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Minneriya, Sigiriya and Dambulla

Duration: 2 Days

minneriya, sigiriya and dambulla

A holiday in Sri Lanka conjures up images of beautiful palm-lined beaches, lush vegetation, and spectacular wildlife, and the reality won’t disappoint you. This diverse tour will uncover the island’s fascinating history and unique natural wonders as you explore Minneriya National Park, the ancient city of Sigiriya and the caves of Dambulla on an exhilarating day to remember.

Your tour will begin with an early scenic drive to the beautiful Minneriya National Park, one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful nature reserves. Here you will be guided through the many diverse habitats of the park, looking out for native wildlife species amongst dense forest, wetlands and thalawa grasslands, which is particularly popular with the elephants – Minneriya’s star attraction. You can see herds of up to 300 elephants here, one of the largest populations of Asian elephants in the world, in their natural habitat. During the dry season between July and October, visitors can witness an amazing spectacle in the centre of the park as these magnificent gentile giants gather in groups to drink, play and bathe on the banks of the ancient Minneriya Tank (reservoir).

Elephants are not only the only mammals you are likely to see in the park, however. Rich in biodiversity, Minneriya also hosts a variety of creatures such as the Purple-faced Leaf Monkey, Sri Lanka Swamp Crocodiles, Red-lipped Lizards, Sambar deer, leopards, sloth bears and many more. The park is also a haven for many endemic bird species such as the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot, Sri Lanka Grey Hornbill and Sri Lanka Brown-capped Babbler, as well aquatic birds such as the Painted Stork, Great White Pelican, Ruddy Turnstone, Woolly Neck Stork, Grey Heron and hundreds of cormorants. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to spot the resident and migratory birds, so prepare for an early start! 

After this exhilarating safari, we continue to the historical city of Sigiriya for an overnight stay. Here you will see the impressive Lion Rock, which allegedly acquired its name from the lions that once occupied the nearby caves. Here lie the remains of a 5th century fortress-palace, which towers 600ft above the breathtaking countryside.

The next morning we head to the ancient Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, sited on a gigantic rock. Declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 as part of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, this is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The steep climb to the top will reward you with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding jungle, reservoirs and Sigiriya Rock. The temple itself comprises five separate caves dating back to the 1st century BC, and a selection of 12th century Buddhist statues and late 18th century Sri Lankan paintings can be found inside. The impressive interiors are well worth the climb. This captivating tour is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of Sri Lanka’s unique natural heritage.

The tour includes half board accommodation on a twin-sharing basis, air conditioned transportation, an English speaking chauffeur guide, entrance fees as per itinerary and jeep and tracker for safari. Elephant rides are optional.

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