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With a Kenyan father, Indian grandparents, and a Portuguese surname, travel is in my blood. I am enthralled by East Africa and would happily talk about Africa’s wildlife, cultures and experiences all day, every day.
- from $3,006 PP
- Nov - Apr
Discover the absolute best of the Pearl of the Indian Ocean on this diverse and action-packed 11-day itinerary. The tour packs in all the big-hitting Sri Lankan experiences – history, culture, food, wildlife, adventure, and epic scenery – while keeping comfort levels high throughout and without ever breaking into an overly-rushed pace. Your stay will encompass the many treasures of the Cultural Triangle, Kandy and the stunning Hill Country, safari drives in two national parks, and a final 3 nights on the alluring south coast around Galle.
Our Flexi - Promise
Low Deposit To Book
Book your trip with us and pay a reduced deposit with the rest 90 days before your departure
If you are not comfortable travelling, you have the right to cancel and get a refund up to 45 days before your departure
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Your trip with us is fully financially protected by our travel insurers. Peace of mind guaranteed.
No Change Fees
We will not charge you any admin fees if you would like to change your travel dates or destination with us
- 10 nights in 4 or 5 star accommodation
- Half-board stays in Kotugoda, Sigiriya, and Kaduruketha
- Daily breakfast in Kandy and Galle, plus any other meals mentioned in itinerary
- Private road transport throughout with private driver-guide
- Private English-speaking side guides or naturalists for all mentioned sightseeing
- Hill country train journey in best class available
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Personalized itinerary based on your particular interests
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Kotugoda: Arrival into Bandaranaike International Airport; overnight Kotugoda
Your 10 magical nights in Sri Lanka begin with your arrival into Colombo’s International Airport. You’ll be greeted at the airport and introduced to your private driver-guide, then transferred to your hotel, a peaceful rural lodge approximately 20-minutes’ drive away. Take the night to relax and unwind after your long flight: indulge in a massage or spa treatment, take a refreshing dip in the pool or stretch your legs with a stroll through the centuries-old tropical gardens.
Day 2 Sigiriya: Road journey to Cultural Triangle; visit Dambulla cave temples
At a leisurely time this morning you will head on by road into Sri Lanka’s ‘cultural triangle’. This broad low-land area in the centre of the island encompasses the ruins of Polonnaruwa, the ancient city of Anuradhapura, the cave temples of Dambulla, and the legendary Lion Rock of Sigiriya. Today’s drive will be around 3-4 hours, and will finish with the short climb to see the Dambulla temple complex, which encompasses carvings, paintings, grottos, and meditation spaces, much of which date back over 2,000 years.
Day 3 Sigiriya: Cycling around Polonnaruwa, then dusk safari drive in Minneriya
A short drive brings you to the ruins of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa is the second-oldest of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals (behind Anuradhapura), and was in its prime around 1070 under the reign of King Vijaybahu I. The remains of the city are extensive and impressive, encompassing monasteries, shrines, palaces, and around 5km of ancient city walls. The best way to explore the wide, flat, site is by mountain bike, led by your private guide. A mix of on foot and by car exploration can also be arranged.
Return to the Sigiriya area in the late afternoon and as the afternoon light begins to fade you will be taken for a safari drive in the Minneriya National Park. This small park is centred around the Minneriya tank (watering hole) and is known for an extensive population of wild elephants. Birdlife around the lake is also impressive.
Day 4 Kandy: Early morning climb of Sigiriya, then transfer to Kandy via a spice plantation
After an early breakfast you will head to Sigiriya, the icon of Sri Lanka, to begin your climb before the heat of the day begins to set in. The full climb will take around an hour, entirely on purpose-built steps or stairwells, so easily achievable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness. The final section up to the rooftop palace ruins is on a sturdy but exposed stairway, which can be daunting but is worth it for the magnificent views up top. The best of the frescoes and carvings come before this point however, so many choose to finish the climb at the ‘Lion’s Paw’, before coming back down to enjoy the wide water gardens and small museum also found within the grounds.
You will then head on to Kandy. Stop en route at a lush spice plantation just outside the city where you will enjoy a guided walk and tour, followed by a mouth-watering lunch of Sri Lankan ‘rice-and-curry’. Arrive Kandy in the mid-afternoon and have the rest of the day to relax.
Day 5 Kandy: Walking tour of Kandy
Kandy is Sri Lanka’s former capital, and once seat of its ancient kings. This a bustling and picturesque city, ringed by hills and centred around the placid Bomgambara Lake. This morning you will meet a private guide for a half-day walking tour which takes in the city’s key historic and cultural sites as well as providing an orientation to the busy central streets and enticing market areas. You will also take in the sacred Temple of the Tooth, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the, said to house a relic tooth of the Buddha. The afternoon is then free to continue exploring under your own steam. We recommend a hike up in the Uda Watte Kele rainforest above the city, a gentler visit to nearby Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, or haggling for gems or spices in the central markets.
Day 6 Wellawaya: Train ride through the Hill Country
From Kandy you will take an unforgettable train journey through Sri Lanka’s stunning hill country. Said to be one of the world’s greatest train journeys, this 4-hour run passes through scenery of mountains, tea plantations, and charming hill villages. Disembark at Ella, where – time-permitting – your driver-guide will take you for a short tour of the village including epic views from Ella Gap and prime photo opportunities at Nine Arch Bridge and Rawana Falls. You will then continue by road to your inviting lodge at the lower reaches of the hills.
Day 7 Wellawaya: Safari drive in Yala National Park
You will have a leisurely morning today, following a fairly long day of travel yesterday, but should be feeling active a variety of village and nature walks can be arranged from your lodge. There is also a very inviting pool and spa. In the afternoon you will drive out to Yala National Park, taking a private safari drive in Sri Lanka’s premier reserve which is famed for its sizeable leopard population. Other key sightings include elephants, deer, gharial, and hundreds of bird species.
Day 8 Galle: Transfer to historic Galle; walking tour of Galle Fort
A 3-hour drive this morning brings you out of the interior and down to Sri Lanka’s sumptuous southern coast. This is tropical island scenery at its finest: white sand beaches, overhanging palm trees, fresh seafood, and an outstanding selection of boutique beach accommodation. On arrival you will be taken for an engaging walking tour of the Fort to help you get your bearings, then dropped at your attractive resort just outside the city.
Day 9 Galle: Kanneliya Rainforest hike
Today you will discover the Kanneliya forest reserve, a lush rainforest area around 35km north of Galle. You will join an expert local tracker for an exciting jungle walk, making your way under the thick canopy looking out for monkeys, chameleons, snakes, and a multitude of tropical birds. Stop at a blissful waterfall, where you can take a dip if you wish, before finishing at your tracker’s small home where you will find a delicious home-cooked lunch has been prepared.
This tour is best for those with a keen sense of adventure. There are plenty of alternative activities which can be arranged should you prefer – please speak to your consultant for ideas.
Day 10 Galle: Day at leisure to enjoy the beach or Fort
Your final day is free to spend at you wish. Enjoy your down time on the coast, where you are located just close enough to historic Galle Fort to dip in and out for excellent shopping and dining. Further activities – such as cooking classes, rural cycling tours, whale-watching trips, or watersports – can be arranged locally. Alternatively, take this time relax at your fine hotel and reflect on the many adventures of the last few days.
Day 11 Galle: Departure day
Sadly your time in Sri Lanka has come to an end. At the appropriate time your driver-guide will transfer you back to Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport, a journey of approximately 2 hours using the island’s new west coast expressway. Please speak to your consult if you wish to extend or adapt this itinerary.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
Let’s get started making this itinerary yours.
Speak to experienced Destinations Experts about designing this itinerary around your budget and trip preferences
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The Best Guides
What makes our trips extraordinary is the unique immersive experiences we include. We pride ourselves in our black book of sought after expert guides, game rangers and local contacts who believe in our philosophy, unforgettable.
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