Upon arrival in Colombo, you will be met by your guide and transferred to the region known as the Cultural Triangle, home to five of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The remainder of your day is at leisure.
Stretching from Anuradhapura at its northern point, to Polonnaruwa in the east and Kandy in the south, Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle covers approximately one thousand square miles, with the Sigiriya rock fortress and the cave temple of Dambulla sitting at its arid heart.
In addition, there are literally scores of other temples, ruins and dagobas which, despite not holding the much revered UNESCO status, are still very much worth a visit.
All our guides are fully trained, highly experienced specialists, all licensed to work in the Cultural Triangle. Along with their exceptional knowledge of the region & the ancient civilisations that shaped it, Selective Asia’s guides know how best to avoid the bus-loads that descend on any given site at certain times of the day.
Likewise, they know every trick in the book when it comes to capturing the best photos & enjoying the most tranquil moments. If you have any specific requirements or special interests, be sure to let us know, so we can arrange the guide with the most suitable expertise.
If you would like to visit some additional or alternative ruins during your stay in the region, please discuss this with your Selective Asia consultant, who will be happy to tailor your itinerary accordingly at the time of booking.
Overnight in the Cultural Triangle.
This morning you will visit the rock fortress of Sigiriya – one of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. We recommend departing your hotel before breakfast, to beat the heat and the crowds, and your hotel will provide a breakfast box which you can enjoy in the shadow of the rock. However we appreciate that not everyone is an early riser (or a picnic lover) so it’s also possible to have breakfast at the hotel before your visit.
Built in the 5th century by King Kasyapa as a fortress and pleasure palace Sigiriya dominates the surrounding landscape, rising 200 metres above the ground. The view from the flattened summit of the rock is spectacular and well worth the climb, but those without a head for heights can stroll around the ramparts and pleasure gardens or take in the famous Sigiriya frescoes that can be found partway up the rock.
There are many legends surrounding King Kasyapa and your guide will tell you more during your visit, but the most common is as follows. King Dhatusena had two sons: Kasyapa who was born of a commoner and Mogallana whose mother was of royal blood. Mogallana was favoured by the King to take over the throne however Kasyapa took over the kingdom by force and his younger brother fled to India. Following an argument over hidden treasure Kasyapa ordered his father killed and, legend has it, the king was buried alive! Fearing his brother’s vengeance Kasyapa ordered the construction of this lofty palace to keep him safe. Mogallana did indeed return with an army, but when Kasyapa rode to battle the elephant he was on sensed a hidden swamp and turned away. His troops saw this and, thinking the king was turning back, fled the battlefield. Realising his defeat, and rather than fall captive to his brother, Kasyapa committed suicide.
In the late morning you will have the chance to experience traditional, rural life, away from the ruins. Most people in the region make their livelihood through farming and the landscape comprises of field upon field of rice, sweet potato amongst other vegetables, and a variety of herbs and spices. You will have the opportunity to get acquainted with typical village life, meeting farmers and their families.
A short drive from your hotel will take you to the edge of a lily-covered lake where you will board a colourful wooden catamaran. These traditional boats operate as water taxis, transporting villagers and their wares between the lake-side communities. Your boat ride will take you to a small farming community where you will be welcomed into the simple thatched-roof home of one of the families. They will show you how they make the traditional snacks of coconut roti & coconut sambal, using authentic Sri Lankan cooking methods and traditional clay pots. There will be plenty of time to chat with the family and also help out with the snack preparation if you wish, before joining them to eat. Return to your hotel in time for lunch.
In the afternoon, visit Minneriya National Park, famous for its annual elephant gathering, for a safari drive with one of the park rangers. The park is home to 24 species of mammal, including sambar & spotted deer, the admittedly very elusive leopard, sloth bear & toque monkey. The star of the show is the elephant, with approximately 200 living in the park. Wardens from Minneriya - & neighbouring Kaudulla & Wasgomuwa National Parks - monitor the elephants' whereabouts on a constant basis, ensuring a high chance of spotting them during your safari, albeit you may find yourself being driven between parks when the elephants are located!
Other inhabitants of the park with a high chance of being spotted include water monitors & the Sri Lankan swamp crocodile. There have been approximately 160 species of bird recorded in the park, including endemics such as the Sri Lanka jungle fowl, hanging parrot & brown-capped babbler.
Overnight in the Cultural Triangle.