This week-long itinerary is perfect for adventurous families looking to get off the beaten path and introduces you to some of Sri Lanka's quieter corners and undiscovered gems. Paddle across the biodiverse lagoons of Kalpitiya, search for rare Sri Lankan leopards on safari in Wilpattu National Park, hike to waterfalls in the lush countryside of Mahiyanganaya, and travel deep into the jungle to meet the island's last indigenous tribe.


  • Paddle through the mangrove swamps & sand bars of coastal Kalpitiya
  • Search for leopards, elephants & sloth bears in Wilpattu National Park
  • Taste the flavors & fire of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine 
  • Hike the jungle waterfalls around Mahiyanganaya
  • Learn the secrets of the forest with the indigenous Vedda forest people

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Coastal Kalpitiya Kalpitiya
Day 2 Wilpattu National Park Wildlife Safari, Transfer to Matale Matale
Day 3 Boat Ride at Bowathanna Reservoir, Sri Lankan Cooking Demonstration Matale
Day 4 Transfer to Mahiyanganaya, Kaluwa Wetuna Ella Waterfall Hike Mahiyanganaya
Day 5 Dambana Vedda Village Visit Mahiyanganaya
Day 6 Transfer to Colombo, Explore the City Colombo
Day 7 Depart Colombo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Coastal Kalpitiya 

Biodiverse mangrove swamps in Kalpitiya
Biodiverse mangrove swamps in Kalpitiya

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 sand 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.

Get some fresh air with a paddle across the pristine waters of Kalpitiya's lagoon and toward the dunes and salt pans in the distance. Passing tiny fishing villages and local fishermen, you'll see how linked the local community is to these vital waters. Nature lovers young and old will enjoy spotting the diverse marine life and the flora, fauna, and birdlife that make the lagoon their home.  

Day 2: Wilpattu National Park Wildlife Safari, Transfer to Matale

Search for the elusive Sri Lankan leopard in Wilpattu National Park
Search for the elusive Sri Lankan leopard in Wilpattu National Park

Join your private driver this morning 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. The whole family will 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.

Afterward, it's time to leave the coast behind as you head inland and south toward the Central Province and the small city of Matale. Known for its Buddhist monastery and rock temples, it's also home to the National Spice Garden and is the perfect base for exploring the region's lush and diverse nature. 

Day 3: Boat Ride at Bowathanna Reservoir, Sri Lankan Cooking Demonstration

Sample traditional Sri Lankan dishes in today's interactive cooking experience

This morning, you'll board a traditional boat to explore the vast Bowathanna Reservoir like the locals, paddling past beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Kids will love the up-close look at the nature and wildlife that flocks to its shores, while parents can relax amid the tranquil setting.

Back at the hotel, combine an authentic experience with a delicious meal as your chef demonstrates how to make some of Sri Lanka's favorite dishes. They'll whip up a flavorful dinner of local specialties using traditional flavors like cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom. Kids can join in the interactive fun of cooking and tasting before sitting down to a memorable dinner at the end of it all. 

Day 4: Transfer to Mahiyanganaya, Kaluwa Wetuna Ella Waterfall Hike

The view toward Rathna Ella Waterfall

Transfer east today toward Sri Lanka's unspoiled Uva Province, where you'll find a small gem of a city near the banks of the Mahaweli River. Revered in Buddhist history, Mahiyanganaya is believed to be the site of Lord Buddha's first visit to the island, with the ancient temple of Mahiyangana Maha Viharaya built here in commemoration. With spectacular views across the Central Highlands and the Knuckles Mountain Range, it's also a perfect base for outdoor adventures—including educational excursions with the area's native Vedda people.

Stretch your legs and let the little ones burn off some energy with a mile (1.5 km) hike from the village of Rathna Ella to see the dramatic cascades of Kaluwa Wetuna Ella. The 98-foot (30 m) waterfall lies deep in the jungle and makes for a great trek that's beloved by nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. Older kids should have no problem with the gentle climb, while younger ages can opt for a shortened version. If you're feeling adventurous, continue 2 miles (3.5 m) through lush forests to reach the breathtaking Rathna Ella Waterfall, considered one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka.

Day 5: Dambana Vedda Village Visit

Vedda villagers hunting with traditional weapons
Vedda villagers hunt with traditional weapons
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Tracing their history to the 6th century BCE, the Vedda "forest people" are Sri Lanka's last indigenous tribe. Learn about their culture and history today with a visit to a local village, where they welcome visitors with stories of their ancient connection with the forest and demonstrations of their hunter/gatherer way of life, which has changed little since the Stone Age. Kids will enjoy watching how the Vedda create their traditional bows and arrows for hunting and learn about the magic of medicinal jungle plants as they explore the village on a guided walk.

Day 6: Transfer to Colombo, Explore the City

Buddha statues along the waterfront of Colombo's Seema Malaka Temple

Transfer back to the hustle and bustle of civilization today as your driver picks you up for the transfer to Colombo. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure, exploring Sri Lanka's commercial capital and its largest metropolis. 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 has something for everyone.

For an afternoon of family fun, head to the Dehiwala National Zoo, where interactive and educational exhibits highlight its breeding programs for rare and endangered species alongside its exotic and indigenous fauna collection. Explore the wonders of the National Museum, or take a walk through the city's commercial center, where grand colonial-era buildings stand alongside modern hotels and office structures.  Stroll the vibrant markets and bazaars in Pettah, then end the evening sampling Sri Lankan specialties at a local restaurant.

Day 7: Depart Colombo

Colorful tuk-tuks are Colombo's most common form of transportation

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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