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…
Unique Sri Lanka
Colombo, Kotugoda, Pallepolla, Kandy, Gal Oya National Park, Passikudah, Sigiriya
Best for: Culture History, Off the beaten track, Wildlife
Without compromising on comfort get off-the-beaten track and experience the unseen side of Sri Lanka. Secluded accommodation, ancient cities, incredible wildlife and pristine beaches allow for a completely unique experience.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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Unique Sri Lanka is an itinerary designed for those who have already travelled to Sri Lanka, for those wanting to escape the crowds and for those looking to dig deep and really get under the skin of the country.
From your first night relaxing at The Wallawwa, you will be taken to Jim's Farm in Pallepolla, in central Sri Lanka. A collection of villas snuggle within a beautiful organic form. Learn all about the farm and spices, visit local villages, or even head further north of south. This is a perfect rural escape and an ideal place to unwind in quintessential Sri Lanka.
Kandy is your next stop; from experiencing the tropical surroundings, to visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic there is so much to do. Kandy is slightly eclectic and we can arrange truly unique experiences to make the most of your time there.
From Kandy your private driver/guide will then take you to Gal Oya Lodge which sits in the heart of Gal Oya National Park. Cut off from the outside world for many years, Gal Oya feels completely untouched. It's the perfect place to spot wild elephants swimming, meet with indigenous tribes, go walking and experience game drives to get you deeper in the park.
From Gal Oya you'll head east to Passikudah. The eastern coast of Sri Lanka was untouched for many years but its long pristine beaches and safe swimming conditions make it one of Sri Lanka's best beach destinations and there are now a few wonderful hotels there. Here you can enjoy diving, snorkelling or simply relaxing with a book.
From Passikudah you'll continue in land to Sigiriya, which allows you to delve into the rich history of the 'Cultural Triangle'. Here you'll stay in a boutique property that is nestled in a rural area outside of Sigiriya. From here you can visit Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Minneriya National Park and Dambulla Cave Temples.
A final night in Colombo allows you to relax before you jet back home after the most wonderful and unique journey through Sri Lanka.
Day 1 - 2 : Kotugoda (near Colombo), Sri Lanka
Stay at The Wallawwa for 1 night
On arrival in Colombo, you will be greeted by your chaffeur and be driven to the unique boutique property, the Wallawwa for two nights. Situated a convinient fifteen minutes away from Colombo Airport, this it the perfect place to relax after a long journey. An authentic feel comes from the surrounding villages that welcome you with open arms, great food and beautiful beaches only add to the charm of the property.
Days 2 - 4 : Pallepolla, Sri Lanka
Stay at Jim's Farm Villas for 2 nights
This morning, you will be transfered to Jim's Farm Villa in Pallepolla for two nights. A variety of villas to choose from, all on the serene fifty acre farm, are the perfect place to experience a more rustic side of Sri Lanka. Opportunties to visit the nearby elephant orphanage and yoga retreats are also a popular option for those in the area. A small town, Pallepolla is rural and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Usually missed by traditional touristic routes, this charming village is an off the beaten track favourite, friendly and welcoming, the villagers provide cookery lessons for those wishing to immerse themselves in the Sri Lankan way of life.
Days 4 - 6 : Kandy, Sri Lanka
Stay at Villa Rosa for 2 nights
This morning you will be driven to Kandy, for a two night stay in Villa Rosa. A perfect alternative to the larger and more commercial hotels in Kandy, here you can overlook hill country and enjoy your tranquil surroundings whilst experiencing the breath taking scenery. Stylish rooms and charming decor add a contemporary feel without losing any of the rustic appeal. Dinner on the terrace and guided trips run by the owner are just some of the personal features you would not get anywhere else. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and Kandy Lake are popular tourist hotspots, although firm favourites, Villa Rosa provides a different way of experiencing Kandy.
Visits to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic are one of the highlights of Kandy, with its gold roof, it houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic and is a must-see for any vistor to Kandy. Dominating the town is Kandy lake, a man made creation, strolls along the southern edge are picturesque and relaxing.
Days 6 - 9 : Gal Oya National Park, Sri Lanka
Stay at Gal Oya Lodge for 3 nights
A quick transfer to Gal Oya Lodge, puts you right in the centre of Gal Oya National Park for an unforgettable three night stay. With Sri Lanka's largest lake, boat safaris are a great way of seeing spotting wild elephants swimming between the islands in the park. As an eco-friendly lodge, the focus is on sustainability, charming wooden huts beautifully decorated help to add that magical touch to your stay. Breathtaking views of alligators, elephants and birds are just a few of the animals to be spotted. Jeep safaris and picnics on the sandy banks of the Nigala river are just some of the excursions that can be arranged through this unique lodge.
Days 9 - 12 : Passikudah, Sri Lanka
Stay at Uga Bay for 3 nights
This morning you will be taken to Passikudah where you will stay in elegant Uga Bay resort for three nights. This world class property is just steps from the stunning beach and the amudance of marine life, providing great diving for either experienced or beginner divers. Sri Lanka has some of the most spectacular beaches in the world and this unique property showcases this, with excursions to Batticaloa Lagoon and Passikudah Bay, you can experience the very best of Sri Lankan coastline.
You are situated in the very heart of breath taking archeological relics which borders national parks abundantly filled with wild elephants. Serene beaches line the area, almost untouched by tourists, creates a secluded hideaway-esque feel, a side that few who venture to Sri Lanka have the opportunity to experience.
Days 12 - 14 : Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Stay at Wild Grass for 2 nights
A penultimate drive will take you to Sigiriya to stay in the Wildgrass hotel for two nights, a renowned nature resort that is completely surrounded by jungles, lakes and the Kandalama hills. Hidden away, this is the perfect hideaway for relaxation, with breath taking views. Situated in the heart of the cultural triangle, you can experience the highlights, by taking a visit to Lion Rock to marvel at the iconic lion paws carved directly into the large rocky outcrop high above Sigiriya. With frescos, gardens and museums to entertain you, there is plenty to do and with such dramatic scenery, this truly is one of the best destinations within Sri Lanka.
Day 14 - 15 : Colombo
Stay at Residence by Uga for 1 night
A short drive will take you to your final night, which you will be spending in Colombo in the one of the finst boutique hotels in the area, Uga Residence. Nestled between a Buddhist temple and the bustling Park Street, you can experience the best of both worlds. With a tranquil pool area, this is the perfect place to relax before you are driven to Colombo Airport to embark on your journey home.
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.
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.
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.
Colombo Tuk Tuk Safari
Enjoy this fun and hip way to take in Colombo, as your tuk tuk driver transports you to the ‘must see’ attractions of the city, from downtown landmarks to off-the-beaten-track secrets.
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.
Gal Oya Lodge - Walk of Discovery with the Chief Veddha
Explore the jungle with the Veddha chief himself, the leader of the indigenous, forest dwelling people of Sri Lanka. Learn how they hunt, cure sickness and create shelter in this unique experience.
Gal Oya Lodge - Boat Safari
Embark on this unique safari, cruising on the Senanayake Reservoir, the largest lake in Sri Lanka, on this unforgettable boat safari. Spot spectacular wildlife and game on countless islands around the lake.
Gal Oya Lodge - Jeep safari with picnic lunch
Tantalise your taste buds with a beautifully prepared lunch on either the banks of the Gal Oya River or beside a nearby tranquil waterfall. Then, embark on a jeep safari through the Nilgala region of the park.
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.
Millennium Elephant Foundation
Visit rescued and orphaned elephants at the Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF), established in August 1999 as a sanctuary of care, protection and medical services for elephants in Sri Lanka.
Old Colombo Walkabout
This Colombo walking tour is a leisurely 3-4 hour walk that celebrates the city’s Portuguese, Dutch and English heritage. With a specialist guide, you’ll also learn about modern Colombo and how locals conduct their business.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Private Audience with a Monk in Colombo
Enjoy the chance to meet a resident monk at the Gangarama Temple in Colombo. Learn about the stories of Buddha’s life and how to achieve inner peace. Afterwards, experience some Buddhist practices and customs.
Colombo Shopping Experience
Colombo is known for its small boutiques, handicrafts and beautiful hand-woven fabrics, as well as larger shops selling clothes and accessories. Explore the shopping area with your friendly guide on this flexible experience.
Colombo City Tour
This guided tour is a journey through Colombo’s highlights, from strolling along Galle Face Green overlooking the India Ocean, to the fort area and railway station. Enjoy parks, gardens, the town hall and the city’s famous Independence Square.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Night Cycling in Colombo
Pedal your way around an atmospheric dusky Colombo to reveal its hidden secrets. As some of the city goes to sleep, other parts come alive. Enjoy this little cycling adventure before dinner.
Cycle tour of Colombo
Explore Colombo on two wheels, passing museums, railways, parks and gardens with an experienced guide who will show you the best sights and short cuts in this bustling city. Galle Face Green, right next to the sea is a highlight.
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.
Sri Lankan Cookery Experience
Unique and tantalising, Sri Lankan cuisine is rich in spices and complexity. Learn about the flavours of Sri Lanka and how to combine different spices in this simple lesson with a local cook. This is a fantastic way to understand the country’s cuisine.
Gal Oya Lodge - Jeep safari at night
Discover ancient archaeological sites and fascinating caves before exploring the wilderness of Gal Oya National Park at night, spotting some nocturnal wildlife from your jeep.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 $3185 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.