- Climb to the rock fortresses of Sigiriya & Pidurangala
- Tour a working tea estate in the mountain paradise of Ella
- Spot elephants & leopards on a safari through Yala National Park
- Soak up some sun on the Indian Ocean beaches of Galle
- Stay in a series of unique & luxurious glamping-style accommodations
|Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Kalpitiya
|Explore Wilpattu National Park
|Transfer to Sigiriya via Yapahuwa Kingdom & Pidurangala Rock
|Rural Cycling Adventure in Habarana, Visit Ancient Polonnaruwa
|Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Knuckles
|Guided Trek in the Knuckles Mountain Range
|Transfer to Ella, Visit Lipton Seat & Tea Estate
|Transfer to Yala via Diyaluma Waterfall
|Yala National Park Safari
|Transfer to Galle, Tour the Historic Dutch Fort
|Beach Day in Galle
|Transfer to Colombo & Departure
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to KalpitiyaWelcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at Colombo Airport, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to the western coastal town of Kalpitiya. Known for its islands and marine life, Kalpitiya is an up-and-coming tourist destination, although it has a long history as an important stop-off for maritime trade and smuggling escapades. Home to a marine sanctuary that encompasses a variety of coastal habitats, from salt marshes to sand dunes to mangrove swamps, it also boasts the largest coral reef in the country. Boat trips from its Alankudah Beach offer visitors the chance to spot dolphins and even a rare blue or sperm whale.
Day 2: Explore Wilpattu National ParkToday, 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 also live here, such as the pintail, whistling teal spoonbill, and white ibis. 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. After a day of stunning wildlife and natural beauty, you'll head back to Kalpitiya and spend the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure.
Day 3: Transfer to Sigiriya via Yapahuwa Kingdom & Pidurangala RockAfter breakfast, your driver will pick you up for a scenic transfer inland towards the iconic Sri Lankan landmark of Sigiriya. Along the way, you'll stop to explore the ancient citadel of Yapahuwa, located midway between Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. The citadel was built around a huge granite rock that rises high above the surrounding lowlands and was once the capital of medieval Sri Lanka. Later abandoned, the fortress was transformed into a monastery by Buddhist monks. Tour the citadel to see the caves at the base of the rock (which served as shelter for the monks) and the Bodhi tree on the top.
Upon arrival in Sigiriya, climb to the top of the neighboring rock temple of Pidurangala, home to a monastery that dates back to the 3rd century BCE. You'll be met with breathtaking views of the surrounding valley and nearby Sigiriya Rock, and can pay a visit to the vast reclining Buddha statue within.
Day 4: Rural Cycling Adventure in Habarana, Visit Ancient PolonnaruwaSet 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 lunch with a local family inside a mud hut.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
As evening falls, your driver will be waiting to transfer you back to Dambulla to relax after a long day.
Day 5: Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to KnucklesSpend the morning exploring the magnificent Sri Lankan monument of Sigiriya. The rocky monolith rises high out of the lush jungle and 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 the way visitors traditionally began their final ascent to the top of the monument, passing through the open jaws and throat of a lion. Unfortunately, the only remains of this lion figure today are the gigantic paws sculpted into the side of the rock. You'll find beautiful water fountains, boulder gardens, frescos, mirror walls, and relics of the castle within the UNESCO-listed site.
Day 6: Guided Trek in the Knuckles Mountain Range
Head deeper into the Knuckles Mountain Range today as you explore a true paradise for hikers. Today's 4-6 hour guided trek takes you along scenic mountain trails, across crystal clear rivers, and through dense forests to flowing waterfalls, lush tea plantations, and traditional small villages. Surrounded by colorful home gardens and terraced paddy fields, you'll feel a world away from fast-paced city life. The Knuckles area also represents a great variety of different forest types and climate zones, which makes it a perfect destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts of all kinds.
Day 7: Transfer to Ella, Visit Lipton Seat & Tea EstateAnother scenic transfer this morning whisks you deep into the heart of Sri Lanka's tea country, where you'll get settled in the charming mountain village of Ella. Blessed with a wonderfully cool climate, the village is surrounded by lush peaks and tea plantations, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to the south coast of Sri Lanka.
In the afternoon, your driver will take you on a trip to Lipton’s Seat, one of Sri Lanka's most impressive viewpoints. The Scottish tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton used to survey his burgeoning empire from this lofty spot, and today you can enjoy similar views looking out across emerald hills and tea estates. Learn more about the country's most famous export at the surrounding tea estate, where you'll tour the fields and factory and finish off the visit with a cup of world-class Ceylon tea before heading back to Ella for the evening.
Day 8: Explore Ella
Day 9: Transfer to Yala via Diyaluma WaterfallStart this morning with a visit to Diyaluma Falls, the second-highest waterfall in the country. An enthralling and challenging hike takes you to the top of the 721-foot (220 m) drop, where several natural pools are surrounded by dense jungle and resplendent wilderness. Experience the thrill of swimming at the top of the towering natural wonder, before getting back on the road and continuing to Yala, located near Sri Lanka's southeastern coast, for the evening.
Day 10: Yala National Park SafariCovering almost 621 square miles (1000 km), the spectacular Yala National Park is the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka. In fact, Yala was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1900, and, along with Wilpattu was one of the first two national parks in Sri Lanka. The park 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. The park's dry thorn scrub, interspersed with small dusty glades, is reminiscent of Africa, and a perfect environment for safaris.
Day 11: Transfer to Galle, Tour the Historic Dutch FortA transfer down the coast today takes you to the fascinating UNESCO-listed city of Galle. Step back in time as you explore its 300-year-old Dutch fortifications, surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean. After a tour of the city's historic past, you'll have time to explore its Dutch-colonial buildings, historic mosques, grand mansions, and museums. Wander the streets and you'll discover stylish cafes, shops, and boutique hotels owned by local and ex-pat artists and designers.
The city is also famous for Unawatuna Bay, a lovely cove protected by a reef. If you feel like cooling off, wrap up the afternoon with a dip in the ocean before getting settled into your accommodations for the evening.
Day 12: Beach Day in GalleSpend the penultimate day of your trip at your leisure—relaxing on the beach, swimming in the warm seas, or soaking up some sun. Take a whale or dolphin watching excursion, explore more of the historic fort, or sample some mouth-watering Sri Lankan cuisine at one of the many excellent local restaurants.
Day 13: Transfer to Colombo & Departure
After breakfast (and maybe one last morning at the beach) it's time to meet your driver for the transfer back to Colombo Airport and your departing flight. Safe travels!
More Sri Lanka Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these other Sri Lanka itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.
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