This five-day tour highlights the remarkable wildlife and pristine beaches of Sri Lanka’s central and southern provinces. Start your adventure with safari tours in Udawalawe and Yala National Parks, where you’ll spot elephants and leopards in the wild. Next, you’ll head down the coast to the golden sands and turquoise waters of Mirissa and Bentota before spending your final day in the vibrant capital city of Colombo. 

Highlights

  • Spot rare wildlife on safari in Udawalawe and Yala National Parks
  • Visit orphaned baby elephants at the Elephant Transit Home
  • Watch whales and dolphins off the shores of Mirissa
  • Relax on the golden sands of Bentota
  • Explore the culture and customs of Colombo, the capital city

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Go on Safari in Udawalawe National Park Udawalawe
Day 2 Visit the Elephant Transit Home & Yala National Park Yala
Day 3 Explore the Beautiful Beaches of Mirissa Mirissa
Day 4 Wander the Old Town of Galle & Relax in Bentota Bentota
Day 5 Sightsee in Colombo & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Go on Safari in Udawalawe National Park

Asian elephants grazing in Udawalawe National Park.
Asian elephants grazing in Udawalawe National Park

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Day one takes you directly into the heart of spectacular Udawalawe National Park. Located on the boundary of Sri Lanka's wet and dry zones, the park’s geography and climate make it a haven for rare wildlife. Udawalawe is considered one of the best places in the world to see elephants in the wild, with large herds often gathering to feed and bathe at waterholes. While elephants are the star attractions, you’ll also spot water buffalo, water monitor lizards, sambar deer, and monkeys, as well as a remarkable variety of exotic birdlife. After a safari in the park, retreat to your hotel to get some rest before the next day's adventures.

Day 2: Visit the Elephant Transit Home & Yala National Park

Bottle feeding baby elephants at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home.
Bottle-feeding baby elephants at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home

Start your morning with feeding time at the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. Founded to rescue baby elephants orphaned by elephant-human conflicts in Sri Lanka, the transit home provides food and medical care until the calves are robust enough to be released into the wilderness. Watch as the playful baby elephants are bottle-fed and cared for during their morning ritual, and learn about the work that goes into protecting and raising these remarkable animals.

After lunch, you’ll travel west to another natural haven, Yala National Park. Leopards are the main attraction here, but the park is also home to large herds of elephants as well as spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, wild buffalo, sloth bears, jackals, and mongoose. The birdwatching is also fantastic, as the park features rare and colorful resident species like rosy starlings, paradise flycatchers, crested hawk eagles, blue-tailed bee-eaters, and common loras.

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Day 3: Explore the Beautiful Beaches of Mirissa

Aerial view of Mirissa's  turquoise bays.
Aerial view of Mirissa's turquoise bays

Sunrise is the best time for leopard-spotting, so use your last morning in Yala National Park to venture out on another early safari and look for these elusive creatures. With one of the densest populations on the planet, Yala offers you an excellent chance of seeing leopards up close — particularly young, confident males who prowl the park's dirt roads. 

After breakfast, you’ll bid Yala farewell and travel south along the coast to Mirissa. Surrounded by coconut plantations and ancient temples, this idyllic fishing village is a paradise of pristine beaches and brilliant blue sea. Spend the afternoon whale watching — the temperate waters are home to blue, Bryde's, and sperm whales — then relax at one of the resort’s many beachfront restaurants, watching the sun go down over the Indian Ocean.

Day 4: Wander the Old Town of Galle & Relax in Bentota

Sunset at Bentota Beach.
A quiet stretch of sand in Bentota

Today you’ll continue west along the coast, stopping first at the bustling provincial capital of Galle. Overlooking the exquisite circular cove of Unawatuna Bay, it's known for the atmospheric 17th-century Dutch fort that serves as its old town. Then continue on to the laid-back beach resort of Bentota. Calm waters and miles of pristine golden sand make this former fishing village on Sri Lanka’s west coast a favorite holiday playground. Bentota is famous for its watersports: try scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, or windsurfing on the Laccadive Sea. Then have one last seafood feast on your last night of the trip.

Day 5: Sightsee in Colombo & Depart 

The modern shoreline of Colombo City.
The colorful coastline of Colombo

Spend the morning sightseeing in the lively capital of Colombo. Buddhist and Hindu temples are scattered around the city, reflecting the diverse religions and customs of Colombo’s residents. Drive through the city's commercial center, known as the Fort, where grand colonial-era buildings stand alongside modern office structures. Explore the vibrant markets and bazaars in Pettah, and take some time to check out the National Museum with its beautiful collection of antiques and art. Then it’s time to transfer to the airport and catch your flight home. Safe travels!

More Great Sri Lanka Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these other 5-day Sri Lanka itineraries with wildlife, beaches, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 

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Map

Map of Wildlife & Beaches of Sri Lanka - 5 Days
Map of Wildlife & Beaches of Sri Lanka - 5 Days