Sri Lanka Photo Tour
November 8 to 18, 2019
Tour Policies (please read)
Visit the photo gallery
Day 1, Nov. 8, Friday.
Depart from your home country so you arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka (airport code CMB) on this day. If you want to rest and recover from the long flight, it's recommended that you arrive one day early. We will meet for the first time as a group for an orientation of the photo tour at 6 pm in the lobby of the hotel on Nov. 8. Overnight Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo.
Day 2, Nov. 9, Saturday.
After breakfast, we explore this city that dates back to the 15th century. We visit the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, the outrageous Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil (an amazing Hindu Temple), Murugan Kovil (another out-of-this world Hindu Temple), and the beautiful facades of the old colonial buildings. Street scenes and wonderful portrait subjects are everywhere. At twilight, we will photograph the Nelum Pokuna Theater which is illuminated beautifully and contrasts dramatically with the dark sky. Overnight Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo.
Day 3, Nov. 10, Sunday.
This morning we proceed to the Colombo Airport for a 30 minute flight to Dambulla. This area has a vast cave complex that dates back to the first century B.C., and it has been converted into an amazing rock temple adorned with exquisite paintings on the ceiling and the highest number of Buddha statues found in a single place. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch, we drive 30 minutes to Sigiriya, another UNESCO site. Here we'll see an enormous rock boulder rising up to 650 feet above the surrounding jungle. On the top is a fifth century fortress that served as a royal citadel for more than 18 years. On the accent to the top, we can see famous frescoes as well as ancient graffiti. The view from the top is dramatic, and the ruins of the fortress make excellent pictures. From here it is a 30 minute drive to our hotel. Overnight Habarana Village by Cinnamon, Habarana.
Day 4, Nov. 11, Monday.
After breakfast, we have a short flight to Trincomalee, a lovely town that served as a hub for maritime and trading activities. We photograph one of the most amazing temple interiors in Sri Lanka --Pathirakali Amman Temple. The fanciful colors and ornate adornment take your breath away. You'll have a lot of fun with a wide angle lens! We also visit Koneshwaram Temple atop Swami Rock, and then we proceed to Medirigiriya and photograph the ruins of a monastery from the kingdom of Polonnaruwa dating back two thousand years. We continue on to Polonnaruwa, the capital of the second kingdom of Sri Lanka, and visit Gal Viharaya, or Rock Temple, where we photograph four colossal statues of Buddha cut into stone. In addition, there are the ruins of ancient palaces, carved moon stones, and royal baths. Overnight The Lake Hotel, Polonnaruwa.
Day 5, Nov. 12, Tuesday.
After breakfast, we drive south this morning to Kandy and arrive around noon. Following lunch and checking into our hotel, we will photograph the Temple of the Sacred Tooth from across the lake to get to capture a classic reflection, and then we drive to an elevated vantage point for another great shot. We will then have a private photo session with exotic Kandian dancers in their amazing costumes and outlandish masks. This will be followed by dinner and twilight photography. Overnight Cinnamon Citadel.
Day 6, Nov. 13, Wednesday.
Following breakfast, we visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth and photograph the compelling interior with the highly decorated reclining Buddhas, the ornate wall decor, and an arched passageway where you'll want to exaggerate the perspective with a wide angle lens. We then drive 90 minutes to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. This is a breeding facility as well as an orphanage for wild elephants that were either injured or abandoned when they were very young. We can watch these Indian elephants eating, and this includes calves enjoying a bottle feed. We will also be able to photograph the entire herd making their way through the town for bath time in the Maha Oya River. These huge mammals adore their time in the water, and you can share in their enjoyment as they splash around, roll in the dirt, or delight in a coconut shell massage from one of their human friends. We return to Kandy and you will have some free time in the city to photograph and/or shop for silverware, brassware, and gem-studded jewelry designed by Kandyan craftsmen who have a reputation for being the most skilled in the country. Overnight Cinnamon Citadel.
Day 7, Nov. 14, Thursday.
We drive just 30 minutes this morning to Peradeniya where we visit the Royal Botanical Gardens. Originally created in the 14th century as a pleasure garden for the Queens, it consists of 147 acres and is the home to over 4000 species of plants, ferns, shrubs, palm trees, spices, and medicinal plants all complemented by a vast array of butterflies and bird species. In addition, there is a huge collection of more than 300 species of orchids -- so bring your macro lens. We then drive to the train station in Kandy and take a train to Hatton (tickets subject to availability; if this is not an option, we will drive to our next destination). It is a very scenic trip through the highlands of Sri Lanka because we'll pass through endless numbers of emerald tea plantations that blanket the mountains. Upon arrival, we will be met by a local guide and transferred to our hotel. We then enjoy a tour of Nuwara Eliya which is the epicenter of Ceyon tree production. The temperature is cooler here because of the mountain elevation. We will visit the Seetha Amman Hindu Temple, St. Clair's Falls, and we will have the opportunity of photographing the beautiful landscapes comprising vast tea plantations. Overnight Nuwara Eliya Jetwing St. Andrews.
Day 8, Nov. 15, Friday.
After breakfast, we have a 3-hour drive to Buduruwagala to visit a 10th-century Buddhist temple. The complex consists of 7 impressive statues. The largest statue still bears traces of its original stuccoed robe, and the long streak of orange suggests it was once brightly painted. From here we head south to Yala National Park for an afternoon game drive. This park is known to have one of the highest density of leopards in the world. In addition, we will hopefully see sloth bears, wild elephants, toque macaque monkeys, spotted deer, langur monkeys, and perhaps even the shy red slender loris. In addition, there are mugger and saltwater crocodiles, cobras, sea turtles, and 215 species of exotic birds. Overnight near Yala National Park at Cinnamon Wild Hotel.
Day 9, Nov. 16, Saturday.
Early this morning we have another game drive in Yala National Park, and then we return to the hotel for a late breakfast. We check out of the hotel around noon and drive to the south coast of Sri Lanka, arriving in Weligama. Our goal this late afternoon and at sunset is to photograph the famous stilt fishermen. This is a tradition unique to Sri Lanka. The stilt is nothing more than a pole with a cross bar, and the fisherman must be perfectly still and have tremendous patience to catch anything. You'll be able to photograph classically beautiful silhouettes. Also try using a neutral density filter to smooth the ocean water with an exposure of a few seconds. Overnight Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa.
Day 10, Nov. 17, Sunday
We have another photo session with the stilt fishermen this morning to catch the light coming from a different angle. We then return to the hotel for breakfast, checkout, and then proceed to the historic town of Galle about 45 minutes away. The fort, built by the Portugese in 1588, was later fortified by the Dutch and remains virtually unchanged today. Explore the fort, the Maritime Museum, the lighthouse surrounded by palms, and the Old Dutch Reformed Church. From here, we drive back to Colombo. Jim will organize a critique session where you can get professional feedback on your images along with suggestions pertaining to Photoshop about ways to improve your images such as replacing the sky. Overnight Zmax Fairway Hotel.
Day 11, Nov. 18, Monday.
After breakfast at the hotel, we are transferred to the airport for our international departure, confident that we've taken fantastic travel pictures in exotic Sri Lanka.
Tour cost: $5295
Single supplement: $825
Includes: 10 nights lodging, all meals starting with breakfast at the hotel on day 2, all ground transportation, all entrance fees in the temples, archeological sites, dance performances, and the national park, services of an English speaking guide, flight from Colombo to Sigiriya, flight from Sigiriya to Trincomalee, complimentary bottled water throughout the tour, and photo instruction.
Not included: International airfare, items of a personal nature, alcoholic beverages, trip cancellation insurance.