Overview
Daily Itinerary
Details

Sri Lanka – A Tapestry of Culture and Color

November 1-14, 2019

An EMS Photo Adventure in collaboration with Immersion Journeys

This 14-day Adventure offers an opportunity to truly see the tapestry of culture and color Sri Lanka has to offer. The well planned and organized circular route designed in collaboration with the experts at Immersion Journeys will allow us to:

  • Visit six cities: Colombo, Galle, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya
  • Explore four historic sites: Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Ancient City of Pollonnaruwa and Dambulla Cave Temples (the last two are World Heritage Sites)
  • Photograph wildlife in two national parks: Minneriya and Horton Plains National Parks
  • Experience life in two fishing villages
  • And so much more

Set in the Indian Ocean in South Asia, the tropical island nation of Sri Lanka has a history and culture dating back 2,500 years. Few places in the world can offer the traveler such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location.

Despite its small size Sri Lanka is a global leader in many a fields such as its choice gems (blue sapphires), Ceylon tea and cinnamon.

In addition, Sri Lanka is global leader in producing quality garment products for leading brands in Asia, Europe and the USA and is also in the forefront as a IT hub in the South Asian region and is rising as a Software exporter.

And when it comes to sports, the game of cricket holds a special place in the hearts of Sri Lankans and it is played at every street corner with improvised bats, balls and wickets.

Daily Itinerary: Sri Lanka – Tapestry of Culture and Color

Day 1: Travel Day

Flight from USA to Columbo International Airport

Day 2: Colombo

  • Arrive at Colomobo Airport and transfer to the hotel
  • Once you are settled in, join group for lunch at the hotel
  • Rest of the day at leisure
  • Join the Welcome dinner at the hotel

Lodging: Galle Face Hotel, Colombo

Day 3: Colombo – Galle – Colombo

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Drive south to Galle, one of the original Dutch trading settlements and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • En route:
    • Enjoying a 1.5 hour mangrove river boat ride on the Madu River (Ambalangoda).
    • The Madu river is an amazing place and the only place in Sri Lanka where you can go through Mangrove tunnels. It is the second largest wetland site and one of the last pristine mangrove forests in Sri Lanka. It is home to many fish, prawns, crustaceans, crocodiles, monkeys, giant squirrels, snakes, wild boar and a variety of fishing birds. The natural beauty is stunning and it is very quiet – the relaxing silence is only interrupted by birds singing.
  • Photograph the “world renown stilt fishermen” – one of the most interesting traditional fishing methods of Sri Lanka.
    • Though stilt fishermen make the activity seem easy and comfortable, stilt fishing requires much skill and balance. To see the fishermen perched on branched poles as they skillfully fish is beautiful and awesome.
    • A vertical pole with an attached crossbar is embedded into the sea floor among the shallows, or on a riverbed. The crossbar allows the fishermen to be seated a couple of meters above the water causing minimal shadows on the water and hence little to no disturbance amongst the sea life.
    • The stilt fishermen then use a rod from this precarious position to bring in a good catch of spotted herrings and small mackerels from the comparative shallows of the sea or from the river.
    • They collect the catch in a bag tied to the pole or to their waist.
  • Lunch at local restaurant
  • Return to Colombo – visiting the Sea Turtle Hatchery and Rescue Center en route:
    • Turtle populations are attacked at all stages of their lives, both from natural and human pressures and all species of sea turtle are now classed as endangered. Without intervention, we may lose these beautiful, ancient creatures from our ocean’s forever.
    • There are five turtle species found along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The Center:
      • Collects and rescues eggs and make sure they are hatched safely away from predators before being released into the sea at night-time
      • Provides treatments for disabled turtles caught by fishing nets
      • Conducts continuous studies on post-nesting migrations and biology of marine turtles
      • Shares tracking data and findings to relevant authorities and contribute to the development of a regional marine turtle conservation plan
      • Integrates these conservation initiatives with national programes
    • Dinner at the hotel

    Lodging: Galle Face Hotel, Colombo / Included Meals (B, L, D)

    Day 4: Colombo

    • Breakfast at hotel
    • Tour Colombo – mostly a walking tour and partly by vehicle.
      • Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has a long history as a port on ancient east-west trade routes, ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. That heritage is reflected in its architecture, mixing colonial buildings with high-rises and shopping malls.
      • A cosmopolitan city, Colombo is a melting pot of various cultures and religions living side by side.
      • This colorful city on the Indian Ocean, with its laid-back island ambiance, palm trees, decaying colonial buildings and smattering of modern office blocks, is the perfect place to get a sense of Sri Lanka
    • Lunch at a local restaurant
    • Visit the imposing Colombo National Museum, across from the Town Hall, is dedicated to Sri Lankan history
    • Saunter through the sprawling, urban Viharamahadevi Park that borders the Museum. The Park:
      • Is the oldest and largest park in Colombo
      • Features a series of water fountains; reflecting pool leading to a giant Buddha statue; lake with a suspension bridge; mini zoo, and little aquarium
      • Rest of the day at leisure.
    • Dinner on your own to explore the many culinary delights Colombo has to offer.

    Lodging: Galle Face Hotel, Colombo / Included Meals (B, L)

    Day 5: Colombo – Sigiriya – Dambulla

    • Breakfast at hotel
    • Leave for Sigiriya – having lunch en route
    • Visit to Sigiriya Rock Fortress
      • The name refers to a 5th century fortress of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock, nearly 660 ft high.
      • Rising 200 meters vertically from the flat pains, and if you are up to the climb, Sigiriya Rock provides you with one of the most dramatic sites in Sri Lanka.
      • But, there is plenty to see at lower elevations:
        • Inscriptions found in the caves which honeycomb the base of the rock fortress.
        • The Deraniyagala Cave, just to the left of the path shortly after it begins to ascend through the gardens, with a well-preserved dripstone ledge and traces of old paintings including the faded remains of various Apsara figures.
        • Extensive Water Garden
        • Sigiriya Damsels – accessed by two inconsistent nineteenth–century metal spiral staircases leading to a sheltered cave that holds the Sigiriya Damsels – Sri Lanka’s most famous sequence of frescoes. These busty beauties were painted in the fifth century and are the only non-religious paintings to have survived from ancient Sri Lanka; they’re now one of the island’s most iconic- and most reproduced – images.
      • If you choose to climb the roughly 1,200 steps, the top of this rock contains ruins of an ancient palace complex, built during the reign of King Kasyapa (477AD – 495 AD) and surrounding rock is the Royal Garden. It is one of the 7 world heritage sites in Sri Lanka and is one of it’s most popular tourist destinations.
      • There is a stone stairway leading from the base to the top of the mountain. About half way to the top, there is a giant pair of lions paws which is in fact are the remains of a huge head of a lion whose open mouth served as the entrance to the royal palace.
    • Continue on to Dambulla
    • Dinner at the hotel.

    Lodging: The Paradise Resort & Spa, Dambulla / Included Meals (B, L, D)

    Day 6: Dambula – Minneriya – Dambulla

    • Breakfast at hotel
    • Explore and photograph Dambulla
      • Dambulla is a large town and due to its location at a major junction, it is the center of vegetable distribution in the country.
      • Meet and interact with local farmers and their community, one of the best ways to get photos of rural Sri Lanka.
      • Its famed rock cave temple is an iconic Sri Lankan image – you’ll be familiar with its spectacular Buddha-filled interior long before you arrive in town.
    • Enjoy lunch by a rice paddy field
    • Embark upon a catamaran ride on the lake where you might spot crocodiles or water monitors along with waterbirds such as cormorants.
    • Take a jeep safari at Minneriya National Park in the afternoon.
      • Minneriya National Park was designated as national park in 1997 after having been originally declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1938.
      • The national park’s faunal species include 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish, and 75 species of butterflies.
      • Although the park attracts large herds of elephants, there are many other mammals found in the park including: sambar, spotted deer, macaque and purple-faced langur monkeys, water buffalo and the potential to see sloth bears and some of the twenty leopards.
      • The park is home to peacocks, sea eagles, storks, herons and a variety of other Sri Lankan birds. Along with Kaudulla and Girithale, Minneriya forms one of the 70 Important Bird Areas of Sri Lanka.
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: The Paradise Resort & Spa / Included Meals (B, L, D)

Day 7: Dambulla – Polonnaruwa – Dambulla

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Travel to Polonnaruwa
    • Visit the 800 year old Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) that once was the royal seat as the King of Polonnaruwa ruled over this thriving commercial and religious center.
    • This, the second most ancient city in Sri Lanka, is probably one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the country.
    • The intricately carved buildings and monuments are a snapshot on what the kingdom was some thousand years ago.
    • You’ll find hundreds of ancient structures – tombs and temples, statues and stupas – in a compact core.
  • Lunch at a local restaurant.
  • Return to Dambulla – Spend the rest of day at leisure
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: The Paradise Resort & Spa / Included Meals (B, L, D)

Day 8: Dambulla – Kandy

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Visit the famous Buddhist Dambulla Cave Temple, an icon of Sri Lanka.
    • Dambulla cave temple also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka, situated in the central part of the country.
    • This complex is of significant historical importance and provides evidence of the presence of indigenous civilizations long before Indian influence on the island nation.
    • A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka.
    • Five separate caves contain absolutely stunning Buddha mural paintings and 157 statues all of which are of particular importance.
    • In addition, from this vantage point, one can take in the excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Leave for Kandy – en route we will:
    • Stop for lunch
    • Visit a spice garden in Matale — the spice capital of Sri Lanka.
      • Spices are an essential element of the cuisine of Sri Lanka and the Ayurvedic tradition and a visit to a garden specializing in the cultivation is a wonderful education.
      • You will find cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, cardamom and black pepper, to name a few.
      • Enriched with herbs, spice groves and plants with fragrant greenery shading from the tropical trees that enlightens the unique aroma of each spice and herb.
      • Sri Lanka’s tropical climate is ideal for growing and preserving the ancient originality of the plants and herbs.
  • Attend a cultural show in the evening.
  • Dinner at the hotel.

Lodging: Ozo Kandy / Included Meals: (B, L, D)

Day 9: Kandy

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Visit Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya
    • Once only meant for the royal family, these exquisite gardens are a photographer’s paradise with opportunities to take macro shots of the indigenous flora amid the chirping of bird life.
    • Renowned for its collection of 300 species of orchids, the gardens are considered Sri Lanka’s largest botanical garden, with 147 acres and over 4000 species of plants.
    • Within the delightfully landscaped greenery, visitors will come across numerous birds including endemic species like the Yellow Fronted Barbet, Layards Parakeet, Sri Lankan Hanging Parrot, Brown Capped Babbler and a number endemic reptiles as well as 18 species of mammals.
    • Among the 10,000 or more trees found in the park, are the Giant Bamboo of Burma, the century old giant Javan fig tree, the Cannonball tree and a range of exotic palms.
  • Lunch at local restaurant
  • Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy.
    • Located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, the golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth enshrines Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha.
    • Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country.
    • Although the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists, you don’t actually get to see the tooth. It’s kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba (stupa), which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size.
    • As well as the revered main temple, the complex includes a series of smaller temples, shrines and museums.
  • Explore and capture the beautiful old city of Kandy.
    • Kandy is set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rain forest.
    • The city’s heart is scenic Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake), which is popular for strolling.
  • Dinner at Hotel

Lodging: Ozo Kandy / Included Meals: (B, L)

Day 10: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya

  • Breakfast at hotel
    • This train ride is absolutely a delight with opportunities to view the landscape as the train makes its way up the green hills past tea plantations, waterfalls and timber forests.
    • You can also go out onto viewing platforms between carriages which offer the perfect spot for taking photos of the unforgettable views.
    • Packed lunch on boar train.
  • On arrival at Nanu Oya Railway Station, transfer to the Grand Hotel.
  • Once settled in the hotel, take a walking tour of Nuwara Eliya.
    • Nuwara Eliya is known as “Little England” thanks to its well-manicured ‘English’ gardens, polo fields and most famously its Tudor style architecture and social clubs.
    • Situated in the hill country of the Central Province, Nuwara Eliya name means “city on the plain (table land)” or “city of light.”
    • Its an altitude of 6,128 ft and temperate climate determines it to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka.
    • Overlooked by Pidurutagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, adds to the city’s picturesque landscape.
  • Dinner at Hotel

Lodging: Grand Hotel / Included Meals: (B, L,D)

Day 11: Nuwara Eliya

  • Early morning excursion to Horton Plains National Park (eating a packed breakfast en route)
    • Known as “World’s End,” this magnificent surprise destination high in the hill country consisting of wild wind-swept moorland topography.
    • The landscape is utterly unexpected especially after experiencing the tropical greens and blues of much of Sri Lanka.
    • Horton Plains NP a protected area in the central highlands covered by montane grassland and cloud forest and a key wildlife area. It is home to:
      • 24 species of mammals, nine species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians
      • 87 species of birds (making it one of Sri Lanka’s IBA – Important Bird Areas) of which 21 bird species occur only on Sri Lanka
    • The most frequent site of wildlife at Horton Plains are herds of Sambar Deer and the growth population of Sambar Deer has resulted in the increase of number of Leopards.
    • Wild Boar, the endemic Bear Monkey and Toque Monkey, Slender Loris, Fishing cat, Otter, Barking deer, Strip-necked Mongoose, Long-tailed Giant Squirrel are some of the other mammals found here.
  • Lunch at a local restaurant.
  • Visit a Tea Plantation & Factory
    • 10% of the world’s tea comes from the cooler, hilly region of Sri Lanka – a big number for such a tiny place. Nuwara Eliya is at the center of Sri Lanka’s tea economy.
    • Learn about tea production and get a chance to taste some of Sri Lanka’s finest!
  • Evening at leisure.
  • Dinner at Hotel

Lodging: Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya / Included Meals: (B, L, D)

Day 12: Nuwara Eliya – Negombo

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Leave for Negombo, having lunch at a local restaurant en-route.
  • Sightseeing in Negombo in the afternoon OR enjoy the beach and relax.
    • Negombo is a city on the west coast of Sri Lanka, north of the capital, Colombo.
    • Negombo Lagoon is lined with fishermen’s huts and feeds into the Dutch-era Hamilton Canal. The canal leads south to Colombo.
  • Farewell Dinner at the hotel

Lodging: Jetwing Blue, Negombo / Included Meals: (B, L, D)

Day 13: Negombo – Colombo

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Leave for Colombo International Airport for departure flight home.

Day 14: Travel Day

  • Flight to USA

The Details: Sri Lanka – Tapestry of Culture and Color

Group Size: This will be a small group adventure – minimum of 8 – maximum of 12 participants.

Cost Per Person:

  • Double occupancy: $6,695
  • Single occupancy (an additional $950 for a single room)

The package includes:

  • Photographic guidance, instruction and workshops – all lead by Essdras M Suraez
  • Accompanying English-speaking national guide during the tour
  • Entrance fees and activity charges as per the programe
  • All accommodations and meals as indicated
  • Ground transportation in air conditioned coach
  • Tickets for cultural show
  • Train ride from Kandy (or Peradeniya) to Nanu Oya
  • Entrance fees and activity charges as per the program
  • Camera permits
  • Water bottles in vehicle
  • All applicable taxes

The package does not included:

  • The cost of transportation to and from Colombo, Sri Lanka – including all costs associated with that activity such as baggage surcharges, taxes and fees.
  • Additional meals not included
  • Personal expenses such as: gifts, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, phone calls and snacks.
  • Gratuities: Tips & porterage (recommend $120 per guest total or $10/ day/ guest)
  • Personal travel insurance and vaccinations
  • Sri Lanka Visa
  • Anything not mentioned under “cost includes”

Registration Deadline: May 3, 2019

Final Payment Deadline: August 3, 2019

  • Registration Deposit: $1,000 per person
  • Total Cost Double: $6,695
  • Single Supplement: $950
How to Make a Reservation:
  • All arrangements will be made through Immersion Journeys:
    • Address: 455 Main Street, Suite 5M, New York, NY 10044
    • Phone: 1-917-686-2620
    • Fax: 1-917-210-4093
    • Email: info@immersionjourneys.com
  • Register (by May 3, 2019):
    • Completing Immersion Journey’s “Tour Reservation & Payment Form”
    • Forward form and payment via mail, email or fax to Immersion Journey
  • Full payment will be due no later than – August 3, 2019.
Additional Important Details

Visas: Sri Lanka Visa Requirements

  • US citizens traveling to Sri Lanka for tourism are eligible for a short stay visa ($30)
  • The Electronic Travel Authorization System is available online:
  • Tourist visas are normally issued for a maximum period of 30 days.

Passport: A valid passport for more then 6 months.

Luggage: Domestic airline regulations permit 20 kilos (44 pounds) per suitcase, maximum two suitcases per person.

Highlights

  • Cruise though Mangrove tunnels
  • Photograph the “world renown stilt fishermen”
  • Visit the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya
  • Go on safari in two National Parks
  • Walk around the 800 year old Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
  • Visit several World Heritage Sites and a renown Royal Botanical Garden
  • Witness a Sri Lankan Cultural Dance Performance
  • See the Buddhist temple where the “Sacred Tooth Relic” is kept
  • Take a scenic train ride through the “tea growing” mountain, then visit a tea plantation and factory
  • Enjoy the picturesque town of Nuwara Eliya with its fishermen’s huts

Participants: Min 8 / Max 12

Tour Location: Sri Lanka
Dates: November 1-14, 2019

2018 Price:

  • Double Occupancy: $6695
  • Single Supplement: $950

Deposit: $1000

Registration Deadline: May 3, 2019

Final Payment: August 3, 2019