Secrets Of Sri Lanka

Buddha statue in Polonnaruwa temple, Sri Lanka
Negombo Beach
Leopard in Yala NP
Working the Tea Plantations
Dambulla - Sri Lanka
  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Explore!

Staying in stylish and comfortable hotels, we travel to some of Sri Lanka's greatest sights: from ancient Buddhist monuments to tea plantations and historic cities. We visit the Temple of the Tooth in the central city of Kandy, search for elephants and leopard in Willpaththu National Park and relax by the idyllic Indian Ocean coast.

Highlights
Dambulla - Explore the painted caves of this temple complex
Willpaththu - Look out for leopard, elephants and birdlife on a jeep safari
Polonnaruwa - Visit the Royal Palace and dramatic sculptures of this ancient city
Sigiriya - Climb to the top of Lion Rock, stopping to see the painted maidens half way up
Kandy - Visit the Temple of the Tooth
Galle - Soak up the atmosphere in the historic fort
Beruwala- Time for relaxation on the beautiful coastline
Why Book this Tour
This trip is offers the chance to see elephants in the wild, climb to Lion Rock's ancient fortress and relax on quiet beaches while staying in premium accommodation. The trip focusses on some of the best highlights of Sri Lanka and is ideal for travellers interested in history, culture and wildlife. There is plenty of sightseeing as well as free time for you to experience this increasingly popular destination or to simply relax.
Destinations
  • Sri Lanka Holidays
  • Colombo
  • Kandy
  • Temple of the Tooth
  • Galle
  • Sigiriya
  • Dambulla
  • Sri Lanka
  • Asia
Tour Types
  • Active
  • Small Group
  • Scenic
  • Cultural
  • Wildlife
  • Safaris
  • Adventure
Day 1: Join tour in Negombo
Our tour begins this afternoon in the small fishing town of Negombo. Located just 15 minutes drive from Colombo Airport we can check in and recover from the flight.

Day 2: Travel to our campsite at Willpaththu National Park
Leaving the capital, our journey takes us northwards along the coast to the fishing port of Negombo. We will pause to visit a nearby fishing village where the catch is made in traditional style large outrigger canoes, known locally as 'oruvas'. We may also see the toddy tappers climbing tall coconut trees and collecting sap from the flowers to make Arrack, a local whisky type spirit. Our destination is a campsite based on the outskirts of Willpaththu National Park. We choose to visit this park, rather than the more touristy Yala National Park further south because we believe it offers our customers a better experience. The same animals can be seen here as in Yala, however it is less crowded, making our visit more enjoyable and responsible. We spend two nights here in fixed tents with beds, all linen and towels provided. The campsite has shared bathroom facilities with flushing toilets.

Day 3: Take two game drives in search of leopards
Today we take two game drives in to Willpaththu National Park with a trained naturalist. Despite Wilpatu National Park's location in Sri Lanka's dry zone, it boasts nearly 60 lakes and is renowned for leopard, elephant and sambar deer spottings. The group will be split up in to jeeps and explore the park in the hope of spotting a leopard.

Day 4: Visit a giant Buddha and the cave temples at Dambulla
Leaving Willpaththu we pause to view the magnificent Standing Buddha of Aukana, which stands 12 meters high. Sculptured in the 5th century by a master craftsman, it is still relatively isolated in its jungle setting. We then drive to Dambulla, where a great series of caves have been turned into temples (dating from the 1st century BC). We will visit five separate caves, which contain a large number of Buddha images and a few sculptures of Hindu Gods. In one of the caves there is an incredible Reclining Buddha measuring 14m long! This World Heritage Site is visited by crowds of worshippers. We reach our resort in Dambulla in the late afternoon.

Day 5: Climb Lion Rock and explore ancient Polonnaruwa
In the morning we drive to Sigiriya where we climb to the Sky Fortress. The ruins of this 5th century fortress are one of Sri Lanka's major attractions, a stupendous sight to behold and a feat of consummate engineering skill. A switchback series of steps and steel stairways (sometimes steep and challenging) ascend to the top. Halfway up, tucked beneath a sheltering overhang of rock, are the famous frescoes - the Sigiriya Damsels, their colours still glowing. Magnificent views can be enjoyed from the summit of the rock palace. After lunch we explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, which reached its height of glory in the 12th century. The city still has many interesting and spectacular buildings and monuments. There is the Royal Palace Group with its Audience Hall, Bathing Pool and Quadrangle - a very compact collection of ruins. Close by is the Circular Relic House, a curious round structure with a beautifully preserved moonstone carved at the foot of a flight of steps. Another famous feature of the deserted city is the group of carved images of the Buddha known as Galvihara. Here there are four colossal figures, all of which are hewn out of solid granite. Later in the afternoon we return to Dambulla.

Day 6: Drive to Kandy and visit the Temple of the Tooth
Lying in the mountains 112km northeast of Colombo, Kandy is, in climatic terms, a world apart due to its altitude of 500m above sea level. The town was captured by the British as late as 1815, and is known more for its cultural and spiritual importance rather than its history. Buddhists from all over the world come to this delightful old highland town, specifically to visit the Temple of the Tooth, the Dalada Maligawa. The costly jewelled shrine of the Holy Tooth (said to be 3.5cm long by 1cm thick and Buddha's left canine) is kept in the upper floor of the original building. This relic was brought from India 1,500 years ago and every year, at the time of the August full moon, it is paraded round the town with great pomp and circumstance. During this ten-night festival of Perahera, the Tooth (or a model of the original) is borne along on a richly decorated elephant, surrounded by saffron-robed monks and Kandyan dancers. Kandyan dancers can also be seen performing every night at one or two locales around town. This afternoon's sightseeing includes attending the Temple of the Tooth Ceremony and a visit to the Peradeniya Botanical Garden.

Day 7: Spend a free day exploring the relaxed town of Kandy
A full free day to continue your exploration of this charming mountain town or simply relax and enjoy the amenities at our hotel.

Day 8: Visit a tea factory en route to Nuwara Eliya
This morning we head off across the highlands, through green rolling hills covered in tea plantations, visiting a working tea factory en route to the hill station of Nuwara Eliya. After checking into our hotel we'll take a tour around this little town, known as Little England, famous for its lake, golf and race course and well manicured gardens.

Day 9: Take a walk on Horton Plains or relax in Nuwara Eliya
We head out this morning to Horton Plains, situated on Sri Lanka's highest plateau between altitudes of 2000m and 2300m. Traditionally named Mahaeliya, the park's main attraction is the thrilling escarpment known as World's End which offers stunning views across the tea plantations. We aim to trek to World's End in the morning when the air is clear and the views are best. Although the area is now devoid of elephants, we may be lucky enough to see other flora and fauna such as sambar deer. Returning to the hotel in the early afternoon, there is time to refresh and relax; maybe even a round of golf on the adjacent golf course!

Day 10: Drive to Galle and take a walking tour of the fort
Today we make our way to the coast and the pretty town of Galle. Although there is still evidence of damage from the 2004 tsunami all along this coastline, the international relief effort has put the area on a fast path to recovery; and the brand new infrastructure is allowing local communities to benefit from tourism once again. In the late afternoon we visit the old, walled town of Galle itself. Important as a trading port for the Portuguese since the 16th century when the fortress was constructed, it has undoubtedly been a trading centre since ancient times.

Day 11: A free morning in Galle before driving to Beruwala
Galle has a variety of activities and attractions to occupy your free time. You may choose to hire snorkelling equipment and explore the corals or take a sea trip around the coast. Alternatively travel up river past small largely uninhabited islands. TThere is plenty to see particularly in the old fort area, which was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1988. Overlooking the sea, the fort ramparts protect the harbour, old houses, churches, warehouses and the Arab quarter. Between December and April there may be the opportunity to go on a whale watching trip from nearby Mirissa. In the late afternoon we drive up the coast to Beruwala.

Day 12: Relax on the pristine beaches of Beruwala
Today is left free to relax on the pristine beaches of the west coast. For those seeking pure relaxation, local Ayurvedic massages with natural, aromatic herbal oils are highly recommended.

Day 13: Free time to visit Colombo or take a river safari
Our final day is spent relaxing on the Indian Ocean coast. However, if you feel like exploring further we recommend a trip into Colombo by train for more sightseeing and shopping.

Day 14: Tour ends at Colombo Airport
This morning we will travel back to Colombo where the tour ends at the airport.

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
18-Nov-2019 for 13 Nights Visit Website
18-Nov-2019 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website
02-Dec-2019 for 13 Nights Visit Website
02-Dec-2019 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website
06-Jan-2020 for 13 Nights Visit Website
06-Jan-2020 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website
10-Feb-2020 for 13 Nights Visit Website
10-Feb-2020 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website
17-Feb-2020 for 13 Nights Visit Website
17-Feb-2020 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website
09-Mar-2020 for 13 Nights Visit Website
09-Mar-2020 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website
02-Nov-2020 for 13 Nights Visit Website
02-Nov-2020 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website
16-Nov-2020 for 13 Nights Visit Website
16-Nov-2020 for 13 Nights Flight Included Visit Website

Touring with Explore

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Their small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981 and today, Explore are one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 600 trips to more than 130 countries. At Explore, they are passionate about travel and have developed a wide range of unique activities and experiences which gives their customers an unforgettable adventure with a team of award-winning Explore leaders .

With Explore, you'll get to see your destination from a whole new perspective that takes you away from the typical well-trodden tourist track. You'll have the chance to meet, dine and stay with local people, rest in authentic accommodation with other like-minded explorers and travel to must-see destinations with a unique Explore twist.

From family trips to holidays for solo travellers; cycling tours to wildlife safaris; trekking on mountains or exploring miles of scenic coastline; self-guided holidays or small group trips; there is something for every kind of traveller with Explore. They will provide their expert knowledge, exciting itineraries and outstanding service as part of their sustainable travel experiences which take you under the skin of the country you're visiting for the adventure of a lifetime.

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tour details

This tour is operated by Explore!

13 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Group Size:0 - 16
Suitable For: Adult
Accommodation:Premium
Difficulty:Moderate
Meals:Breakfast: 13 Lunch: 1 Dinner: 2
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