- Explore the ancient ruins of Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa
- Spend the night at a luxury safari camp in Udawalawe National Park
- Take a scenic train ride to the mountain tea estates of Nuwara Eliya
- Meet baby elephants and turtle hatchlings at local conservation centers
- Unwind for a week on the Indian Ocean beaches of Tangalle
|Day 1||Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Pasyala||Pasyala|
|Day 2||Transfer to Sigiriya, Afternoon Safari at Minneriya National Park||Sigiriya|
|Day 3||Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Explore Ancient Polonnaruwa||Sigiriya|
|Day 4||Transfer to Kandy, Visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic||Kandy|
|Day 5||Scenic Train Ride to Nuwara Eliya||Nuwara Eliya|
|Day 6||Transfer to Udawalawe, Visit the Elephant Transit Home||Udawalawe|
|Day 7||Morning Safari at Udawalawe National Park, Transfer to Tangalle||Tangalle|
|Day 8||Day Trip to the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary||Tangalle|
|Day 9||Day Trip to the Rock Temples of Mulkirigala||Tangalle|
|Day 10||Koggala Lake Boat Ride, Cinnamon Island Visit, Evening Sea Turtle Watch||Tangalle|
|Days 11-13||Beach Days in Tangalle||Tangalle|
|Day 14||Transfer to Colombo & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Pasyala
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at the Colombo Airport, you'll be met by your driver and transferred northeast to the verdant jungles around Pasyala. Your base for the night is a secluded country house-style hotel with acres of lawns and gardens and a large swimming pool for the kids to burn off some steam. After settling in and getting some rest, join your guide for a ramble down from the hilltop hotel to explore the scenic coconut, rubber, and pineapple plantations that surround the house.
Day 2: Transfer to Sigiriya, Afternoon Safari at Minneriya National Park
Transfer north to Sigiriya and Sri Lanka's "cultural triangle" today, getting settled into your private villa within the national park. Surrounded by a peaceful landscape of rivers and lakes, you'll look out over spectacular views toward the towering rock fortress of Sigiriya in the distance.
Head out on safari this afternoon at Minneriya National Park. At the heart of the protected reserve, you'll find the great Minneriya Tank Reservoir, built in the third century CE. This vast freshwater source draws elephants from all over the country in the dry summer season, who congregate to drink, bathe, and socialize on its peaceful shores. While the elephants may be the star attractions, keep your eyes open as you explore the park by Jeep—its grasslands and forests are also home to rare Sri Lankan leopards, sloth bears, langur monkeys, and remarkable birdlife.
Day 3: Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Explore Ancient Polonnaruwa
Explore one of Sri Lanka's most treasured monuments today as you climb the 1,200 steps to Sigiriya Rock. Admire the intact 1,600-year-old frescoes and other relics of the carved fortress as you ascend through giant carved lion's paws to reach the top—where sweeping views across the surrounding countryside await. Countless hidden wonders along the way make the long climb relatively easy for the whole family, but younger children can also opt for a less strenuous hike to the halfway point.Continue to more cultural wonders in the afternoon as you discover the hidden history of Polonnaruwa. Once the medieval capital of Sri Lanka, this thriving city ruled the island from the 11th through 13th centuries, and today you'll find its incredibly preserved ruins dotted around the central, ancient reservoir of Parakrama Samudra. Kids will love wandering the open-air palaces, shrines, and statues, now populated by colonies of playful monkeys.
Day 4: Transfer to Kandy, Visit the Temple of the Tooth RelicTransfer south today to Kandy, considered Sri Lanka's cultural capital and welcoming gateway to the Hill Country. Start your tour with a visit to the Royal Palace, which sits on the edge of Lake Kandy and houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha in the Dalada Maligwa (Temple of the Tooth). An important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world, a soundtrack of traditional drumming sets the scene as you explore its spectacular shrines, temples, and gardens. In the afternoon, you'll continue to your accommodations for the night—a beautiful boutique hotel nestled in the hills outside the city.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Scenic Train Ride to Nuwara Eliya
Journey into the heart of Sri Lanka's Hill Country today, boarding a train toward the small village of Nanu Oya near Nuwara Eliya. The famously scenic 3-hour route meanders through lush mountains and narrow tunnels, with views across manicured tea plantations, steep valleys, and dramatic waterfalls. Upon arrival, explore more of "Little England," known for its cool climate and historic colonial-style homes. Spend the afternoon admiring the town's gardens, temples, museums, and tea estates before settling in for a peaceful evening in the highlands at a boutique bungalow hotel.
Day 6: Transfer to Udawalawe, Visit the Elephant Transit Home
Start today with a fascinating look into Sri Lanka's most famous export as you tour one of the region's best tea estates. The whole family can help the workers pick tea leaves in the 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 tasting at the end—where you'll discover the difference between varieties and qualities of Ceylon tea.
Afterward, bid the Hill Country farewell and transfer south toward Udawalawe, where you'll spend the afternoon at the Elephant Transit Home. Here orphaned elephant calves are cared for and rehabilitated before being released into the wilds of Udawalawe National Park. This ethical program helps enhance the elephants' chances of survival and offers an up-close look at the gentle giants. If you visit during feeding hours, you'll even get to watch the youngest of the orphans being bottle-fed—an unmissable experience for animal lovers of all ages.
Day 7: Morning Safari at Udawalawe National Park, Transfer to Tangalle
Journey into the heart of Udawalawe National Park on a Jeep safari to witness some of the country's most diverse and endangered wildlife. Keep an eye out for the estimated 600-700 elephants that reside within the boundaries, as well as water buffalo, monkeys, sambar deer, and even the occasional leopard. The reservoir also makes the park a haven for birdlife like hornbills, eagles, and the distinctive red-faced malkoha.
Then it's time to switch gears again as you meet your driver for the transfer to the south coast and the Indian Ocean resort of Tangalle. Continue to the tiny oceanside village of Dikwella and check into the luxury beachfront villa that you'll call home for the next week.
Day 8: Day Trip to Kalametiya Bird SanctuaryDiscover Sri Lanka's rare and resplendent birdlife today with a visit to Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary. Situated on the picturesque southeastern coast in the district of Hambantota, this biodiverse wetland area is celebrated as a haven for the over 150 species that reside here. On today's excursion, play a game of "I Spy" as you identify as many birds as possible, and keep your camera handy for sightings of kingfishers, bee-eaters, and purple herons. If you're lucky, you might even spot peacocks putting on a colorful show.
Day 9: Climb the Rock Temples of MulkirigalaStretch your legs today and tire out the little ones with a visit to the temples of Mulkirigala, whose magnificent rock-cut caves date to the third century CE. A series of stairways and terraces take you past ancient carvings, statues, and inscriptions to a sacred Bo tree. Admire the remarkable intact paintings that depict Buddhist history, and climb to the top to reach the historic white stupa (shrine), where you'll be rewarded with panoramic views over the jungle.
Day 10: Spend Time with the Rescued Turtles of Rekewa Turtle Hatchery
Start your day with a relaxing boat ride on Koggala Lake, which is home to a variety of birds and other wildlife. Look carefully, and you might see a monkey or crocodile trying to hide from sight. Stop at Cinnamon Island, where you'll see how cinnamon is harvested, dried, and ground, and try some cinnamon tea.
That evening, head to Rekawa, where you'll learn about the endangered sea turtle species that return to their Sri Lanka birthplace to lay their eggs. The community-based Nature Friends of Rekawa's turtle nest protectors patrol the beaches to protect nests until hatchlings emerge. The nest protectors also organize nighttime Turtle Watches to educate the public and raise money to continue their program. Tonight, if a sea turtle swims ashore and lays her eggs, you'll be able to watch—a sight not to be missed.
Days 11-13: Beach Days in TangalleThe next three days are free for you to do as little or as much as you please in your beach paradise. Ringed by sandbars and coral reefs, this tranquil stretch of the coast is perfect for gentle paddling and watersports for the whole family. Book a snorkeling excursion, try some surfing lessons, or build sand castles and relax on the golden sands. If you ever tire of the beach, back at the villa, you'll find your own private pool and cupboards full of puzzles, games, and books to keep everyone entertained.
Day 14: Transfer to Colombo & Depart
After a final morning at the beach, it'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).
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