The Island Hop takes you through Sri Lanka’s most interesting and beautiful landscapes – from the lush green tea covered hills through scrub jungles and finally to the tranquil beaches of the South Coast. We have selected some unique hotels and bungalows for this itinerary, making each day and night a special experience on this beautiful island. The tour strays away from the well-trodden tourist trail to allow you see Sri Lanka at its resplendent best. Of course, we are able to tinker with this itinerary if you wish and add an extra night here and there. We can also discuss other hotel or villa options.
Explore the ruins of Polonnaruwa
Climb up to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Marvel at Dambulla’s ancient Buddhist cave temple
Take in a ‘pooja’ ceremony at Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth
Take a train ride through the beautiful tea-growing highlands
Go on an adventurous jeep safari into Yala National Park
Visit the ancient temples of Tissa
Explore Galle’s 17C Dutch Fort
Roll on palm-fringed tropical beaches
Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, transfer to Casa Heliconia, a peaceful holiday retreat located in Pasyala just 45 minutes north of Colombo’s international airport. Relax and unwind amidst lush tropical gardens edged by paddy fields. Take a stroll into the surrounding rural village or visit the adjoining Buddhist temple.
Casa Heliconia is an exquisite holiday retreat set on a three-acre fruit and vegetable estate in the rural village of Kaleliya in Pasyala in the North West. Pasyala is just 45 minutes drive from Colombo’s international airport and is en route to Kandy. Casa Heliconia is an ideal first stop on your holiday in Sri Lanka where you can relax and unwind after a long flight amidst peaceful rural surroundings.
Day 2 & 3
Journey to the Cultural Triangle in the North Central region where you will stay two nights at Amaya Lake resort in Dambulla overlooking the picturesque Kandalama Lake. Several activities are on offer including bullock cart rides, nature trails, bird watching, fishing, and boating on the lake. Rise early and climb the magnificent Sigiriya Rock, one of Sri Lanka’s fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites. No matter how often you climb to the summit of this one-time fortress of the murderous, maverick, yet brilliant Sinhalese king – Kassapa, the pleasure barely diminishes. Many scholars believe that Kassapa sought to rule as a God-king. About two hours can happily be spent walking through its water gardens, and then up the steep steps – either hewn out of the rock or on circular iron staircases – past the frescoes. You will be in no rush to abandon the spectacular views at the summit. Dambulla Cave Temple is also a must-see with its rock ceiling covered in one large sweep of colorful frescoes, some of which dates back to over 2,000 years. This cave temple has the largest number of Buddha statues all housed in one place including a 14-metre figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the rock.
Visit Polonnaruwa which became Sri Lanka’s royal medieval capital in 1073 and remained Sri Lanka’s capital until the late 13C. Today, the ancient city’s ruins remain in remarkably good nick, and are a fascinating site to visit. The most impressive are the ancient sculptures of Lord Buddha at the Gal Vihara cut into Granite stone dating back to the middle of the 12C. The entire sculpture consists of four colossal statues of Buddha – a samadhi image in meditation posture, a seated Buddha image inside a cave, a standing Buddha image which is 23 ft in height, and an image of a recumbent Buddha, depicting the passing away. Prior to visiting the ruins, it is recommended that you visit the Polonnaurwa Archeological Museum which provides a clear explanation of the Polonnaurwa kingdom.
Amaya Lake is peacefully situated at the heart of a tropical parkland. It boasts a spacious and natural location, on the opposite side of Dambulla Lake from Heritence Kandalama, and is perfectly placed to explore the many historic delights of the cultural triangle including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla, Sigiriya and the Minneirya wildlife sanctuary. Walking and cycle routes abound.
Day 4 & 5
The journey from the cultural triangle to Sri Lanka’s hill capital – the small lakeside city of Kandy – will occupy most of the morning. Check-in to Clove Villa, a small boutique villa on the outskirts of Kandy. Visit the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy where a sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha is enshrined since 4th Century A.D. The temple has decorative walls, a golden roof and fine woodwork. Religious services (pooja) with traditional music and drumming are held daily at dawn, mid-day and in the evening where guests can participate.
Clove Villa is a boutique villa set in the suburbs of Kandy just 15 minutes away from Kandy town. This is an ideal location from which to access Kandy’s cultural sites. Clove Villa is enroute to the Cultural Triangle. The journey from Colombo’s international airport take will about three hours.e-and-a-quarter hour drive from the International Airport
Day 6 & 7
This morning you hop on aboard a train and head to Haputale in the tea-growing Southern Highlands – a land of lush tea plantations, majestic peaks and rushing waterfalls. Haputale is one of the favourite haunts of the tea millionaire Sir Thomas Lipton. Check into Melheim Resort, a boutique hotel perched on a hillock and bordered by a forest reserve. Take in the spectacular views across the southern plains. Go bird watching or venture off on a mountain trek. Enjoy the tea experience with a walk through a tea plantation and a visit to Dambatenne Tea factory. Adisham – a Benedictine Monastery with centuries old stone buildings is another interesting excursion in Haputale. There are several picturesque waterfalls to be explored including Dunhinda, Diyaluma, and Bambarakanda. The small hill country town of Ella with the picturesque Ella gap, Ravana falls and ancient Dowa temple is about an hour north from here.
Melheim Resort is a 14-room resort perched on the hills of Haputale in the Southern Highlands with spectacular views across the Southern Plains. Set on seven acres of terraced land surrounded by mountains and wilderness, this is an utterly relaxing setting. Melheim is conveniently located en route to Ella, Nuwara Eliya as well as Arugam Bay on the South East coast, and the sunkissed beaches of the south coast. Uda Walawe National Park is two hours south from here.
Day 8, 9 & 10
Head to the Deep South and stay three nights at Coco Tangalle, a seaside holiday escape with peaceful surroundings. The south coast offers an attractive mix of beaches, history, wildlife and adventure. The beaches are secluded, long and unspoiled by overdevelopment. An extensive coral reef along the coast, has given rise to several bays, which are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Based at Mirissa Harbour, Mirissa Water Sports offers several activities including whale watching, snorkeling, sailing, river trips, and sea kayaking. Mirissa Water Sports is a charitable organization helping to generate employment for the youth from the tsunami affected coastal areas. Visit Rakuwa, a small fishing village near Tangalle where a fascinating Marine Turtle Conservation project is helping to save this endangered species.
Spend a morning in Tissamaharama (or “Tissa” as it is most frequently referred to), which was the capital of the ancient Ruhunu Kingdom in the 2nd century B.C. Tissa, named after King Kavantissa, is dominated by gigantic semi-circle shaped Buddhist Dagobas (temples), lush green paddy fields and lotus-filled lakes. Several ancient Buddhist temples including the Maha Stupa, Sandagiri dagoba and monastery complex, Yatala and the Menik dagobas are all located nearby as well as an archeological Museum that provides a glimpse into the ancient Ruhunu kingdom. For wildlife enthusiasts, there is the Yala National Park, home to many species of animals including the elusive Leopard.
Coco Tangalla is a six bedroomed colonial period villa perched on a small rise directly overlooking the Indian Ocean. Tangalle can be accessed along the southern coast or travelling south from the hill country. The journey from Colombo’s international airport will take about 3.5 hours via the Southern highway. Avoid road travel and hop on board a sea plane from Colombo which takes 35 minutes to get to Dickwella on the south coast. From Dickwella to Coco Tangalla is only a short 20 minute drive.
Day 11 & 12
Today you head to the capital of city Colombo for your final two nights’s stay. En route, we recommend that you visit the historic 17C Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the maze of narrow cobble stone streets lined with Dutch and British colonial era buildings which are still in use, sturdy ramparts looking out to sea, the lighthouse, and a growing collection of art galleries, museums, shops and several boutique hotels. Once in Colombo, check-in to the Lake Lodge, a city guesthouse that is centrally located. Colombo is a compact, easily-explored city, smarter by the month, and if its collection of boutique shops, bars and restaurants is not huge, this is more than made up for by their quality, atmosphere, friendliness and great value. You will leave with a few stray specks of sand still in your toes and, one trusts, some money left in your pocket. Who knows, when you return, as surely you must, you will wish to venture further afield.
Lake Lodge – Colombo
Lake Lodge is a stylish city guesthouse overlooking Colombo’s Beira Lake. Centrally located down a by-lane in Colombo 3, it is also the family home of Nayantara Fonseka, also known as Taru, who is one of Sri Lanka’s foremost lifestyle designers. Lake Lodge begins to answer Colombo’s need for classy and characterful guest-house accommodation. The journey from the international airport will take about one hour
|No of Nights||Hotels||Price|
|3||Coco Tangalla||£234||2||Lake Lodge||£146||12||Total||£1038|
|Sigiriya||Entrance Fee Rs. 3900.00||£19|
|Dabulla Tempal||Entrance Fee Rs. 1500.00||£8|
|Pollonnaruwa||Entrance Fee Rs. 3200.00||£16|
|Ritigala||Entrance Fee Rs. 500.00||£3|
|Mihinthale||Entrance Fee Rs. 500.00||£3|
|Anuradhapure||Entrance Fee Rs. 3250.00||£17|
|Kandy Temple||Entrance Fee Rs. 1000.00||£6|
Train tickets depend on customer interest