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A World Heritage Sites Tour of Sri Lanka
Travel Turkey
An Indian Ocean island going back to human history – almost to the time when it all began. Rich both in culture and archaeology, in scenic splendour and the very friendly people, Sri Lanka has offered to the world a lot. UNESCO has recognized 7 World Heritage Sites in this tiny island and in our 12days journey we cover 6 of them. Travel through an island that is an eclectic mix of its colonial history, religious traditions and South Asian influence. Sri Lanka’s unique culture, which is authentic to this island, brings together its pluralistic identity. From the coasts of Colombo to the World Heritage Sites in the Cultural Triangle, this tour takes you on a journey through time, covering ancient civilizations, Buddhist era and imperial rule. Sri Lanka is nothing short but an unforgettable adventure!

Tour Summary
03 Colombo / Sigiriya
Anuradhapura & Aukana
Polonnaruwa & Habarana
Dambulla / Matale / Kandy
Kandy / Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya / Galle
Galle / Negombo
Negombo / departure
Travel Turkey

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Visited
This tour has been tailored to include the following World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Sites in Turkey covered on this tour
Ancient City of Anuradhapura (1982) Although according to historical records the city was founded in the 5th century BC, the archaeological data put the date as far back as the 10th century BC. Very little evidence was available about the period before the 5th century BC (i.e. the protohistoric period), though excavations have revealed information about the earlier inhabitants of the city.
Further excavations in Anuradhapura have uncovered information about the existence of a protohistoric habitation of humans in the citadel. The protohistoric Iron Age which spans from 900 to 600 BC, marked the appearance of iron technology, pottery, the horse, domestic cattle and paddy cultivation. In the time period 700 to 600 BC the settlement in Anuradhapura had grown over an area of at least 50 ha. The city was strategically situated of major ports northwest and northeast, it was surrounded by irrigable and fertile land. The city was also buried deep in the jungle providing natural defence from invaders.
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (1982) Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. It comprises, besides the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas, the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century.
Ancient City of Sigiriya (1982) The ruins of the capital built by the parricidal King Kassapa I (477–95) lie on the steep slopes and at the summit of a granite peak standing some 370 m high (the 'Lion's Rock', which dominates the jungle from all sides). A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site.
Sacred City of Kandy (1988) This sacred Buddhist site, popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, was the last capital of the Sinhala kings whose patronage enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815. It is also the site of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site.
Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (1988) Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.
Golden Temple of Dambulla (1991) A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 m2) are of particular importance, as are the 157 statues.
Detailed Itinerary
Day 01 Arrival Colombo
Ayubowan and welcome to Sri Lanka! After completing immigration and custom formalities we drive through the city of Colombo en-route to our hotel.
Overnight: Cinnamon Grand Hotel (2 nights)

Day 02 Colombo
Welcome to Colombo! A busy, colourful and vibrant city, Colombo is an urban metropolitan, surrounded by historic colonial buildings and ancient ruins. Starring out of our window, we begin our day with a drive through the Colombo’s commercial centre, passing the local as they make their way to work Our tour of the city takes us to the ancient grounds of Colombo’s first colonial fort. Today, our feet walk the grounds that saw construction, reconstruction and destruction of this colonial fort. Having lived through Sri Lanka’s multiple imperial settlement, fort lived its last days during the British rule, where it was laid to rest to allow for the expansion of the city. We continue our tour of Colombo with a walk down Sea Street, the Goldsmith’s quarter in Pettah, the bazaar area, a Hindu Temple, the historical Davatagaha Mosque, the Buddhist Temple - Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara which is believed to be the site visited by Lord Buddha 2500 years ago and the Colombo National Museum. We also visit the beautiful Wolvendaal Church. Built in the 18th C in the shape of a Greek Cross, this Dutch Church shows evidence of some of the finest workmanship, with its elegantly carved ebony chairs and stone floors that include elaborate tombstones. (B, D)

Day 03 Colombo / Sigiriya
From the coast of Colombo, we travel inland and make our way to the Cultural Triangle, home to many of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Situated in the centre of the Island, the Cultural Triangle covers an area that includes the heritage sites of the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, the Ancient City of Sigiriya, the Ancient City of Dambulla and the Sacred City of Kandy. As the suns sets, we climb some 200 metres and arrive at Sri Lanka’s most important archeological legacies, Sigiriya. This ancient rock formation became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Historical records date Sigiriya back to the 5th C BC, where it served as a Buddhist monastery. Other legends connect it the 5th C AD where it served as a rock fortress and palace where King Kassapa hosted several royal and military functions. The ruins of the ancient castles are attractions that bring many pilgrims and tourist to this historical site. At the mid level terrace we see our reflection in the mirror wall, which protects a series of exquisite frescoes of celestial maidens using natural pigments.
Overnight: Cultural Triangle, Kadalama (3 nights) (B, D)

Day 04 Anuradhapura & Aukana
After breakfast, we leave for Anuradhapura, the 3rd C BC ancient capital of Sri Lanka. Known for its well preserved ancient ruins of civilizations past, Anuradhapura is a city of stupas and monasteries, steeped in antiquity. Like places in Sri Lanka, the Sacred City of Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1982). Today, we visit the oldest living tree in the world. In fact, it is the branch of this tree that belonged to the original Bodhi fig tree where the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Just a short distance away, stands the Brazen Palace. Once an imposing structure, with a bronze roof, today we see the remains of this 1600 column palace. In Anuradhapura we also visit the twin ponds and the Queens’ Bath.
Next, we drive some 50 km west to Aukana. Home to the magnificent 39 foot rock-cut statue of Lord Buddha, this 5th C AD monument, carved out of solid granite, is considered to be one of the finest ancient stone sculptures in Asia. (B, D)

Day 05 Polonnaruwa & Habarana
We begin our day and drive north-east to Sri Lanka’s second most ancient city, Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1982). With roots that date back more than 3000 years, the ancient city is known to be one of the best planned archeological sites in the country. Facing a cliff face of granite, we find ourselves at the noted Gal Vihare, a historic wonder and depiction of the country’s great craftsmanship. The Gal Vihare is an ancient rock temple that is famously known for its colossal statues of the Lord Buddha. We find ourselves blown away with the monumental structures, one of which is standing on a carving of a lotus in the blessing posture. We continue our site seeing and visit the Tivanka Pilimage, an ancient building with evidence of the era’s finest architecture, housing historical murals in their original form. Polonnaruwa is also home to a man made water body, Parakrama Samudra or Sea of Parakrama. The reservoir, expanded by the King Parakrama in 12th C, is an amalgamation of three individual reservoirs that have today resulted in prosperous irrigation and increased settlement. In the afternoon, we enjoy an elephant back safari in the Habarana jungles. (B, D)

Day 06 Dambulla / Matale / Kandy
We begin our day with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site (1991) cave temples of Dambulla. We stare straight into the sky, as we stand at the base of this 150 metre high rock that consists of a series of 5 caves covered with intricate paintings. Dating back to 1st BC, the natural folds of the rock have been skillfully designed, giving the illusion of a cloth like texture. The cave temples of Dambulla, now transformed into shrines, house several carefully carved out statues of Buddha. We wave goodbye to Dambulla through the windows of our vehicle, we make our way to the historical and Sacred City of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1988). En-route, we stop at Matale and visit the Spice Gardens on our way to Kandy. Arriving into Kandy in the early afternoon, we maximize the rest of the day and begin a city tour. We drive around the beautiful lake, visit the Arts and Crafts Centre, where we can buy Kandyan silver and brass ware, metal work, lacquer work, wood and bone carvings, pottery and hand woven fabrics.
Overnight: Mahewali Reach (2 nights) (B, D)

Day 07 Kandy
From ancient ruins to animals of the wild, our next stop in our Sri Lankan tour is at the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawela. In fear of extinction two decades after the British Raj, the Sri Lankan government found an orphanage for elephants, making it the largest heard of captive elephants in the world. Today, the number has slowly risen to 3000, some 27000 less in the early 1800s. Evening we visit the Lankatilaka Temple. Often described as one of the most remarkable temples in all of the island, Lankatilaka brings together Hindu and Buddhist traditions, depicted in carvings of the structure. Its brick walls with two polygonal piers that flank the entrance, give it a majestic ambience. We continue to the 14th C Embekke Temples, with its carved wooden pillars and intricate designs and the Gadaladeniya temple with its South Asian flavour. Our tour of Kandy would not be complete without a visit to the Temple of Tooth, which houses the upper canine tooth of the Lord Buddha. Evening, we sit back and enjoy a beautiful dance performance amazing fire eating and walking rituals and applaud local talent. (B, D)

Day 08 Kandy / Nuwara Eliya
Traveling back to the 18th C, we begin our day and explore the Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya, just as the Sinhala Queens enjoyed 200 years ago. Conceived originally in the 14th C, the gardens served as a warm and beautiful atmosphere to entertain the royal visitors. Today, the Royal Botanical Gardens contains over 4000 species of plants spread over 150 acres of green space. We wave goodbye to Kandy and make our way to Nuwara Eliya. Founded in the 19th C, the town is a replica of a little English village reminiscent of the Lake District. Tour this unusual city and en-route visit a tea factory where we see the intricacies that go into the manufacture the world’s best loved brew.
Overnight: Grand Hotel (1 night) (B, D)

Day 09: Nuwara Eliya / Galle
Today, we make our way to the shores of Galle, on the coast line of the blue Indian Ocean. Prior to the western rule, Galle served as a prominent sea port and saw Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays and Indians, tradesman, merchants and travelers. Its colonial history and influence from its prominent neighbour, have given this strong fortified city a unique blend of European and South Asian architecture. Galle received the status of a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1988 for its old town and many forts.
Overnight: Light house (2 nights) (B, D)

Day10: Galle
As the sun makes its way to the centre of the sky, we begin our day with a visit to Galle’s natural harbour and historic Dutch Fortress a UNESCO World Heritage site (1988). Still as polished and new, the fortress holds more than 400 years of history housing a museum, towering light house and imposing ramparts. The real charm of Old Galle lies in the quiet back streets and alleyways of the historic fort, which have changed little--if at all -- since colonial times. We make our way to Weligama, where we walk through a small and peaceful park to a 3 metre rock structure, carefully carved out of the hillside. Legend has it that the structure is of 8th or 9th C Leper King. Other tales tell that the carving is of the Lord Buddha in a pose of meditation.Our next stop takes us to the Purvarama Image House. Walking under the coat of arm of Queen Victoria, we step into this 13th C monastery with painted sculptures and murals. Interspersed with images of the Lord Buddha, the monastery has many paintings of Queen Victoria. Tonight, enjoy a quiet evening at the hotel or dare and explore the seaside city of Galle by night! (B, D)

Day 11: Galle / Negombo
Making our way back to the capital city, we stop at a Mask Carving Centre at Ambalangoda and the turtle hatcheries (optional) at Balapitiya.
Arriving into Colombo, we have the afternoon to shop for Sri Lankan treasures at the local handicrafts centre. (Optional) In the evening, we arrive into a nearby fishing village, Negombo. (Fishing Village near the airport).
Overnight: Blue Oceanic (1 night) (B, D)

Day 12: Negombo / departure
We bid farewell and say ayubowan gehilla ennam (goodbye) to Sri Lanka’s warm hospitality and for sharing her wonderful heritage in our journey through time. We are transferred to the airport for our flight home or to our next excursion. (B)
B = Breakfast
L = Lunch
D = Dinner

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Departure Dates


Departures 2017 Tour Price US$ Single Sup US$
Jan 01 to Jan 15, 2017 Please contact us for details
1-800-663-0844 /
Jan 16 to Oct 31, 2017
Nov 01 to Dec 31, 2017
Tour Price Includes Tour Price Does Not Include:

• Hotel accommodation as mentioned or similar
• Meal plan as mentioned (B=Breakfast, D=Dinner)
• All sightseeing and transfers
• Entrance Fees to Museums and Sites
• Local English speaking guides
• Road taxes, parking fees, drivers overnight wages

• International Airfare / Departure Taxes
• Travel Insurances
• Visa Fees
• Drinks / Beverages with meals
• Tips / Gratuities to Drivers & Guides

Estimated International Airfare (not included in tour price)
East Coast US $ 1200
West Coast US $ 1400
Please note: This tour operates with a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 12 participants.

Other Dates / Customized Itinerary / Languages
In addition to our set programs we are also pleased to offer customized tours.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your individual needs.

Customized tours can be conducted in English, French, German, Spanish or Italian. Each departure is conducted in the designated language only.

Contact Information
Bestway Tours & Safaris
Fax: +1-604-264-7774
206–8678 Greenall Ave Phone: +1-604-264-7378
Burnaby B.C., Canada Toll Free (US & Canada): 1-800-663-0844
V5J 3M6 Email:
33 years in small group journeys

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photographs © Peter Langer
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