Sri Lanka: The Pearl of the Indian Ocean
Like a pearl earring set in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a perfect jewel of an island, with a wonderfully warm climate and a rich and varied culture. It is also home to lush vegetation, colourful flora, amazing wildlife and a stunning collection of gardens. Our itinerary has been designed to lead you through the horticultural highlights of this beautiful island, with national parks, spice gardens and verdant gardens to discover. Combined with some of the cultural highlights and relaxed way of life, it should be as refreshing as a cup of finest Ceylon tea. We begin in Kandy where we visit a spice garden and the splendid Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya, both of which will give us an insight into the spectacular flora that thrives here. We then move into the cooler hill country and visit the garden at Hakgala and tour the outstanding nature reserve at Horton Plains. Another fine reserve awaits us at the Yala National Park where we go on safari and see elephants, bears and monkeys; tropical birds and fragile butterflies. A couple of days on the beach, in the south west near Galle, follows along with visits to Bevis Bawa’s famous Brief Gardens and Lunuganga Estate. One of the highlights of the tour will be our stay in Sinharaja, the country’s last viable area of primary tropical rainforest where we will have the most wonderful experiences of flora and fauna with which to conclude our circular tour of this glittering island gem.
Tour led by: Horticulturist Tony Russell will be our expert guide. A former Head Forester at Westonbirt Arboretum, Tony is widely regarded as one of Britain's leading authorities on trees and shrubs, having written 18 books and presented many programmes for both TV and radio.
£2,895 (including offers)
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The price above includes any applicable early booking discount and a pay in full discount, and applies only if you pay the full balance at time of booking.
Deposit: £320 Single supplement: £880
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Day 1 -
We depart this evening from London Heathrow on our overnight flight to Colombo.
Day 2 -
On arrival in the Sri Lankan capital we will be met by our local representative and transfer to our accommodation at the Jetwing Beach Hotel, which is ideally located within easy reach of the town of Negombo and more importantly the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake. Rest of the day free to relax.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 3 -
Following breakfast we depart for Kandy visiting the Matala Spice Garden en route.
On arrival in Kandy we will visit the Temple of the Tooth, which was built within the Royal Palace complex and contains the only surviving relic of Buddha. We then continue to our accommodation, the Ozo Hotel Kandy.
In the evening we will see a cultural dance performance. The dancers are attired in elaborate costumes with glistening head-dresses and breastplates and their traditional performance includes pulsating rhythms, astonishing acrobatics and daring fire-walking.
Day 4 -
Following breakfast this morning we depart for a visit to the superb Peradeniya Botanic Garden, just outside Kandy. Dating from 1821 and situated 1540 feet above sea level, these extensive gardens (150 acres) benefit from 85 inches of rainfall a year, and support a lush and varied collection of trees, plants and creepers. Among the notable attractions are the magnificent avenue of Royal palms, an enormous banyan tree and the orchid house, which houses more than 300 spectacular species. The gardens maintain strong links with the RHS and play an important part in the global network of botanical gardens.
The afternoon will be free to shop and sightsee at leisure.
Day 5 -
Following breakfast we will transfer to Peradeniya station to catch the train (first class) to Nanu Oya close to Nuwara Eliya. We continue to the old town which nestles in a wooded basin at the foot of Mount Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s highest peak, and enjoys a cool, crisp climate unknown elsewhere in Sri Lanka. The old colonial influence is very strong here and the serene Anglican Church of the Holy Trinity, beautiful parks and well kept lawns and hedges give the place an air of nostalgia for the ever-more distant days of the British Empire.
In the afternoon we will visit a Tea Factory and Plantation. Although it is generally accepted that tea originates in China, the influence of climatic conditions here in Sri Lanka have proved particularly conducive to producing a high quality, aromatic product and Ceylon tea, as it is still known, is acclaimed as the finest in the world. We will learn about the highly skilled technical and scientific process involved and of course we will have a taste of the final product – possibly the most memorable cup of tea you will ever have!
Overnight at the Grand Hotel, in Nuwara Eliya.
Day 6 -
Following breakfast this morning we will have a guided tour of the gardens here at the Grand Hotel with the Head Gardener.
We then depart for a visit to Horton Plains, the only National Park in Sri Lanka where visitors can walk in the jungle to observe wildlife. We will walk up to ‘World’s End` and ‘Little World’s End` for the fantastic views and look for the different types of grass, epiphytic orchids and rare sphagnum moss. There is a huge range of animals to be seen, including monkeys, deer, wild boar and cats, including the elusive leopard, and a bewildering array of jungle birds: babblers, warblers, fly catchers and parakeets. Butterfly species include the Ceylon Tree Brown, Ceylon Forester, Blue Admiral, Tamil Lace Wing, Blue Morman, Rare Ace and many others.
Later this afternoon we will visit the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, the second largest gardens which feature plants suited to the colder atmosphere here. The natural beauty of the setting is enhanced by small water steams running across the garden and wooden bridges built over them. The original reason for establishing the garden at Hakgala in 1861 was the cultivation and promotion of a commercial tree called Cinchona, of which there are several species here. Later, the garden was used for experimentation in tea cultivation before being taken in a botanical direction when William Nock was appointed as a curator in 1884. Many sub tropical and some temperate plants were introduced and planted in the gardens. Intriguingly, the gardens are also associated with an epic love story concerning the legendary King Ravana, who is reputed to have created a pleasure garden here for his Indian queen, Sita.
Return to the Grand Hotel in the evening.
Day 7 -
This morning we transfer south to the Yala National Park. In the afternoon we will take a jeep safari into the National Park. The vegetation here ranges from flat plains and open parkland to dense jungle, with water holes, lakes and lagoons supporting a wide range of animals and birds, including large herds of elephants. Yala is thought to have the highest density of leopards in the world, though we will be extremely fortunate if we catch a glimpse of this solitary creature.
Accommodation will be at the Cinnamon Wild Hotel which sits adjacent to the park and could be considered as an extension of the park.
Day 8 -
This morning we move further round the southern coast of Sri Lanka as we transfer from Yala round to Galle. Galle is a major city in Sri Lanka, situated on the south-western tip of Sri Lanka. This is the administrative capital of the Southern Province. Accommodation will be at the Jetwing Light House Hotel.
In the afternoon we will have a panoramic guided tour of the sights and sounds of this historic city.
Day 9 -
Following breakfast we visit the Lunuganga Estate. This was the country home of the renowned Sri Lankan architect 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. As he went on to become Sri Lanka’s and one of Asia’s most prolific and influential architects, the garden at the Lunuganga estate remained his first muse and experimental laboratory for new ideas.
In the afternoon we will visit nearby Brief Gardens, created by landscape artist, sculptor and bon vivant Bevis Bawa (elder brother of Geoffrey), who in the 1950s and 60s wrote a series of articles on landscape gardening in the Ceylon Daily News, in which he delighted in puncturing the pomposity and complacency of upper-class Ceylon. His father bought the land here with the proceeds of a legal brief, hence the name, and in 1920 Bawa cleared the former rubber plantation to make the gardens. The result is a world of diverse gardening styles and plantings, including an exotically planted Italian-style water staircase, a small Japanese garden, mossy and shady, and the ‘edible garden’, filled with luscious fruit.
Overnight again in Galle.
Day 10 -
This morning we transfer to Sinharaja. Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is the country's last viable area of primary tropical rainforest. More than 70% of the trees are endemic and many of them are considered rare. There is much endemic wildlife, especially birds, but the reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka's endemic species of mammals and butterflies, as well as many kinds of insects, reptiles and rare amphibians.
We will be accommodated for the next two nights in the Rainforest Eco Lodge designed to minimise impact on the environment in line with the principle ‘reduce, re-use and recycle’. The lodge consists of 16 chalets constructed with recycled shipping containers with architecturally designed luxury and comfort. Dinner is included both evenings.
From our base at the lodge we will participate in organised excursions into the rainforest to enjoy this wonderful ecosystem.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 11 -
All day guided excursion within Sinharaja National Park. Overnight again in the Rainforest Eco Lodge.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 12 -
Today we leave the rainforest and travel back to Colombo for last minute shopping and sightseeing from our base the Ozo Hotel on the beach in central Colombo. A farewell dinner is included this evening.
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 13 -
Following breakfast we will check out of our hotel and transfer to Colombo International Airport for our homeward flight. On arrival at London Heathrow the group will disperse or make onward connections.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Meals - as per the itinerary
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|13 October 2022||BSRI221013||13 October 2022 (Thursday)||25 October 2022 (Tuesday)||Tony Russell||£3,195