“Camels, Elephants, Monks & Markets” - Sri Lanka

SMALL GROUP Ancient Sri Lanka and Sparkling Dubai

March 5 – 15, 2017

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What a thrilling dual-destination vacation this is at a price that can’t be beat. We combined 2 unique places that should be on everyone’s bucket lists. What a contrast, with special activities and deluxe hotels throughout! Sri Lanka, a Buddhist Kingdom is synonymous with tranquility, was described by Marco Polo as “the finest island country in the world”. Set in the Indian Ocean with 1000 miles of coastline, it’s dotted with fishing villages and world class beaches.

Overview

This is the land of tigers, elephants, festivals, Auryveda spas, ancient monasteries, World Heritage sites and amazing cuisines. There’s stunning landscapes with lush tea plantations and it’s a shoppers’ paradise. You’ll love the Elephant Orphanage and the people are so friendly here. Sri Lanka is now experiencing such a tourist boom; hotels can’t be constructed fast enough. Makes sense with everything so affordable here.
Our past group loved it.

Robert K wrote:
“I didn’t believe an AFS trip could be better than some of the 11 I’ve been on before, but it’s probably my best AFS trip ever. Surrounded by exotic sights, playing with elephants. Dining on unpronounceable food, climbing a sheer mountain face to a palace and awesome temples, I couldn’t be happier. Sri Lanka brought such a sense of adventure!”

We fly award-winning Emirates Airlines to glittering Dubai, a desert kingdom sleeker than any place on earth for its countless modern marvels. It’s famous for fun. We’ll ‘Sheik it Up’ with Dune Bashing, a Dhow cruise, desert dinner, city tour and a chance to tour famous Abu Dhabi, capital of UAE with its ultra- modern architecture.
Don’t miss this extraordinary adventure of 2 countries in 1 diverse vacation. Come for the history. Come for the fun. It could be your favorite trip ever!

 

 

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Our Glorious Itinerary

March 5 - Depart USA for Dubai

Air details in Trip Tips


March 6 - Welcome to Dubai!

You will be met and transfer to your 4-star hotel, Hyatt Place, located in the heart of Deira - Dubai’s historic district on the eastern side of Dubai Creek. Here we can float in the pool – or swim up for a drink at sunken pool bar, recharge at the 24-hour Spa or StayFit gym and use the free Wi-Fi.

This afternoon, enjoy a tour of the city which takes us past Dubai's landmarks of cutting edge architecture.  See the iconic 7-star Burj Al Arab Hotel and sparkling beaches.  Then we explore the historical parts to see Jumeirah Mosque along the coast.  We stop at Bastakiya to view the old wind towers built by wealthy merchants and then board a local Abra boat to explore Dubai Creek.  This is the best vantage point to appreciate the startling contrast between the bustling old world alleys of souks and the modern skyscrapers.

This evening get to know your fellow travelers during our welcome dinner on board the Creekside Dhow Cruise. Enjoy the soft breeze and gentle waves as you glide smoothly through the illuminated mosques, palaces and Heritage Village reminiscent of past days.

Overnight at Dubai – Hyatt Place Al Rigga     D


March 7 - Dubai

Morning at leisure. How about breakfast on top of the Burj, indoor skiing at the snow park, shopping the world’s largest mall, visit the world’s largest aquarium, zoom up the world’s fastest elevator in the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, watch the dancing fountains – four times bigger then Vegas’ Bellagio? Your options are endless in this urban playground.

Afternoon, we’ll have Large Fun playing in the sand! You’ll never forget our Desert Dune Safari with dune bashing in 4X4 over orange mountain waves of sand, belly dancing, camel rides, sand skiing and a BBQ dinner under the stars. Your sunset photos will be breathtaking.

Overnight at Dubai – Hyatt Place Al Rigga     B, D


March 8 - Dubai – Abu Dhabi

Day at leisure. Plenty of things to explore. Google Dubai for ideas. An optional exclusive AFS tour will be offered.

Optional AFS Tour: Abu Dhabi $48
We travel past Dubai Jebel Ali, the world's largest artificial harbor to Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. This ultra-modern city is situated on an island. Uber-modern skyscrapers and glass abound everywhere in the city, but many parks and gardens help maintain Abu Dhabi's reputation as being one of the greenest cities of the region.
Photograph the sights of the evolving skyline to sandy shores and iconic buildings. You’ll get a glimpse of Abu Dhabi’s lifestyle and a genuine indulgence for the tourist as we pass 6 star hotels and palaces. Drive to the Corniche, Heritage Village, fruit market, Marina Mall, Emirates Palace and the famous Sheikh Zayed Mosque, world’s largest that our groups love to tour. Drive back to Dubai.

Overnight: Dubai – Hyatt Place Al Rigga     B


March 9 - Dubai - Colombo

Early morning transfer to Dubai airport to fly Emirates Airlines to Colombo, Sri Lanka
On arrival at the airport, you will be met by our guide and transferred directly to the Taj Gateway Hotel & Spa.  

Overnight in Gateway Taj Hotel & Spa   (Unlikely, but this hotel might change)       B

[We had to make a minor land adjustment on our Sri Lanka to accommodate the later air arrival on Emirates into Colombo.  To continue to Sigriyia this night, it’s a 4.5 hours drive and we’d arrival far too late for check in.   To make better for all, we land around 7pm in Colombo and we’ll stay in nearby hotel.  The Colombo Taj Gateway Taj Hotel is set in coconut plantation on a lagoon.  There’s a rejuvenation spa to relax, pool, fitness center, 3 eateries and bars.  Next morning we drive to Sigriyia to arrive around noon.  NO SITES WILL BE MISSED.  We also can now add a city tour in Colombo at the end of trip as we drive back from Kandy.  It’s all good.  The changes reflected on itinerary. ] 

 

 


March 10 - Sigirya

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

Sigiriya - is home to the 5th Century “Fortress in the Sky” which is perhaps the most fantastic single wonder of the Island. It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the fortress.  Within its triple-moated defense, the huge rock rises almost to a sheer height of 500ft.  On its summit are the foundations of what was once a great palace with gardens and a swimming pool.

Our group loved climbing this awesome monolith which is still a mystery to geologists. (You must be fit, but it’s worth the hike up). First see the exquisite Lion’s Paw Gate and the Mirror Wall. There are water gardens, caves and palace ruins with incredible frescos. This was once a mountain monastery. You’ll learn much about this ancient kingdom.

Overnight in Sigriya - Aliya Resort & Spa       B

 


March 11 - Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa- Minneryia - Sigiriya

Early morning drive 4 hours to fabulous Sigirya - a UNESCO World Heritage Site which some consider to be the eighth Wonder of the World. It’s filled with archeological wonders and the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.
     
Upon reaching your hotel, check-in. You’ll love your resort with its pool, gym, spa, restaurant, night club and free WiFi.

 Visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Kings ruled here 800 years ago when it was a thriving Buddhist religious center. Glorious temples with treasures that reveal how the city looked in it’s heyday. You’ll find the archeological park a delight to explore with hundreds of ancient tombs, temples statues and stupas in one compact core.

This “World Heritage Site” was the Capital of Sri Lanka (once called Ceylon) from 11th - 13th Centuries. Lankatilake, Tivanka and Thuparama are the most beautiful houses and Tivanka has the best example of frescoes of the Polonnaruwa period. RankothVehera and Kirivehera are well preserved large stupas. Gal Vihare - a rock shrine, has four Buddha statues and ParakramaBahu statue are examples of Sinhalese stone carver.

Afterwards enjoy a 4 X 4 Jeep Safari at Minneriya National Park.

Minneriya National Park has 8889 hectares and is famous for its large population of elephants in herds of 100 to 150 roaming in the jungle. With about 300 wild elephants, buffaloes, monkeys, wild boar, spotted deer, sloth bear, sambhur, leopards, crocodiles, jackals, 9 kinds of amphibians, 25 kinds of reptiles, 160 species of birds including pelicans, storks, herrons, cormorants, wading birds and more.
Return to hotel to relax.

Overnight in Sigriya - Aliya Resort & Spa        B

 


March 12 - Sigiriya– Dambulla -Kandy

Morning visit to Dambulla. This famous rock temple of five caverns has ceilings of intricate paintings, 48 statutes of Budha and other deities. Dambulla - is a vast isolated rock mass 500 feet high and a mile around the base. Here is found the famous Rock Temple dating to the First Century B.C. The caves of Dambulla sheltered King Walagamba during his 14 years of exile. When he regained the throne he built the most magnificent of Rock Temples to be found in the Island. In the first Cave is a recumbent image of the Buddha 47ft long cut out of the Rock.

We then head to visit the Matale Spice Gardens. Variety is the spice of life and you’ll find abundant variety here. Sri Lanka is famous for its spices used for fragrances, cuisines and medicines. Sniff and learn about cardamom, nutmeg, clove, pepper, curry, cinnamon and more.

Tonight we will visit the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. I don’t care for temples in general but this is a must see. It’s the most sacred temple of all where Buddhist worshipers from around the world come to pray. Inside this 4th century AD fortress, housed in a solid gold case, is the reputed tooth found after Buddha’s cremation. It’s the countries most prized possession. Continue our drive into Kandy.

Lush hills surround the city’s beautiful centerpiece lake. Delicate hill-country breezes impel the mist to gently part, revealing colorful houses and hotels amid Kandy’s improbable forested halo. In the center of town, three-wheelers careen around slippery corners, raising a soft spray that threatens the softer silk of the colorful saris worn by local women. Here’s a city that looks good even when if it’s raining. Urban buzz is provided by busy spontaneous street markets and restaurants. History and culture are on tap, and 115km from the capital and at an altitude of 500m, Kandy offers a cooler and more relaxed climate. (Lonely Planet)

Nestled in the picturesque hill tops of Kandy, Amaya Hills offers guests a breathtaking retreat that peers into the verdant mountains of Hanthana. Built along the lines of a Maligawa (Kandyan Palace), this 4-star hotel is a tasteful mingling of Kandyan culture paired with the trimmings of contemporary luxury. Awake to a dramatic landscape, defined by eucalyptus-clad valleys and mist-tipped ranges. Reflecting an understated philosophy of quiet comfort in a unique, culture-rich location, this inland retreat is dedicated to activity and adventure.

Enjoy a breakfast on the terrace, a morning excursion into town, float in the pool, keep fit in the fitness center, indulge, relax and bask in the restorative therapy of nature at Amaya Hills’ exclusive Ayurvedic spa – Pancha Karma. Have a palm reading, dance the night away in the disco, go cycling, play table tennis, learn to play squash or use the free wifi. No matter what you do, there is no shortage of activities at Amaya Hills to revitalize your senses and renew your spirit.

Overnight in Kandy, Amaya Hills Resort    B


March 13 - Kandy – Pinnawala

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

About 55 miles away is an elephant orphanage started in 1975 to house the abandoned and the wounded elephants. The number of elephants has increased to more than 75 now from 3 generations; including baby elephants brought from various parts and the 23 babies born here, as a result of the captive breeding program. 48 mahouts (handlers) care for these gentle giants and we will visit at the best time to watch the feeding and bathing down by the Oya river.
This nursery and breeding center is a delight to experience with the largest herd of captive wild elephants in the world. Fees from your visit go to conservation and rehab efforts. You’ll learn all about the elephants and the mystery of how they thrive on this island country.

Rest of Day at leisure.
Perhaps visit the Royal Palace, Ceylon Tea Museum, Udawattekele Sanctuary, Spice Gardens, Botanical Gardens, the Kandy Cultural Show (complete with fire walkers) or just hire a tuk-tuk and make your own tour.

Overnight in Kandy, Amaya Hills Resort     B


March 14 – Kandy -Colombo

Morning at leisure in Kandy.  Then we transfer to Colombo and enjoy a panarmaic city tour in Colombo before heading the airport to connect with your flight back to the USA. (Airline schedules vary. Your flight may not arrive back to the USA until the 15th)


March 15 – Arrive back to USA

Photos of our hotels

 

Amya Hills Hotel

Amya Hills Hotel

 

Dubai Hyatt

Dubai Hyatt

 

Sigirya Hotel

Sigura


All we can think of is that people are not seeing this phenominal trip. Bookings are low...min 18 participants must be met for this trip to go. It will be even better as a small group trip.


Activity Level:

2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.

Pricing

Fitness level 2 (Moderate)

A $400 deposit will secure your reservation.  Limited to ONLY 38 participants. Detailed Trip Tips later.  

 Air: You can arrange your own air. We will present group air later. (Air is into Dubai and out of Colombo)  $1093 with taxes

EK 204  05 MAR  JFK – DXB 1040AM – 810A  (Next day 06 MAR)

EK 348  09 MAR  DXB-CMB  1220PM – 605PM

EK 649  14 MAR  CMB-DXB  1005PM – 105AM

EK 203  15 MAR  DXB-JFK  235AM – 855AM

DXB=Dubai  CMB = Colombo

 Land Cost:  $1595 

 Includes first class accommodation, daily guided tours with entrance fees, licensed English speaking guides, meals as stated, private coach, AFS GTL.

Not included:  Gratuities, air.

Options

Name
Description
Price
Gratuities

This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.

It is protocol to tip your drivers, porters and local guides - we have the absolute best. $13 pp per day should suffice as minimum and will be added to your final bill. We will give this to your GTL to disperse accordingly throughout. It’s easier this way. Tips are for local guides, drivers, group meals (except breakfast) and hotel porters that bring bags from bus to lobby.
$85.00
Group Air
We strongly suggest you buy this great air package. EK 204  05 MAR  1040AM – 810A  (Next day 06 MAR) EK 248  09 MAR  DXB-CMB  745AM – 130PM EK 649  14 MAR  CMB-DXB  955PM – 100AM EK 203  15 MAR  DXB-JFK  235AM – 855AM
$1093.00
Abu Dhabi Option
Optional AFS Tour: Abu Dhabi $48
$48.00
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Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.