- Admire historic Hindu & Buddhist temples in Jaffna
- Tour the UNESCO-listed wonders of Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa & Anuradhapura
- Search for rare & remarkable wildlife in three different national parks
- Spend the day living like a local in the traditional village of Heeloya
- Put your feet up on the Indian Ocean beaches of Unawatuna
|Day 1||Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Kalpitiya||Kalpitiya|
|Day 2||Wilpattu National Park Wildlife Safari||Kalpitiya|
|Day 3||Transfer to the Ancient Sites of Anuradhapura||Anuradhapura|
|Day 4||Transfer to Jaffna, Fort & Temples Tour||Jaffna|
|Day 5||Free Day in Jaffna||Jaffna|
|Day 6||Transfer to Giritale, Discover Ancient Polonnaruwa||Giritale|
|Day 7||Rural Village Trail in Habarana, Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress||Giritale|
|Day 8||Climb to Pidurangala, Elephant Safari in Minneriya National Park||Giritale|
|Day 9||Transfer to Kandy, Temple of the Sacred Tooth & Cultural Show||Kandy|
|Day 10||Visit the Traditional Village of Heeloya||Kandy|
|Day 11||Transfer to Tissamaharama, Yala National Park Jeep Safari||Tissamaharama|
|Day 12||Transfer to Ahangama, Galle Dutch Fort Visit||Ahangama|
|Day 13||Relax on the Beaches of Unawatuna||Ahangama|
|Day 14||Transfer to Colombo, Explore the Commercial Capital||Colombo|
|Day 15||Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Kalpitiya
Ayubowan and welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at Colombo Airport, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to the western coastal town of Kalpitiya. Set on a peninsula between the deep lagoon of Puttalam and the Indian Ocean, the area is home to a marine sanctuary that encompasses a variety of coastal habitats, from salt marshes to dunes to mangrove swamps. It boasts the largest coral reef in the country, making it a paradise for divers and snorkelers, while boat trips from its Alankudah Beach offer visitors the chance to spot dolphins and whales.
Day 2: Wilpattu National Park Wildlife SafariToday you'll be picked up by your private driver to explore nearby Wilpattu National Park, the largest national park in Sri Lanka. The protected reserve has an astonishing diversity of flora and fauna: it's home to over 30 mammal species, including sloth bears, Sri Lankan elephants, and spotted deer. Various wetland bird species, such as the pintail, whistling teal spoonbill, and white ibis, also live here. You'll have great opportunities for wildlife viewing en route—keep an eye out for the Sri Lankan leopard, currently the largest species of leopard living in Asia.
Day 3: Transfer to the Ancient Sites of Anuradhapura
Join your driver for a tour of Sri Lankan history as you transfer east to Anuradhapura and its UNESCO-listed wonders. Considered one of the country's eight cultural heritage sites, the island's first capital dates back to the 4th century BCE, when it was founded by King Pandukhabaya in the heyday of the great Sinhala civilization.
Located along a picturesque riverbank, this beautiful town still boasts a fascinating series of ancient ruins, monasteries, palaces, and temples—as well as important Buddhist sites like Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred bo tree that was grown from a branch of the tree where the Buddha gained enlightenment.
Day 4: Transfer to Jaffna, Fort & Temples Tour
Transfer north this morning to the Jaffna Peninsula, Sri Lanka's northernmost region. After decades of war, its densely populated city of Jaffna is once again flourishing, and it remains one of the best places in the country to learn about Tamil culture.
On today's tour, you'll explore the ruins of the historic Jaffna Fort, a 17th-century star-shaped fortress and the largest Dutch fort in Asia, then continue to the famous Hindu temple of Nallur Kandasamy Kovil. Other highlights include the island temple of Naga Pooshani Amabal Kovil and the ancient Buddhist stupas (shrines) of Kadurugoda.
Day 5: Free Day in Jaffna
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Transfer to Giritale, Discover Ancient PolonnaruwaMeet your driver today for the transfer south to Giritale. Get settled in, then head out on an excursion to the magnificent ruins of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage site and capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th centuries. Enclosed by stone walls, the city was dotted with palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds, and irrigation lakes. Many of these still stand today, with the most spectacular being the Gal Vihara temple complex. Cut from a single granite wall, this true masterpiece of Sri Lankan art contains dozens of statues of reclining, sitting, and standing Buddhas.
Day 7: Rural Village Trail in Habarana, Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Set out into the countryside today on a guided cycling tour through rice paddies and back roads. You'll have the chance to interact with local farmers and learn about Sri Lankan rural life before pedaling to a quiet lake, where you can enjoy a scenic boat trip out onto the water. Afterward, cycle around the lake, keeping your eyes open for exotic birds. Break for a cup of tea or a fresh coconut along the journey, then sit down for a lunch of curry and rice with a local family inside a mud hut.
Afterward, head to the iconic monolith of Sigiriya. Rising high out of the lush jungle, this UNESCO-listed site is home to the remains of an ancient fortress built in the late 5th century CE. The name translates to "Lion Rock," a reference to how visitors traditionally began their final ascent to the top of the monument, passing through a lion's open jaws and throat. Today only the gigantic paws sculpted into the rock remain. Climb a series of dramatic stairways to find beautiful water fountains, boulder gardens, frescos, mirror walls, and relics of the castle.
Day 8: Climb to Pidurangala, Elephant Safari in Minneriya National Park
Located next to the more famous Sigiriya, the magnificent rock temple of Pidurangala dates back to the 3rd century BCE and was the site of an ancient monastery. Once home to over 500 monks, today you can visit the vast reclining Buddha statue within and climb to the top for breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and nearby Sigiriya Rock.
Then it's time to switch gears and head out on safari today in Minneriya National Park, a vast preserve of forest, wetlands, and grasslands. Located between Habarana and Polonnaruwa, the park is home to elephants, leopards, sambar deer, and langur monkeys. At its heart is the great Minneriya Tank Reservoir, a feat of ancient engineering created by the Anuradhapura civilization over 1,800 years ago. Its peaceful shores are the perfect place to observe wild storks and herds of elephants. As the largest gathering place of Asian elephants on earth, you're practically guaranteed to see the gentle giants up close.
Day 9: Transfer to Kandy, Temple of the Sacred Tooth & Cultural Show
Your adventure continues today with the journey south to Kandy. Strategically situated between three mountain ranges, the city serves as a welcoming gateway to the country's picturesque Hill Country. Get settled into your accommodations, then head out to explore more of Sri Lanka's cultural capital.
Visit Kandy’s historic Royal Palace on the edge of Lake Kandy, stroll through the palace's shrines, temples, and gardens, and don't miss its crown jewel: Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic). The intricate temple complex dates to the 16th century and is home to Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic: a tooth from the Buddha. As evening falls, you can attend a fascinating cultural show to see some great examples of traditional Sri Lankan music and dance.
Day 10: Visit the Traditional Village of HeeloyaImmerse yourself in the customs of local Sri Lankan life today with a day trip to the traditional village of Heeloya. You'll help pick fruit and vegetables in the village's fields and gardens, trek to a beautiful nearby waterfall, spot native wildlife, then sit down to a delicious meal of local specialties. After a day of new experiences and new friends, your driver will be waiting to transfer you back to Kandy in time for dinner.
Day 11: Transfer to Tissamaharama, Yala National Park Jeep Safari
Head toward Sri Lanka's southern coast today to reach the idyllic lakeside town of Tissamaharama. Located on the edge of Yala National Park, it's the perfect base for exploring the country's second-largest natural reserve and its diverse wildlife. Designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, the reserve is best known for its variety of wild animals and has an important role in the conservation of Sri Lankan elephants, Sri Lankan leopards, and aquatic birds.
Spend the rest of the day exploring this natural wonder on a guided Jeep excursion. The park's landscape of dry thorn scrub, interspersed with small dusty glades, is reminiscent of Africa and a perfect environment for safaris. Take your time as you search for rare flora and fauna, and keep an eye out for the Yala's most famous inhabitants—a sizeable herd of Sri Lankan elephants.
Day 12: Transfer to Ahangama, Galle Dutch Fort VisitIt's time to head to the beach! This morning your driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you west to the Ahangama area in the popular coastal town of Unawatuna. Stop en route at the UNESCO-listed city of Galle, where you can explore 300-year-old Dutch fortifications surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean. After a tour of the city's storied past, you'll have time to browse its Dutch-colonial buildings, historic mosques, grand mansions, and museums. Wander the streets and discover stylish cafés, shops, and boutique hotels owned by local and ex-pat artists and designers.
Day 13: Relax on the Beaches of UnawatunaToday is free for you to relax and unwind on the white sand beaches of Unawatuna. Sheltered by an offshore coral reef, the turquoise waters here are warm and tranquil, making them perfect for swimming and watersports. For a more active afternoon, hike the nearby Japanese Peace Pagoda for sweeping views over the coast, visit a local sea turtle farm and hatchery, or join a whale and dolphin watching boat trip. As evening falls, head to one of the many restaurants serving mouthwatering Sri Lankan cuisine and watch a colorful sunset over the Indian Ocean.
Day 14: Transfer to Colombo, Explore the Commercial Capital
Head back to the hustle and bustle of modern life today as you transfer to the metropolis of Colombo. A lively city with a fascinating history, Arab sailors once frequented these ports to trade with the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists that occupied the city. Today, Colombo offers something for everyone.
Visit the National Museum and Zoological Gardens, or take a walk through the city's commercial center, where grand colonial-era buildings stand alongside modern hotels. Browse Pettah's vibrant markets and bazaars, then end the evening sampling Sri Lankan specialties at a local restaurant.