Looking into the eyes of these majestic creatures summons admiration, adoration and curiosity. As they stare into your soul the urge to look away is strong, but you dare not miss a moment of such inexplicable connection. Gentle, playful and inquisitive, these giants unintentionally, but unavoidably command nature’s stage.
We were delighted, excited and have promoted captain's choice to our family and friends since returning home.
P & L Fuller, South America by Privately Chartered Qantas 747
Leaving Australia today, we fly across the Indian Ocean on our Singapore Airlines flight via Singapore to Colombo.
Landing in Colombo just after midnight, the timeless grandeur of the Galle Face Hotel is apparent even at this hour.
Revealing our exceptional location right on the shores of the Indian Ocean, the morning is ours to rest. Later, after a tour of Sri Lanka’s capital, we dine at the culinary hotspot, the Ministry of Crab, which celebrates Sri Lanka’s prized crustaceans, the giant Lagoon Crabs.
The excitement builds this morning as we make our way to Colombo Air Force base, where a helicopter is waiting to whisk us to Dambulla, the centre of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. A road option is also available - please enquire for details.
Here we will visit the UNESCO listed Dambulla Cave Temple complex, a sacred religious site of caverns and pagodas that has drawn pilgrims and preachers for more than two centuries.
After arriving at our home for the next three nights, the Heritance Kandalama, we enjoy a relaxing afternoon before a special dinner at the hotel’s Kaludiya Fusion restaurant.
Our hotel overlooks what is often described as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ - the rock fortress of Sigiriya. After a morning tour of this ancient site, we will enjoy a buffet lunch at Sigiriya Village Hotel where we can contemplate our afternoon options.
You may like to return to your hotel to relax.
Or perhaps discover more of the sights around Sigiriya on a guided tour by bicycle or boat. Alternatively, embark on a jungle trek at Popham Arboretum.
Pre dinner drinks, served in the hotel’s cave, will be an illuminating affair, before dining on local cuisine at the Kanchana Restaurant.
This morning we visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, where a guide will show us how people lived and society functioned in this former kingdom.
Escape the tropical heat with a lunch at The Lake House, before some time at leisure this afternoon.
This evening’s dinner consists of seven delectable courses at Kashyapa Restaurant.
Our tastebuds need to be on alert this morning at a visit to a spice garden in Matale, where we’re taught to identify the flavours of cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, among other spices.
We practice our new skills over a traditional rice and curry lunch at Ena De Silva’s before heading to the hills and on to the enchanting town of Kandy.
After checking into our resort style hotel, Mhaweli Reach, for a two night stay, we take our place in the best seats in town to see the annual Kandy Perahera performance at Queens Hotel.
Following breakfast, animal lovers among us will be in heaven today as we head for the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to feed the baby elephants.
At Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, a walk with a professor of botany awaits before lunch at the Royal Bar and Restaurant. The dress code for our special dinner tonight will be ‘all white’ - so prepare to be dazzling!
To the station! This morning we travel in style on the Viceroy II, a private vintage carriage attached to the public train travelling to Nanu Oya, the heart of Sri Lanka’a renowned tea country. We enjoy lunch on board and toast the colonial decadence of it all.
Upon arrival we head for the Heritance Tea Factory, located near the British colonial town of Nuwara Eliya, for a two night stay.
Waking to the scent of tea that hangs in the misty air, we soon discover the source of our daily brew during a guided walk around a verdant tea plantation.
After lunch, a stroll around Nuwara Eliya precedes afternoon tea at The Hill Club.
This morning we leave the cultivated landscape behind and prepare for an encounter with the wild side of Sri Lanka.
On arrival at Cinnamon Wild, our resort bordering Yala National Park, expect to be greeted by a conspiracy of grey lemurs.
As night falls the calls of park’s residents provide an exhilarating soundtrack to dinner.
Today we are on safari deep into the vast woodland and open grasslands of Sri Lanka’s second largest national park - Yala.
To optimize our chances of spotting as many species of birds, animals and reptiles as possible, we have booked two special Jeep safaris. One sets off in the morning and the other this afternoon, with time to relax at our resort between the two.
Fingers crossed there will be plenty of photos to compare at our barbecue dinner by the pool this evening.
Buckle up for another chopper ride today. Boarding our privately chartered aircraft at Yala Army Base, we fly over the jungle and coast to Koggala, near Galle, a tropical coastal city that’s brimming with Dutch colonial architecture. A road option is also available - enquire for details.
En route to the Lighthouse Hotel, our base for the next two nights, we stop to see stilt fishermen who continue to carry out their centuries’ old tradition. After lunch, a guided walk takes us around the city’s UNESCO listed fort, built by the Dutch in the 17th century.
A dine-around evening presents you the opportunity to discover the culinary delights of Galle as you choose.
This morning we skirt Sri Lanka’s southern coast as we travel to the village of Seenigama. Among other attractions, we’ll see the 1,200 year old Buddhist temple that sits on its own tiny island just off shore. Later we will visit the Foundation of Goodness to see the incredible work carried out helping those less fortunate.
Back at the Lighthouse Hotel, this afternoon is at leisure before a special Farewell Dinner.
Enjoy a languid morning relaxing by the pool or the beach, or getting in some last minute shopping, before lunch at the hotel. We then wave goodbye to Galle and head to Colombo.
In Colombo, take a city sightseeing tour or enjoy a guided shopping tour.
After an early dinner, we are transferred to the airport for our late flight back to Australia.
We may be back on home soil, but the colours, culture and tastes of Sri Lanka will remain with us long after our return.
Imagine a trip where you won’t have to lift a finger, or worry about bringing your wallet.
Sightseeing in each destination is included. Select Options even allow you to tailor aspects of the touring to your individual tastes when there are multiple touring options.
Galle Face Hotel
Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Galle Face Hotel is a landmark in itself. Staying at this palatial colonial era hotel is a privilege only experienced by a fortunate few.
Heritance Tea Factory
This modern luxurious hotel is a feast for the senses. Built in a converted tea factory surrounded by rolling plantations experience the freshest cup of Heritance Tea Factory’s finest brew possible.
Wild at heart but gentle by nature, Cinnamon Wild takes you to the frontier of the Sri Lankan jungle in absolute comfort.