Experience the best of Sri Lanka's nature and wildlife experiences on this two-week family-themed itinerary. Looping through the island's southern and central regions, you'll embark on a series of fun-filled safaris, nature walks, biking excursions, and boat trips, with nights spent in comfort at gracious eco-lodges and safari camps. Search for leopards in Yala National Park, see the monkey-filled ruins of Polonnaruwa, watch elephants swim in Gal Oya National Park, spot rare primates on a nocturnal jungle hike, and discover the colorful marine life of Pasikudah.


  • Become a "Junior Ranger" on safari in Yala National Park
  • Ride a scenic train route through the Hill Country
  • Take a water safari to see the swimming elephants of Gal Oya
  • Spot whales, dolphins and tropical fish in the crystal clear waters of Pasikudah
  • Relax in between excursions with treasure hunts, movie nights and tuk-tuk tours

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Galle, Galle Fort Treasure Hunt Galle
Day 2 Transfer to Yala, Junior Ranger Program  Yala
Day 3 Yala National Park Safari, Elephant Transit Home, Transfer to Ella Ella
Day 4 Visit Lipton's Seat, Scenic Train Journey to Haputale Ella
Day 5 Transfer to Gal Oya National Park, Jungle Night Walk  Gal Oya 
Day 6 Explore Gal Ora by Bike & Boat, Sri Lankan Jungle Cooking Course Gal Oya 
Day 7 Trek to Monkey Mountain, Walk of Discovery with a Vedda Chief Gal Oya
Day 8 Transfer to Pasikudah, Bike Ride & Open Air Cinema Pasikudah
Days 9-10 Free Days in Pasikudah Pasikudah
Day 11 Transfer to Sigiriya via Polonnaruwa, Minneriya National Park Safari Sigiriya
Day 12 Explore the Countryside by Bike, Search for the Slender Loris After Dark Sigiriya
Day 13 Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Colombo, Tuk-Tuk Tour Colombo
Day 14 Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Galle, Galle Fort Treasure Hunt

Follow a treasure hunt through the historic corners of Galle
Follow a treasure hunt through the historic corners of Galle

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at the Colombo Airport, your driver will be waiting to transfer you south to the UNESCO-listed city of Galle. Surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean, this remarkable 300-year-old-walled city is home to a vibrant, self-contained, and multi-ethnic society that showcases an effortless balance of European and Sri Lankan culture. Get settled into your accommodations in a historic 17th-century townhouse turned boutique hotel, and enjoy some downtime in the secluded courtyard.

In the afternoon, kids can learn more about Galle's swashbuckling past in an adventurous way with a treasure hunt that starts near the entrance at the Moon Bastion. Together you'll explore the historic fort's many atmospheric corners and alleys as you hunt for clues, discovering a new topic at each stop and finishing the experience with a lot of new knowledge and a nice cold treat! 

Day 2: Transfer to Yala, Junior Ranger Program 

Elephants are a common sight on safari in Yala National Park
Transfer east this morning toward the wilds of Yala National Park, and get settled into your base for the night in a luxury tented eco-lodge on the shores of tranquil Weerawila Lake. While adults enjoy a drink on the terrace or a relaxing spa treatment, children can join the lodge's Junior Ranger program for a series of fun outdoor activities. Led by an in-house naturalist, they'll learn about the importance of conservation and sustainable tourism while spotting flora, fauna, and exotic birds among the lush grounds.

Day 3: Yala National Park Safari, Elephant Transit Home, Transfer to Ella

Search for Sri Lankan leopards in Yala National Park

Rise early this morning to search for the elusive Sri Lankan leopard in the wilds of Yala National Park. Covering almost 621 square miles (1,608 sq km), the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and its savannah-like landscape of dry thorn scrub and forest glades makes it the perfect environment for wildlife spotting. On today's Jeep safari, you'll spot a diverse array of flora and fauna, from peacocks to elephants, and if you're lucky, a glimpse of Sri Lanka's biggest cats.

Continue your wildlife adventure with a visit to the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe National Park, where orphaned elephant calves are cared for and rehabilitated before being released into the wild. This ethical program helps enhance the elephants' chances of survival and offers an incredible, 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.

Get back on the road in the afternoon for your transfer north to the lush highlands of Sri Lanka's Hill Country. Here you'll get settled into your secluded, treehouse-style accommodations near the charming mountain village of Ella. If there's extra energy to burn off before bed, take a memorable family trek past lush tea estates, waterfalls, and rice fields to reach one of Sri Lanka's highest peaks. Rising 3,743 feet (1,141 m) above the surrounding landscape, the gentle climb up Punchi Sri Pada, or Little Adam's Peak, rewards the effort with panoramic views across the valleys and fields below. 

Day 4: Visit Lipton's Seat, Scenic Train Journey To Haputale

A scenic day trip takes you on one of the world's most beautiful train routes

Start this morning in style with a gentle family hike to Lipton's Seat. The Scottish tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton used to survey his burgeoning empire from this lofty spot, and today you can enjoy a similar panorama looking out across emerald hills and tea estates. To reach the lookout point, follow the signed narrow paved roads from the Dambatenne Tea Factory and climb about 5 miles (8 km) through lush tea plantations. Along the way, you'll share the trail with Tamil tea pickers on their way to work and locals selling snacks and drinks at the top.

Then it's time to put your feet up and enjoy the views as you transfer to Ella Railway Station and board a train toward Haputale. Considered one of the world's most spectacular rail journeys, you'll wind your way through the mist-shrouded Sri Lankan highlands, passing lush tea estates and mountain waterfalls before returning to Ella for the evening.

Day 5: Transfer to Gal Oya National Park, Jungle Night Walk 

Wildlife flocks to the rivers and lakes of Gal Oya National Park 

Start this morning with a visit to the famous Nine Arch Bridge in Ella. Located along the beautiful winding Demodara rail loop, the gracefully arched bridge spans 298 feet (91 m) and rises 78 feet (24 m) above the dense jungle and pastoral fields. Afterward, you can cool down with a stop at the three-tier cascading waterfall of Ravana Falls, which plummets 82 feet (25 m) to create peaceful rock pools on the way. 

Then it's time to bid the Hill Country farewell and get back on the road, transferring northeast toward Gal Oya National Park, where you'll spend the next three nights at a stunning eco-lodge within the park. This vast reserve is dotted with lakes, forests, and savanna and centers around Sri Lanka's largest reservoir, Senanayake Samudraya. Home to an incredible diversity of species, it's most famous for its famous herds of Asian elephants who can often be seen swimming between the islands of their watery home. 

After settling into your luxurious thatched bungalow, kids can join the lodge's resident naturalists for a night walk in the surrounding forests, where nocturnal neighbors emerge from their daily resting spots. Use a flashlight to spot eyes peering back at you that could belong to a number of different animals, including amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. One of the highlights is a chance to spot the bizarre-looking frog mouth bird, or if you are really lucky, the endangered thick-tailed pangolin.
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Day 6: Explore Gal Ora by Bike & Boat, Sri Lankan Jungle Cooking Course

Spot elephants swimming on a lake safari

Spend today exploring more of Gal Oya with one of the lodge naturalists on a leisurely family bicycle ride, taking the shorter off-track trail to the small Kiri Oruwa Lake, which is teeming with bird species, or following the longer main road which cuts through the national park to the beautiful Namal Oya Reservoir

Next, you'll head to the nearby lake for the only experience in Sri Lanka that allows you to spot wildlife from the water. Board a boat for a peaceful and silent water safari, and with a little luck, you might spot elephants swimming between islands or bathing at the lake's edge. Keep an eye out for basking marsh mugger crocodiles, as well as the many exotic birds that call this park home.

Back at the lodge, budding young cooks can join Chef Premarathna in an outdoor jungle kitchen hut for a fun introduction to traditional Sri Lankan cookery. Forage through the forest for some of the key ingredients for your meal on the way to the hut, where the rest of the ingredients await. You'll learn to cook alongside Premarathna as he demonstrates how to prepare delicious and flavorful traditional local meals such as thalapa (a coconut-based dessert), thumba (gourd curry), fish curry, spiced yams, forest salads, and kankun (water spinach).

Day 7: Trek to Monkey Mountain, Walk of Discovery with a Vedda Chief

Vedda hunters with traditional bows and arrows

Older children and adventurous early risers can join their naturalist guide for an unforgettable, 1.5-hour trek to the summit of nearby Monkey Mountain. At the top, dramatic 180-degree views over the large forested valley await, and a colorful sunrise illuminates the distant hills and never-ending jungle canopy below. After you've finished, return to the hotel for a well-earned breakfast. 

Next, the whole family can learn more about Sri Lankan nature from its oldest inhabitants. Gal Oya is a neighbor to one of the last remaining communities of the Vedda–the forest-dwelling Indigenous people of Sri Lanka. Meet their village chief, who will invite you on a walk through the jungles of his ancestors. Listen 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.

On your final night at the lodge, join the resident naturalists on their evening walk as they set up camera traps as part of an ongoing project to record and monitor the lodge's diverse population of wildlife. Along the way, you'll learn more about the efforts to help conserve endangered species and might just catch a glimpse of an animal or two along the way. 

Day 8: Transfer to Pasikudah, Bike Ride & Open Air Cinema

Settle into your beachfront base in Passikudah 

Today takes you to Sri Lanka's east coast and the beautiful village of Passikudah. Known for its shallow reef coastline, warm waters, and miles of golden beaches, this region is a paradise for watersports and marine life. Arrive at your beachfront resort, where luxury tent-like villas nestle among the palm trees, and put your feet up in your own private paradise.

If the little ones need to stretch their legs after the drive, grab some bikes and explore the quieter roads of the surrounding Eastern Province. The area around Batticaloa's three lagoons is a great spot to absorb local life and appreciate nature. Pass by fishermen, vast rice fields, herds of buffalo, lots of water birds, and authentic small villages. Back at the resort, settle in for a night of movies under the stars, featuring Disney classics like "The Jungle Book" for junior guests and classic subtitled Sri Lankan films or documentaries for the adults.

Days 9-10: Free Day in Passikudah

Swim and snorkel in the shallow waters around Passikudah
The next two days are free for you to enjoy the warm waters and golden beaches of Passikudah at your leisure. Go snorkeling in the shallow seas to spot colorful tropical fish, set out on a deep-sea fishing expedition, or join a whale watching excursion to spot blue whales, bottlenose dolphins, and sea turtles up close. On breaks from the beach or the pool, kids can relax in the resort's cozy, air-conditioned library, which is packed with books, magazines, and travel photographs from around the world

Day 11: Transfer to Sigiriya via Polonnaruwa, Minneriya National Park Safari

Wander the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa
Wander the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa

Say your goodbyes to the beach and head inland today, stopping along the way to 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.

Continue to Sigiriya, where you'll get settled in at an idyllic nature resort, then 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, an ancient freshwater source that draws elephants from all over the country to drink, bathe, and socialize on its peaceful shores. While elephants are the star attractions, keep your eyes open as you explore the park by Jeep—its grasslands and forests are also home to leopards, sloth bears, langur monkeys, and remarkable birdlife. 

Day 12: Explore the Countryside by Bike, Search for the Slender Loris After Dark

Explore the rural Sri Lankan countryside by bike

Head out into 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 peace and quiet as you spot native birds and wildlife en route. 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 to go a good luck blessing. After working up an appetite, end the ride with an authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch freshly prepared by a local family (if you are interested, you can also join them for a cooking session!)

For an after-dark adventure, head to the Primate Center for a rare look at Sri Lanka's shy, solitary slow lorises. This small forest patch is home to 13 adults and a small population of juveniles and infants, and if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the diminutive primates munching on leaves or hunting insects for their dinner. Listen for their unique screeches as your field guide leads you on a 60-90 minute walk as night falls and the nocturnal residents of the forest come to life. 

Day 13: Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Colombo, Tuk-Tuk Tour

Ascend the carved fortress of Sigiriya
Ascend the carved fortress of Sigiriya

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.

Afterward, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to Colombo, where you'll set off on a fun-filled tour of the city by tuk-tuk. Visit the colorful Gangaramaya Temple and head to the ancient merchant quarter of Pettah to explore bustling streets dating back to the 17th century. Adults will get a fascinating look at the hidden gems and authentic corners of the commercial capital, while kids will love the open-air views as they scoot around the city. After breaking for refreshments, end your final day in Sri Lanka with a short climb to one of the most scenic viewpoints in the city for a memorable sunset.

Day 14: Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart 

A colorful tuk-tuk in Colombo

After a leisurely morning, 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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Map of Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days
Map of Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days