This 3-week itinerary includes the undiscovered north of the country and aims to find the right balance between temples, wildlife and activities such as treking.
Highlights: Makandura – Wilpattu – Anuradhapura – Jaffna – Delft Island – Ritagala – Sirigiya – Minneriya – Dambulla – Kandy – Ella – Yala National Park -Bundala – Mirissa – Galle – Colombo
Arrival at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport.
You will be met and driven to your hotel in Makandura, your base for 2 nights.
Rest of the day at leisure.
Wake up early at 6.00am for a hike by the lake while watching the bird life, then hop onto bikes for about an hour or so cycling through paddy-fields to explore the area.
Returning from the trip in time for a full Sri Lankan breakfast.
If you are feeling active there is an optional walk around the village to see the temple and get to know some of the local villagers.
Makandura – Puttalam – Wilpattu
Today you will drive past the small town of Puttalam which is home to one of the largest lagoons in the country. Puttlam is also known for its salt mines, energy production, coconut and amazing seafood.
Continue by road to Wilpattu, with accommodation close to the National Park. Stay 2 nights,
Full day tour to Wilpattu National Park.
Wilpattu has a dense jungle cover and numerous little lakes which attract leopards and sloth bears. You may also be able to see striking flocks of peacocks, painted storks, jungle fowl and mongeese. Packed lunch is included.
Wilpattu – Anuradhapura
Transfer from Wilpattu to Anuradhapura which has been continuously inhabited for over two millennia. After exploring Anuradhapura travel to the little-known Kaludiya Pokuna, a man-made lake surrounded by big boulders with archaeological sites that go back 1500 years. What is remarkable about Kaludiya Pokuna there are still monks living in the upper slopes of the hill.
Overnight in Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura – Jaffna
Transfer to Anuradhapura Railway Station to catch the Queen of Jaffna Express train for the journey north.
You will be met on arrival and driven to your hotel.
Afternoon cycle ride to explore the city and to learn about the Jaffna Kingdom.
Dinner will be arranged at a traditional Jaffna home with the opportunity to learn about life in an ordinary Tamil family. Our local guide will be there to assist, translate and provide details.
Jaffna will be your base for three nights.
Full day Excursion to Delft Island
There are few places in the world that capture the imagination like Delft island, a small island lined with no cars, the ruins of a Fort and wild horses descended from by those left by the Portuguese over 400 years ago. Oh, and then there are the beaches...
Lunch will be arranged at a local home in Delft to give you a feel for life in a remote island family.
In the late afternoon head back to Jaffna by boat and transfer to your hotel.
Excursions from Jaffna
Start this morning with a visit to Nallur temple. The history and importance of the Temple of Nallur will be explained as you learn more about about Jaffna’s history and culture. You will hear about the similarities and differences with South Indian culture, the scars of Sri Lanka's long civil war and the effects that migration and exile has had upon the region.
Lunch will be provided at a village home, served on banana leaf in traditional Jaffna style.
The rest of the afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the quiet Casuarina beach.
Jaffna – Ritigala – Habarana
Leaving the north, transfer to Habarana. On the way there'll be a stop to explore Ritigala Archeological Monastery which involves an easy walk of about an hour and half through the jungle to reach the ruins of this ancient Buddhist monastery (dating back about 2000 years).
Stay 2 nights at your hotel in Habarana.
Excursions to Sigiriya and Minneriya
Visit the magnificent Fortress of Sigiriya. The site was the domain of King Kashyapa whose aim was to build an impregnable fortress and within it, a heavenly abode. It is a fairly tough climb of 1200 steps (not recommended if you suffer from vertigo) and there are some great frescos to see on the way. As well as the fantastic views at the top you get to see close up the lion's feet.
Minneriya National Park which boasts an unusually wide range of habitat types, from dry tropical forest to wetlands, grasslands and terrain previously used for slash-and-burn agriculture. For most visitors, the principal attraction here is elephants.
Habarana – Dambulla – Kandy
On the way to Kandy stop at the Dambulla Cave Temple complex, one of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO world heritage sites.
Dambulla is a complex of five cave temples which are decorated with delicate murals and house 157 Buddha statues. It’s a bit of an uphill walk but it is definitely worth it.
From Dambulla continue by road to your hotel in Kandy, 2 nights accommodation.
Explore Kandy by Tuk Tuk with your guide to take in the back roads and meet local people who keep the traditions of the Royal City of Kandy alive, from the caretaker of a Buddhist temple, to locals working in small cottage industries.
Enthusiasts of British military history might be interested to know that the Garrison Cemetery of Kandy is within the Sanctuary and has the graves of 163 British Nationals.
Kandy is also an ideal location to learn about Ceylon Tea and the history of Sri Lanka's tea industry. The Ceylon Tea Museum has a fully working model of a tea factory and information about the pioneers of the tea industry and the Planters Association.
Kandy – Ella
Travel by train to Ella, a scenic journey into the hill country, passing tea plantations, hill villages and mountains shrouded in mist. Arrival transfer to your hotel.
Ella is an attractive little town of Ella with cool air and lush vegetation. This is one of Sri Lanka's prime hiking destinations and the perfect spot to unwind for a few days.
2 nights' accommodation.
Hike to Little Adam's Peak.
This is a short, leisurely hike taking a couple of hours at most. The views of the valley and surrounding hills are stunning. The best weather is early morning when the skies are clear and the morning air is fresh and cool.
Rest of the day at leisure.
Ella - Yala National Park
Optional early morning excursion to Ella Rock.
This walk will take you along the railway tracks and onto a hanging metal bridge - those with vertigo don't look down! The hike continues past a eucalyptus forest; here the climb can be a bit steep and you need to be in good shape to attempt it. On the top the views from Ella Rock are stunning, especially on a clear day. It is best to do this walk in the very early morning starting at 5.45 am. The hike will take about 3-4 hours depending on your pace.
Transfer to Yala National Park, home to wild elephants, buffalo herds, boar, pythons, innumerable birds, bears and even leopards.
Yala National Park
Morning Jeep safari in the Yala National Park; Free afternoon.
Yala - Bundala - Mirissa
Early morning departure (approx 5.30 am, with a packed breakfast) for a game drive in the Bundala National Park where the land, sea and wetlands all coincide. The park is well-known for sightings of migratory birds and is home to spotted deer, pangolin and grey langur monkeys.
Continue by road to your hotel in Mirissa.
The delightful sandy beach of Mirissa was once a well-kept secret, but has become more popular in recent years. Mirissa has a safe, palm-fringed beach.
2 nights' accommodation.
Free day in Mirissa.
Off the coast of Mirissa, Blue Whales, bottlenose Dolphins, Sperm Whales and Humpbacks can often be seen during the whale-watching season, best between December and March,
Mirissa - Galle
Transfer to the walled city of Galle, the finest example of a fortress city built by Europeans in the whole of South-East Asia. With restored colonial mansions, attractive local shops and a vibrant culinary scene the city has been greatly revitalised in recent years.
Walking tour of Galle is included.
Overnight at your hotel.
Galle - Colombo
Transfer to Colombo.
Afternoon city tour will take in the key sights of the city such as Slave Island and Galle Face Green. There are excellent examples of neo-classical buildings in Colombo’s old city centre,
Departure transfer to Colombo airport
The above tailor-made holiday to Sri Lanka can be varied in any way you choose to suit your exact requirements so give us a call now on 01932 424252 to discuss any modifications.
Sri Lanka has a wide range of types & styles of hotels, at a variety of price-points to suit all budgets. Please chat to one of our Travel Consultants to get informed advice as to which hotels they would suggest for your tailor-made holiday to Sri Lanka.
The tours, excursions & activities mentioned in this Sri Lanka holiday are just a selection of what is available in each location. The itinerary can be adjusted to fit your particular requirements for this holiday; please liaise with your Travel Consultant to confirm what other activities are available and what you would like to include in your tailor-made holiday.
If you like the broad sweep of the above sample itinerary but have fewer days to spend on your trip to Sri Lanka, or wish to extend it in any way, please ask your Travel Consultant for ideas on how to shorten or lengthen the holiday, or how to reorganise the itinerary.
We would be delighted to email you a no-obligation, fully-detailed itinerary & quote, containing images of the hotels we suggest for your tailor-made Brazil holiday along with a link to the hotel’s website, plus details of any included tours & excursions. The quote will clearly state what is, and what is not included in the quoted price. If you thereafter wish to make any changes to the initial itinerary – be it an alternative hotel, different activities, a different duration in any location etc. – that’s not a problem and we will continue to work with you to adjust the programme until it exactly matches what you’re looking for from your tailor-made holiday to Sri Lanka.