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Sri Lanka

13days from
£2,099*per person


13 Days - Classic Escorted Tours

As soon as you arrive, your senses are overwhelmed by Sri Lanka! The warm tropical air, the colourful wildflowers and the jungle, the striking colours of the saris adorning every woman, the variety of exotic fruits and spices, the beauty of the countryside, the mystique of countless temples and orange-clad Buddhist monks and wild elephants – this is a varied place indeed! Marco Polo, arguably the greatest explorer of all time, described it simply as the finest island in the world! During its two thousand year history, Sri Lanka has attracted countless invaders and visitors from nearby India, the Arabs, the Portuguese, Dutch and finally the British. The 145 years of British rule left an indelible mark on Sri Lanka’s culture and institutions – from a deep love of cricket to the red pillar-boxes still found on street corners. Today, this fabled island of spices and gems is a vibrant blend of entrancing Buddhist culture, ancient cities, wildlife-rich lowland jungles, home to leopards, elephants and monkeys, a mist-shrouded hill country and tropical palm-fringed beaches. Our tour takes you to all the major sites of historical and cultural interest, visiting three outstanding UNESCO World Heritage sites and finishing with three days’ relaxation in one of the country’s finest beach resorts. Two nights are spent in Sri Lanka’s fascinating ‘Cultural Triangle’, where we visit one of the best-preserved ancient sites on the Indian subcontinent. Sigiriya Rock, an impregnable 5th Century palace and fortress clinging to the top of an immense granite monolith soaring up 600 feet is Sri Lanka’s most remarkable sight, with amazing views of the jungle-covered plain below. Around the base of the rock we see beautifully laid out fountains, gardens and bathing pools, incredibly still working, linked by an ingenious web of underground, gravity-fed water channels. The cave temples of Dambulla, another World Heritage site, highlight Sri Lanka’s extraordinary artistic heritage. Their entire walls and ceilings are completely covered by sumptuously painted, perfectly preserved frescoes and shrines, whilst hundreds of gold-coloured statues of all shapes and sizes positively glow in the darkness - truly amazing! Kandy, formerly isolated by dense jungle, was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is today custodian of Sinhalese culture. Here we visit the Royal Botanical Gardens which also contain, in a typical colonial house, the wartime HQ of Lord Louis Mountbatten and Far Eastern Command, as well as one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines, the Temple of the Tooth. Sri Lanka’s hill-country is remarkably beautiful. The dense jungle of the lowlands gives way to more open countryside, with charming small villages, extensive lakes and pine-covered hillsides, with a slightly cooler and less humid climate. It was here during the 19th century that the vast tea estates were created by the British. We visit one of the finest such establishments before staying in the hill-station of Nuwara Eliya, with its colonial-era racecourse, bowling green, half-timbered houses and churches. We also stay for two nights next to the county’s second-largest national park. The 380-square mile Yala National Park is famed for its high concentration of leopards. Its open undulating terrain with grassland and shrub jungle, as well as fresh and saltwater lagoons, make it ideal for spotting a wide variety of game including wild boar, sambar deer, sloth bears, plus over 200 bird species. We enjoy an exciting safari in the park. After our tour, we drive to the west coast spending three nights by the stunning beaches of the Indian Ocean. One of the most enjoyable things about a visit to this beautiful island is its delicious cuisine! Indeed, Sri Lanka was one of the original ‘Spice Islands’ with cinnamon, cochinilla, nutmeg and all manner of other exotic flavours combined with fresh vegetables including peppers, aubergines and okra blending wonderfully with fresh seafood and meat giving a truly unique and delicious cuisine. A further attraction of this remarkable country is the Sri Lankans themselves, one of the most friendly and hospitable people you’re likely to meet and immensely proud of their beautiful homeland. The fertile plains, the colourful towns and villages, the lush forests of the interior with the vast plantations of tea, rubber and coconuts will entrance you while its history and traditions will capture your imagination.


  • Departure Begin your journey to Colombo.
  • Arrival in Colombo After your lunchtime arrival we stay for one night at the four-star Arie Lagoon Hotel.
  • Dambulla Today the adventure begins and the sights and the sounds of Sri Lanka gradually unfold. The countryside is stunning – scenic paddy fields studded by water buffalos accompanied by wiry, loin-clothed farmers, extensive coconut groves, pineapple fields, working elephants with attentive mahouts astride their necks and everywhere the dense jungle interspersed by huge lakes. We visit the amazing, 1st century cave temples of Dambulla, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a wonderful introduction to the Buddhist religion. Set in an immense granite outcrop and reached by a number of steps, this series of five caves are richly adorned with remarkably preserved frescoes and over 150 Buddhist statues. In the caves’ semi-darkness, surrounded by the serene faces of dozens of beautifully painted statues, it’s not difficult to imagine the incredible sense of awe this sacred site held for generations of worshippers. We stay two nights at the four-star Habarana Village Hotel by Cinnamon. Included experience: Visit the temples of Dambulla. Signature experience: Watch the sunset as you enjoy a poolside pre-dinner drinks reception at Cinnamon Habarana Village.
  • Sigiriya Rock This morning you visit what for many will surely be the most memorable and fascinating monument in Sri Lanka: Sigiriya, or the ‘Lion Rock’, is a massive 600ft granite tower with sheer cliffs on all sides crowned by the remains of a 1,500-year-old royal palace. The entire site is encircled by a moat and ramparts enclosing a variety of water gardens, the remains of numerous buildings and caves. As you approach Sigiriya rock, you see some of the finest ancient murals in the country – the ‘cloud maidens’ are found under a fold of rock and show in exquisite detail a procession of jewelled, beautifully dressed women bearing offerings of lilies and lotus flowers. Facing us is the imposing final entrance to the palace above: in ancient times the colossal head of a lion (hence ‘Lion Rock’) was built in brick and plaster, visitors entering through its mouth. Today, just the two front paws remain, their claws menacingly extended, still guarding the palace. It should be noted that there are numerous steps to the top of Sigiriya rock but should pose no problem for those with normal mobility. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to enjoy our hotel’s pool and facilities. Included experience: Visit Sigiriya Rock
  • Kandy This morning we leave Sigiriya for Kandy. Sri Lanka is noted for its magnificent spices so en route we visit a fascinating garden where we see many indigenous plants such as pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon before arriving at Kandy, the country’s royal capital. You stay two nights with dinner at the four-star Cinnamon Citadel Hotel, beautifully located overlooking the scenic Mahaweli River and surrounded by peaceful forested hillsides. The hotel as a pool overlooking the river, with a colonnaded lobby, a charming bar and restaurant. Included experience: Visit a spice plantation.
  • Kandy Kandy’s crowded and bustling streets teem with daily comings and goings: the many, white-uniformed children returning from school and the myriad of shops. The centre is dominated by a beautiful lake and the fascinating Temple of the Tooth, said to hold Buddha’s tooth. This is Buddhism’s most sacred shrine on the island and during our visit (today or tomorrow morning), you may be lucky enough to witness one of the many ceremonies. You also visit the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens. Planted over 150 years and covering a huge 150 acres, the gardens hold thousands of plant species and some superb examples of mature tropical trees. Strolling through lawns, shady avenues and immaculately kept flower beds, we see exotic birds and the commemorative trees planted by Edward VII, George VI, Princess Anne and the Queen. Other highlights are the Avenue of Royal Palms and ‘Bat’ Drive where you can spot the large fruit-eating ‘Flying Foxes’ hanging upside down! The gardens also house Lord Mountbatten’s imposing HQ from World War II. Kandy is famous for its traditional dancing and so this evening we experience a colourful and hugely skilful display of this ancient art. Included experiences: Visit Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth. Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. Signature experience: Step aboard for a journey through nature’s wonders along the magnificent Mahaweli River, as a passionate naturalist introduces you to the diverse creatures that reside along this magnificent waterway. As you drift along on a private boat look out for brightly coloured kingfishers, probably the largest in Sri Lanka and keep your eyes peeled for the water monitor lizards that slither along the riverbanks. This is also a natural habitat for porcupines and tortoises, and you are also sure to spot grazing water buffalo and maybe even wild boar at the water’s edge.
  • Journey To Nuwara Eliya Today you leave Kandy and journey to Nuwara Eliya. We journey through increasingly mountainous scenery including some spectacular views of Sri Lanka’s premier tea growing areas. Lush tropical jungle gives way to tall pine forests and then box-like tea bushes, few at first and then seemingly covering every fold of the landscape like a huge green carpet right to the landscape horizon. Arriving early afternoon to Nuwara Eliya, the main hill station, is nearly 7,000 feet above sea level and called ‘little England’ due to its spring-like climate, parks and gold course. You stay one-night at the four-star Golden Ridge Hotel or The Grand Hotel. Included experience: Visit a tea estate. Signature experience: Escape to the grandeur of another era and spoil yourself with high tea at the acclaimed Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya. Each afternoon the elegant Tea Lounge and fountain lawn is bedecked with an array of traditional bite-size savouries, sandwiches, and cakes. Choose from a selection of fragrant local teas, then sit back and savour the teatime delights in the charming ambience of this historic institution.
  • Tea & elephant transit home As the early morning mist arises, we visit one of the best-known tea estates to how our nation’s favourite drink is rolled, fried and graded, followed by a refreshing cup of Ceylon’s finest. We say goodbye to Sri Lanka’s hill country and journey south arriving to the Elephant Transit Home, supported by the UK’s Born Free Foundation, located at Udawalawe National Park, where you’ll be able to watch young elephant orphans being given one of their daily feeds. You stay two nights at the three-star superior Chaayra Resort and Spa Hotel, located near the towns of Tissamaharama and Kataragama. Included experience: Visit the Elephant Transit home.
  • Yala National Park An early start this morning, accompanied by the unique sound of a tropical ‘dawn chorus’. As the morning mist disappears with the rising sun you explore the jungle and its incredible range of wildlife in 4x4 vehicles. The normally elusive leopard offers the Park’s most exciting game viewing and Yala has a high concentration of these big cats. They are the island’s top predator so are far less shy than elsewhere in the world. Yala is also known for its elephants, saltwater crocodiles, wild boar, sloth bears, monitor lizards and a huge variety of birdlife. After a late breakfast you can relax by the hotel’s pool before an optional second, early evening park drive (book and pay local). Included experience: Guided tour of Yala National Park.
  • Kalutara After breakfast you return to the west coast via a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle, with its imposing 16th century Dutch Fort. In late afternoon you arrive to the five-star Anantara Kalutara Resort, a contemporary style hotel featuring local traditions. Uniquely located on the southwest Sri Lankan coast where the Kalu Ganga River estuary lagoon meets the Indian Ocean set on a narrow peninsular with 360-degree ocean and lagoon views. Included experience: Visit Galle.
  • Return home It's time to say goodbye and start your journey home.
  • Free days You have the day free - perhaps relax in your hotel, rejuvenate at the spa or simply enjoy the pool.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Explore four UNESCO world heritage sites of the Golden Temple Dambulla, sacred city of Kandy, Sigiriya and the old town Galle Fort
  • Experience superb scenery, shimmering paddy fields, rubber and spice plantations, verdant tea estates, swaying coconut groves, and exotic wildlife
  • Guided tour of the 5th-century Royal Palace and Citadel at Sigiriya Rock plus a guided climb of the rock
  • Visit Kandy and see the Temple of the Tooth, said to house Buddha’s tooth, plus visit the stunning Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Guided tour of the local tea-growing areas in Nuwara Eliya with a Ceylon tea tasting
  • Visit feeding time at the Elephant Transit Home, where elephant orphans are looked after, before being re-introduced to the wild as endorsed by the Born Free Foundation
  • Enjoy a 4x4 drive in Yala National Park, famed for its wildlife
  • Relax with two days on one of Sri Lanka’s idyllic tropical beaches
  • Hand-picked four-star accommodation including all local taxes
  • Daily breakfast and eight dinners
  • The Signature Tour option includes all of the above as well as:
  • Wander through tropical landscape and rustic farming villages with a local. Get a taste of rural life and experience Sri Lanka’s traditional mode of transport on a memorable bullock cart ride with surrounding views of the paddy fields
  • Nature’s wonders will be revealed on a fascinating boat ride along the magnificent Mahaweli River in the company of a knowledgeable naturalist
  • Indulge yourself with a sumptuous high tea at the acclaimed Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya. A choice of fragrant local teas or a glass of sparkling wine is also included
  • Enjoy the more exclusive atmosphere of travelling in a small group with an average of 22 guests

Our Price Includes

  • The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a room. Single rooms available at the relevant supplement. Price includes:
  • Scheduled flights to Colombo
  • Eleven nights’ accommodation at four-star hotels and one five star hotel
  • All transfers
  • Daily breakfast and eight dinners
  • All local accommodation taxes and all flight taxes
  • All touring as mentioned
  • Hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person
  • The services of a Riviera Travel tour manager
  • Visa not included
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Dates and Prices

October 2024
  • Available
  • Limited Availability
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Departure Airport:
London Heathrow (LHR)

Number of Passengers:

Price from:£2,099
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The three-star superior Chaarya Resort & Spa  is located nearby to Tissamaharama, set in lush green surroundings. All the rooms feature a balcony or terrace and are comfortably furnished with air-conditioning, TV, safe, tea/coffee making facilities, bath tub, rain shower, hairdryer andcomplimentary Wi-Fi. The restaurant offers a selection of local and international dishes using locally sourced produce. The partial open-air outdoor Cozy Bar is the ideal place to relax after your Yala National Park experience. There is a small fitness room, as well as an outdoor pool. The spa offers a variety of traditional wellness treatments. Please note that your room location could be on either the ground or first floor. Rooms located on the first floor are accessible by steps only.

4* Golden Ridge Hotel - Nuwara Eliya -


The four-star Golden Ridge Hotel is located in the cooler mountains with scenic landscape views and tea plantations. All the rooms have a balcony and are tastefully furnished featuring a TV, safe, tea/coffee making facilities, mini bar, rainfall shower, hairdryer and complimentary Wi-Fi.  The main restaurant offers a selection of local and international dishes, plus for lovers of tea there is a tea lounge. The Jockey's Pub bar has the charm of little England offering over 100 labels of choice liquors and cognacs! With ever evolving misty mountain views the Infinity Pool Bar is located adjacent to the indoor pool.

4* Habarana Village by Cinnamon – Habarana -


The four-star Habarana Village by Cinnamon is located on the shores of Habarana Lake and set in 27 acres of grounds. Facilities include an open-air restaurant, lounge bar, outdoor pool and the Azmaara spa. Take a stroll in the gardens or on the jogging path and you may spot geckos, monitor lizards, monkeys and plenty of birdlife. The 108 rooms are set in detached and semi-detached cottages and are all air-conditioned, with shower, hairdryer, safe, minibar, cable TV, tea/coffee-making facilities and complimentary wifi.

4* Cinnamon Citadel - Kandy -


The recently-renovated four-star Cinnamon Citadel Hotel is located in a quiet position on a bend of the Mahaweli River, with magnificent views over the surrounding forested hills and a 15 minute drive from the centre of Kandy. The hotel’s sun terrace and large pool overlook the river, as does its main restaurant and popular lounge bar. There is also an air-conditioned fine dining restaurant. All 121 air-conditioned and comfortable rooms have a shower, hairdryer, minibar, safe, TV, tea/coffee-maker and a balcony overlooking the river.

4* Arie Lagoon Hotel - Negombo -


Beautifully located between Negombo lagoon on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, in the fishing village of Thalahena.  The four-star Arie Lagoon is within a short transfer from the airport, making it ideal for relaxing after your flight from the UK. The hotel has two pools of which one has a swim-up pool bar with a panoramic lagoon view.  There is a restaurant as well as a separate bar and wine lounge. There is a cosy small Spa and gym.  All the 55 spacious air-conditioned rooms feature with terrace or balcony in low-rise buildings amongst the garden grounds. Each spacious room has natural wood furniture and offers a shower, hairdryer, safe, minibar (extra charge), iron/board (upon request), cable TV, tea/coffee maker and free wifi.

5* Anantara Kalutara Resort -


The Anantara is a five-star resort uniquely located on the south-west Sri Lankan coast where the Kalu Ganga River estuary lagoon meets the Indian Ocean set on a narrow peninsula with 360-degree ocean and lagoon views. With the architectural vision of Geoffrey Bawa, Anantara is a contemporary style featuring local traditions, the perfect relaxing retreat. There’s a small library, two outdoor pools with bubble jets, including one adults-only pool, fitness room, yoga and meditation pavilion, and the renowned Anantara Spa. Activities include a variety of watersports, Spice Spoons cooking class, daily sundown ceremony with the sound of the ancient ‘kombuwa’ (brass horn), Saturday fruit market, fishing guru experience, local artisans demonstrating traditional wood carving, painting and reed weaving skills. Some hotel activities incur charges, all booked and locally direct to hotel. The resort offers numerous excellent dining options, breakfast is taken at the Olu restaurant, also open for lunch and dinner with international and Asian buffets.  Open in the evening, the Spice Traders restaurant (closed Monday’s) has riveting Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisines, whilst the Japanese Teppanyaki floating restaurant located in the lagoon is a fun social experience as the chef cooks the food in front of you. The al fresco Acquolina Italian restaurant is an alternative for lunch or dinner.  To dine in a unique location within the hotel grounds, ‘Dining by Design’ offers private dining.  If you choose to dine in the comfort of your room in-room dining is available 24 hours. The pool bar offers light dining and tapas with the Upper Deck bar having a lagoon backdrop serves afternoon tea. Featuring 141 stylish rooms with traditional touches, we stay in Premier Garden View air-conditioned rooms including a separate bath-tub and rain shower, hairdryer, safe, minibar with wine humidor (extra charge), cable TV, tea/coffee-maker, iron & board, free wifi, a private balcony or terrace facing/overlooking the extensive beautifully landscaped gardens. Upgrades are available - please see Personalise Your Holiday for pricing or call our team to find out more.

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Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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