July 29 – August 9, 2020
About This Tour
Situated in the Indian Ocean just to the southeast of India, Sri Lanka has deep harbors and a key geographic location that made it a desirable territory of maritime colonial invaders. Once the Dutch, Portuguese and English discovered that the island country was a treasure trove of tea, cinnamon, cardamom and many other spices, it changed hands many times over the centuries, leading to the diverse cultural melting pot that it remains to this day. Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon to the British, is also a treasure trove of ancient natural wonders, architectural monuments, diverse wildlife and exotic plant life. Many think of Sri Lanka as a paradise on earth, easily earning its affectionate nickname as “the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.”
- Capital City of Colombo
- Angamporo martial arts performance
- Dambulla Cave Rock Temple *
- Minneriya National Park
- Sigiriya Rock Fortress *
- Polonnaruwa Ancient Capital *
- Sacred Center of Kandy *
- Grand Esala Perehera Festival
- Victorian town of Nuwara Eliya
- Yala National Park
- Colonial City of Galle *
- Galle Dutch Fort *
- Cinnamon Plantation * UNESCO World Heritage Sites
MAIN TOUR ITINERARY
Arrive in Sri Lanka / Welcome Dinner
Plan your flights to arrive in Colombo at the Bandaranaike International Airport this morning or afternoon. Use the airport code CMB when searching for your flights. You will be met upon arrival and transferred to our hotel in the city. This evening, we explore the Capital City of Colombo on a panoramic sightseeing tour. Sri Lanka’s commercial capital and largest city, Colombo dates back over 600 years, as a trading hub for sea merchants and colonial rulers. The wide array of Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques and churches reflect the various beliefs practiced all over the island and the beautiful facades of the old, colonial buildings contrast with the modern shopping arcades. Our tour takes you past the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, the Pettah bazar area, the Wolfendhal Dutch Church, the Old Parliament complex, The Bandaranaike International Memorial Hall, Nelum Pokuna Theatre, Viharamahadevi Park, Independence Square and the National Museum. Returning to our hotel, we enjoy a cocktail, canapes and introductions all around. We will have our five-course Welcome Dinner at the hotel this evening. Overnight in Colombo. (Dinner included)
After an early breakfast, we proceed on a city walk with Colombo native Mark Forbes or one of his associates, on a tour that takes in both the big tourist spots as well as some unexpected out-of-the way spots. Your experience will put you at the heart of the chaotic hustle at Pettah Bazaar. Away from your usual tourist spots, you can find the colonial Dutch mansions and be a part of the history that is now Colombo City. The walk continues into the commercial hub of Colombo where you find another colonial treasure, the Old Dutch Hospital. Formerly a hospital during the 17th century, the complex is now host to high-end restaurants, bars and shops. Your walk ends here where you can take a breather and admire the artifacts and have a drink.
After lunch, we proceed to a traditional martial art performance named “Angampora.” Passed on through generations over thousands of years, it is a physical discipline which combines self-defense techniques, combat and sacred rituals. This is a unique opportunity to visit a traditional Angampora village in Colombo’s suburbs where this ancient martial art is still very much alive today. On arrival, you are greeted by an Angampora Guru who explains and demonstrates this age-old art. Next you are invited to watch an exhilarating performance of the sacred rituals set to a drumbeat. If you are feeling brave you will have the chance to learn a few moves for yourself! After the performance head back to your hotel and enjoy dinner. (All Meals)
Dambulla Cave Temple / Minneriya National Park
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and drive to the
the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dambulla Cave Temple. Dating back to the first Century BC, it is a vast cave complex, converted into a rock temple regarded as one of the most important Buddhist monasteries. Covering the rock ceiling is the largest collection of paintings in Sri Lanka within a cave temple, and surrounding you is the highest number of Buddha statues found in one single place. We continue driving to Habarana, arriving in early afternoon in time to have lunch and check in to our rooms.
In the late afternoon, we proceed to Minneriya National Park for an afternoon game drive. Located in the North Central district of Sri Lanka, it is one of the best places on the island to see the Sri Lankan Elephant up close all year round. As well as elephants, the park is also an important habitat for the two endemic monkeys of Sri Lanka - the Purple-faced Langur and Toque Macaque. Aside from the wildlife, the impressive Minneriya tank is a reservoir built by an ancient civilization. This will be the dry season when the reservoir slowly dries out, giving way to fresh grass and shoots and attracting large herds of elephants, deer and water buffalo. We return to our hotel for dinner and a free evening. (All Meals)
Sigiriya / Polonnaruwa
After breakfast, we visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an enormous rock boulder rising 650 feet above the surrounding jungle. Incredibly, the rock fortress was built in the fifth Century and served as a royal citadel for more than 18 years, something that seems more astonishing with every step you climb. During your ascent you will see the mirror wall, sigiri graffiti, famous frescoes and the great lion paws. Upon reaching the summit, wander through the ruins and admire the work it must have taken to build this palace all those years ago. There is even a fully functional swimming pool up here.
We proceed to Plonnaruwa, the Medieval Capital of Sri Lanka that is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here an iconic man-made reservoir was appropriately named “Parakrama Samudra”, or “the sea of Parakrama”, due to its enormous size. Watch for the famous Gal Viharaya or “Rock Temple” where you will see four colossal statues of the Buddha cut into the stone, reflecting peace, serenity and strength. Polonnaruwa also boasts ruins of ancient palaces, intricately carved moon stones and royal baths. If you are feeling a bit more energetic, this whole site can also be explored on bike and your guide will be more than happy to arrange this for you. The evening is free back at our hotel for dinner and relaxation. (All Meals)
After breakfast, we depart for Kandy. Along the way we have a chance to participate in a cooking demonstration using traditional cooking utensils by a local village family chef. After lunch, we arrive in Kandy, the last Kingdom of Sri Lanka for which it received UNESCO World Heritage designation. You will notice a more comfortable temperature here, compared to the tropical climate prevailing throughout the rest of the island. The Sacred Temple of the Tooth is certainly the most revered and iconic place to visit in this cultural capital but other highlights include the historic Kandy Lake, the Royal Botanical Gardens and the scenic Victoria Golf Club.
This evening we take part as an interactive audience in the ceremonial dressing of a traditional Sri Lankan Chieftain locally known as ‘Nilame’ with all his jewelry. This elegant, elaborate royal costume was worn exclusively by the ancient kings and noble chieftains and forbidden to the common man. These days the only people to wear these glamorous outfits are the custodians of the island’s ancient temples, but they make appearances at the Kandy Esala Perehera and as grooms at traditional weddings. We will also see a Traditional “wes” dancer being dressed up with his century-old costume and most beautiful and elegant adornments. We will see them perform tomorrow at the Kandy Esala Perehera. (All Meals)
Kandy Sightseeing / Grand Esala Perehera Festival
This morning after breakfast, visit the famous Royal Botanical gardens in Peradeniya. Spread over 147 acres and bordered by the charming Mahaweli River - the longest in Sri Lanka - it is the largest botanical garden on the island, home to over 4,000 species of plants, ferns, shrubs, palm trees, spices and medicinal plants, all complemented by an array of butterflies and bird species. Take time to admire the incredible collection of over 300 varieties of orchids; certainly one of the garden’s highlights. The giant bamboo and double palm trees, both of which are imports to the island and many are over one hundred years old, create a natural canopy. We return to our hotel for a late lunch.
This evening experience the World Famous Grand Esala Perehera. The festival or the “grand procession” is held in honor of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, enshrined in the Temple of the Tooth, otherwise known locally as the “Dalada Maligawa”. Over the course of ten nights the Perahara parades the streets of Kandy surrounding the temple. The colorful procession is famous for its elephants dressed in vibrant attire, traditional Kandyan dancers and drummers, Kandyan chieftains, whip crackers, torch and flag bearers and also fire dancers, all reflecting rich pageantry. Today is full moon poya day, a public holiday in Sri Lanka when the festival is at its peak, so there will be some restrictions for serving liquor in public areas. (All Meals)
After breakfast, our drive to Nuwara Eliya is a photographer’s paradise, with gushing waterfalls, vast tea terraces, old tea factories and expansive vegetable fields along the way. Along the way visit a Tea Plantation to expand your knowledge on the process of making the Finest Ceylon Tea. Upon arrival at Nuwara Eliya, you will notice the sudden drop in temperature. With log fires and blankets in the Victorian-style bungalows and the beautifully kept lawns and flower gardens, it is no wonder this part of the world has become known as ‘Little England’.
Visit the Haggala Botanical Gardens, Gregory’s Lake or the Seetha Amman Hindu Temple. Wander through the fruit and vegetable markets and strike a bargain at the night ‘bale’ market. Spend the rest of the day enjoying the breathtaking landscapes of Hill country. (All Meals)
After spending a couple of days in the coolest part of Sri Lanka, our journey proceeds to Yala National Park in the jungles of the south of the island. After a relaxing breakfast, we check out of our hotel and board the motorcoach for the day-long drive to Yala. We will make stops along the way to stretch our legs, get lunch and have photo stops. Upon arrival, we check into our rooms at the lodge and have the rest of the day free to relax, use the pool, and enjoy the wilderness surrroundings. Overnight in Yala. (All Meals)
This morning we take an early morning game drive with a packed breakfast. Our game drive takes advantage of the optimal times to spot the most animals. While searching for the elusive leopard, herds of spotted deer, Mugger crocodiles, wild boar, wild buffaloes, langurs, and peacocks also provide brilliant photograph opportunities. Bird-lovers will particularly enjoy the display of over 200 different species, including large flocks of migratory birds. We return to your hotel and refresh by enjoying lunch and relaxing until late afternoon. Later in the day, we take an evening game drive, followed by a return to our lodge for dinner and a free evening. (All Meals)
After breakfast, we drive to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Galle, the colonial capital of Sri Lanka. As we drive along the coast to Galle, we see the iconic Stilt Fisherman in action. It is an age-old fishing method practiced on the southern coast of the island and a tradition unique to Sri Lanka. Watch in awe at how carefully the fishermen must balance on a thin stilt, waiting in complete silence since the slightest disturbance will scare the fish away. If you’re feeling brave enough, try mounting the stilt yourself to try to make a catch!
We arrive at our hotel in time for a late lunch. In early evening we take a city walk along the streets of Galle, which mixes the exotic with the colonial. The impressive Fortress, originally built by the Portuguese and further fortified by the Dutch, remains standing today with only a few changes. Explore the Galle Fort on foot at your own pace, perhaps paying a visit to the Maritime Museum, the Old Dutch Reformed Church, the Sun and the Moon bastions, the lighthouse and the souvenir shops along the way. Early evening is the perfect time to climb the ramparts and sip a refreshing cup of Ceylon tea, or perhaps something stronger, as you gaze upon the setting sun. (All Meals)
Outside of Galle is Villa Mayurana, a piece of paradise set among a cinnamon plantation offering magnificent views of Koggala Lake and the coastline beyond. Upon arrival, freshen up with a cinnamon-infused towel before venturing on a guided tour of the estate. Learn about the method of growing and harvesting cinnamon as well as how a cinnamon tree can be transformed into the cinnamon sticks we buy. Continue to the estate’s factory and learn how this aromatic spice is gathered for grading and how it is prepared before being sent to market. Enjoy lunch at Villa Mayurana. We return to our hotel in the afternoon for relaxation time. Tonight enjoy a special farewell reception of beer, wine & canapes before we sit down for a five-course Farewell Dinner at the hotel. (All Meals)
The tour concludes after breakfast this morning. We check out of our hotel and make the 3-hour drive north to the International Airport outside of Colombo. Most flights depart in the early evening. You can arrange your return flight at any convenient time this evening. If you are staying on in Colombo, we will be happy to assist with hotel arrangements. (Breakfast)
Entry Requirements-- For U.S. citizens, a valid passport and a visa for travel to Sri Lanka are required. As of January 2012, new visa regulations have been implemented. Travelers are no longer permitted to receive visas on arrival. Instead, all visitors are required to apply for an online visa before entering Sri Lanka. Online visa applications can be made via: http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/. This new process allows US travelers to obtain a tourist visa which is valid for a period of three months. All visitors are required to be in possession of a passport which is valid for no less than six months after the holder’s date of arrival.
Immunizations & Health— No immunizations are required, but the U.S. Center for Disease Control strongly recommends the following inoculations: tetanus, hepatitis A & B, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis. Dengue fever is prolific in the region but there is no vaccination against it so travelers need to take precautions against mosquito bites and visit their nearest hospital if they suspect infection. Please check out the website at: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/sri-lanka for complete details. You should only drink boiled or bottled water in Sri Lanka. Avoid cut salads, raw vegetables and fruits without skin everywhere except in hotel restaurants. Be wary of food bought from street stalls or kiosks.Exit Requirements - No airport tax is currently charged upon departure from Sri Lanka, nor is one anticipated. However, any such taxes or fees instituted after publication of this itinerary will be the responsibility of the clients to pay directly to the appropriate airport authorities.
Making Travel Arrangements to Sri LankaOn this tour, international airfare is NOT included. You will need to get your international air to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka (airport code CMB). We encourage you to work with Steven Goldberg at Frosch Travel in Chicago, who can help you select the best flights to get you to Sri Lanka. Please arrive in Colombo by mid-afternoon on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. Early morning departure is from Colombo on Sunday, August 9, 2020.
Steven Goldberg / Frosch TravelToll-Free in USA: 1-800-323-1276
International guests, please call +1-312-371-9686
When calling, please identify yourself as a Toto Tours participant. If you leave a message on Steven’s voice mail, he will return your call promptly. He will be happy to discuss your travel plans and help you decide when to purchase your ticket for the best rate.
NOTE: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible, we often must turn away last minute registrants because we relinquish hotel space and air reservations 8 – 12 weeks prior to departure! Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.
WHAT TO BRINGLocated 500 miles north of the Equator, Sri Lanka has a tropical climate and is always warm. In late July and early August, temperatures will range from: 77 to 85 in Colombo, a bit warmer along coastal regions, and a bit cooler in Kandy and the higher mountainous interior. Laundry can easily be done at any of the places where we stay for two or more nights. You will be happier if you pack half of the clothes you think you need, do laundry along the way, and save room in your suitcases for fantastic purchases!
Suggested Packing List:
- Proof of citizenship. Passport and visa required.
- Polo shirts / T-shirts (5 - 6).
- Lightweight, long sleeve shirts (2 - 3) for sun protection.
- Comfy walking shoes for day tours and walks.
- Shorts for warm touring days.
- Socks, underwear for 11 days.
- Sweater for cool evenings in Kandy.
- Personal toiletries, and insect repellant.
- Anti-diarrheal medication.
- Camera, lots of digital memory, extra batteries.
- Ziploc Bags (sandwich size for documents, gallon size for wet items or toiletries).
- Electrical Adapter. Sri Lanka uses electricity at 230V.50Hz and has circular electric outlets in a triangle configuration. Click here to see images of the types of adapters needed for Sri Lanka. Most hotels will have extra adapters for you to use if you don’t have the right one.
- A good book for your long flights.
MONEY MATTERSThe Sri Lankan currency is the rupee (LKR), divided into 100 cents; pricing in cents is rare. Rupee coins come in denominations of one, two, five and 10 rupees. Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 rupees. Most major credit cards are accepted around the country, including MasterCard, Visa, and American Express. ATMs can be found in most of the large cities, but some machines are not compatible with international cards. Currency exchange can be transacted at all official exchange offices, large banks, and major hotels. Click here to find the current exchange rate.
Tipping Guidelines— Although a 10% service charge is added to food and accommodation bills, this usually goes straight to the owner rather than the worker. In restaurants and bars, tip up to 10% in cash to servers beyond the “service charge.” Room cleaners get up to Rs 100 per day. Bag carriers/porters should receive 50 rupees per bag. Shoe minders at temples get Rs 20. We will make collective tips to our drivers and guides, and a suggested tip amount will be provided prior to departure.
THE TOTO SPIRITToto Tours provides Adventure Travel Experiences as differentiated from tours in the traditional sense. Adventure Travel allows (even encourages) you to be an active participant. Adventurers can be identified by certain traits. They are:
- fun-loving optimists who have a sense of humor and accentuate the positive;
- good natured realists who are willing to accept situations as they exist;
- undaunted by the unexpected, like occasional delays or bad weather;
- willing to forego some of the amenities we normally take for granted;
- eager to try new things & test limits;
- not whiners!
Travel InsuranceWe recommend you purchase travel insurance with Travel Guard to cover for unforeseen events prior to and during your trip. Please follow the link below or call us for more information.
(tour prices per person)Price: $5,000 in double occupancy hotel accommodations.
Private Room: $1,500 additional, for a total tour price of $6,500.
(Paying a single supplement is not required. Toto Tours will try to match you with a roommate if you are traveling alone and prefer to share a room. If this is not possible, a single supplement will be applied to your reservation before the final payment date.)
(Due at time of registration for the tour. May be paid with a credit card.)
Remaining Balance (main tour): $4,400 double / $5,900 single
Remaining Balance Due: May 10, 2020 (80 days prior to departure)
(Full payment required with reservation form if enrolling after this date.)
Note: The tour price does not include bank service charges for processing credit card payments, and assumes that the balance of the tour price will be paid by check. If you would like to pay the final balance with a credit card, a 4% service charge will be applied. Let us know if you wish to pay by credit card, and we will adjust your invoice accordingly.
Included: 11 nights hotel accommodations; hotel transfers; hotel breakfasts daily plus Welcome & Farewell Dinners; other meals as listed in the itinerary; ground transportation in climate controlled motorcoach; sightseeing activities and entrances as listed in the itinerary. This is a fully guided and escorted tour.
Not Included: International airfare to Colombo, Sri Lanka (CMB); ground transportation for sightseeing on your own (taxis, local guides, etc.); meals and optional activities not specifically listed in the itinerary; camera fees; alcoholic beverages; insurance; laundry, telephone calls, faxes, or any other expenses of a personal nature. Tips to drivers and guides and other conveyance attendants are not included; tipping guidelines for our group tips will be provided prior to departure.
Click hotel name to read description
- Colombo (2 nights start) - Taj Samudra Hotel (Luxury Sea View Room)
- Habarana (2 nights) – Cinnamon Lodge (Deluxe Room)
- Kandy (2 nights) – Cinnamon Citadel (Deluxe Room)
- Nuwara Eliya (1 night) – Grand Hotel (Deluxe Room)
- Yala (2 nights) – Cinnamon Wild Lodge (Jungle Chalet)
- Galle (2 nights) – Le Grand (Deluxe Room)