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Members of the Aman Jet Expedition, October 2016

Historic Sri Lanka Odyssey

This luxurious 14-day Sri Lanka itinerary will take you to the island's most important religious, historic and natural sites. You'll see remnants of ancient civilizations and visit intricately-adorned Hindu and Buddhist temples, some of them millennia old. On this tour you'll also see more recent history preserved in the inland cities of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, home to colonial vestiges and stunning mountain scenery. You'll also take safaris through Sri Lankan wilderness, seeing the country’s protected areas and spotting a wide range of wildlife including elephants, monkeys and deer. Each night of your trip, you'll stay in a luxury resort, relaxing in style after a full day exploring Sri Lanka's treasures.

Highlights   Pricing
  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura, an ancient Asian capital with many intact relics
  • Enjoy a breakfast picnic atop the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, one of Sri Lanka's most beautiful natural and historical sites
  • Stay in Nuwara Eliya, a scenic colonial hill-town and a popular regional getaway
  • Experience a safari in Yala National Park, a beautiful animal sanctuary of wetlands, monsoonal forests, mangroves and beaches
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

You'll begin your luxury 14-day tour of Sri Lanka in the capital of Colombo. On your arrival, you'll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Colombo has a great range of luxury accommodation, and for your stay, we recommend the grand heritage-style Tintagel or the boutique Park Street Hotel, with its wide verandas and collection of contemporary Sri Lankan art. In the evening, you are free to enjoy dinner at your hotel, or find a restaurant in the city center serving spicy Sri Lankan curry.

Day 2

This morning you will make your way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura, around 4 hours away. Along the way, you'll visit Puttalam, 80 miles north of Colombo, and home to Munneswaram Hindu Temple. This elaborate tribute to Shiva dates back to 1,000 CE and still hosts major religious festivals. You'll reach Anuradhapura in the afternoon, where you'll set off on a sightseeing tour of this ancient city. Major sites here include remnants of the ancient kingdom – stupas, a moonstone, the Abayagiri Dagoba Theravada Buddhist monastery and the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a tree said to have grown from a branch of the Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Proceed to Dambulla, where you will stay this evening at Heritance Kandalama, a green hotel overlooking the Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

Day 3

After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, you'll depart for the ancient city of Polonnaruwa – another UNESCO World Heritage Site, 80 minutes away. Here, you'll see 12th-century palace ruins, religious and royal statues, stupas and more. For a proper understanding of the site, you'll visit the Archaeological Museum. For lunch, enjoy an authentic Sri Lankan meal with a family in the local village. Next, you have the option to take an elephant ride through the jungle of Habarana. In the evening, you'll visit Dambulla Cave Temple, a sacred site with cave shrines containing ancient statues and paintings. Most caves feature effigies of the Buddha, but some pay tribute to Hindu gods, such as Vishnu and Ganesh. There are five main caves, the oldest dating back to the 1st-century BC. Return to relax at your hotel.

Day 4

Today you'll leave the hotel early to explore Sigiriya Rock Fortress with a picnic breakfast to enjoy at the top of the rock. Sigiriya, which means Lion Rock in Sinhalese, is a revered site with a long, fascinating history. Its surrounds are believed to have been inhabited since prehistoric times and the rock itself was once the site of a monastery. It features frescoes, water gardens and fountains, as well as the Lion Gate – huge stone paws that guard the staircase to the top. For lunch, you'll dine in a local restaurant, and in the afternoon you'll see the striking Namal Uyana and forest – the largest ironwood forest in Asia – and the striking pink quartz mountain. Return to the beautiful Kandalama Hotel for the night.

Day 5

After breakfast at the hotel, you'll make your way to Trincomalee (around 2 hours' drive), a major port city that overlooks the stunning Trincomalee Harbor. Here, you will visit the Koneswaram Temple, a medieval Hindu temple complex that sits atop a cliff at the edge of the sea. Next, you'll see the Kanniya Hot Water Wells, where locals bathe in square, shallow wells full of hot spring water. In the afternoon you have free time to spend on the beaches of Trincomalee. The coastline here features wide sandy shores and bright blue waters, perfect for a romantic afternoon stroll before you settle into your hotel in Trincomalee for the night. We recommend the luxurious Nilaveli Beach property or the Jungle Beach Resort.

Day 6

Today you'll see the Girihandusaya Buddhist Temple, just north of Trincomalee in the small Tamil village of Thiriyai. The temple houses what may be the oldest dagoba – Sinhalese for stupa – in the world. Next, you'll take a trip to Pigeon Island, where you can enjoy leisure time exploring the protected coastline here. Pigeon Island is located in one of Sri Lanka's two National Marine Parks, and is actually two rocky islets – one of which is surrounded by coral reefs. A variety of turtles and rock pigeons call this area home - you may be lucky enough to spot some. In the evening, return to your beachside resort in Trincomalee.

Day 7

Today you’ll head to the picturesque hillside city of Kandy, the second-largest city in Sri Lanka - around 3.5 hours' drive. En route, you'll visit the Spice Garden to learn all about the health – and taste – benefits of herbs and spices often used in Sri Lankan medicine and cuisine, such as turmeric, citronella grass, vanilla, cocoa, and cinnamon. Whet your appetite by observing a cooking demonstration, then enjoy lunch in a rice paddy in tranquil Kamatha. After that, visit the wonderfully-elaborate Hindu Temple in Matale. In the evening, you'll see one of Kandy's most famous sites – the Temple of the Tooth Relic, said to hold a piece of the Buddha's tooth. Tonight, you'll stay overnight in Kandy – we recommend the Earl’s Regency Hotel, a luxurious property located in spectacular tropical gardens.

Day 8

Enjoy another day in Kandy today, starting with a morning excursion to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. This nursery and breeding ground has around 90 elephant residents you can observe as they play and bathe in the Oya River. Next, you'll visit the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, just outside of Kandy, featuring meticulously-tended gardens with more than 4,000 species of plants, including a wide range of orchids. In the afternoon, you'll enjoy more sightseeing in Kandy, then be treated to a cultural show with traditional music and dance. Spend another night in your luxury Kandy hotel.

Day 9

Today you'll depart Kandy for the scenic colonial hill town of Nuwara Eliya, some 2 hours away. This beautiful outpost of waterfalls and tea plantations is located at the foot of Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s highest mountain. Here, you'll visit one of the area's many tea factories and enjoy a walking tour through parks, gardens and colonial squares. Today you'll check into a hotel in Nuwara Eliya – for an authentic colonial ambience we recommend the Grand Hotel, with its Tudor-style façade and lush, green lawns. Enjoy a romantic dinner in the garden, or stroll the streets to find a cozy local restaurant. Be sure to sample some local orange pekoe tea.

Day 10

Get an early start today as you head out to Horton Plains National Park for a picnic breakfast. This nature reserve is home to the famous "World's End", a precipice with a vertical drop of more than 2,600 feet. This verdant, mountainous area is crisscrossed by numerous walking trails where you can enjoy the pure mountain air and some of Asia’s most lush scenery. You'll spend the day here exploring the grasslands and the forests, spotting Sri Lankan Sambar Deer and a wide array of birdlife, and seeing unique flora such as the famous "twisted trees" – a result of prevailing strong winds. In the evening, enjoy a relaxing night at the colonial Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.

Day 11

Today you'll leave the hotel for the 2-hour drive to Yala. Along the way, you'll pass through Ella on a spectacular journey through mountainous scenery, past waterfalls and through emerald-colored forests. This afternoon, embark upon a safari in the Yala National Park, the second-largest park in the country and a wildlife sanctuary, home to leopards, Sri Lankan elephants and a vast array of waterbirds. The park comprises wetlands, monsoon forests, scrub, grasslands and beaches, supporting a range of different ecosystems. Tonight, you have the option of staying near the park in a comfortable-yet-basic hotel, or driving an hour to the luxurious Amanwella resort.

Day 12

Today you will make your way to the old port town of Galle, around 3.5 hours' drive. This beautiful fort city was colonized by the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British, and its colonial ramparts still remain, achieving UNESCO World Heritage status for the city. Here, you will visit Mulkirigala Rock Monastery, a rock temple complex with intricate frescoes, stone stupas and hidden Buddha statues. Next, visit another prolific religious site, the colorful Wewurukannala Temple. This temple site houses graphic dioramas of "Buddhist Hell" and various other mythological scenes, painted statues of Hindu gods and Buddha statues showing different stages of enlightenment. Tonight, check into your hotel in Galle. We recommend the elegant Amangalla, housed in a restored 17th-century building, or The Fortress Resort and Spa, located right on the beach.

Day 13

After a gourmet breakfast in your hotel, you'll explore the Dutch Fort with its mix of Dutch and Portuguese colonial architecture. Here, you'll find the Galle National Museum, where you can view old military artifacts, turtle shell ornaments and native handicrafts. After a leisurely half-day tour of the fort, you'll head to the Rhumasala and Yatagala Temples in the afternoon. Yatagala Buddhist Temple is a fascinating site, more than 2,300 years old, built around boulders and carved into rocks. Exploring this site, you'll discover moss-covered Buddha statues hidden between boulders, and a sacred Bodhi tree. Conversely, Rhumasala is a modern temple, a gift from Japan that overlooks the water towards Galle. Tonight, enjoy the final night of your journey in night in your luxury resort in Galle.

Day 14

Today, enjoy breakfast at your hotel, before driving 3 hours to the airport to catch your departing international flight.


Suggested Accommodations



The dramatic and sultry Tintagel property is located in central Colombo, close to Colombo Town Hall, National Art Gallery and Sinhalese Sports Club. The hotel was previously home to three of Sri Lanka’s political leaders, making it an important structure of national heritage. This unique and intimate hotel boasts ten high-ceilinged suites with timber floors, lavishly decorated with a unique blend of color, texture and atmosphere. The spacious bathrooms feature rain showers, bathtubs and large vanities. All rooms include complimentary WiFi, LCD TV screens with DVD/CD players, a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and Egyptian cotton bedding. Selected suites come with a private courtyard or a balcony. There are a range of dining facilities including an alfresco restaurant, a chic indoor restaurant offering international cuisine, a private dining room and a bar with black leather lounges and bronze tables. Other facilities and services of the hotel include a spa with optional in-room service, swimming pool, gym, steam room, library and courtyard.

Heritance Kandalama

Heritance Kandalama

Designed by famed Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, the unique Heritance Kandalama hotel is set into a cliff face among dense tropical forests, flanked by the Dambulla rock temple and Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The hotel’s buildings were planned to blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment and are covered with hanging vines and flowering plants. Each of the 152 rooms faces either Kandalama Lake or the forest – even the bathrooms were planned to showcase the view – and is decorated in an elegantly simple contemporary style. The Kandalama is the first Green Globe 21-certified hotel in Asia, and the first hotel in the world to be awarded the prestigious LEED Green Building certification. There are three restaurants to choose from, including the Kanchana Café, which has won multiple awards. Among The Kandalama’s amenities are a pool, business center and fitness center, while the world-renowned Six Senses Spa has a location here that offers Asian, Swedish, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massage.

Jungle Beach Resort, Nilaveli Beach

Jungle Beach Resort

The resort boasts a sumptuous spa, fitness center, business center and library. The stylish contemporary rooms, which have a tropical jungle style, feature atmospheric lighting, large windows, a comfy seating area, cable TV, an en-suite bathroom, bathrobes and a hairdryer. Free WiFi runs throughout the whole establishment. Guests can expect to sample a fine selection of local and international dishes at the onsite restaurant. Room service is also available upon request. Friendly staff, great facilities and close proximity to all that Trincomalee has to offer are three great reasons you should stay at Jungle Beach Resort.


Nilaveli Beach

From the cozy Nilaveli Beach property, guests can gaze out to the pristine white sands and azure waters stretching far into the distance. Those looking for a blissful tropical heaven, far away from the cares of everyday life are guaranteed a slice of undisturbed paradise at this hotel. The hotel offers water sports, an outdoor pool, a secluded garden and beach and easy access to the vibrant city's must-see destinations. The well-appointed, light and airy rooms feature hardwood furnishings, a mini bar, DVD/CD player, air conditioning, fans and toiletries. The in-house restaurant serves a variety of local Indian and Western Halal dishes. a private barbeques on the beach can also be arranged.

Earl's Regency Hotel

Earl's Regency Hotel

Located in the centre of Kandy, just a short drive from the railway station and the famous Temple of the Tooth, Earl's Regency Hotel is a luxurious property with splendid views of the mountains around Kandy. All its rooms are air-conditioned and come with a minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities and a TV with satellite channels. Free WiFi is available in the public areas. The hotel also has a 24-hour coffee shop, as well as the sumptuous Far Pavilions restaurant, which offers local and international cuisine. The spa has massage rooms, a sauna and steam room, and there are also tennis and badminton courts.
Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel

The former residence of Sir Edward Barnes, Governor of Sri Lanka from 1830 to 1850, the Grand Hotel is a Tudor-style mansion set amidst boxwood and fir trees overlooking the calm waters of Lake Gregory. Hunting and fishing trophies decorate the walls, infusing the property with the tranquility of times past. The hotel has 156 elegantly furnished rooms including three presidential suites and three deluxe suites that overlook the property's magnificent, award-winning gardens filled with beautifully laid out flower beds. Rooms in the new golf wing overlook the golf course and present a soothing view of the rolling greens, and junior suites are equipped with fireplaces and well-appointed bathrooms. The main restaurant, Barnes Hall, is located on the ground floor of the hotel and overlooks the gardens, and offers a wide choice in both Western and Eastern cuisines. There is also a coffee shop, an Indian restaurant, supper club and three bars on the grounds. Other amenities include three lounges, a small shopping arcade, fitness center and sauna, spa, wood-paneled bar and billiard room with three tables. There is no Internet access at the hotel.
Accommodation in Yala National Park

Accommodation in Yala National Park

As there is a lack of suitable accommodation in or near the park, Remote Lands visitors usually stay in Tangalle and visit Yala on a day trip.
Amangalla, The Fortress


Located in the center of a preserved 17th-century Dutch Fort, the sumptuous Amangalla resort is also a beautifully restored UNESCO World Heritage site that perfectly captures the charm of the historic trading port of Galle. Amangalla has 17 rooms, eight suites and the Garden House, a two-story house with treetop views. Rooms are decorated in a style that blends luxurious contemporary amenities with a perfectly rendered colonial-era aesthetic. Sri Lankan curry and other traditional dishes are served in the dining room, and the Veranda is a cool spot to have a drink during the day; the fort's Zaal (Dutch for Great Hall) serves light meals and a classic afternoon tea. The pool is located in the resort's gardens and has five shaded pavilions where you can relax post-swim. A library with Internet access houses information on Sri Lanka and the history of the Fort. The Baths, Amangalla's spa, offers Ayurvedic massage, hydrotherapy pools, and a steam room and sauna, among other treatments. There is also a garden pavilion for yoga practice or meditation. There is no fitness center. The resort is roughly a four-hour drive from Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB).


The Fortress

Located on the golden southern coast of Sri Lanka, The Fortress is just minutes away from Galle. A modern take on the 17th-century Dutch fortress in Galle, the hotel melds Dutch and Portuguese architecture with Sri Lankan touches. The resort's walls enclose 49 exquisitely appointed rooms, lofts and residences, all of which have cutting-edge entertainment systems and designer fittings that include WiFi, a plasma screen TV, Bose DVD player and sound system, an espresso machine, private bar, day bed, in-room safe and an IDD telephone. The Fortress's sense of design extends to their fine dining establishments, which includes a restaurant that specializes in Sri Lankan and international cuisine, a Mediterranean restaurant, a wine bar housed in a glass cave, a lounge devoted to tea and an outdoor bar that serves Fortress cocktails. Additionally, private dining on the grounds or the beach can be arranged. The chic Lime Spa incorporates Sri Lankan culture through traditional Ayurvedic treatments and also has a menu of international spa therapies. Before and after treatments, guests can indulge in complimentary "Degrees" water therapies including sauna, steam and hydrobath. Other amenities at The Fortress include a yoga pavilion, fully equipped fitness center, free-flowing swimming pool, water sports center, business center, boutiques, an art gallery featuring local artists, a wedding pavilion, and a turtle hatchery.
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From Travelogues
Our co-founder Jay Tindall loves the variety on offer in Sri Lanka, particularly the beaches, ancient ruins, tea plantations and amazing wildlife safaris.
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