- 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
|Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Coastal Kalpitiya
|Wilpattu National Park Wildlife Safari, Transfer to Matale
|Boat Ride at Bowathanna Reservoir, Sri Lankan Cooking Demonstration
|Transfer to Mahiyanganaya, Kaluwa Wetuna Ella Waterfall Hike
|Dambana Vedda Village Visit
|Transfer to Colombo, Explore the City
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Coastal 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
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
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
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
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Transfer to Colombo, Explore the City
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
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).
More Great Sri Lanka Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these other Sri Lanka itineraries, explore different ways to spend a week in Sri Lanka with your family, or discover the best time to visit Sri Lanka.