- Learn to cook the perfect Sri Lankan curry in coastal Galle
- Take a breathtaking train journey through the Hill Country
- Sit down to a traditional afternoon tea in the green hills of Nuwara Eliya
- Visit the island's largest herd of elephants in Minneriya National Park
- Work up an appetite climbing the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya
|Day 1||Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Galle||Galle|
|Day 2||Secrets of Sri Lankan Curry, Explore Galle’s Dutch Fort||Galle|
|Day 3||Transfer to Nuwara Eliya, Afternoon Tea Party||Nuwara Eliya|
|Day 4||Horton Plains National Park, Tour a Tea Plantation & Factory||Nuwara Eliya|
|Day 5||Scenic Train Journey to Kandy, Visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic||Kandy|
|Day 6||Discover the Matale Spice Garden, Transfer to Sigiriya||Sigiriya|
|Day 7||Cycling & Lunch at Hiriwadunna, Minneriya National Park Safari||Sigiriya|
|Day 8||Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Colombo via Kajugama||Colombo|
|Day 9||Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Galle
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at the airport, your driver will be waiting to transfer you south to the coast and the historic fortified city of Galle. After settling in, get your bearings with an easy afternoon hike to the nearby Japanese Peace Pagoda. Located at the summit of Rumassala Hill, this beautiful white structure was built as a monument to peace on the island. Its elevated position offers far-reaching views across the Indian Ocean and spectacular sunsets.
Day 2: Secrets of Sri Lankan Curry, Explore Galle’s Dutch Fort
Discover more of Galle today with a relaxed walking tour. This stunning colonial town is surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean and houses the largest occupied fort in Asia. Built by the Portuguese and later extended by the Dutch in 1663, the UNESCO-listed site spans over 90 acres. Amid the fascinating architecture, you'll find Dutch-colonial buildings, historic mosques, grand mansions, and museums. Wander the streets at our own pace to discover stylish cafés, shops, and boutique hotels owned by local and ex-pat artists and designers.
Next, you'll head into the Galle countryside for an immersive culinary experience—where you'll be welcomed into a traditional mud-hut kitchen to craft the perfect curry. Curry in Sri Lanka is not simply one dish, but many, and a myriad of techniques and ingredients are needed to create the palette of flavors. Watch and listen as your host shares secrets, and try your hand at the many steps of tempering, frying, boiling, grating, and caramelizing. Finally, you'll sit down to a meal and indulge in the fruits of your labor, maybe even (local-style) with your hands!
Day 3: Transfer to Nuwara Eliya, Afternoon Tea Party
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Leave the coast behind today as you transfer northeast to Nuwara Eliya. Located high above sea level in the heart of Sri Lanka's lush tea country, this magical highland village is known as "Little England" and retains many features of its colonial past. Work up an appetite exploring the charming town, then head to the historic, colonial-era Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya for an English afternoon tea service with a Sri Lankan twist.
Seated either in the open-sided lounge or among the beautifully-manicured lawns and gardens, you'll be served a series of sweet and savory treats presented on the typical tiered stands. From spring rolls and burger sliders to the more traditional triangular sandwiches, scones, and dainty cakes, all washed down with some delicious single estate and blended Ceylon tea.
Day 4: Horton Plains National Park, Tour a Tea Plantation & Factory
Today starts bright and early, with a packed breakfast and a 6 AM transfer to Horton Plains National Park. Located at the heart of the isle, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is renowned for its sweeping green plains and wet montane evergreen forests. Altitudes above 7,000 feet (2,133 m) and a cool, wet climate create a unique and biodiverse ecosystem that shelters flora and fauna varieties found nowhere else on earth.
See its many wonders up close with a 6-mile (9.5 km) hike to the aptly-named World's End, a towering escarpment that falls dramatically to the lowlands and offers breathtaking views all the way to the distant southern coastline. Keep an eye out for the park's rare and diverse birdlife, as well as sambar deer, wild boar, otters, and maybe even a glimpse of the rare Sri Lankan leopard.
Afterward, head back to Nuwara Eliya for a fascinating look at Sri Lanka's most famous export with a tour of one of the region's best tea estates. Help the workers pick tea leaves in the rolling fields, then visit the factory to learn about the process of fermentation, rolling, drying, cutting, sieving, and grading. There are machines for almost every part of the process except the all-important tea tasting at the end—where you'll discover how to taste the difference between varieties and qualities of world-class Ceylon tea.
Day 5: Scenic Train Journey to Kandy, Visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic
Board a train today to leave the Sri Lankan highlands and travel north toward the cultural capital of Kandy. Considered one of the most spectacular rail journeys on earth, this three-hour trip winds through the cool and misty valleys of the Hill Country, passing lush tea plantations, dramatic waterfalls, and green fields dotted with tea pickers draped in brightly-colored saris.
Upon arrival, discover more of the UNESCO-listed city with a tour of its Royal Palace, which sits on the edge of serene Lake Kandy and houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha within the Dalada Maligwa (Temple of the Tooth). An important pilgrimage site for Buddhists worldwide, an evocative soundtrack of traditional drumming sets the scene as you explore its spectacular series of shrines, temples, and gardens.
Day 6: Discover the Matale Spice Garden, Transfer to Sigiriya
Start this morning with a stroll through Matale's National Spice Garden for a fascinating insight into Sri Lankan history, botany, and gastronomy. Located just outside of Kandy, the fragrant gardens are home to an exotic collection of trees, bushes, and flowers, all of whom lend their flavors and spices to the diverse melting pot of Sri Lanka's cuisine.
Follow your guide as they lead you on a journey through aromatic cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, chocolate, vanilla, and pepper. At the end, you can even buy some of your favorite spices to bring a little bit of Sri Lanka home with you. Afterward, you'll join your driver for the transfer north toward Sigiriya, located in Sri Lanka's famed Cultural Triangle.
Day 7: Cycling Tour & Lunch at Hiriwadunna, Minneriya National Park Safari
Explore more of the countryside today on a guided cycling tour through rice paddies and back roads. Pedaling around a hidden lake, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the quiet as you spot native birds and wildlife. Along the way, you can stop at a local house for a refreshing cup of tea or herbal drink served by a villager, then continue to a local temple for a good luck blessing. After working up an appetite, end the ride with an authentic curry lunch freshly prepared by a local family (if you are interested, you can also join them for a cooking session!)
In the afternoon, you'll trade your bike for a Jeep and head into the wilds of Minneriya National Park, the largest gathering place for Asian elephants on earth. At the heart of the protected reserve, you'll find the ancient Minneriya Tank Reservoir, a vast freshwater source that draws elephants from all over the country in the dry summer season to drink, bathe, and socialize on its peaceful shores. While the elephants are the star attractions, keep your eyes open for rare Sri Lankan leopards, sloth bears, langur monkeys, and remarkable birdlife.
Day 8: Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Colombo via Kajugama
Admire one of Sri Lanka's most treasured monuments today as you climb the 1,200 steps to Sigiriya, home to the remains of a spectacular carved fortress that dates from the late 5th century CE. Admire the intact 1,600-year-old frescoes and other relics of the UNESCO-listed site as you ascend through giant carved lion's paws to reach the top—where you'll be rewarded with sweeping views across the surrounding countryside.
Then it's time to get back on the road and make your way back to Colombo—stopping en route at the small town of Kajugama. Famous for the crunchy cashews sold by its local villagers, you'll see ladies adorned in colorful dresses emerge from coconut leaf huts to hail vehicles and sell their wares. Have an amicable chat with the local people about their livelihood as you nibble away on some freshly prepared cashews—ranging from raw to spiced to fried.
Day 9: Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart
After a leisurely breakfast, t's time to bid Sri Lanka farewell as your driver transfers you to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels and ayubowan (the traditional Sri Lankan blessing of long life).