Day 1: Depart on a choice of flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Day 2: Arrive Colombo. Private transfer to the Cutural Triangle for 3 nts
Day 3:Cutural Triangle - Private guided Village Walking Tour & Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari
Day 4:Cutural Triangle - Private guided Tour of Sigiriya Rock & Polonnaruwa
Day 5: Private guided tour to Dambulla Cave Temple. Kandy 1 night. Afternoon city tour
Day 6: Kandy - Gal Oya National Park for 2 nights - Afternoon Boat Safari
Day 7: Gal Oya National Park - Morning Jeep Safari with Picnic Lunch
Day 8: Gal Oya - Monkey Mountain Walk - Transfer to your choice of East Coast beach hotel for 5 nts
Days 9-12: 4 days to relax and enjoy your seaside setting.
Day 13: East coast beach. Fly to Colombo for 1 nt in city or country house close by
Day 14: Day free until overnight flight home
Day 15: 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 Cultural Triangle
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred straight out to the Cultural Triangle that will take approximately 4 hours. On arrival check-in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights. The rest of the day’s free to recover from the journey.
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 3: Cultural Triangle (B) - Village Walking Tour & Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari
The area around Habarana and Sigiriya is ideal for those looking to have easy access to the culture of rural Sri Lanka. This morning join your private guide for a walk down small rural roads and sandy tracks to explore village life and gain an insight into their lifestyle, culture and hospitality.
Wake up early and drive to Hiriwaduna, a village that hugs Habarana Lake. Begin your walk along a shaded, gravel path that leads up to the reservoir. Keep your eyes out for the raptors that make the ashen trunks of long dead trees the perfect roosting spots. Enjoy a picnic breakfast in the cool shade and then cross the reservoir by boat. From here make your way along a narrow, shady path that cuts through a banana plantation until you reach a clearing in which stands a house of wattle and daub, the home of a chena farmer and his family. Enjoy a cool, sweet drink of king coconut before you begin the next phase of your walk that will lead you through vegetable plots, paddy fields and into a scrub forest. Interspersed amongst the fields you’ll see makeshift tree houses from which farmers keep watch and drive-away the wild animals during the night. This is a great way to start your Sri Lanka holiday, a gentle introduction to a side of the country that’s slowly disappearing but remains a vital part of Sri Lanka’s character.
Back to the hotel and the rest of the morning is free, 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 4: Cultural Triangle (B) - Private guided Tour of Sigiriya Rock & Polonnaruwa
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.
From here you continue on 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. If you’re interested the tour can be made by bike. Back at the hotel early afternoon.
Day 5: 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 1 night.
Enjoy lunch (own expense) then your guide will collect you 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 6: Kandy - Gal Oya National Park - Afternoon Boat Safari (B / L / D)
This morning your private guide will collect and transfer you (2 hours) out through the hills to Gal Oya National Park. On arrival check-in to the Gal Oya Lodge for 2 nights, currently the only place to stay near the park, that offers a very comfortable base from which to enjoy a selection of excursions.
Time to settle in and enjoy lunch (all meals are included, drinks extra) then join your guide for a 40 minute drive into Gal Orya National Park where you’ll board your boat for a rather unusual 2.5 hour boat safari!
Gal Oya is one of the less visited national parks, but as visitors look for less trammeled areas that offer more nature and fewer tourists, it stands out for its beautiful landscapes, abundant wildlife and even the chance to spot a swimming elephant. Senanayake Samudraya is the largest man-made lake in Sri Lanka that’s dotted with a series of islands and is one of the best birding sites in Sri Lanka. The islands offer tantalising grazing for the park’s crown jewels, swimming elephants that travel from island to island eating their fill (best seen from March to July). Back at the lodge late afternoon and rest of the day at leisure to enjoy the wonderful setting.
Day 7: Gal Oya National Park - Morning Jeep Safari with Picnic Lunch (B / L / D)
This morning you’ll probably be woken up by the abundant birdlife and today we’ve included a return to park, this time by jeep. If you’d rather explore on foot then this can be arranged with the resident naturalist.
50% of Gal Oya is evergreen forest and a third is savanna, so when combined with the lake you can see why wildlife thrives in this environment. Join your jeep driver this morning to explore the Nilgala section of Gal Oya National Park. Once protected by ancient royalty for the abundant medicinal plants and endemic birdlife, the park’s unique ecosystem is home to herds of elephants, wild boar, four species of deer, jackals, sloth bears, marsh mugger crocodiles and an array of rare endemic birds. The safari will last about 4 hours and then you’ll stop by the river, waterfall or other scenic spot to enjoy a picnic lunch in a shady corner. Chance to enjoy a quick swim in the river before heading back to the lodge. The rest of the afternoon’s free or explore tours / walks can be suggested before you travel or locally.
For example we can add a 1-2 hour walk of discovery with the Veddha people, one of the last remaining communities of the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of Sri Lanka. The village Chief is invited to take you on a walk through the jungles of his ancestors. Discover and learn about local nature as he brings the forest alive, explaining his tribe’s use of medicinal plants, ancient hunting grounds and cave dwellings. It’s a fascinating insight into how the hunter-gatherers lived in the jungles of Gal Oya. Other options include cycling tours, night safari, cooking course and animal monitoring program.
Day 8: Gal Oya (B) - Monkey Mountain Morning Walk - Beach
If you’re an early riser why not join the walk to the top of Monkey Mountain. Enjoy a 1.5 hour hike to the top to enjoy a dramatic 180 degree view over the forested valley below and watch the sun rise over the jungle covered hills. Back in time for breakfast (or just have a lie in!) and then you leave for the 2 hour transfer to the east coast for 5 nights (or less / more) in your choice of beach resort.
During the summer months the east coast is enjoying its dry season. Less developed than the south and west coast but it still boasts a good range of resorts and hotels. We’ll offer a selection of suggestions that we hope will fit the mark. If you’ve time a 5 minute conversation can often help us refine the choice to fit in with the style, budget and position you’re looking for.
Days 09-12: Beach Days (B)
4 full days to enjoy your beachside location and perhaps explore a bit further. Dolphin and whale watching tours can be enjoyed from Trincomalee, snorkeling and diving from multiple centres and the island’s best surfing at Arugam Bay.
Day 13: Each Coast Beach (B) - Fly to Colombo
It’s a long way back to Colombo by car, 5-7 hours depending on where you stay. Therefore we’d recommend that you take the 1 hour flight back to Colombo and either overnight or book a day room at a hotel either in Negombo on the beach or a most atmospheric interior hotel such as the Wallawwa both just 20 minutes away from the airport.
Day 14: Colombo (B) / Home
Day free until your airport transfer and overnight flight home.
Day 15: 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.
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 Around Gal Oya National Park
More nature, less tourists. Beautiful landscapes, abundant wildlife & even swimming elephants!
East Coast Beach Hotels
The least developed beach region, great for whale watching, surfing and diving. Best Apr to Sep.
Pre & Post Hotel Suggestions
Sri Lanka is rich in small hotels that offer a superb introduction or perfect conclusion to any holiday.
Hotels in Colombo
An easy and entertaining introduction (or conclusion) to Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage and food nirvana.