DAY 1: Welcome to Sri Lanka
Negombo: Negombo is a modest beach town located just 10 km from Bandaranaike International Airport. With a stash of decent hotels and restaurants to suit all pockets, a friendly local community, an interesting old quarter and a reasonable beach, Negombo is a much easier place to find your Sri Lankan feet than Colombo. The Dutch captured the town from the Portuguese in 1640, lost it, and then captured it again in 1644. The British then took it from them in 1796 without a struggle. Negombo was one of the most important sources of cinnamon during the Dutch era, and there are still reminders of the European days. Check-in at the resort & relax. Overnight stay at Heritance Negombo
DAY 2: Negombo - Dambulla - Minneriya - Habarana
Dating back to the first century BC, Dambulla is a vast cave complex, converted into a rock temple and still regarded today as one of the most important Buddhist monasteries. Covering the rock ceiling is the largest collection of paintings in Sri Lanka within a cave temple. Surrounding you is the highest number of Buddha statues found in one single place. As you wander through the temple, notice the serenity and the exceedingly well-preserved nature of the place. It is no wonder the Rock Temple has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch enjoy an afternoon game drive at Minneriya national park (approximate drive time 45 minutes). The Minneriya National Park located in the North Central district of Sri Lanka is a sanctuary for wildlife. Alongside the Udawalawe National Park it is one of the best places on the island to see the Sri Lankan Elephant up close, year-round. In addition to elephants, you are likely to see a whole host of other mammals, birds, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians. The park is also an important habitat for the two endemic monkeys of Sri Lanka - the Purple-faced Langur and Toque Macaque. Learning Experience: Wildlife Safari
DAY 3: Sigirya - Polonnaruwa - Sigiriya
Incredibly, the rock fortress was built by King Kassyapa I in the fifth Century and served as a royal citadel for more than 18 years, something that seems more astonishing with every step you climb. Pause occasionally during your ascent to admire the mirror wall, the Sigiriya graffiti, the famous Sigiriya frescoes (paintings) and the great lion paws. Upon reaching the summit, you’ll immediately see it as worth the effort. Wander through the ruins and admire the courage and work it must have taken to build this palace so many years ago. You will even find there a fully functional swimming pool. After lunch, proceed to visit Polonnaruwa Archaeological Sites (approximate drive time 1 Hour). An interesting blend of archaeological monuments, Polonnaruwa was the second kingdom of Sri Lanka and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The iconic man-made reservoir was appropriately named “Parakrama Samudra,” or “the sea of Parakrama,” due to its enormous size. Look out for the famous Gal Viharaya or “Rock Temple” that boasts four colossal statues of the Buddha cut into stone, reflecting peace, serenity and strength. Polonnaruwa also features ruins of ancient palaces, intricately carved moon stones and royal baths. If you are feeling a bit more energetic, this whole site can also be explored on bike. Your guide will be more than happy to arrange this for you.
DAY 4: Sigiriya - Kandy
In the evening visit the famous Temple of Tooth Relic. Built during the 16th Century AD, the Temple of the Tooth Relic is one the most important temples for Buddhists, housing the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha. The Relic of the Tooth is kept in a two-story inner sanctum. The ‘Thevava’ or auspicious offering to the Sacred Tooth Relic takes place three times a day at pre-set times and a visit during this time is quite an experience. The resident monks demonstrate this age-old tradition as you become surrounded by the sound of drums and the smell of lotus, incense and jasmine flowers. A warm welcome to Thotupola Residence, your home stay for the next three days, situated about five kilometers away from Kandy town. Thotupola residence is a boutique type homestay facing a breath-taking view of Mahaweli river and natural landscapes which will provide the perfect location for relaxing your mind and body. Overnight stay at Thotupola Residence LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Meet The Monks
DAY 5: Kandy
While tasting our specially made dishes you can have a chance to enjoy bird watching. Today morning after breakfast visit a local market with the help of the host family. Collect the goods and grocery to prepare a delicious meal. Cook a delicious dinner and sweetmeats together with no electricity or gas or modern equipment - but with clay pots. Dinner out at starlit night along the riverbank. Overnight stay at Thotupola Residence LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Culinary Workshop
DAY 6: Kandy
Today, fully experience the meaning of a simple lifestyle. Dive in to the new cultural and linguistic context of a family’s daily life. Enjoy an oriental musical session with an enchanting blind couple. Have a conversation with some remarkable people and learn about their lifestyle and their journey together. After lunch, meet your hosts siblings and relations. Get to know each other’s whereabouts and their local life. Overnight stay at Thotupola Residence LEARNING EXPERIENCE: Learn The Art of The Simple Life
DAY 7: Kandy - Ella
Nestled in a quiet village, surrounded by lush nature, just a short stroll from the nearby town of Ella you will find – “Waterfalls – Homestay.” The perfect destination for those looking for a guest house with a personal touch. As the name suggests “Waterfalls Homestay” offers stunning views of the nearby waterfall and the natural beauty of Sri Lanka’s hill country. Three uniquely designed rooms ensure that everyone’s individual needs can be easily accommodated. At Waterfalls, you will be looked after in a relaxed and comfortable way. A perfect blend of Western comfort and Sri Lankan hospitality awaits you. One thing is for sure at Waterfalls: however long you decide to stay, you will wish you stayed longer. Overnight stay at Waterfalls – Ella
DAY 8: Ella
The Little Adam’s Peak got its name after its big brother, the holy mountain Adam’s Peak, because of its similar shape. The path up to the hill Little Adam’s Peak is easy to find and marked by signs showing the way. The path leads through beautiful, lush green tea plantations busy with the tea picking ladies. The Little Adam’s Peak is approx. 1141 m. high and is easy to climb, with a good path that journeys all the way up. The trip may take about 2-3 hours in total (including picture taking). LEARNING EXPERIENE: Tea Tasting and Workshop After lunch proceed to visit a Tea Plantation and a Tea Factory. Sri Lanka, Tea and Tourism are words which cannot be separated. Take a tour to the cold and misty hills that take pride of an ultimate tea tour, covering lush green blankets of tea plantations. Or, just step into a tea factory, processing the prestigious brand of Ceylon Tea and observe a rich tradition kept alive. As you observe the hissing and swishing of machines while inhaling the heavenly scent arising from these facilities, make sure to end your day in style over a perfectly blended cup of pure Ceylon Tea. Overnight stay at Waterfalls – Ella
DAY 9: Ella
Today after breakfast, visit a Handloom Factory nearby with the host family. Sri Lanka has a historical connection with handlooms, the loom having been portrayed generously in local myths and legends. This cotton formed industry dates back 1,000 years to the traders from India and China. Today, the handloom industry in Sri Lanka is widely spread across the country. Identified as a cottage industry, it is largely governed by women. Most of the Sri Lankan handlooms are made of cotton and silk threads and may are presented as Sareers, Sarongs and household linen and curtain fabrics. Cook with The Family After returning from the factory, together with the host family, prepare a delicious meal for lunch. In the evening, enjoy a drive through Ella by a Tuk-Tuk. Meet your friendly Tuk-Tuk operator and join him to see the special attractions in Ella including Nine Arch Bridge and Rawana Falls. Overnight stay at Waterfalls – Ella
DAY 10: Ella - Colombo
On completion proceed to Colombo (Approximate drive time: 2 hours) and check in at your hotel and relax till late evening. Overnight stay at Cinnamon Lakeside
DAY 11: See You Again!
Need to head back? We look forward to welcoming you back to Sri Lanka on another Learning Journeys immersion, whether to deeply explore rural villages, assist on local project initiatives or perhaps enjoy a wildlife immersion.