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…
Sri Lanka in Depth
Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kandy, Hatton, Yala National Park, Galle
Best for: Culture History, Highlights, Beach
Embark on an epic journey through Sri Lanka taking in the far north and south as well as central Sri Lanka and the east coast. This trip is designed for those who want to experience all corners of the country and really get under the skin of the island.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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Combining Sri Lanka's incredible ancient cities with its unique wildlife, shimmering beaches and colonial forts, Sri Lanka in Depth in the ideal journey for those with a deep interest and a little more time.
The trip is a perfect combination for those wanting to discover the extensive history and diverse cultures across the country of Sri Lanka, whilst staying in characterful and in-keeping boutique properties. This 18 day trip will take you across to the 'Cultural Triangle' visiting Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa. The trip then journeys up to Jaffna, the capital city of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. This city was once isolated but is slowly returning to be a symbol in society for the Hindu tradition, art and creative culture. It feels a little more like Southern India than Sri Lanka.
There is also plenty of relaxation time throughout this trip on the picturesque beaches of the country. Throughout your trip you will also have the opportunity to visit some of the country's beautiful gardens and national parks. This is the ultimate trip through Sri Lanka.
Day 1 - 2 : Wadumunnegedara, Sri Lanka
Stay at Horathapola Estate for 1 night
From Colombo your private guide and chauffeur will meet you and will drive you to Wadmunnegedara, a few hours north of the airport. Here you will be staying at Horathapola Estate, a colonial mansion set on a working coconut plantation in the Sri Lankan countryside. The main house at Horathapola holds five spacious and airy bedrooms all with necessary amenities to make your stay as comfortable as possible on your first night. Enjoy a tour of the plantation, sit by the pool or even go on a bullock cart ride.
Days 2 - 5 : Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Stay at Palm Garden Village for 3 nights
Today drive further north to Anuradhapura in the 'Cultural Triangle' and visit the well preserved ruins of one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. Whilst in Anuradhapura you'll also get to visit Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa.
Days 5 - 7 : Jaffna, Sri Lanka
From Anuradhapura drive further north to Jaffna, a city which was stuck in isolation for many years but recently has been re-emerging into the modern day as an area representing the Hindu tradition, art and creative culture. You will stay in Old Park Villa, which is a beautifully restored 16th century house consisting of 6 air-conditioned bedrooms all with en-suite bathrooms. Throughout your stay here your private guide can take you on a tour of the city and local islands.
Days 7 - 9 : Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Stay at Jungle Beach for 2 nights
From Jaffna continue on to the east coast to Trincomalee for some time to relax and unwind on the beautiful east coast beaches. Jungle beach is a stylish eco retreat on Sri Lanka's remote east coast. With its remote setting, treehouse feel and 4km of beach, it makes for a great escape.
Days 9 - 11 : Kandy, Sri Lanka
Stay at Stone House Kandy for 2 nights
Drive in land to Kandy where you will have the opportunity to visit The Temple of the Tooth. This historical site is home to the tooth relic of the Buddha and its one of Sri Lanka's most revered locations. Throughout your time in this city your private guide will also take you to some of the country's most beautiful gardens, the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Whilst in Kandy you will stay at The Stone House, a pretty boutique hotel.
Days 11 - 13 : Dickoya, Sri Lanka
Stay at Hatton Bungalows by Jetwing for 2 nights
Today you'll be driven from the Stone House to Gampola, just south of Kandy. Here you will board a scenic train to Hatton, in the glorious tea country. This is one of the most wonderful journeys through Sri Lanka. Whilst in this area you will have plenty of time to relax and visit a tea plantation and factory, to learn all about how tea is made. Whilst in tea country you will stay at Mandira Bungalows. Hidden deep within the heart of Sri Lanka's tea plantations, the Mandira Bungalows offer a charming sanctuary high up on the south central hills.
Days 13 - 15 : Yala, Sri Lanka
Stay at Cinnamon Wild Yala for 2 nights
Travel to Sri Lanka's southeast coast and to Yala National Park today. Famed for its population of leopard, sloth bear and bird life, Yala is a wonderful place to explore by jeep.
Days 15 - 19 : Near Galle, Sri Lanka
Stay at Aditya for 4 nights
Travel west around Sri Lanka's glorious south coast, past the firshermen, and and visit Galle, one of Sri Lanka's most beautiful heritage towns, Galle Fort. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is bursting with charm and colonial history and its streets are lined with little boutique shops and cafes. Throughout your time in Galle you will stay just 15 minutes north of the city on a beautiful stretch of coast. Aditya will be your home for the next 3 nights. It's a contemporary boutique hotel with twelve luxury suites offering guests a chance to really unwind. From here you can visit Galle, go cycling, enjoy cookery lessons and even go whale watching.
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
Explore the immaculately preserved remnants of Buddhism’s second city. Polonnaruwa is grouped in clumps between enticing forests so that you can walk and cycle your way around giant Buddhas and impressive temples that are over 1,000 years old.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 'fortress in the sky' is one of Sri Lanka's most iconic landmarks. This 370-meter-high monument has 1,202 steps, a 5th century palace and 2 giant stone lion paws, as well as spectacular views.
Visit Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism
Mihintale is an important landmark in Buddhist culture. Climb 1,840 steps in the morning, surrounded by the sights and sounds of traders and pilgrims, before heading to Anuradhapura for a guided tour.
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.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Dating from the sixth century BC and one of Buddhism's holiest sites. A 2,200 year old tree, grown from a cutting of the branch beneath which Buddha found Enlightenment is a highlight. Ancient hospitals and baths add a sense of normality to it all.
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.
Jaffna City Tour
Explore Jaffna with a guide to learn all about the region’s turbulent history through the Dutch and British rule. Visit the Fort, built by the Portuguese, as well as Nelavarai, a bottomless well.
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?
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.
Polonnaruwa by bicycle
Enjoy an easy ride through the sights and enchanting ruins of UNESCO protected Polonnaruwa, a highlight of the cultural triangle. It was first declared a capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country.
Dambulla Rock Cave Temple
The rich history of the huge rock temples involves Indian invaders being driven away through the strength of meditation in the first century BC. Its just as exciting today as you are guided through five intricately carved caves past giant stone statues.
Minneriya National Park
This afternoon experience takes you to Minneriya National Park, home to an enormous population of elephants. Enjoy a game drive with an experienced naturalist.
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.
Ulagalla - Ideas for your free time
During your stay at Ulagalla, enjoy a myriad of activities, including meditation and yoga, nature walks and horse riding, kite building and archery, and wildlife encounters in nearby Minneriya National Park and even whale watching excursions.
Aukana Buddha Statue
An architectural marvel of the ancient Sinhalese, the Aukana Buddha statue stands at an impressive 39 feet tall. Visit the statue today alongside a visit to the ancient city of Anuradhapura.
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.
Ritigala Ancient Monastery
Not far from Anuradhapura, Ritigala is a unique nature reserve and an ancient Buddhist monastery dating back to the 1st century. Travel through tropical forest filled with monkeys, birds and butterflies until you reach the monastery.
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.
Private Audience with a Monk in Dambulla
Achieve inner peace whilst listening to tales and teachings of Buddhism from one of the resident temple monks. Afterwards, enjoy ‘Dhamma’, 30 minutes of discussion, practices and customs.
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.
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.
Anuradhapura by bike
Explore the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura on a bicycle, riding past highlights such as stupas, bathing tanks, ancient hospitals, and allegedly the oldest tree in the world.
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.
Jaffna Islands Tour
This unique tour takes you to the islands the scatter the coast around Jaffna’s peninsula. This untouched region has more similarities with Southern India than Sri Lanka due to the Hindu influence here.
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.
Ulagalla - Village Bike Ride
This 2-hour guided mountain bike ride will allow you to meet the local community, practise spiritual temple meditation and spot abundant wildlife on your way back through the countryside.
Ulagalla - Organic Cooking Class
Take a tour around Ulagalla’s organic garden with a chef and handpick vegetables and herbs for your Sri Lankan coking class. Take home the recipes you learn so you can recreate the dishes for family and friends.
Ulagalla - Jungle Kayaking
Enjoy this kayaking experience in the serene Wannamaduwa Tank, observing wildlife and birdlife in their natural habitat as they paddle through the lotus flowers, water lilies and jungle trees.
From $4186 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.