2024 March 8 to 18 – Booking Closed
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $6698
Private Room: $8598
Discover the hidden secrets of ancient Buddhist temples
Frolic with baby elephants in a sanctuary
Visit spice farms and sip tea reserved for royalty
Explore the legendary Ceylon Tea Trails and visit with locals
Shop in world famous bazaars
Enjoy a jeep safari in a national park teeming with wildlife
Marvel at the world’s oldest tree and learn its the relationship to Buddha
Ride on what’s considered by many to be the most beautiful train route in the world
For those of you who want to keep the adventure going, we invite you to join us on our extension to the amazing Maldive Islands!
With a history expanding over 3000 years, Sri Lanka holds some of the world’s most ancient cities with once-glorious palaces, temples, and monasteries. Many of these intricately carved stone structures are surrounded by centuries of undergrowth. But are now waiting to be uncovered in the lush jungles, and uncover them we will! This mysterious land is filled with wonders and wildlife, tea and temples, plantations and pachyderms, and UNESCO World Heritage sites galore! Among our unique lodgings are colonial tea plantation houses surrounded by vast hillsides of tea bushes. We will expand our minds and our hearts as we travel back in time to the fascinating land that is Sri Lanka!
Day 1: Welcome to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, the tear-shaped island off the southeastern coast of India, is remarkable in its richness and beauty. From mountain ranges dotted with plantations cultivating Ceylon’s famous tea to the beautiful Indian Ocean coast, it is a delight for the eyes. Culturally, Sri Lanka is rich with dance, music, and art: each day is a public parade of color, music, and imagination: masked dances, processions of elephants, and locals dressed in brilliant hued saris and adorned with jewels and dyes. We invite you to Sri Lanka, a place like nowhere else in the world!
Upon arrival, you will be met at Bandaranaike International Airport by our representative and transferred to our comfortable hotel in Negombo to get settled. Tonight will be on your own after a long day of traveling.
Day 2: Journey to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
After breakfast at our hotel, we will head to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a 25-acre coconut property. We will witness baby elephants being bottle-fed and freely wandering around, enjoying life. Since 1975, these orphaned and sometimes three-legged animals have been cared for at this facility. They spend their days being feed and enjoying bathes in the river.
Our journey then continues to Anuradhapura. Along the way, we will visit a coconut plantation and experience the agriculture and operations of the area. Coconuts are the livelihood of most Sri Lankans.
After a full day, we will spend the evening getting settled into our relaxing resort and spa hotel. Our Welcome Dinner this evening will be an exquisite BBQ at a local rice field.
Day 3: Anuradhapura by Bicycle(optional)
Today we will explore the first capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura, one of the oldest civilizations in the world boasting 113 kings and spanning 1300 years. The sapphire of its crown is certainly the Sri Maha Bodhi, the sacred Fig tree said to be grown from a sapling from the famous tree under which the first Buddha became enlightened. It was planted in 288 BC and is the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date. Take some deep breaths and maybe even let out a relaxing “Ohm” or two…
Day 4: Hiriwadunna Village / Minneriya
This morning we will drive through rural villages and experience the authentic lifestyles of the locals. We will have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional lunch hosted by a local farming family. Hiriwadunna is a scenic village with unpaved gravel paths and laid-back village folks. The local is perfect, as it is shaded on either side by dry zone shrub forest and enriched with red soil which contrasts beautifully with the indigo reservoir. The area is full of cormorant trees and wildflowers that attract gorgeous butterflies and dragonflies. As we walk further down the path we will spot the Sigiriya rock fortress which appears in the vicinity of the silent and still waters of the reservoir.
Since we have water, we will jump on board a catamaran and go for a ride on the reservoir. We’ll enjoy a cup of Ceylon tea on a local farm and even take a ride in a bullock cart, transportation that is centuries old and still in use today!
We will spend the rest of the day exploring Minneriya, an elephant sanctuary that spreads over 8800 hectares! Herds of deer and ample birdlife can also be seen, but the spotlight remains to be the swaying trunks of the herds of elephants.
Day 5: Time Travelers Wanted…
Today we go back in time with a visit to the 5th-century rock citadel of King Kasyapa and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sigiriya. As we step through the gigantic ‘Lion Paws’ we will marvel at the symmetrical royal gardens below and walk past the many frescoes and works of art, taking in the absolute splendor that causes many to refer to this as the mythological ‘City of Gods’.
On to a spice plantation in historic Matale, where we will observe the therapeutic values of spices over a refreshing cup of herbal tea!
Tonight, we stop in Kandy, a small lakeside town cradled by misty mountains and home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, another UNESCO World Heritage Site where an actual tooth of Buddha has been carefully preserved for centuries! Afterward, we will wander through the streets and markets before taking in a cultural show featuring traditional music and drumming, showcasing the rich and vibrant culture of Sri Lanka.
Day 6: Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
We start our day blissfully exploring the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, originally a pleasure garden for Royalty with 147 acres of magnificent pavilions, manicured terraces, giant trees, and even an orchid house.
Up next we will drive through lush tea lands and misty mountains on an epic adventure from Peradeniya to Hatton. It’s colorful, as we follow one-lane roads that meander between vast hillsides of tea bushes to our home for the next two nights, Ceylon Tea Trails plantations! Our rooms will be in colonial plantation houses, including gourmet meals in the grand dining room or on an outdoor terrace with views of the surrounding fields and mountains.
Day 7: Relax, Relax, Relax
Today, there will be plenty of free time to explore the lush surroundings of our cottages nestled in the misty mountains of beautiful Sri Lanka. Unwind, discover, have a spa treatment, enjoy a tour of the tea plantation, take a mountain walk, or hop on one of the lodge’s mountain bikes to explore the paths winding among the rows of tea plants. There are a variety of optional activities you can choose from today if you wish. (Optional items cost not included in tour price).
Day 8: White-Water Rafting(optional)
Off to Weligama today with a stop for white-water rafting in Kitulgala for those who are interested. As we arrive at our Resort and Spa; you will have the evening at your leisure. However, we will meet up for dinner.
Day 9: Galle City Tour
Today we start off with a city tour of Galle, the epic Southern capital, where Dutch architecture meets a tropical setting. We will walk the Dutch-haunted streets listening to the creaks of wooden saloon doors and observe how European architecture mixes with South Asian traditions today. Within the fort, we’ll observe the “old gate” carrying the British coat of arms. Perched on the gate is the Zwart bastion – the oldest of all – and the lighthouse standing just 18 feet in all its glory next to the Utrecht Bastion.
Enjoy the afternoon with a visit to a local, family-owned specialty tea plantation. The estate is 150 acres and 75 of those acres are tea. The remaining acres are full of rubber, cinnamon, and coconuts. The factory is a working museum, as most machines were made in the UK and are over 140 years old. Handunugoad plantation produces the famous “virgin white tea”, a tea untouched by hands, which has attracted attention from tea enthusiasts all over the world.
Tonight will be our farewell dinner. Yes, a night early; but it will be worth it.
Day 10: Colombo
Today we will journey to Colombo and stop to enjoy a brief city tour of the throbbing metropolis and the country’s commercial capital. We will drive along the clean streets edging the Crystal White Race Course; once the horse racing hub in 1893 and World War II airstrip. Stop in at Pettah and enjoy the Floating Market; an offbeat experience. We will proceed along Bauddhaloka Mawatha towards the “Arcade”; facing the historic Independence Square, one of the trendiest shopping and hangout zones in Colombo. Take in the scent of incense and the sounds of the chiming bells of Gangarama Temple while sipping a cold beverage at the Dutch Hospital.
The afternoon will be at your leisure to do more exploring this fabulous city. This evening we will enjoy dinner and enjoy our last night together.
Day 11: Goodbye to Sri Lanka
After breakfast, we will transfer to the Colombo airport (about 1 hour) to begin your trip home or fly to Male to join our extension to the Magical Maldives!
Sri Lanka Main Tour
Price includes: Transfers between airport and hotel; Unique accommodations for 10 nights; 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 9 dinners; Knowledgeable local tour guide(s); All entrance fees for sites specified in the itinerary; HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage. Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour host (with a minimum number of participants);
Not included: Airfare to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka; Video or camera permits at certain sites; Items of a personal nature; Gratuities to guides and host; Meals not specified in the itinerary.
Price includes: Speedboat transfers between Male airport and hotel and back to Male; Overwater bungalow accommodations for 3 nights; All meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage. The Maldives Extension may not be accompanied by a HE Travel tour host but will feature knowledgeable local tour guide(s).
Not included: Airfare to and from Male, Maldives; Items of a personal nature; Activities beyond the all-inclusive; Gratuities to guides.
$2498 Per Person in a Shared Room
$4398 Private Room (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
We strongly recommend the purchase of Trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance to protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as flight delay, illness, or injury. Click Here to learn more about our Insurance partner.
Maldives Luxurious Bungalows – March 18 to 21, 2024
In the Maldives, our rooms are over-water bungalows on a pier over the shallow lagoon. All meals and boat transfers between Male Airport and our resort are included. Since the resort offers a variety of activities, we are leaving it to each guest to select activities.
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
To fully enjoy this tour, be prepared to walk on uneven surfaces when visiting historical sites for 1-3 hours a day. On some days we will be driving 2-4 hours on winding, narrow roads. Optional activities such as mountain biking will be available at some locations.
- Where does this tour start and end?
- This tour starts and ends at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka. For guests joining the Maldives Extension, plan to depart toward home from Malé International Airport, Maldives.
- What will the hotels be like?
- On this tour, we will stay in deluxe, mostly locally-owned hotels that reflect their surroundings. During three nights in the mountains, we will stay in colonial Tea Trails plantation houses, surrounded by hillsides adorned with tea bushes.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email email@example.com or call 305-294-8174