26th/27th December: Depart Malta, Explore Negombo (D=dinner)
The day has finally arrived! We will meet at Malta International Airport to catch our afternoon flight to Colombo with a transit of 1hr 40 mins at Dubai Airport. According to the current flight schedule we are expected to arrive in Colombo the next day at 08.25hrs. Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel in Negombo and start our adventure!
Ayubowan, meaning, may you live long, is Sri Lanka’s traditional greeting and we welcome you with the same whole-hearted gesture to the beautiful island of paradise! Upon arrival we will go through customs and we will immediately start exploring the island.
Negombo is known for its long sandy beaches and with its lively fish market, colonial charm and hundreds of colourful wooden boats, it offers the perfect introduction to the coastal Sri Lankan life.
We will start by discovering the town’s long sandy beaches fringed by palm trees. The sight of fishermen and women practising the traditional netting and fish drying methods, cannot be missed. We will head to the fish market to gain insight into these old techniques, and to delve deeply into the local culture. Here, expect to experience a riot of colours, smells and smiles, a true overdoes of emotions!
When in Negombo, one cannot miss the old Dutch fort, it’s exquisite churches and buildings, and of course the oldest and most sacred Buddhist temple. In the afternoon we will head out to explore the area in a different mode of transportation. We will sail on a boat to witness the community and the nature of the surroundings. See how water influences the livelihoods of the people and how the wonderful nature brings great value with its fascinating ecological features.
Returning to the hotel, we will relish a scrumptious Sri Lankan meal, and for those who feel like some adrenaline rush, jump on a tuk-tuk and drive around! In the evening, we will head to the beach, enjoy a cocktail, watch sunset and kiss the day good night!
We will overnight in Negombo for the next 1 night. Accommodation Goldi Sands Hotel or similar.
28th December: A glimpse of the Sri Lankan life (B, L, D)
Rise and shine! Today we start our journey travelling inland to the land of the ancient Kings in Sri Lanka. Here prepare for a soothing, yet exciting moment close to nature and community as we head on a local village experience.
We will commence on a trek through jungle patches to reach a cave temple, where we will be welcomed by a monk who will be very looking forward to engage in a conversation with us invoking blessings and protection. From here we will head down to shore to board a catamaran for our ride across the lake that will lead us to a local village. This morning is all about meeting the locals, sharing conversations and making connections. We will witness a chin cultivation and depending on the time of harvest, you are most welcome to pluck some fresh vegetables which will be prepared later for our lunch by the villagers themselves.
Lunch will be served, and as we bid farewell to the villagers, another excitement moment begins as we enjoy a tuk-tuk ride around the village. This afternoon we will travel to a fascinating arboretum located in Dambulla. Travelling along the paths under the shady trees, crossing over the streams accompanied by the pleasant sounds of wildlife is an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature and have an experience that cannot be described in words!
Afterwards we transfer to our next hotel to check-in and freshen up, and as evening strikes we will head out to witness an enchanting show, the startling act of the fire breathers, so hold on to your seats! This evening a special dinner awaits. We will gather around the fire place, and celebrate our time in Sri Lanka looking forward for the adventure we are embarking on.
We will overnight in Dambulla for the next 2 nights. Accommodation Sigiriana Resort by Thilanka or similar.
29th December: Of Rock Kingdoms and National Parks (B, D)
Awake to the sounds of nature, enjoy a filling breakfast and prepare yourselves for a breathtaking experience as you climb the majestic Sigiriya rock fortress, a dream destination for anyone visiting this part of the world, and one of the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
This morning we will go off to discover the Lion Rock Kingdom, an architectural masterpiece and one of the greatest creations in history. We will enter the gates of the rock fortress and start by walking through green gardens and later we will walk by caves and boulder arches that continue to add to the its beauty. Eventually we will get to the iconic Lion’s Paw, climb the stairs into the lion’s mouth, and begin our ascent to the citadel. At the top, we will not only enjoy stunning views of the Sri Lankan jungles below, but we will also explore the ruins of a lost kingdom.
Travel back in time as we explore the second ancient capital of the island, the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa. The era of the Polonnaruwa kingdom is known as a golden era in the island, Brimming with archeologically treasures, the city is dotted with temples, shrines, palaces and ruins. This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site we will be exploring.
In the afternoon we will head to our first wildlife jeep safari at Minneriya National Park, and there’s no better way than exploring this by jeeps. Known for its incredible elephant migration, the park is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream! As small herds gather around the water tank, we will watch the playful elephants drink, bathe and jostle. As it’s not j ust a playg round for elephants, we will also catch sight of deer, buffalos, monkeys, wild boars and mongoose.
After a very heart-warming experience, we will head back to our hotel for dinner.
30th December: A spiritual experience (B, D)
This morning you will be reminded that you’re on an experience, an adventure, and so much more 😀 Your alarm will ring at 5am as today you will experience one of the most beautiful sunrises ever! Looking from Pidurangala Rock to the plains below is a magical opportunity, and the best thing about walking to here early in the morning, is that the sacred area is at its coolest and quietest. Plus, the views you get are captivating and waiting for the sun to emerge from behind the distant mountains, will be well worth the effort! A well deserved breakfast will be waiting for you at the hotel.
Today’s final destination is Kandy. However, we will visit some very interesting places on our way there. The first is a spice garden. Spices are one of the most celebrated exports in Sri Lanka and Matale is the best place to see how these are grown. We will stroll in fragrant greenery, and learn how we can use them as natural remedies for traditional Ayurveda, and to enhance the taste of meals.
Soon we will reach Kandy, the gateway to lush green hills, glorious lake, and the greatest train journey in the world! Our afternoon will be spent exploring its bustling streets and the most significant cultural sites. The best-known of these is the Temple of the Tooth relic; Buddhism’s most important religious shrine. As this is a deeply spiritual place, you will witness locals leaving offerings and praying quietly.
From here, we will make our way to the heart of Kandy and walk along the Kandy lake. This idyllic lake is the backdrop of the city’s major attractions, so we will continue to discover what this city has to offer. Reaching the old town, we will join in the hustle and bustle of the local market. A labyrinth of stores, and loud and chaotic streets, there’s always something to see and someone to meet, and it’s a great place to get a feel of the real Kandy..
To feel the true pulse of Buddhism, we will join a local procession where drums are beaten and trumpets are blown. Lamps and chandeliers are lit up. Heads are bowed in reverence. People are seen praying in the galleries, or waiting with flowers in their hands. And after a full day out, we will head back to our hotel to revitalise ourselves preparing for the next day.
We will overnight in Kandy for 2 nights. Accommodation: Thilanka Hotel or similar.
31st December: Reflections – An End of a Year and Begging of Another (B, L, D)
Have you noticed the date? It’s the last day of the year and we will end it like no other!! Prepare yourself for a fantastic time in the rural areas to experience Sri Lanka in its purest tranquillity and its pristine landscape.
We will start with an early breakfast and then we’ll head to to outskirts of Kandy. Falling through jungle patches, farmland, and uninhabited areas, the village route give us the opportunity to soak up the serene surroundings. During our village walk we will enjoy the cool, crystal clear waters of the area with a bathing session in one of the natural streams.
Then we arrive in the village, where we will be warmly welcomed. We will interact with the villagers and learn about the simplicity of their life, how they live day to day, and how the traditions are preserved in this rural village. Then we will be invited to a delicious lunch in the village, and if you wish to take this experience a step further, you are more than welcome to help cook the meal and make another special memory of this trip.
We will spend some quality time here and then we will wave goodbye to the villagers and loop back to our starting point in a local mode of transport.
Midnight is getting closer. We will head to the hotel to get ready for the next part of the day…an end of a year and a beginning of another! Not much will be shared, except that it will be a very special evening!!! 😉
1st January: Nature all around (B, D)
Good morning 2024! A beautiful day is upon you!
After breakfast, we will check-out and travel to Nuwara Eliya. Fresh air, emerald green fields and cascading waterfalls, this city is perched on tea hills and is surrounded by spellbinding greenery.
Nuwara Eliya is also known as the paradise of waterfalls. It is a pretty mesmerising place, and we will continue our day by admiring these natural wonders. We will hike to Ramboda waterfall through bamboo trees and old trees with giant roots. The route is breathtakingly serene and beautiful, and once we reach the waterfall, if waters permit, we will dip in! As we listen to the thunderous waters and feel the cold breeze, it will feel like a fairytale experience.
This town has lots to offer. Nestled amongst lush green tea leaves, it is also Sri Lankan’s tea industry capital. We will explore a tea estate and we will stop by a local tea plantation to taste the different delicious teas.
Arriving in Nuwara Eliya, we will check-in our hotel and head out again for a city tour to explore the bygone days of this colonial town. Known as ‘Little England,’ the town lives up to its nickname offering a picture of a British suburb village.
We will overnight in Nuwara Eliya for the next 2 nights. Accommodation Blackpool Hotel or similar.
2nd January: Of National Parks and World’s End (B, D)
Heaven on earth is exploring a trail! So we will start off our day on a very positive note experiencing just this. We will head to Horton Plains National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, to hike one of the most beautiful treks in this wondrous country. The park is home to diverse landscapes including misty lakes, waterfalls and grasslands, and rich wildlife especially sambar deer grazing silently in the long grass. The trail is rated as pleasant and it will lead us to World’s End. The views once at the top are pretty impressive, and the sight of the tea plantation villages in the valley below, and the coast ahead, is just incredible.
Completing the trek and feeling accomplished we head back to Nuwara Eliya and will allocate some time to rest and rejuvenate.
Later this afternoon we will explore a part of Nuwara Eliya which not so many thread to. We will visit a less populated area, and the scenic path will lead us to a small reservoir hidden in the mountains, a tranquil and picturesque location to spend some time in harmony with nature.
In the evening we invite you to enjoy a delectable high-tea amidst this wonderful climate! There is nothing better than sipping a hot cup of Ceylon tea accompanied with some fresh snacks, as you relax towards an end of a day.
3rd January: A bucket-list experience (B, D)
Wake up to a morning in the hills! Breakfast will be laid out for us to enjoy and afterwards we will head out explore another highlight in Nuwara Eliya!
We will walk to one of the most panoramic vantage points which will give us an extraordinary view of the mesmerising landscapes of the mountains, lakes and plains. On our way we will see the locals working in their vegetable farms. Before long, we reach Shanthipura, Sri Lanka’s highest village. Here we will enjoy some local refreshments to quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger, a welcome treat after the pleasant trek we just completed.
Thereafter, a wonderful experience travelling on the rails in the hill country. The train journey to Ella is said to be one of the most scenic epic train journeys in not only Sri Lanka, but in the world! So to get to Ella, we will take this train ride which takes around 4 hours of magnificent views and exciting experiences all along the way including breathtaking views of mountains, valleys, and the dense jungle. It is the perfect way to experience the Sri Lankan lifestyle as you meet locals, wave to children and families in beautiful hilltop villages, and eat local snacks. The train is famous for its open windows and doors.
Upon arrival, we will visit the famous nine arch bridge and head to Ella town for a late afternoon exploration. Later, we will transfer to our hotel, check-in, settle in and meet again. This time, we will unwind in the hotel’s pool, marvel at the beautiful views and make a toast to a life worth living!
We will overnight in Ella for 1 night. Accommodation Moi Ella by DBI or similar.
4th January: Adam’s Peak and Hidden Waterfalls (Packed B, D)
Another early wake up and one which you will keep on talking about for years to come! I am sure you have heard of Adam’s Peak. But as they say,
“Don’t listen to what others say about a place. Go see it for yourself!”
We will hike up mini Adam’s Peak for sunrise. It is important to highlight that this is an easy trek through serene nature and amazing scenery. The views at the top are jaw-dropping and the the trail on the way up is beautiful. We will start walking from a nearby village and we will continue along a wildlife reserve. Once at the top, you will be captivated by the wondrous site and witness another mercerising start of the day.
The descent is short and once we are back down, off we go to explore more of Ella! Excited for some adventure? Let’s head to the Flying Ravana zip line ride for an exhilarating experience. The two-wire zip-line stretches for more than half a kilometre, slides at 80kmph and offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.
Next up is Yala but en-route we will visit some very beautiful waterfalls. We will start by exploring the awe-inspiring Ravana Falls. As we approach it closer, we will feel the wind and water trembling beneath our feet. Looking out of the window is absolutely amazing and the views are phenomenal. It features a 3-tier cascading waterfall that gushes down a rock face, creating rock pools along its path. Marvelling at the falls is an experience within itself, but for those who dare, jump in and enjoy the unique moment!
Next up is Diyaluma waterfall. As we reach the top, we will walk along the rustling of trees offering a tranquil experience. And then! You will be at the peak of the waterfall. Your eyes open to a sort-of natural water park. Rock pools created by nature with the continuous flow of water offer the best experience you can have in these chilly waters!
We will then continue to Yala in the wilderness of the island. After an active day prepare for a relaxing night at our one of a kind resort.
We will overnight in Yala for 1 night. Accommodation Chaarya Resort & Spa or similar.
5th January: Yala National Park (B, D)
Nestled in south-east Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is a wildlife sanctuary and the principle national park in Sri Lanka. It offers a great diversity of landscape including fresh water lakes, beaches, green plains and jungle. This creates biodiversity and it is this large variety of animals that makes it an exiting experience. But more so, Yala NP is one of the world’s most popular destinations to spot the leopard.
Are you ready to meet the animal kingdom? This morning breakfast will be packed as we will go on board our jeeps for a safari by through grassy plains, and along lagoons. The game drives will ensure that we spot wildlife. Herds of elephants, crocodiles, deer, monkeys, buffaloes, birds, sloth bears are common sightings and we will spend the rest of our morning discovering and exploring this magnificent national park.
Next up is our final destination in the ultimate coastal and beach get away in Sri Lanka! But before we get a tan in January, we will visit other highlights.
Witness the uncommon practice of fishing on a stick! This is no ordinary technique, there might be several methods of catching a fish but this one is mind-boggling. Stilt Fishing is an old tradition practiced by fishing families in south-western-most Sri Lanka.
Then make a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle Fort. Marvel in the massive stone fort which the history roots run deep and then rise up to the rampart and walk along the path gazing at the clear blue Indian ocean with magnificent views, a truly relaxing and reflective experience.
Transferring to Induruwa, a beach resort awaits. We will check-in and meet again for another exciting afternoon!
Covered in palm trees and emerald green beaches, Induruwa’s waters teem with wildlife including sea turtles who visit the beaches, graze on seagrass, and swim very close to shore. To get close to this magnificent creature, we will visit a turtle hatchery, which conserves and protects this endangered species. We may be lucky and watch them lay their eggs, or even watch baby turtles hatch and run for the ocean, which is very very special!
This evening we will enjoy a relaxing sunset from the beach, as the red sun dives in to the deep blue ocean get ready for a very special night. We have planned a special evening to celebrate our time here in Sri Lanka, so prepare to enjoy a truly Sri Lankan night, one to remember 😉 We will gather as one group and celebrate the adventure we all completed, as we recall the unforgettable memories made, and the wonderful experiences gained!
We will overnight in Induruwa for 1 night. Accommodation Pandanus Beach Resort & Spa or similar.
6th January: Beach Paradise (B, D)
Rise up early for an exciting last day!
Board the boat and set sail to an amazing location for a snorkelling experience. The life under the sea is mesmerizing, so put on your goggles, get in to the water and witness first-hand the fascinating marine life. Experienced staff will be with us on this excursion and equipment will be provided for our utilization.
In the afternoon we will go on a river safari, riding down Madu river on a boat. Crocodiles and monkeys will accompany us! On our journey we will sail past massive mangrove forests, and take in the unique biodiversity of the Madu River and its surrounding islands that boasts of hundreds of birds, plants and fish. As the fish are very playful, we will also enjoy fish therapy where fish will nibble our feet and we will be treated well in the natural “fish spa.”
We will then head back to the hotel, and we allocate this time for you to make the final preparations for our return. However, the adventure is not over yet as there is still more to explore!
Colombo is Sri Lankan’s capital city. Home to religious sites, lakes, markets and parks we will visit different places, go on a walking tour and allow some time for some last minute shopping. We then invite you to join us for a farewell dinner together, where we will cherish the beautiful memories shared and raise a glass for a joyous life! We will head to the airport just before midnight as according to our flight schedule we are expected to depart at 02.55am on the 7th of January, arriving in Malta at 1.15pm on the same day.
Maldives Islands Adventure
6th January evening: You have just completed an unforgettable trip around the paradise island of Sri Lanka. Now prepare for the next phase of the adventure as you check-in to the hotel in Colombo for the overnight.
We will overnight in Colombo for 1 night. Accommodation Ramada by Wyndham or similar.
7th January (B): After breakfast we will head out to explore Colombo before our direct flight to the Maldives. This morning we will walk through the colourful streets of Pettah to learn about the interesting tales and the hidden facts the city holds. We will spend our day discovering Colombo’s unique culture and heritage. At an appropriate time, we will head to the airport to catch our much awaited flight!
We will overnight in Male for 1 night. Accommodation Chen Beach Inn or similar.
8th to 10th January 2024 (B, L, D)
Set sail on seats for our next destination, Maafushi island. With a speedboat transfer we will head to the island and check-in at our beach hotel. Now begins our time to witness and experience the beautiful Maldives islands.
We have selected the best activities for you to enjoy in these upcoming days enlightening yourself in this beautiful destination surrounded by the ocean. All the activities mentioned on page 3 are included and we will spend our days exploring the vivid coral reefs.
In the evening, we will unwind with a delicious cocktail whilst lounging in a hammock, enjoy sunset from Bikini Beach swaying with palm trees, witness glowing beaches to see the the world famous Maldivian luminescent plankton, stroll through town to observe how locals keep their slow pace of life, or dissolve into peaceful silence as you surrender to a soul-soothing massage.
We will overnight in Maafushi Island for 3 nights. Accommodation: Arena Beach Resort or similar.
11th January 2024 (B, D)
More than 2 weeks of exploration, experiencing 2 beautiful destinations, our program today reaches its end. But wait there is more!
We will leisurely check-out for our ferry transfer back to Malé. Being the King’s islands, Male is a thriving and bustling capital worth exploring, and this will complete our Maldivian getaway. Male is a great place for wandering and exploring the lively markets, cafes and pretty mosques, immersing into the Maldives culture. As evening comes, we will enjoy dinner together and take a moment to appreciate how lucky we are to have journeyed to this unique destination which is firmly on everyone’s travel wish list.
At this time, we hope you had an unforgettable experience, and as we bid farewell we will head back to the airport for our flight back home. according to our flight schedule we are expected to depart to Dubai at 22.55hrs, arriving in Malta the next day at 1.15pm.