty mountain landscapes, extraordinary wildlife, lush tropical flora and cultural diversity.

Known as the ‘the land of smiles’ Sri Lanka is also steeped in heritage. With a history that dates back over 2,000 years, the island is home to some of Asia’s best preserved monuments and to no fewer than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Thanks to its colonial history (Portuguese, Dutch and British), interaction with Arab, Chinese and Malay merchants over the centuries, and the prevailing religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, Sri Lanka is a land of rich traditions, continual festivities and an exotic cuisine.

The garden lover will be amply rewarded by some of the world’s best botanical gardens, ancient Buddhist sites and Royal Hindu ‘pleasure gardens’, fragrant spice and herb gardens, hill country estates and some contemporary private gardens.

• Tour price includes flights on Singapore Airlines and late check-out on last day
• explore six UNESCO World Heritage listed sites
• enjoy the scenic train trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya in the highlands
• stay in a mixture of beachside, lakeside, safari resort and grand historic hotels
• visit botanical, pleasure, herb and private gardens


Sun 10 Apr 2016 / Australia – Colombo
Depart Australia on Singapore Airlines flights via Singapore. Arrive Colombo at midnight. Transfer to your hotel located in the nearby resort town of Negombo.

Mon 11 Apr / Colombo – Dambulla
After a leisurely start join Fiona for a welcome briefing and introductory talk followed by a welcome lunch with fellow garden lovers.

After lunch drive to Dambulla in the heart of Sri Lanka’s ‘Cultural Triangle’ comprising numerous UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites. (BLD)

Tue 12 Apr / Dambulla
After breakfast, explore Polonnaruwa, which became Sri Lanka’s second capital city in 1070 AD. Under King Parakramabu, who ruled in the late 11th century, Polonnaruwa became a magnificent walled city and is famous for his policy that every drop of rain should be used. An extensive irrigation system with channels and lakes was built. The largest tank is the Parakrama Samudraya or the ‘Sea of Parakrama’, with an area of 2,600 hectares.

In the afternoon visit Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, which was selected for his capital by an obsessed monarch in the 5th century and is an astonishing feat of engineering and construction. The most striking portion of Sigiriya, a terracotta and grey core of rock, rises a sheer 200 metres above a forested plain, its flattened summit sloping gently. A series of moats, ramparts and water gardens – remnants of an ancient city – spread out on two sides of the rock, with the remains of a pair of giant stone lion’s paws still guarding the staircase that leads to the summit, once occupied by a royal palace. (BLD)

Wed 13 Apr / Dambulla – Kandy
Morning visit to the Golden Temple of Dambulla which dates back to the 1st century BC as a centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus alike. The Cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks, is covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15 metre long reclining Buddha and vividly coloured frescoes on the walls and ceiling, making this the largest antique painted surface in the world.

Later, depart for Kandy, en route stopping to visit a private garden. Nestled in the hills at an altitude of 488 metres, Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. The name Kandy conjures visions of a storied past, splendour, legend, folklore, mystery and traditions lovingly kept alive for countless years. (BD)

Thu 14 Apr / Kandy
Start your exploration of Kandy with a visit to the sacred Temple of the Tooth, which houses one of Buddhism’s most sacred relics and draws followers of the Buddhist faith from all over the world. The Royal Complex situated around the Temple of the Tooth and Kandy Lake – comprising the King’s Palace, the Queen’s Palace, the Audience Hall, the Royal Boathouse and the Royal Summer House, represent the zenith of ancient Sri Lankan architecture.
After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is at leisure to explore Kandy. You may wish to visit a batik factory, gem store or explore Kandy’s main market with fruit, vegetable, tea and spice stalls and fabric shops. Souvenirs, scarves, leatherwork and clothing can also be found in abundance.

Fri 15 Apr / Kandy
Following a talk, visit the Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, which was originally the pleasure gardens of the royalty. Nearly 4,000 species of plants are found in this garden and it is encircled by the Mahaweli River. There is an avenue of coconut palm trees, a spice garden, giant bamboos, rubber trees, an orchid collection and a giant Javan fig tree which covers 1,600 sq metres.

Sri Lanka’s botanic gardens have a long and proud history, punctuated by colonialism, and industrial change. Throughout this period the gardens have continued to flourish, and the plant collections and herbarium grown.

Later, visit 1 – 2 private gardens.

In the evening attend a Kandyan dance performance. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance and the Ginisila, showing power over fire. The entire frenetic and colourful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act.

Sat 16 Apr / Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
Depart Kandy in the morning and travel by train to Nuwara Eliya, situated at around 2,000 metres above sea level in the Central Highlands. The town was founded by Samuel Baker as a hill retreat for the British during the colonial era, where typical English pastimes including fox hunting, polo and cricket were played. Several buildings and parks here retain features from the colonial period.

Arrive in Nuwara Eliya early in the afternoon. Time at leisure before visiting the Hill Club (dress code applies), which was founded in 1876 by a British coffee planter, as a home away from home, and is today a privately operated club and hotel. Enjoy a tour of the beautiful gardens followed by dinner. (BLD)

Sun 17 Apr / Nuwara Eliya
Full day exploration of Nurawa Eliya including visits to Victoria Park, a tea plantation and Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Victoria Park at the centre of town comes alive with flowers around March to May and it is also home to quite a number of hill country bird species, including the Kashmir flycatcher, Indian pitta and grey tit.

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19th century, Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. The rolling mountains of Nuwara Eliya are carpeted by green tea plantations. Visit a tea plantation and a tea factory and observe all about the process of manufacturing tea.

In the afternoon, visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens which were established in 1861 under the patronage of the British. They are located under the Hakgala Peak and are the highest set botanical gardens in the world. There are trees like English Oak, Himalayan Pines, Japanese Cedars and Cypress trees from California.

Mon 18 Apr / Nuwara Eliya – Udawalawe N.P.
Depart Nuwara Eliya for Udawalawe, one of Sri Lanka’s National Parks.

Mid-afternoon arrival and check-in to your safari resort-style hotel, situated just 500 metres from the Ath Athuru Sevana (Elephant Orphanage), and a five minute drive from the Udawalawe National Park.

At dusk, embark on a jeep safari in the national park before returning to the hotel for dinner.

Tue 19 Apr / Udawalawe N.P.
Day at leisure. A wide range of activities are available ranging from half- and full-day jeep safaris, nature tracks, bird watching trails, night safaris etc. During safaris you may see the elusive leopard, elephant, sloth bear, sambar, chital, wild boar, tripe necked, brown and ruddy mongoose, black-naped hare, marsh mugger crocodile and several civet species. The National Park is also a popular bird watching destination.
Wed 20 Apr / Udawalawe N.P. – Galle
A day of travel takes you from Udawalawe N.P. to Galle, an ancient Dutch outpost located on the south western coast of Sri Lanka. The minimalistic, stately and elegant Lighthouse Hotel, your home for the next two nights, was designed by the famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Dinner at the hotel.

Thu 21 Apr / Galle
Following a morning talk, pay a visit to ‘Lunuganga’, the former country home of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1947, the garden led Bawa, a lawyer called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1940, to decide to become an architect. The garden at Lunuganga estate remained his first muse and experimental laboratory for new ideas.

After lunch at Lunuganga, return to Galle. Afternoon at leisure to explore Galle Fort. (BL)

Fri 22 Apr / Galle – Colombo
Today journey from Galle to Colombo. En route visit ‘Brief’, the former house and garden of lawyer turned landscape architect Bevis Bawa, brother of Geoffrey Bawa. Started in 1929, it is a hillside garden overlooking a former rubber plantation. It contains sculptures by Bevis himself and his many artist friends, including Donald Friend, who went for a weekend and stayed six years. The house is also open to view and contains many wonderful artworks including a magnificent mural of Sri Lankan life by Donald Friend in the style of Chagall.

Continue to Colombo where you will stay at the historic Galle Face hotel. The hotel was built by four British entrepreneurs in 1864. Its name derives from the stretch of lawn which it faces, known as the Galle Face Green. Dinner at the hotel. (BLD)

Sat 23 Apr / Colombo
During a morning tour of Colombo, see the Fort area, the Oriental bazaar at Pettah, numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples and the Jumi Ul Alfar Jumma Mosque as well as the Wolfendhal Dutch Church, Hulftsdorp Law Courts, Independence Square and the Geoffrey Bawa designed Sri Lankan Parliament building. Finish with a visit to the National Museum which houses a large and important collection of Sri Lanka’s cultural and artistic heritage.

Enjoy lunch at the Gallery Café, situated within the former office of Geoffrey Bawa, followed by a visit to Colombo Zoo to attend the Elephant Circus. (BL)

Sun 24 Apr / Depart Colombo
Morning exploration of two or three private gardens of Colombo including an Ayurvedic garden. A light lunch will be served in one of the gardens.

Mid-afternoon return to the hotel for an afternoon and evening at leisure until 9.00 pm check-out and transfer to the airport. (BL)

Mon 25 Apr / Arrive Australia
1.30 am departure from Colombo on Singapore Airlines to Singapore and Australia. Evening arrival in Australia.

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Per person, twin-share AUD 7,450
Single supplement* AUD 1,500
Reduction without airfares - AUD 1,200

Business Class upgrade on request

*Single travellers may request to share. Please advise at time of booking.

Tour price includes:
• Return economy class flights on Singapore Airlines including taxes and fuel surcharges (as at 01 May 2015)
• Accommodation in 4 and 5-star hotels with daily breakfast (B)
• Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Local beer and wines with meals
• Transfers on arrival and departure if travelling on included flights
• Comfortable air-conditioned coach transport throughout
• Comprehensive sightseeing including entrance fees as per itinerary
• Gratuities for local guides and drivers
• Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
• Late check-out on departure day

Tour price does not include
• Transfers on arrival / departure if not travelling on group flights
• Video and camera permits
• Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry etc.
• Airport porterage
• Travel insurance
• Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA)
Prior to travel all tour members must obtain an ETA which can be obtained online (current cost USD 30). ETA holders will be issued a 30 day Short Visit visa at the port of entry in Sri Lanka. For further information visit

Your hotels:
Negombo – Jetwing Blue****+
Dambula – Amaya Lake*****
Kandy – Cinnamon Citadel Hotel****
Nuwara Eliya – St Andrew’s Hotel****
Udawalawe N.P. – Grand Udawalewa Safari Resort***
Galle – Jetwing Lighthouse ****+
Colombo – Galle Face Regency*****

NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted