We are booked on to this trip from 11th - 23rd April 2011. It would be nice to...
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Transport - Bus, train, 4WD, boat, on foot, elephant, dugout canoe.
Accommodation - Hotels (10nts), resthouse (1nt, basic), jungle camp (1nt), research station lodge (2nts).
Meals - 14 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 2 dinners.
Make your way to the joining hotel in Seeduwa just 5 mins from Colombo airport. The afternoon/evening will be at leisure to explore the local area, try out the pool, relax and become accustomed to the heat and time zone. Please meet your tour leader in the hotel reception at 18.00 for a tour briefing.
Ramada Seeduwa Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool
You head inland to Dambulla today. Your journey will take approximately 4 hours as you travel into the 'dry zone' in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. The rest of the day is left free for you to relax or explore at will. Why not take an optional cycle around a local lake, or perhaps relax by the pool.
Pelwehera Village Resort (AA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (B)
Driving the short distance from Dambulla this morning, you’ll have the opportunity to climb to the summit of Sigiriya’s famous Lion Rock using a series of steps and walkways which zig-zag their way up the seemingly impenetrable rock cliffs. The site was occupied long before the citadel was built at the end of the 5th century, and it later became a monastery before falling into disrepair. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive water gardens, you’ll ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are the extensive remains of King Kasyapa’s summer palace from where there are breathtaking views.
This afternoon, you mount elephants for an exciting elephant-back ride! Sitting in a howdah – an open basket fitted with safety rails and padded cushions - you roll gently from side to side as your elephants ramble lazily through the bush. Pass through local villages and forests. Return to Dambula (B)
Very early this morning you make the one and a half hours drive (complete with packed breakfast) to Parakrama Lake. You will drive via Minneriya National Park arriving at dawn, a very mystical way to start the day as the plains are covered in mist! Parakrama Lake is known as one of Sri Lanka’s greatest man-made lakes and you can watch the changing hues as the light comes up. These man-made lakes are known as 'wevas' to the Sri Lankan people and were created to provide irrigation. It’s a fun, friendly experience as you wait alongside the wives and young children of fisherman, who’ve gone out to retrieve their fishing nets laid out the night before - a great way to get to know the locals!
After the fishermen have sorted their catch, it’s time to head out on a catamaran across the lake; a real adventure! You may even be able to spot White Bellied Fish Eagles, Brahmini Kites, Ibis, Cormorants and other native birds as you travel. In the middle of the lake is a small island, a rocky outcrop that provides great 360° views of the lake and forests beyond.
NB – On holidays operating between June and September, you will not be able to ride on the catamaran because of lower water levels. The birdlife in the area is also less attractive as many of the species have migrated.
Bidding the fishermen and their families’ farewell, you continue to the Primate Research Camp of Dr. Wolfgang Dittus which is located in a densely forested area beside the lake. In fact it is only a 05 minute walk from where you come ashore after the catamaran ride.
Dr.Wolfgang Dittus, is a research scientist who carries out detailed studies on the primate population in the area. The main focus of the study is the populations of Toque Macaques and Purple Faced and Gray Langurs. The monkeys are observed mainly inside the Polonnaruwa archaeological site and within the surrounding forests. We will stay at the camp for 02 nights and learn about the work carried out at the camp.
A team briefing and introduction to the programme will be soon after lunch. Late in the evening you will set out to the forest for your first primate experience! The following day, you will taken an early breakfast and proceed to track and observe monkeys within the archeological site. By 1030 hrs, with the heightening of the midday heat the monkeys will retreat to their resting places and so will cease to be active. Therefore you will continue to explore the ancient ruins and learn about the rich history of Polonnaruwa while exploring the remains of the palace complex and temples. you'll then return to the Primate Research center for lunch before heading out once again in the evening to track and observe monkeys.
We try to following various family groups of monkeys. Interestingly, two very different species live and thrive in harmony in and around the ancient ruined city of Polonnaruwa. The Gray or Hanuman Langurs (named after Hanuman the monkey god of Asia) and Purple-Faced Langurs live in harmony with the smaller but more feisty Toque Macaques. The langurs are considered holy by some and exhibit a rather regal bearing. The Purple-Faced Langur is endangered, and Dr. Dittus and his colleagues actively promote wildlife awareness and conservation in the local community in an effort to save this species.
Toque macaques are medium-sized, brightly coloured, and socially active monkeys. Dr. Wolfgang Dittus and his colleagues have been studying these monkeys in the Nature Sanctuary and Archaeological Reserve for the past 37 years, making it one of the world's longest-running primate behaviour studies. The research team knows the identities, birthdays, kinship's, and a whole detective's dossier of other details for every Torque Macaque born in Polonnaruwa since 1968.
The research on the langurs is newer, but no less fascinating. Dr. Dittus's research is clarifying the relationships among the monkeys' ecology, behaviour, environment, heredity, social standing, and disease, in influencing individual survival and reproduction. In addition, Dittus is also examining the monkeys' responses to increasing tourism and human encroachment on their habitat. He has an active environmental conservation and education program in the area.
Whilst here you’ll also tour Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa was the capital from the 10th – 12th centuries, following the decline of Anuradhapura. Here you can explore many monuments which pay great testimony to the city’s important role in Sri Lanka’s history, such as the Royal Palace complex and the Gal Vihare complex, with four impressive Buddha images cut from a single slab of granite.
We return to camp each day and settle in for the night in the basic but comfortable accommodation.
Primate Camp Polonnaruwa (Lodge) (A) - 2 nights (Bx2, Lx2, Dx2)
Leave after an early breakfast once again, to see the monkeys, one last time. You will now see these amazing animals through completely different eyes with the knowledge and insight you’ve gained over the past two days. You may even be able to recognize a few individuals through the distinctive behaviour and appearance!
After bidding farewell to the primate camp you stop off in Dambulla temple caves en route to Kandy. The Sinhalese King, Valagam Bahu, took refuge here when he was ousted from his capital. He transformed the five caves of this granite outcrop into a rock temple, decorated by statues of Buddha and frescoes, some of which are over 2000 years old. The steep 150m ascent to the top of the rock rewards you with more magnificent views.
You then travel southward along the main trunk road to Sri Lanka’s second city, Kandy, a journey of around an hour and a half. You'll pass through a fertile spice-growing area and plantations where coffee, cacao and rubber are cultivated.
This evening you’ll visit the Dalada Maligawa, the famous Temple of the Tooth. This is the major shrine where pilgrims have revered Buddha’s tooth since the 16th century; its gilded roof seems to act as a beacon to visitors throughout the day and into the evening.
Senai Hotel (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (B)
The royal city of Kandy is pleasantly set on the edge of a lake surrounded by hills. It was once the capital of a kingdom, and managed to resist European dominance for hundreds of years - long after the coastal areas surrendered. During your time in Kandy you will visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, with their immense fig tree and exquisite orchid collection. The name is believed to be derived from the Sinhalese ‘pera’ meaning guava and ‘deniya’, meaning plain. You will also take in the sights of Kandy including a visit to the bazaar area and a visit to the citadel in time for sunset over the lake. (B)
Today you transfer to Tamarind Gardens (approx 20km) from Kandy, this is a unique homestay "live as a local" set up located on the banks of Victoria reservoir. There are just four chalets here built in a similar design to a local home. Each chalet contains four single beds, bathroom and ameneties such as eletric fans and mosquito nets. This is a working farm with cattle, goats, poultry, and a vegetable and fruit garden. All the services provided to the homestay are provided by local people including any food brought in and laundry service. This is an amazing chance for your family to experience rural life like a local Sri Lankan family would live it. You can join in as many activities as you wish. Meals are cooked in traditional fashion in an open kitchen and you can choose if you would like to get stuck in with the cooking and preparation, or just observe. You have a day and a half here here in which to help with the work going on in the village and on the farm. It's a very enriching experience for all and the kids will no doubt make lots of new friends here too. The project is well run by a couple who are experienced in running community projects, they have other projects in the area such as providing chicken or goat farming start up options to establish security for local families. The project is designed with sustainability in mind to improve the lives of those who live here on a long term basis. You are invited to contribute your time and skills during your stay and can also make financial donation if you feel that is suitable at your own discretion.
Tamarind Gardens - Village chalet home (A) – 1 night (BLD)
This morning you join in with the activities on the farm.
Later you will set off through the hills once again, this time bound for Bandarawela. Along the way you’ll see tea pickers deftly plucking the tips of the plants and throwing them into the baskets carried on their backs. Tea has been picked this way for hundreds of years. It’s approximately a three hour drive to reach a tea estate just outside the old British hill station of Nuwara Eliya. At the estate you’ll visit the tea factory and see every step of the tea making process - from bush to cup! You continue your journey to reach Bandarawela, another hill town once popular with British plantation managers. Today the twisting roads of the hill country make for one of the trip’s longest road journeys (5 – 5½ hours drive). There’s plenty of interest along the way however, including a short stop at some waterfalls (time permitting), and the added benefit of a shorter journey tomorrow.
Orient Hotel (AAA) - 1 night (B)
After a short walk around Bandarawella and the vegetable gardens that surround it, you set off on your way down out of the mountains towards your campsite, nestled in a clearing cut into the side of a tea mountain which overlooks a beautiful valley. This fantastic hillside location is a climatically transitional area, linking both the dry and wet zones and the hill and low country at an altitude of less than 1500m. At this altitude you can see the mist gathering across the hills. As a result, the vegetation consists of moist semi-evergreen forests, tropical savanna forests, dry patana grasslands and montane temperate forests, making it one of the richest biodiversity spots in Sri Lanka- a perfect location for nature lovers.
The camp site provided an ideal opportunity to experience nomadic style camping where your camp will be set up almost exclusively for Adventure Company groups, with all services being provided by our camp crew. The tents are very spacious, clean and modern and guests will drift to sleep listening to nature’s very own orchestra!
You’ll have the afternoon free for leisure activities before taking an early evening visit to the tea factory where you’ll see every step of the tea making process, from bush to cup!
Bandarawela Campsite (CS) - 1 night (paddling opportunity in nearby stream) (BLD)
This morning, you venture into Uda Walawe National Park, setting off on a jeep safari. The 308km park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife; herds of wild elephant are more numerous here than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. If you are really lucky you will catch glimpses of macaque and larger monkeys, leopard, spotted deer and crocodile. This is a real safari experience; kids will love the thrill of coming across a herd of wild elephants; it’s nothing like a zoo or safari park.
Then you will visit the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation and set up in 1995, it provides shelter for 30 orphaned or abandoned baby elephants, releasing them to the wild when they are strong enough to survive in their natural habitat. You will visit the Elephant Transit Home at noon feeding time and see the elephants from a viewing deck approximately 10m away; a great chance to learn more about Sri Lanka’s national animal.
This afternoon you continue your journey south to reach the coast at Nonagama. Here you’ll take a short drive along the coast road west (70km) and soon arrive at the town of Tangalle where you check in to your beach resort for the next three nights.
Ranna 212 Hotel (AAA) - 3 nights - Swimming Pool (B)
Sri Lanka is justifiably famous for its exquisite beaches, washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. At Tangalle you have plenty of time to unwind on the white sandy beach listening to the lapping of the waves after the previous day’s travelling. The small town of Tangalle is a great place to unwind at the end of your busy trip. Your time is your own here and you can either relax on the palm-fringed beach, or explore further afield. (Bx2)
Please note that the seas along the south and west coast of Sri Lanka can be rough, with undertows. Whilst on the beach children should always be supervised by an adult.
After your time on the beach it's time to head north back to Seeduwa. As you head out along the coast you reach the town of Galle. Here you can walk the walls of the famous Dutch fort or explore the maze of backstreets and market stalls. En route you can pay a visit to the turtle hatchery at Kosgoda. Turtles are kept here for the first few days of their lives before being released into the sea and the project does much to help safeguard the welfare of these endangered animals. Heading north, your last night will be spent at a hotel not far from the airport. Before you return home your Group Leader will probably arrange a final ‘last supper’ where you can reflect on the kaleidoscope of wonderful things you have seen.
Ramada Seeduwa Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (B)
The trip ends today. (B)
Price include flights, transfers, all accomodation and entry fees, and a selection of meals.
Price includes everything listed above, excluding flights and transfers.
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