Sri Lanka – City to Country tour
13 days from £1,238* per person Saving you £254 per person*
This itinerary isn’t set in stone. Pick, mix, swap however you like – your trip will be totally tailor made for you.
Day 1 Colombo
You’ll be welcomed at Bandaranaike International airport and taken to your hotel in Colombo. Take the rest of the day to relax and settle in.
Day 2 Colombo
Colombo is Sri Lanka’s capital city. It has a rich colonial heritage and draws together all the colours and cultures of the island. Take a driving tour to see the various historical and architectural attractions, including the fort, Independence Square, the race course and the Cinnamon Gardens neighbourhood. Stretch your legs with a walk around this fine city, stopping for a meal in a local restaurant and a good browse of the shops and markets.
Day 3 Colombo – Wilpattu
After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be transported to the campsite in Wilpattu.
After lunch, it’s safari time in Wilpattu National Park, the largest in the country covering 131,694 hectares. The landscape is varied, with thick jungle changing to open scrubland then windswept dunes along the coastal belt. You’ll also see its ‘villus’ (lakes) where you can watch the wildlife congregating. Look out for leopards and herds of wild elephants, as well as spotted deer, sambhur, barking deer, wild boar, buffaloes, sloth bears, crocodiles and peacocks.
Back at the campsite, you’ll be offered drinks around the bonfire, followed by a barbecue dinner.
Day 4 Wilpattu – Sigiriya
After another exciting morning safari at Wilpattu National Park, you’re moving on to spend your afternoon in Hiriwadunna village. Meet the locals and join in with village life by helping with the farming or cooking. Enjoy a tractor ride through a banana plantation, tasting ripe bananas on the way. Then board an ‘oruwa’ (traditional boat) and cross a scenic reservoir to visit a chena cultivation, where you can witness the traditional agricultural methods still used here.
Day 5 Sigiriya
After breakfast, head off to the Sigiriya rock fortress, built in the 5th century during the reign of King Kasyapa and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sigiriya is commonly called the ‘Fortress in the Sky’ and is one of Sri Lanka’s most impressive sights. It’s also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the palace on the summit of the 600-foot rock.
Afterwards, you’ll be taken to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. This royal capital offers well-preserved 12th-century ruins and plenty of impressive stone work that takes you right back in time – some of the monuments are nearly 1000 years old. Your guide will explain how the king’s court was laid out here.
There’s one more activity to finish off your day – an after-dark nature trail to spy on Sri Lanka’s nocturnal loris, a shy creature known for its large eyes and little limbs. Your night expedition is led by a local naturalist through the forested trail at Jetwing Vil Uyana, regarded locally as the best site on the island for loris watching. Keep those eyes peeled…
Day 6 Sigiriya – Kandy
Today you’ll visit the atmospheric Dambulla cave temples, a World Heritage Site. It’s the largest cave monastery in the country with a history going back to the 1st century BC.
A lunch feast of 25 dishes will be waiting for you at Matale Heritage Centre. Afterwards, you can explore the property, which was designed by the famous architect Geoffrey Bawa, and see some batik designs created by the former property owner, Ena De Silva.
Next stop is Kandy, the Hill Capital city of Sri Lanka, where you can check into your hotel and rest before a cultural show in the evening.
Day 7 Kandy
A day of sightseeing in Kandy, exploring the Royal Palace, the Temple of the Tooth and the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. These boast more than 4,000 species of trees, plants and creepers. Don’t miss the Spice Garden, Orchid House and the five elegant Palm Avenues.
Day 8 Kandy – Hatton
Time to take a scenic train journey, chugging slowly up to Sri Lanka’s tea country. You’ll go to Peradeniya railway station and board the train to Hatton. Here, the journey is as important as the destination – time to sit back and take in the stunning scenery as you wind along the track. Spend the rest of the day taking in the views and unwinding in the bungalow, your home for the night.
Day 9 Hatton
Today, the resident tea planter at the bungalow will take you on a tea experience tour. Walk through the plantations and learn about which slopes are best for planting, then watch the tea pickers pluck the two leaves and a bud which are used for tea manufacture. Next stop is the factory to see how the leaves are converted to the powder used in the tea you drink at home. Last up, time for a cuppa – it’s never tasted better.
Day 10 & 11 Hatton – Tangalle
You’re off to your next hotel in Tangalle, where you’re free to explore the palm-fringed bay and picturesque coves of this laidback fishing port. It’s situated on the island’s largest bay, protected from the ocean by an enclosing reef.
Day 12 Tangalle – Galle
Your guide will take you to the colonial city of Galle. It was a key harbour city for centuries, attracting Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial powers. Centuries later, the Galle Fort still stands, one of the few World Heritage Sites in which a bustling community continues to live. One of its residents, author Juliet Coombe, will be your guide to the fort and its history.
Next up is a mask-making workshop, where you’ll learn about the traditional masks of Sri Lanka before having a go at making one yourself.
Day 13 Wrap up your Sri Lankan adventure…
Time to head back to the airport to catch your flight home.
*Prices are based on private arrangements (not lower priced escorted tours with set dates). Quality three star accommodation is quoted here (unless mentioned otherwise), with breakfast included and other meals where mentioned. Mostly private transfers with an English speaking driver/guide and all activities mentioned, with top guides, are included. Domestic flights and transport all included from Day 1 to end point. Can be tailored to your needs, so prices could be lower for budget arrangements or higher for luxury.
International flight is not included