Some of the wildlife that can be spotted on a Sri Lanka holiday...
The teardrop island is particularly proud of its natural bounty, and rightly so. For thousands of years, vast swathes of land have been protected by Sri Lankan royalty, preserved as sanctuaries for nature to thrive and even today, countless areas of protected land exist on the island. Despite its small size, its diverse landscapes, contrasting seasons, unique climate and incredible biodiversity confirm it as an exceptional place for wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy year-round.
Whether you’re a culture vulture keen to explore the impressive temples and UNESCO sites of the Cultural Triangle, a wildlife fanatic who hopes to spot the elusive leopard in Yala National Park, or a fervent foodie whose mouth waters at the tantalizing aromas of cardamom and coriander, here's our pick of the top Sri Lankan experiences that are not to be missed...
Here’s a guide to our favourite local street-food delicacies to sample during your stay…
Mirissa is the gateway to Dondra Point. This is one of the best spots to witness the whale migrations in Sri Lanka from the Bay of Bengal - Sri Lanka’s southern sea is calm offering up the perfect conditions.
On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, Ellis was bowled over by this unique and calm country which is worlds apart from nearby India. From the fascinating culture of the north, to the scenic rolling hills of Tea Country and the beautiful golden beaches on the coast, there is no end to the country's beauty.
In Sri Lanka, festivals are an integral part of life and culture; with a population composed of many races and religions and given its long, ancient history – they are never short of celebrations. Here are a few of the significant festivals:
Tea is part of Sri Lanka’s unique cultural heritage and some of the world’s finest teas are produced here. Due to Sri Lanka’s diverse climate each tea variety is uniquely different. The country is particularly famous for Ceylon tea, recognised over the world for its high quality and distinct aroma (crisp and citrus).
The best of Sri Lanka and The Maldives in this luxurious journey that takes in Sri Lanka's ancient cities and tea plantations before flying off to one of the finest islands in The Maldives. It combines culture with some of the world's finest beaches.
Spotting the Big Five in Africa is often hailed as the holy grail of wildlife holidays, but plenty of other places around the world offer animal sightings impressive enough to rival Africa's, and Sri Lanka is certainly one of them. Here, we introduce you to Sri Lanka's own Big Five and give you all the information you need to go in search of these wild beasts...
Here’s a guide to our favourite things to do in Galle…
Essential Sri Lanka
Kotugoda, Kandy, Ella, Yala, Galle, Bentota
Best for: Family, Highlights, Honeymoon
A diverse and good value itinerary combining cultural highlights, boutique properties and wildlife. Perfect for those wishing to experience the highlights of Sri Lanka with a private guide, whilst staying in simple but very stylish boutique accommodation.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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Experience the diversity of Sri Lanka in this stunning journey through the island. Start with a night in The Wallawwa, a tranquil and stylish boutique hotel not far from Colombo that's an ideal respite after your flight. From The Wallawwa you'll be driven in land with your private chauffeur guide to Kandy. You'll stay in Ellerton, a charming boutique hotel about 40 minutes from town. The hotel is flanked by glorious hills so either head in town from here or simply relax around the pool with a book. Kandy is famed for its temples, botanical gardens and wonderful lake.
From here,you'll head by train into the tea country and to Ella, one of the most scenic locations in Sri Lanka. Here you'll stay at 98 Acres, a simple but beautiful little hotel overlooking vast stretches of greenery and tea plantations. From here go walking, visit a tea factory or simply unwind surrounded by vast swathes of countryside.
From Ella you will continue south to Yala National Park which is famous for leopards. It is known to have the highest concentrations of leopard in the wild, so go in search with them by jeep with your guide!
You'll continue your journey around the south coast where you will stop in Galle for two nights. Galle Fort is brimming with charm and its streets are lined with wonderful cafes, museums, boutiques and restaurants. Spend the next few days learning about its colonial heritage and soak up the atmosphere.
Your trip concludes in Rock Villa, a small and intimate boutique property on the beach near Bentota. Spend the last two nights completely unwinding on the beach or by your pool.
This itinerary is perfect for those who want to experience the diversity Sri Lanka has to offer, from wildlife to beaches and from history to culture.
Day 1 - 2 : Kotugoda (near Colombo), Sri Lanka
Stay at The Wallawwa for 1 night
Your private driver will meet you upon your arrival in Colombo and will take you approximately a 20 minute drive to the Wallawwa to unwind after your journey. This charming boutique hotel, surrounded by glorious gardens, provides the perfect place to relax after your flight.
Days 2 - 4 : Kandy, Sri Lanka
Stay at Villa Rosa for 2 nights
This morning, you will be driven to Gampola (just on the edge of Kandy), where you will stay in the colonial style Ellerton Bungalow for two nights. Situated high above Kandy, the views are breath taking, and with complimentary bicycle use it is the perfect base to explore the nearby area. You can also easily visit Kandy, which is home to The Temple of the Tooth and the Royal Botanical Gardens. A stunning infinity pool is the perfect place for a dip in the steamy tropical afternoons.
Days 4 - 6 : Ella, Sri Lanka
Stay at 98 Acres for 2 nights
This morning you will drive south to Nuwara Eliya with your private driver where you will catch your train south to Ella in the tea country. This is a striking journey as you travel through undulating hills and through tiny tea pickers' villages. Sitting on a stunning tea estate, you'll stay at 98 Acres for two nights. Explore the area on foot, visit a tea factory or simply relax by the pool in the glorious hills.
Days 6 - 8 : Yala, Sri Lanka
Stay at Cinnamon Wild Yala for 2 nights
A short drive to Yala, takes you to your two night stay in Cinnamon Wild, a beautiful small resort that borders Yala National Park. With opporuntunites to spot elephant, wild boar, sloth bear and leopards, this is one of the best spots to experience the exotic wildlife that Sri Lanka has to offer. The hotel overlooks a stunning lake that contains crocodiles and pelicans so this is a great place for any nature lover. With spa and pool facilities that could rival most other hotels on the island, this is also the perfect resort to relax and just enjoy your surroundings.
Days 8 - 10 : Galle, Sri Lanka
Stay at Deco on 44 for 2 nights
Continue around the scenic south coast today, past the stilt fishermen, to your hotel Deco on 44 in Galle. With historic streets lined with boutiques, cafes and restaurants as well as small museums, Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a true hightlight of Sri Lanka.
Days 10 - 12 : Bentota, Sri Lanka
Stay at Rock Villa for 2 nights
Your final transfer will take you to Rock Villa on the west coast for a two night stay to unwind at the end of your trip. This private hideaway is one of the most renowned beach locations in Sri Lanka and has a characterful railway running through it's gardens, which people often love. Fully equipped with hammocks, sunbeds and colonial style chairs, there are so many places to relax and unwind. Containing its own garden, terrace, pool and massage gazebo, this is the perfect way to end your holiday in style.
When to go
Sri Lanka is considered a sunny year round destination; there is always somewhere experiencing good weather on the island. However, there are huge regional differences. The Southwest ‘Yala’ Monsoons brings rain to the west and southwest coast, as well as the hill country, from April/May to September. During this time the north and east coasts are good. The northeast ‘Mahe’ monsoon is less extreme and brings rain to the east and north during October and November. This monsoon can bring a bit of rain to the south as well. Put simply; head to the south, central, hill country and western areas between December and March and ideally head to the north and eastern areas between April and September. We can never guarantee good weather but believe this is a good guide to follow.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
Afternoon Jeep Safari - Yala National Park
Enjoy a late afternoon jeep safari through Yala National Park. The twilight is the best time to spot sloth bears as they come out of their daytime hiding spots and begin feeding. The famous Leopards of Yala might be around and bird life is aplenty.
Galle Cycling Tour - The Paddy Trail (12km)
Heading out of Galle, explore village life by bike in this charming experience. The 12km paddy trail is a great opportunity to see inland Sri Lanka and Koggala Lake.
Uga Bay - Sea Kayaking
This thrilling sea kayaking experiences is a popular choice from Uga Bay’s selection of ocean adventures. Take out two kayaks, which can fit 4 people, for an unforgettable group experience.
Visit Dowa Temple from Ella
Visit this rock temple, which is one of Sri Lanka’s many important heritage sites and houses an enormous 38 ft. granite Buddha.
Visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens
Established in 1861 for Cinchona cultivation in Sri Lanka, the botanical gardens at Hakgala sit at about 1,745 meters and are some of the finest on the island. Covering 28 hectares, the experimental gardens are well worth a visit.
Culinary Tour of Galle
Learn the secret of Fort food on this great culinary tour. Gain knowledge of Sri Lankan street food whilst meeting several local characters along the way to bring the tour alive. Did you know that cinnamon helps improve your memory?
Trekking in Horton Plains Nature Reserve
Situated above 2,000 meters above sea level, Horton Plains covers rivers, waterfalls, unique fauna, and numerous landscapes. This 9km trek takes around 3 hours, with highlights such as the famous Baker Falls and ocean views from World’s End escarpment.
Escorted Climb of Adam's Peak
This experience begins at 1am, heading out to one of the most stunning mountains in Asia for a summit sunrise. The 5,200 steps offer plenty of rest opportunities as your rise above the clouds.
Rosyth Estate - Cooking Class
During your stay at Rosyth, we highly recommend that you try your hand in the kitchen at their cooking class, whipping up some delicious dishes using local produce.
Jungle Beach - Visit Ancient Trincomalee
Known as the ‘Rome of the Pagans of the Orient’, visiting Trincomalee will offer the chance to understand the myths and legends that surround the ancient temples and colonial forts in the area.
Jungle Beach - Fishing in the Mangroves
Enjoy how peaceful the mangroves are at dusk and the slow pace of life that the fishermen here enjoy. There are plenty of endemic and migratory bird species to spot as well as lots of other wildlife in this pristine area.
Uga Bay - Ideas for your free time
Uga Bay offers lots of fun activities for guests of all ages, which can be easily arranged. Track leopards in Wilpattu, tour the countryside on a bike, or try your hand at cooking. Enjoy a whale watching trip and explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
Visit a Tea Plantation
Spend the day exploring the local area and enjoying the stunning scenery. You may wish to visit a local tea estate, where you can see the tea pluckers at work and visit a tea factory so that you can learn all about the tea making process.
Galle Fort Walking Tour with Sanjei
Enjoy a walking tour of Galle Fort led by Sanjej. Enjoy numerous stories as you venture into the little nooks and crannies that make Galle Fort so special.
Merchants of Galle Fort
Enjoy a fascinating walk through UNESCO listed Galle Fort with a guide who will take you behind the historic walls of this ancient citadel. Meet the ancestors of the original merchant families and learn about the spice trade and colonial history.
Galle Fort Walking Tour
Walk along the ramparts and through the ancient streets of Galle Fort, founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Galle is rich with merchant history and colonial charm.
Boat safari in Gal Oya Park
Enjoy a morning boat safari followed by a lovely picnic in the Gal Oya Park. This is a unique opportunity to observe the local wildlife from the stunning Gal Oya Lake.
Mask Making in Balapitya
Learn to craft your own mask in Balapitya using traditional tools at the workshop in Ambalangoda, supervised by an experienced master craftsman.
Whale Watching from Mirissa
Explore the waters off Sri Lanka’s south coast from Mirissa fishing harbour. Enjoy 4 hours watching whales, spotting blue whales and spinner dolphin. The best spotting is between December and April.
Trek to Ella Rock
A great experience for the adventurous, this 8km trek is a challenging climb that rewards with the most spectacular views across the hill country and plains below. The glorious scenery makes this 4-hour round trek well worth the effort.
Little Adams Peak and Ravana Ella Falls
Located just outside Ella, Little Adam’s Peak offers a short 30-minute climb to the 1,140-meter peak. Named after the more famous and arduous Adam’s Peak due to its close resemblance, this climb is on a small scale so a little easier.
Galle Cycling Tour - The Paddy Trail (30km)
Head out of Galle and discover village life by bicycle. The 30km paddy trail is a fantastic opportunity to see some of inland Sri Lanka and Koggala Lake. This is an ideal experience for those who consider themselves fit.
Trekking in the Knuckles Range
This is a must for trekking enthusiasts, who will love the striking landscapes and ever-changing fauna on this 4-5 hour trek from Illukkumbura to Riverston. Expect sweeping panoramas and waterfalls in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ella City Tour
Explore Ella with your chauffeur guide. Ella is blessed with some of Sri Lanka’s most spectacular views. On this tour you will visit Ella Gap, Ravana Ella Falls, Little Adam’s Peak, Ravana Cave and Bambaragala Park.
Morning and Afternoon Jeep Safari - Yala National Park
Whilst at Yala National Park, enjoy a morning and afternoon game drive to witness the variety of wildlife, particularly leopards, for which the park is renowned. Yala is known to have the highest density of leopard on the planet.
Adam's Peak Descent
Make your way down from Adam’s Peak in the morning at a leisurely pace. The descent is much quicker although not necessarily easier as you may be tired from walking through the night.
Morning Jeep Safari - Yala National Park
Enjoy a morning game drive in a jeep through Yala National Park, which has the highest leopard density in the world, making it incredibly popular. Various other mammals can often be spotted, including sloth bears.
Uga Bay - Snorkeling and Diving
With kaleidoscopic marine life and miles of coral reefs and ancient shipwrecks, the ocean off Passikudah’s coast is an underwater adventure playground for snorkelers and divers alike.
Jungle Beach - Ideas for your free time
Jungle Beach is very relaxing but there are also plenty of fun activities on offer. Enjoy a bike tour of the local communities, help the children make kites, or enjoy a cooking class. You could even go whale watching or try scuba diving.
Uga Bay - Sailing Trips
Uga Bay’s sailing trips are ideal for those wanting to explore the ocean on Passikudah’s coast. Enjoy a thrilling trip out on the water that lasts for a minimum of 90 minutes.
Jungle Beach - Sea Fishing
Keen anglers will love the thrill of fishing out on the open ocean accompanied by a knowledgeable local fisherman. Equipment and refreshments are provided so you can make a brilliant morning of it.
From $2579 per person
International economy class flights and airport taxes from the UK
Meals as per itinerary
Private guide and driver
Ask our specialists for prices excluding flights from the UK. This price is as a guide only. The actual price is influenced by fluctuations in exchange rate, time of year, travel class of flights and the use of private versus shared excursions. Single supplements are likely to apply.