From £1,888 pp incl. UK flights
Day 1: Depart on a choice of flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Day 2: Arrive Colombo. Private transfer to Horathapola Estate for 1 nt.
Day 3: Continue on to the Cutural Triangle for 3 nights at your choice of hotel
Day 4: Private day tour to Lion Rock of Sigiriya & Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari
Day 5: Private guided tour of ancient city of Polonnaruwa
Day 6: Private guided tour to Dambulla Cave Temple. Continue on to Kandy for 2 nts
Day 7: Kandy - Private guided City tour including Temple of the Tooth
Day 8: Private day tour through hill country & tea plantations to Nuwara Eliya for 1 night
Day 9: Take train through beautiful hill country. Transfer to Udawalawe National Park for 2 nts
Day 10: Elephant Transit Home private guided tour & Udawalawe National Park jeep safari
Day 11: Private transfer to historic Galle for 2 nights. Afternoon walking tour
Days 12: Free day to explore Galle or perhaps add a dolphin / whale watching tour
Day 13: Private transfer back up to Colombo in time for your flight home.
Day 14: Arrive home.
Day 1: UK Airport / Colombo, Sri Lanka
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Colombo. Direct flights are with Sri Lanka Airlines from Heathrow, otherwise there are a range of one stop options with such airlines as British Airways, Qatar and Emirates.
Day 2: Arrive Colombo - Transfer to Horathapola Estate
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred (1 hour) to the Horathapola Estate for 1 night.. The Horathapola Estate is a luxurious boutique hotel set within a 50 acre working coconut plantation. Relax by the large salt water swimming pool or explore the plantation's walking trails, where apart from coconuts, you’ll find tropical fruits, spices and rice grown. You can also take a bullock cart or ride a bike through the plantation and out to the neighbouring village. Don’t wander too far as afternoon tea is a celebrated event at Horathapola! Dinner is served looking out over the garden as you enjoy a selection of Sri Lankan curries prepared with estate-grown produce. All in all a gentle, authentic introduction to Sri Lanka.
Day 3: Horathapola Estate (B) - Transfer to Cultural Triangle
After a leisurely breakfast looking out over the garden, transfer 3 hours to the Cultural Triangle for 3 nights at your choice of hotel. Afternoon free.Within the Cultural Triangle you have a range of places to base yourself during your stay and we’d be happy to discuss this with you. With some much to do in the area it’s the perfect place to start your holiday, enjoy a variety of experiences and get yourself onto Sri Lanka time.
Day 4: Cultural Triangle (B) - Private Guided Sigiriya & Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari
This morning your private guide will collect you for a tour of the Lion Rock of Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites and a must see in any visit to the Cultural Triangle as a testament to ancient artistry and architectural ingenuity. Built in the 5th century by King Kasyapa as a fortress and pleasure palace it dominates the surrounding landscape, rising 200 metres above the ground. The entrance to the original fortress was through the mouth of a lion, however the ravages of time mean that only a part of the massive paws remain today. The view from the flattened summit of the rock is spectacular and well worth the climb, but those without a head for heights can stroll around the ramparts and pleasure gardens, or take in the famous Sigiriya frescoes that can be found partway up the rock.Return to your hotel in time for an early lunch and then re-join your guide for an afternoon jeep safari through Minneriya National Park which is 30 minutes away. Located between Habarana and Polonnaruwa, the 8,890 hectares of Minneriya National Park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to favourites such as sambar deer, leopards and elephants. The park’s main attraction is the ancient Minneriya Tank (built in 3rd century AD by King Mahasena) and is often the best place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze, as well as huge flocks of birds (cormorants and painted storks to name but a few) that come to fish in the shallow waters. Back at the hotel early evening.
Day 5: Cultural Triangle (B) - Private guided Tour of Polonnaruwa
This morning with your private guide you head east to the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa: a UNESCO World Heritage site built over one thousand years ago alongside the spectacular, carefully-engineered reservoirs that provide the region's water to this day. In its day Polonnaruwa was a thriving commercial and religious centre and as you stroll around the ruins you’ll get a feel for what life was like back then. The tour will include the statue of the great Sinhalese King Parakramabahu who built the reservoirs and the city's well preserved ruins: notable highlights of which is the fascinating area known as the Quadrangle and the impressive Gal Vihara - four separate Buddha images perfectly sculpted into one large piece of granite. Back at the hotel early afternoon.
Day 6: Cultural Triangle (B) - Dambulla Cave Temple - Kandy
After breakfast your guide will pick you up for the 2.5 hour transfer to the Ancient Capital of Kandy, stopping at the Dambulla Cave Temple en route. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 1st century BC and the cave system has been in continuous use for over 2000 years. First used as a refuge by an ancient king, who on regaining his throne commissioned magnificent carved images within the living rock. Later kings made further additions and the caves contain over 150 images of the Buddha, the largest of which is a colossal figure spanning 15 metres. Cave inscriptions from the 2nd Century BC are found and on the walls are many paintings most of which belong to the Kandy period (early 19th century). This temple is the perfect place in which to see the evolution of ancient Sri Lankan art and is an important historical site due to the amalgamation of material from many eras. From here continue on to Kandy and check-in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights.
Day 7: Kandy (B) - Private City Tour including Temple of the Tooth
Morning free then join your private guide for an afternoon’s tour of the ancient city that was the capital from 1592 until the rule of the British in the 19th Century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's an extremely picturesque setting with steep, green valleys running away from it in all directions. This afternoon’s highlights will include the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens that’s modelled on Britain's Kew Gardens, the Temple of the Tooth Relic where Buddhists believe they have enshrined a tooth of the Lord Buddha and the 88 foot tall Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue that looms protectively over the city and offers panoramic views over Kandy. Soak up the views before returning to your hotel.
Day 8: Kandy (B) - Tea Plantations - Nuwara Eliya
This morning’s transfer to Nuwara Eliya (2 hours) follows a beautiful route rising out of Kandy up into the hills that are famous for Sri Lanka’s majestic tea plantations. En route visit a tea plantation and a tea factory where you will be taken through the manufacturing process to learn how some of the best tea in the world is produced. From here carry on to Nuwara Eliya and check in to your choice of hotel for 1 night. Nuwara Eliya is colloquially known as ‘Little England’ and does have a lot of Colonial character, with a village post office, an English church & the St Andrew’s golf club, along with the race course.
Day 9: Nuwara Eliya (B) - Hill Train - Udawalawe
Travelling by car in air-conditioned comfort has a lot going for it, but swapping this for the train allows you to immerse yourself more into Sri Lanka life, and from Nuwara Eliya to Ella riding the rails offers the best views of the tea estates, forests, waterfalls and village life. This morning your guide will take you to the station, make sure you get on board and then meet you at Ella station. The journey takes about 4 hours as you follow the beautiful curves and ridges of the hill country landscape.
Time for lunch in Ella and then it’s time to leave the hills behind for the 4 hour drive south to Udawalawe. The changes in scenery are stunning as you start up amongst the tea plantations and then head down through jagged hills along winding roads that dramatically drop away from you to reveal amazing views. Once at the bottom tea bushes are replaced by coconut and paddy fields as you’ve dropped back into the tropics. The day will give you a full sense of the variety Sri Lanka has to offer. On arrival check in to Kalu’s Hideaway for 2 nights, a lodge like hotel on the banks of the Walawe River.
Day 10: Udawalawe (B) - Elephant Transit Home & Udawalawe National Park Jeep Safari
This morning leave the hotel and travel a short way past the Udawalawe Reservoir to the Elephant Transit Home. On the way keep your eyes out for the “beggars”, adult elephants from the park who skirt the reservoir and beg for food over the fence.
The Elephant Transit Home is sponsored by the Born Free Trust and was established in 1995 with the primary objective of the rehabilitation of orphaned baby elephants and their release back to the wild. There’s no riding or real interaction with the babies, just the pure joy and anarchy of feeding time. The elephants are largely free to wander around the grounds of the home and because it’s just across the lake to the national park it’s a much easier transition when they’re ready to join the herd.
Back to the hotel for lunch at own expense then re-join your guide for a late afternoon safari through the beautiful scenery of Udawalawe National Park. Udawalawe National Park covers an area of 31,800 hectares and was declared a protected sanctuary with full national park status in 1972. Surrounded by mountain ranges, the terrain of the park is a mixture of grassland, which of all Sri Lanka’s wildlife reserves, best rivals the Savanna of Africa and shrub jungle. Teak plantations, water holes and two important factors make this park special, the large Udawalawe Reservoir and the Walewe River, which ensure a supply of water for the fauna within. Internationally renowned for its large herd of elephants, the park is also known for several species of deer, wild boar, buffalo, jackal and very rare sightings of leopard.
Day 11: Udawalawe (B) - Galle - Afternoon Private Tour
This morning head to the coast for your final destination, Galle, the best example of a European built fortified city in South and South-East Asia. Where the mighty walls once held back invaders they now hold back modern Sri Lanka and its accompanying traffic, noise and life. As soon as you pass through the walls it’s like someone’s turned down the volume and transported you back to Europe.
Check-in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights and then this afternoon spend a couple of hours with your guide learning a little of its history and exploring the narrow low-rise streets whose Dutch period villas have been converted into beautiful boutique hotels, galleries, shops, restaurants and cafes. There are several museums as well as the Dutch Reformed Church and the Arab Quarter. Finish the day watching the sun set looking out from the sea ramparts and you’re day is done.
Day 12: Galle (B) - Free day or whale watching tour
This isn’t a place to hurry, but rather somewhere to take a break from formal touring and enjoy the atmospheric and nostalgic streets that make you realise how important and profitable trading has been for Sri Lanka through the ages. Far from being an ageing backwater, the last decade has seen the fort transform into Sri Lanka’s most cosmopolitan enclave without detracting from its olde-world charm. Today’s free to explore under your own steam or perhaps add a dolphin / whale watching tour.
Day 13: Galle (B) / Home
Day free until your airport transfer and overnight flight home.
Day 14: Arrive home
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas International airport departure taxes if payable locally
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Pre & Post Hotel Suggestions
Sri Lanka is rich in small hotels that offer a superb introduction or perfect conclusion to any holiday.
Hotels within Cultural Triangle
The Cultural Triangle shouldn't be missed and there's a superb range of hotel options here.
Hotels in Kandy
Sri Lanka’s last royal capital, Kandy sits high in the hills and is home to the Temple of the Tooth.
Hotels in Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is synonymous with tea, don’t miss the chance to travel by train to get the best views.
Hotels in Udawalawe National Park
One of the most beautiful parks centred on a large lake around which elephants and other wildlife thrive.
Hotels in Galle
Beautifully preserved, this impressive walled city offers an enthralling insight into Sri Lanka’s colonial past.