Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food describe Sri Lanka, we have created the perfect itinerary for you and your male friends and partners. As you know mostly our trips are women only however this trip is open to men also. We know some of you don’t want to spend New Years without them! I however will be flying solo and also encourage other women sans male partners to attend too.
So Much in So Little …
Few places have as many Unesco World Heritage Sites (eight) packed into such a small area. Sri Lanka’s 2000-plus years of culture can be discovered at ancient sites where legendary temples boast beautiful details.
Don’t worry if you hear something go bump in the night it might just be an elephant heading to a favourite waterhole. On our Safari tours of Sri Lanka’s pleasantly relaxed national parks you may encounter leopards, water buffaloes, all manner of birds and primates.
It’s So Easy …
Distances are short: we can see the thriving metropolis of Colombo in the morning and stand awestruck by the sight of hundreds of elephants gathering in the afternoon (Minneriya). Discover a favourite beach, meditate in a 2000-year-old temple, exchange smiles while strolling a mellow village, marvel at birds and wildflowers, try to keep count of the little dishes that come with your rice and curry. Stroll past colonial gems in Galle, then hit the streets for some shopping.
Sri Lanka is spectacular, it’s affordable and it’s still often uncrowded, however we will be there in peak season. Now is the best time to discover it.
When we’re ready to escape the tropical climate of the coast and lowlands, we head for a few nights in the hills, with their temperate, achingly green charms. Verdant tea plantations and rainforested peaks beckon photographers and walkers and we will take a spectacular train journey to sit and gaze in amazement at the scenery.
New Years Eve …
Cinnamon Hotels in the City invites patrons to celebrate the last day of the year in their fold at Cinnamon Grand Colombo.The city’s most sought after dinner dance will once again regale Colombo with its renowned grandeur and chic elegance. Featuring live music, the dinner dance at the Oak Room is sure to be a night of spectacular celebration. Grand’s team of chefs will showcase their prowess presenting their finest gastronomic fare at the gala dinner buffet and treat patrons to a spectacular spread of Sri Lanka’s best in the morning. The price of the dinner dance is included in the price of your trip, enjoy! A New Years you are sure to remember!! Dress fancy!!!
This is Sri Lanka, the land of Serendipity – of happy surprises.
Sri Lanka’s has some lovely locations and hotels, from pristine beaches to lush mountain retreats and rural hideaways; lavish colonial splendour and chic modern luxury and award winning architectural design.
For your journey we have chosen a selection of 3 and 4 * hotels to enhance our travel experience. In addition to comfortable, contemporary and clean accommodations our hotels also offer other indulgences; from fine cuisine to sensuous spa treatments to Ayurvedic healing. And plenty to do too: extreme action or quiet meditation, a myriad of wonders both natural and man-made to explore and a wealth of culture and tradition to experience as well. We also aim to provide you with some down time to indulge in a massage, or cocktail as the sunsets. Tammie is happy to offer some yoga classes along the way if people are so inclined, perhaps outside overlooking a lush landscape.
Breakfast is included daily along with two lunches, and 1 dinner, all other meals are self pay. Most of the hotels we stay at have more than one restaurant to choose from and occasionally you might like to choose a night of room service for some quiet time.
Mr Walter Oorloff is our wonderful guide. Walter has 44 years experience taking tours around his home country and has many fabulous and insightful stories to tell. An avid animal lover, after his secondary education he attended the Smithsonian Institution Biological Programme on their Elephant and Primate programme as a research assistant. Walter has guided many special interest groups such as bird watchers and a group of WW2 Veterans. Walter has had brushes with several important people in his lifetime, but I’ll let him tell you about that, I don’t want to spoil the fun!
Tammie Day is the founder of Vibrant Women, a retreat and travel company. Tammie spends her days creating inspirational journeys so you can travel in the security of a small group, whilst enjoying another culture. We like to base our trips around the three F’s, yes! Fun, Food and Friendship and for this one we include Fellas 🙂 Tammie’s role is to ensure you feel well taken care of throughout your trip.
Welcome in the New Year in Style at the Cinnamon Grand Hotels Gala Dinner Dance
See UNESCO world heritage & cultural sites
Visit national parks and see the wildlife
See amazing Buddhist and Hindu Temples
Wander among Ceylon Tea Plantations and Spice Gardens
Cooking demonstration with the locals
Shop for beautiful fabric made from Dumbara weaving and sparkling gemstones
Dine on delicious local produce such as tropical fruit, lobster and fish
Take a train journey through this magical landscape
Brief catamaran ride to see how the locals collect water lillies on the Kandalama reservoir
Can you feel your spirit lifting just at the thought of it?
Colombo ~ Dambulla ~ Kandy ~ Nuwara Eliya ~ Yala ~ Galle
DAY 1 – AIRPORT – COLOMBO
AYUBOWAN!!! (Sounds like … Are you bow one) Saying “Ayubowan” is the “Sri Lankan” way of greeting a person.
It is something like saying “Hello”, but in addition, “Ayubowan” has a much wider meaning, that is wishing “May you live longer and be healthy”. We wish you a beautiful start to your journey, “Ayubowan”
On arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, you will be greeted with Garlands by your tour representative and your English – speaking guide before you proceed to your accommodation. Just look for a sign with your name on it, Colombo airport is very easy to navigate and here you can change money and there are also several atm machines.
Immediate transfer to Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Transfer time – Approximately 45 minutes (Via Airport-Colombo expressway). Up on arrival we check-in at Cinnamon Grand.
The rest of the day is at leisure to recoup from the long flight over, have a swim or a massage just relax. for the early birds we could lunch at the barefoot café, and enjoy listening to live jazz music, (the women can go shopping).
Colombo, the largest city of Sri Lanka, and a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life, colonial buildings and ruins. Due to its large harbor and its strategic position along the East-West sea trade routes, Colombo was known to ancient traders 2,000 years ago. It was made the capital of the island when Sri Lanka was ceded to the British Empire in 1815, and its status as capital was retained when the nation became independent in 1948.
Overnight stay at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo – Deluxe rooms
DAY 2 – COLOMBO
Breakfast at the hotel.
We begin our days’ activities with a visit to – No 11, Bagatale Road Bawa Museum to witness the work of Legendry Sri Lankan Architect Geoffrey Bawa. Visits only by prior appointment.
Thereafter we drive around the capital and its impressive Parliament House, designed by Geoffrey Bawa. Colombo is fascinating, with a cozy mixture of past and present and is the commercial centre of the country. The original trading settlers – the Portuguese, Dutch and British have all left in their wake churches and monuments, names and religions, costumes and food and smatterings of their languages, which have been absorbed into the speech of Sri Lankans.
We also visit the Old Dutch Hospital, which has been impressively restored and now holds eateries, bars, boutique stores and spas. Constructed all of four centuries ago, the building is a resounding example of eastern Dutch architecture with high ceilings, thick walls, large wide windows and terracotta tiled floors.
Post lunch we return to hotel and spend rest of the evening at leisure.
Later this evening we will gather around 1900hrs at the grand ball room at Cinnamon Grand to celebrate the dawn of a New year in Style. (Dress code – Formal evening wear – dress pants, collared shirt, tie, cocktail dress). Pre-reservations will be made for the group – Arrangement includes, reserved table, foreign alcoholic beverages (whiskey / vodka & imported wine) / canapés / dinner & live music. The Cinnamon Grand usually has two live bands and music you can dance to, for example rock, 70’s, 80’s music etc. More information about the line up will be provided closer to the time.
DAY 03 – COLOMBO – DAMBULLA
After breakfast, (we take a Berocca) and depart for our Dambulla, in the heart of what is referred to as the Cultural Zone featuring Sri Lanka’s ancient kingdoms.
Drive Time – 03 hours & 30 minutes, yes you can nap on the bus.
At approximately at 1500hrs, after some time relaxing we leave for an exciting game drive at the Eco park or Minneriya National Park.
Drive Time – 30 minutes
Home to large herds of wild Elephants. Minneriya has been a sanctuary since 1938 and features King Mahasena’s magnificent Minneriya tank of the fourth century covering 3000 hectares. This important wetland supports paddy fields and many aquatic birds such as painted stocks and spot billed pelicans. Other inhabitants include the purple-faced leaf monkey, sambar, chital, and sloth bear. Mugger crocodiles and water monitors can also be seen.
We return to hotel for dinner at approximately 1900hrs.
Overnight stay at Dambulla
DAY 4 – POLONNARUWA – SIGIRIYA
Soon after breakfast we take a pleasant drive through a forest reserve to the medieval city of Polonnaruwa.
Drive Time – 01 hours & 20 minutes
A UNESCO World Heritage site, which rose to fame as a capital between the 10th to 12th century AD. A resemblance of Angkor Wat, the royal palace and audience hall, the quadrangle and spectacular gal vihare complex give clear evidence of Sri Lanka’s past glory. Sightseeing will include visits to – Museum / Thuparama / Gal potha (stone book) / Hatadage / Latha Mandapaya / Sathmal Prashada / Rankoth Vihara / Lankathilaka / Kiri Vehera / Gal Vihara & The Royal palace.
An option is available for you to choose bicycles to peddle across the archeological site
Polonnaruwa, an Exclusive lunch will be arranged by the side of a paddy field located in Polonnaruwa where you will be given a cooking demonstration of a typical local lunch which includes Rice with 05 / 06 authentic curries, papadam, fried lake fish and a green salad.
Later this afternoon we visit the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, one of the seven world heritage sites of the Island.
Drive Time – 01 hour & 20 minutes.
On our way we visit a local Rice Mill to observe the processing of Paddy. Polonnaruwa has historically been the rice bowl for Sri Lanka complementing the vast irrigation systems and water reservoirs built by its visionary kings. This was a golden era when Polonnaruwa’s rice was exported to many neighboring countries including China. The mill processes ten tons of paddies each day and provides a livelihood to around 200 women from villages around.
We visit the World Heritage giant rock fortress of Sigiriya, built in the 5th century as a bastion and palace of king Kasyapa. The most impressive facets of this unique complex are geometrically laid water gardens, frescoes of beautiful maidens, and the mirror wall with ancient graffiti. The whole face of the hill appears to have been a gigantic picture gallery…. the largest picture in the world perhaps…. wrote John Still. The lion platform and summit of 1.6 hectares, was surrounded by buildings during the period of Sigiriya’s glory. It’s around 1200 steps to the summit which yields a spectacular panorama of the surrounding jungle and Sigiriya village.
Return to hotel after sightseeing.
Overnight stay at Dambulla
DAY 5 – DAMBULLA – KANDY
This morning after an early snack with tea / coffee, we travel away from the main roads of Dambulla and proceed along the picturesque Kandalama Tank (a reservoir) . We arrive at a remote village and walk through the narrow roads to the waiting catamaran boats, which take us along the Kandalama tank (safety jackets provided). The catamaran ride is a brief experience but gives you the essence of how typical villages use them for fishing, transportation and for picking up water lilies.
We arrive at a point where we are greeted by two tamed elephants enjoying a bath in the tank. Their mahouts invite us to join them in washing the elephants using coconut husks, a practice passed on from many generations of mahouts. Elephants certainly do enjoy this form of pampering as they do get a free massage as well. Bathing in the river, being washed and scrubbed, cooling their system in the water is a favorite pastime of any elephant.
The visit to this compound and experience is exclusively for Vibrant Women guests only.
We return to hotel for breakfast.
Soon after breakfast, we continue on to the old hill-station of Kandy, driving around 2 and half hours
Our first stop for the day is at the World Heritage site – Dambulla, known for its richly painted cave temples. Dambulla is a vast isolated rock mass and it was here that king Valagam Bahu took refuge from invasions in the 1st century B.C., later turning the caves into a rock temple. Some of its frescoes are over 2000 years old. Another highlight is a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of the living rock, some 15 meters long. The caves have a mixture of religious and secular paintings and sculptures with ceiling frescoes depicting scenes from Buddha’s life and Sinhalese history.
Proceed towards Kandy. Along the way, there is an option to stop by a Private spice garden in Matale (Entrance by appointment only) Spice gardens are among the best on the island. You will be introduced to different spices and shown how some of these spices are grown and processed.
Kandy, was the last bastion of Buddhist political power against colonial invasion. This hill station is remarkable for the natural beauty of its setting in a peaceful wooded valley overlooking a vast artificial lake. The palace, shrines and British period buildings give it a special character, while Buddha’s Tooth Relic lends a religious importance to the historic highland capital.
On arrival we check-in at Kandy Hotel
After some down time, we enjoy sightseeing in Kandy with a panoramic tour, via the upper lake drive, stopping at the market square featuring the famous Batik and Gem stores.
We conclude our visits for the day by visiting the Temple of the Tooth. The octagonal-shaped building (Dada Maligawa) is a national palladium for it houses the Tooth Relic of the Buddha, an object of veneration to Buddhists all over the world. According to tradition, the tooth was rescued at the cremation of Gautama Buddha in India in 543 BC and brought to the island in the 4th century AD. The relic is encased in seven caskets, one kept inside the other, the outermost of which has a shape of a stupa, adorned in gold.
Return to hotel for overnight.
This evening, a 30-minute cultural performance with men walking on fire will be arranged exclusively for you at the Hotel Premises at 1930hrs.
Overnight stay at Kandy
DAY 6 – KANDY – NUWARAELIYA
Breakfast at the hotel.
Thereafter we board the local train from Kandy’s Train station leaving at 0800HRS for a 2 & half hour ride to the panoramic tea plantation region of Nuwara Eliya. Your luggage will travel by coach.
Note – the train journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya will be done by the clients in 1st class carriage. The scenery en-route is magnificent and far superior to travelling in a car). Train leaves Kandy at 0840hrs and arrives at Nanu-oya station at 1310hrs.
You will be served with picnic lunch to consume while on board.
You will then be picked up from the Nanu-oya train station and transferred to your hotel.
Nuwara Eliya is a mountain station at 1,868 m (6,128ft) of altitude, in a splendid landscape. The city pretends to be particularly well-kept and neat, and the always-green grass gives to the locality an aspect of “colonial British style”. Nuwara Eliya was built entirely during the 19th century and its architecture mimics that of an English country town, with red-brick walls, country house like hill club and mock-Tudor half-timbering. Blessed with salubrious climate, breathtaking views of valleys, meadows, mountains and greenery; it’s hard to imagine that Nuwara Eliya is only 180 Km from the hot and humid Colombo. Temperatures are 14C-21C (Jan- April) 16C-18C (May-Aug) 15C- 18C (Sept-Dec).
Later this afternoon, we leave for sightseeing at the renowned hill station of Nuwara Eliya.
A retreat for British Civil Servants from the heat of the plains. Also known as Little England, Nuwara Eliya is famous for its spectacularly beautiful approach, picturesque landscape and cool climate. Many of its buildings retain features from the colonial period along with a 117-year-old championship golf course, one of the most scenic in the world, nestled between the town and surrounding forested hills.
After sightseeing, you will be given some leisure time at the city… perhaps to enjoy a leisurely walk through the local market square.
Return to hotel for overnight.
Overnight stay at Nuwara Eliya
DAY 7 – NUWARAELIYA – YALA
After breakfast, we visit to a Tea plantation / Factory en-route, to have an insight of the local tea manufacturing process including the daily routing of local workers/ Tea pluckers.
Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of tea. Since the introduction of tea to Sri Lanka in mid 19the century Nuwara Eliya has been the capital of the tea industry. For many miles prior to reaching Nuwara Eliya from either direction you will find acres and acres of tea plantations, in fact nothing but tea estates. There are many factories open for visitors, which also have tea sales outlets.
Visit the Tea Factory and witness how the raw green leaf, which was plucked, is converted to the familiar dark brown product through a process of drying, cutting, rolling and fermentation. At the factory, also learn to “taste” tea and try to identify the subtle differences in flavor produced at the factory.
Thereafter we depart Nuwara Eliya and take a 4 hours’ drive towards Tissamaharama.
En-route you will be provided a comfort stop at Ella which is a small town with an altitude of 613metrs, is blessed with some of the most beautiful views you could find in Sri Lanka.
This small town is used as a base for plenty of trekking expeditions to the surrounding countryside. A taste of the breathtaking scenery of Ella could be had, if you just walk into the Garden of the Grand Ella Motel (Formerly Ella Rest House), where you seem to be standing at the edge of the world, and everything around you seems to disappear at your feet. Another fine view is from the Ambiente Hotel, where the wide doorway, opens out to the mountains, creating a dramatic cinematic like experience, on entry.
Proceed towards Tissamaharama | Transfer time – Approximately 02 hours.
After some down time at our hotel, we head towards Yala national park by 1500hrs to enjoy an exciting game drive.
Yala (Ruhuna) National Park is situated in the Arid Zone of Sri Lanka’s South East region. Comprising of five blocks, this National Park covers an area of 151,778 hectares. Currently only Block I, covering 14,100 hectares, is open to the public. Yala’s historical significance dates back to 500 B.C and evidence shows that the park was inhabited in the past. The area remained a free hunting area for sport until the 1900s, when it was declared a Game Reserve. In 1938 a section of the park was declared a National Park.
Being in the Arid Zone Yala receives an annual rainfall of less than 1,000 mm from the North East monsoon from about November to January. The rest of the year remains dry with the period from July to September showing severe drought conditions. Mean temperature is around 27 c. Yala National Park comprises of several major habitat types including dunes, scrub forest, riverine forests, rocky out-crops, secondary forests and coastal lagoons with mangrove forests. This diverse collection of vegetation has resulted in many species of animals and birds being recorded in Yala National Park.
Return to hotel by 1900hrs for overnight.
DAY 8 – YALA – GALLE
Breakfast at the hotel.
Followed by our wildlife experience, we depart Tissamaharama after breakfast and take a 4 hours’ drive towards Galle.
On arrival we check-in at our accommodation and have the rest of the evening at leisure.
DAY 9 – GALLE
After breakfast we explore the historical town of Galle.
The ancient trading post of Galle, said to be the famous Tarshish of the Bible. Historically, this award winning World Heritage fortified township was an essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Javanese and Sumatrans came later followed by Marco Polo in 1299 AD. The Portuguese arrived in the 1500’s and built a settlement with a fort of palm trees and mud. This was captured by the Dutch (and finally the British) who built the 400-year-old fort with great ramparts and bastions to protect their presence. Narrow streets are lined with old houses displaying Dutch heritage, with their pillared verandahs. Government offices remain in use and the community within the fort is a bustle with daily life – a living breathing town, hidden within fortified walls of this ancient, maritime citadel.
Laughter, chatter, gossip and smiles abound within the rampart walls. We explore the fort, overflowing with landmarks, strolling past the Dutch church, the governor’s house, the spice warehouses, Court Square, the Kacheri or Town Hall, the lighthouse and ramparts. Near the old Arab mosque are streets leading to cricket fields and the district Judge’s house, surrounded by ancient frangipani trees.
Return to hotel after sightseeing – Rest of the day at leisure.
DAY 10 – GALLE – AIRPORT
Breakfast at leisure.
Thereafter you will be transferred to the airport in time for your departure flight or your next destination.
Transfer time – 2.5 hours. (Airport – Colombo expressway).
You May also like to join us after this trip for our South Coast Indian Adventure! If you choose to join us your two nights accommodation between trips will be included.
Flights from Colombo to Mumbai are approx . $300AUD and take 2.5 hours. The flights are either early morning or late evening. You have the option of a 7 night or 13 night Journey. This includes a 3 night yoga retreat in Goa.
Arrival and Departure information
Trip starts and ends near Colombo. Bandaranaike International Airport is the airport you will arrive and depart from.
9 Nights/10 Days
Accommodation on bed & breakfast basis.
Transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, with the exclusive service of an English – speaking guide lecturer throughout the tour.
All applicable Entrance Fees as per the above itinerary.
NEW YEARS CELEBRATION – Dinner Dance Gala
2 Nights in thriving Colombo – sight seeing tour and shopping
Visit remarkable Lion Rock Sigirya
4×4 Jeep safari at the Minneriya National park (5 guests to a jeep).
Exclusive experience with the Elephants in Kandalama
Reserved train tickets for the train ride from Kandy to Nanu-oya. (1st class seats) with picnic lunch provided
4×4 Jeep safari at the Yala National park (05 guests to a Jeep).
2 nights at Historic Galle, walk the cobblestone streets and enjoy some shopping, dine out on beautiful seafood, enjoy a yoga class on the lawn overlooking the spectacular view.
All applicable Government Taxes / Levies as at date.
Early check-in on arrival and late check-out at the time of departure if applicable.
Expenses/ Tips of personal nature and other incidental expenses. Please calculate approx $10AUD per day for tips, this will be divided at the end of the tour between the drivers and guides. For restaurants, porters, spa treatments etc. this is a personal choice if you leave a tip.
Service of guide and vehicle at clients’ disposal during the leisure days spent by the beach
Optional activities, meals, beverages & incidental supplements mentioned or not mentioned in the program.
Entry visa to Sri Lanka (AUD 60 per person).
Twinshare Per Person
A $500AUD non-refundable deposit is required within two weeks of booking. The remainder to be paid 1 month prior to the start of the trip. Or you may commence a payment plan. Payment plans incur a $50AUD administration fee.
An initial $500 non-refundable deposit is applicable for this trip up to 60 days out from the commencement of the trip, then full payment less your deposit will be due. For bookings less than 60 days full payment will be due at the time of booking.
For cancellations between 60 days and the start of the trip $1000 per person (includes your deposit) will be retained, no refund will be made once the trip has commenced.
This is also why travel insurance is compulsory to protect you against any loss in the event that you need to cancel your retreat.
Visit the Payments Page here
Kindly note that check in time to all hotels will be at 1400hrs and check out is at 1200 noon.
All above hotel rates are subjected to revision as and when government taxes are revised, when respective hotel managements revise rates or due to any currency fluctuations experienced at a given time.
Bars, Clubs or similar entertainment is prohibited during “Poya” Days. As such liquor will not be served in public areas of the hotels during this time. *Poya days fall on the full moon each month!
The above-mentioned hotels will only be confirmed on availability at the time of booking if booked above allocation during the specified time periods. In such an event suitable alternatives will be suggested prior to confirmation.
Museums, Schools etc will be closed during Public Holidays and Poya Holidays.