- See more than 150 buddhas in the cliff-carved caves of Dambulla Cave Temple
- Brave the thrilling climb to the top of the mountaintop tower of Ambuluwawa
- Spot elephants and Sri Lankan leopards on a family safari in Yala National Park
- Help release endangered sea turtle hatchlings into the sea at a turtle hatchery
|Day 1||Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Sigiriya, Dambulla Cave Temple Tour||Sigiriya|
|Day 2||Sigiriya Rock Hike, Visit Hiriwadunna Village||Sigiriya|
|Day 3||Transfer to Kandy, Guided Historic City Tour||Kandy|
|Day 4||Drum-Making Workshop, Adventure to Ambuluwalwa||Kandy|
|Day 5||Train to Ella, Free Afternoon to Explore||Ella|
|Day 6||Ravana Zipline Experience, Transfer to Yala National Park, Family Safari||Yala National Park|
|Day 7||Yala Rural School Visit, Transfer to Sinharaja Forest Reserve||Sinharaja Forest|
|Day 8||Transfer to Hikkaduwa, Afternoon Snorkeling Excursion||Hikkaduwa|
|Day 9||Turtle Hatchery Experience, Guided Tour in Galle||Hikkaduwa|
|Day 10||Depart Hikkaduwa|
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Sigiriya, Dambulla Cave Temple Tour
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Your flight arrives in the city of Colombo, where you'll be met by your driver, who will transfer you to the town of Sigiriya, most known for its ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya Rock. The drive takes approximately 3.5 hours, and along the way, you'll enjoy your first Sri Lankan excursion with a visit to the Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage site, otherwise known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, is a place of great cultural significance with a history that goes back to the second century BCE.
You and the kids will step inside the caves that were carved into the rocky cliffs and see some of the most important religious artwork in the country. Take your time exploring and discovering the stunning golden interiors, intricately painted frescoes, and the astounding collection of 153 Buddha statues placed within the cave walls. Some of these statues are still used by monks for meditation today. Afterward, your driver will take you to your hotel in Sigiriya, where you can relax and regroup.
Day 2: Sigiriya Rock Hike, Visit Hiriwadunna Village
Start the day with a visit to one of Sri Lanka's most treasured monuments, Sigiriya Rock. Rising 1,144 feet (349 m) above the landscape, Sigiriya, also known as the "Lion Fortress," is a masterpiece that has withstood the tests of time. This UNESCO World Heritage Site will take your family back to the bygone era of King Kashyapa, leader of the Sinhalese Kingdom, in the late fifth century CE.
Make your way to the main entrance, walking through the colossal lion paws carved into the rock, and begin your ascent of the 1,200 granite-carved steps. You'll travel through the heart of the mountain, taking in the rock walls adorned with vivid frescoes along the way. At the top, you're rewarded with incredible views of the city and surrounding countryside. The climb is considered relatively easy for the whole family, but younger children can also opt for a less strenuous hike to the halfway point.
Later today, get a rare glimpse into traditional rural Sri Lankan life with a visit to Hiriwadunna village. You'll meet up with your local guides and make the 30-minute drive to the village, where you'll start with a guided catamaran ride on the nearby river, then let the kids try their hands at traditional farming. Stop by a villager's home for tea and conversation, learning more about the life and history of the region, then end the tour with a traditional Sri Lankan lunch prepared by a local family—the kids can even help with the preparation if they're interested!
Day 3: Transfer to Kandy, Guided Historic City Tour
You're off to Sri Lanka's cultural capital today! The UNESCO-listed city of Kandy is most well-known for 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). Your private transfer will collect you in the morning, and you'll make the scenic two-hour drive, which takes you through the historic towns of Polonnaruwa and Matale. Once you've checked in at your hotel, it's time to see more of the city with a guided tour.
Start with a walk along the lively streets and make a stop at the Gem Museum, where any budding geologists in the family will be captivated by the display of natural stones and sparkling minerals. Continue to the highlight of the day, the Royal Palace and Temple of the Tooth. Your family will have a chance to walk through the complex while your guide shares stories and legends about this sacred place.
See the gardens and shrines around the palace, then stroll the shores of nearby Lake Kandy, where the kids might spot egrets, herons, and other birdlife. Spend some time perusing the city's arts and crafts shops for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, ending your tour with a visit to the Bahirawakanda Buddha statue, which offers spectacular views of the city. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and explore more on your own.
Day 4: Drum-Making Workshop, Adventure to Ambuluwalwa
Learn more about the culture and history of Sri Lanka today with a visit to the nearby village of Kuragala and a traditional drum-making workshop. Your guide will transport you to the village, and you'll have the opportunity to observe and learn about this living art that has been passed down through generations. Watch skilled artisans create traditional Bera drums, mesmerizing instruments known for their rhythmic melodies and beautiful designs. The kids might get to try their hand at drum-making too!
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Later today, step into a real-life fairy tale at the mountaintop tower of Ambuluwawa. Located in the community of Gampola and part of the Ambuluwawa Diversity Complex, this multireligious sanctuary was built on top of Ambuluwawa Mountain in 2009 as a symbol of unity across religions.
Take a tuk-tuk or taxi from your hotel in Kandy, enjoying a fun and scenic ride through the lush landscapes outside the city and disembarking at the tower. Brave the thrilling 3,567-foot (1,087 m) climb to the top, where you'll be rewarded with endless panoramic views. Due to the steep climb, parents should keep in mind that this excursion isn't appropriate for very young children or anyone with health restrictions. Afterward, return to Kandy and relax at your hotel.
Day 5: Train to Ella, Free Afternoon to Explore
All aboard for the next leg of your journey, the village of Ella. This picturesque hill community sits quietly amid mountain forests, hidden waterfalls, and tea plantations and is known for its biodiversity and outdoor activities. After breakfast and hotel check-out, you'll head to the train station for the six-hour ride. Considered one of the most spectacular rail journeys on earth, this stretch of track winds through the cool, misty valleys of the Hill Country, passing lush forests, dramatic waterfalls, and green fields dotted with tea pickers draped in brightly-colored saris.
The train ride is a popular tourist attraction in and of itself, with open-air windows that offer an up close and personal view of the Sri Lankan scenery. It's also a great way to experience local life, as many residents use the train to travel to and from work. The train stops at various stations, and your family will have the chance to purchase snacks from local vendors and see some of the villages.
Day 6: Ravana Zipline Experience, Transfer to Yala National Park, Family Safari
Sail across the greenery of Ella this morning with an adrenaline-filled visit to Flying Ravana Adventure Park. Featuring Sri Lanka's first-ever mega zipline, the two-wire line stretches more than 1,500 feet (457 m), taking riders up to speeds of 50 mph (80 kph). You'll meet up with your guides at the park for safety and equipment briefings, then begin your ride, flying across the trees and getting a bird's-eye view of the incredible landscapes that make up the Hill Country. The park also offers ATV and bike rentals, hiking, air riflery, and archery—sure to satisfy even the most adventurous in the family!
The fun continues this afternoon as you head to Yala National Park for a family safari. Take a two-hour private transfer from your hotel to the park, which at 378 square miles (978 sq km), is the second-largest in the country. A wildlife sanctuary since 1900, the park supports a variety of local flora and fauna, from peacocks and elephants to the elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Upon arrival, you'll check in at your accommodations, and then head out on safari.
You and the kids will embark on a thrilling Jeep ride through the park, enjoying wildlife sightings while your guides share information on the animals and their habits. While you're required to stay in the Jeep during most of the tour, there are designated places where you'll be allowed to stop and let the little ones stretch their legs. Return to your hotel in Ella this evening for dinner and relaxation, or take a stroll around town.
Day 7: Yala Rural School Visit, Transfer to Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Learn all about Sri Lankan life today with a visit to a rural school nestled in the forests of Yala. Your family will have the opportunity to tour the school and meet the students and teachers. Expect a warm welcome from the schoolchildren, who are always eager to share their world with visitors. The kids can play games and share stories with them, and you'll have time to learn more about the school and its programs.
This afternoon, you'll depart Yala for the wonders of Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Your private transfer will pick you up from your hotel for the two-hour drive, which takes you past gorgeous scenery, rich green forests, and quaint villages. Once you've had a chance to get settled in at your accommodations, your family is free to explore.
You can choose to wander the park's many trails, where the kids can keep their eyes peeled for wildlife such as purple-faced langurs, spotted deer, or macaques, or simply sit and absorb the profound peace and stillness of the forest. There are also private tours available that take you to hanging bridges and waterfalls, as well as wildlife sighting tours. Tonight, relax at your bungalow while you listen to the nocturnal sounds of the rainforest.
Day 8: Transfer to Hikkaduwa, Afternoon Snorkeling Excursion
Today's travels take your family to the sun-kissed beaches of Hikkaduwa, a small town located in the Galle district on Sri Lanka's southwest coast. Your driver will collect you from your hotel, and you'll make the two-hour drive, enjoying views of the region's vibrant flora and fauna along the way. As you drive into town, you'll be greeted with golden sands that stretch as far as the eye can see alongside the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. After hotel check-in, see more of those brilliant blue waters on a snorkeling tour!
Hikkaduwa's protected coral reefs and incredible underwater ecosystem make it a top destination for snorkeling enthusiasts, with opportunities to see a wide variety of fish without going too far from shore. You'll meet up with your guides, and after donning the provided snorkeling equipment, you'll head out into the water. Observe the more than 60 species of hard coral, as well as more than 150 species of fish, and don't be surprised if you see a sea turtle or two drift by! The kids will have plenty of time to swim and play, and you'll get back in time for a sunset walk along the beach.
Day 9: Turtle Hatchery Experience, Guided Tour in Galle
Cater to your young naturalists today with a visit to a sea turtle hatchery. The Galle region is home to many species of turtles, including the Olive Ridley, loggerhead, hawksbill, leatherhead, and green turtle. While there are several hatcheries in the area, one excellent option is the Sea Turtle Hatchery and Rescue Center. This nonprofit was established in the 1980s to help protect nesting turtles from poachers and other threats, working to safely release sea turtle hatchlings into the sea, as well as running a rescue operation for injured or sick turtles.
Your family will tour the facility and see the water tanks where the turtles are cared for, as well as the nesting areas where the turtles lay their eggs, while your guides share information on the turtles, their habits, and the importance of protecting them. If you're lucky enough to visit during the nesting season, you and the kids may even get to assist in releasing hatchlings into the ocean!
If your family is interested in learning more about Sri Lanka's Dutch colonial history, take a guided tour to the town of Galle, home to the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered to be one of the best-surviving forts in Asia. Together with your local guide, your family can explore the bustling narrow streets of the fort, where you'll find Dutch architecture, historic mosques, shops, restaurants, and museums. The kids will love the lively atmosphere, and the adults will be fascinated by the rich history found at every turn. Return to Hikkaduwa in time to enjoy your last evening in Sri Lanka.
Day 10: Depart Hikkaduwa
It's time to bid farewell to Sri Lanka! Your driver will collect you from your hotel in Hikkaduwa this morning, transferring you to Colombo airport for your flight home. Safe travels!
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