Set off early morning to climb the magnificent Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
Transfer time: approximately 45 minutes
The Sigiraya Rock Fortress, as one of Sri Lanka's most famous attractions, is an incredible sight to see. As well as its imposing exterior, this site boasts numerous beautiful corners: the Water Gardens, the Mirror Wall and its ancient graffiti, the crumbled stone lion, and the summit of the Rock Fortress itself.
Built by King Kashyapa (477-495 A.D), this fortress rises 200m from the jungle, and was once the stronghold of an an entire fortified town. The moat and ramparts are still visible today, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Upon several walls you may discover 19 world-famous frescoes, the only remnants of the 500 artworks that were once here. Once, a stairway to the top of the fortress led through the mouth of an immense stone lion, but today only its paws remain, giving you a hint of how gargantuan the original lion must have been.
Afterwards, you will drive to the Minneriya National Park*.
Transfer Time: approximately 30 minutes
Sitting amidst Habarana and Polonnaruwa, the 8,890 hectares of Minneriya National Park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to favourites such as elephants and sambar deer. There's more than just the wildlife to discover, though: within the park is the ancient Minneriya Tank, built in the 3rd. century AD by King Mahasena. During the dry season (June to September), this tank is an incredible place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze, as well as the huge flocks of birds like cormorants and painted storks that come to fish.
*Depending on the elephant movement, you may visit the nearby Kaudulla National Park or Hurulu Eco Park instead.
Habarana Village by Cinnamon, on Half Board Basis (or similar)