Sri Lanka is an island of numerous wonders, and this tour packs in so much of this paradise isle into a two week tour that you will be left mesmerised and invigorated by the end. Take in the isle of serendipity on this epic journey, as you visit cultural, historical, natural, and modern attractions. This tour even manages to leave some time for visitors to relax at one of the most attractive beaches in the world.
The journey gets off to a running start in coastal resort town of Negombo, where sea, sun, sand, and some of the best seafood in the world entice and encourage you to see what else this tiny island nation has to offer.
A quick history lesson is around every corner, as you visit the Golden Temple at Dambulla, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the ancient capital city of Polonnaruwa, the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, and the Dutch Fort in Galle. Kandy offers a cultural dancing performance that promises to leave you breathless.
What this tour offers more than anything else are nature safaris. Sri Lanka’s national parks offer different, but equally rewarding safari experiences. See Leopards in Yala, Elephants in Minneriya, and Birds in Bundala; other national parks offer some great landscapes and unique wildlife experiences. As an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is also rich in marine life. A whale and dolphin watching expedition in Mirissa is one of the most memorable experiences you will have on this tour.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is not mutually exclusive with its culture and people. Elephants are a cultural icon of the country, and this tour includes visits to two facilities that take care of these gentle giants – the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, and the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home.
Cosmopolitan or metropolitan – however you describe it, Colombo is a city that has so much to offer anyone. The main financial hub of the island(and former capital) is by far the largest city in the country, and a city / shopping tour is unmissable in this rapidly developing city.
If all this sounds hectic to you, never fear, as Wildlife Tours Sri Lanka has organised this tour with a few days to relax. One day spent in the hill capital of Kandy, and a couple of days lounging on a beach in Unawatuna, where you even have the option of going for a swim, or go snorkelling or diving.
Contact us today to find out more about this tour. It’s an experience that will be etched into your mind for a long time.
Day 1 – Airport to Negombo
Our representative will meet you at the airport and take you to Negombo. Negombo is a town that is located very close to Sri Lanka’s main airport. Called “Little Rome” due to the strong influence of the Catholic Church, the star attractions of Negombo are: its beach, the lagoon, and the impressive bounty of seafood, including crabs, lobsters and prawns. You will stay overnight at a Negombo hotel, giving you time to relax and recover from your long flight.
Day 2 – Negombo to Sigiriya
On Day 2, you will be transferred from Negombo to Sigiriya after breakfast. You will visit the Rock Cave Temple at Dambulla, known as the “Golden Temple”. It consists of 5 caves, containing countless images of Buddha and goes back to the 1st century BC when king Valagamba took refuge here. The most elaborate and most spectacular of the five, is the second cave – which at 170 feet in length 75 feet in width and 21 feet high, is the largest of all. There is a large reclining Buddha statue and statues of two kings namely, Valagambahu who took first took refuge there and did most of the constructions and Nissankamalla who later improved on the cave. In the centre of this cave, is a large container to collect the water that drips from the rock ceiling even during the dry season. This place is worth visiting not only for the cave temple, but also for the beautiful view over the countryside one gets from near the caves situated at around 150m above the road.
After the long road trip, you will be taken to a hotel in Sigiriya for the overnight stay.
Day 3 – Sigiriya
Day 3 is all about culture and heritage. After breakfast, your morning will include a tour of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a monolith converted into a secure fort by King Kashyapa, who reigned for 22 years.
The highlights of Sigiriya include drawings of “Apsaras” or Celestial Nymphs, of which about 20 remain to this day. It is believed that the entire rock was covered in these drawings, making it the largest single work of art ever created. The mirror wall, visited from the 6th to the 14th century, reveal the comments of the impressions made by the damsels depicted on the wall. The dilapidated ruins of the king’s palace at the top of the rock capture the extent and grandeur of the palace, that once was.
Following that climb, the rest of the evening is yours to relax at the hotel, where you will spend the night.
Day 4 – Polonnaruwa
On day 4, you will visit Polonnaruwa after breakfast, considered the second established capital city of ancient Sri Lanka. The most famous attraction in this historic city is the Gal Vihara temple complex, where three colossal granite statues of Lord Buddha are carved into the rock. The city was established during the reign of king Parakramabahu I (also known as Parakramabahu the Great), who focussed on establishing an agrarian civilisation.
You will proceed to Minneriya for Late Afternoon Safari in Minneriya National Park is best known as the site of one of the amazing spectacles of nature; the Elephant Gathering. During the dry season, as many as 400 wild elephants (more than anywhere else in the world at one given place) congregate to the banks of the Minneriya Reservoir, built in the 3rd century by King Mahasen. Minneriya is a great location to see wild elephants, even outside the months of the gathering, and offers other species of flora and fauna as well.
Days 5 and 6 Sigiriya to Kandy
From Sigiriya, you will travel to Kandy on Day 5, where more history and culture await you. The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) is the most sacred site for Buddhists the world over, as this is where the most important object in the Buddhist world, a tooth fragment recovered from the funeral pyre of the Buddha, is located. The relic itself is kept in a golden casket amid heavy security in the Inner Chamber of the temple. The temple complex is adorned with paintings and sculptures depicting the life of the Buddha.
Kandy also offers the opportunity to see a few traditional Kandyan dances at one of the city’s cultural performance centres. A troupe of dancers in vibrant costumes, accompanied by drummers, will give you a spectacular display of Kandyan dancing - leaving you mesmerised. An eventful day will wind down, at the hotel you will be spending the night over in Kandy.
On Day 6, is your opportunity to relax and enjoy the facilities at the hotel, or you have the option to go shopping or merely stroll around Kandy town which is not a large area to cover. There are plenty of local arts and craft shops available to pick up an authentic Sri Lankan souvenir.
Days 7 and 8 – Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and Horton Plains
On Day 7, you will be transferred to Nuwara Eliya. Fondly dubbed “Little England” by locals, Nuwara Eliya enjoys sub-temperate climate and so is quite pleasant and cool all throughout the year. The highlights of the town are its colonial-era buildings, the Race Course, the Royal Nuwara Eliya Golf Club, established in 1889, and the symbolic Gregory Lake.
Tea Plantations are aplenty around Nuwara Eliya, as this area is famous for producing the world’s best tea. You will visit a tea plantation where skilled tea pluckers make their way through a maze of tea bushes, and a tea factory attached to it. Witness first hand, how tea is processed from raw leaves to the final product that is seen internationally.
Following your tour of Nuwara Eliya, you can look forward to winding down and your overnight stay at a Nuwara Eliya hotel.
The Horton Plains National Park is next, after breakfast on Day 8. Considered one of the world’s best National Parks, it is an area of serene beauty and very high biodiversity. Sambar deer, spotted deer, giant squirrels, wild boar, and the rare Horton Plains slender loris – an endemic primate to the National Park – call this area home. The grasslands are interspersed with montane forest, giving it a unique position among Sri Lanka’s National Parks. Vehicles are strictly prohibited in the area, and the only way you can see this amazing National Park is by a guided nature walk. Unmissable sights in Horton Plains are: Baker’s Falls, the Chimney Pool, and World’s End, a 3700ft (1130m) sheer drop providing fantastic views of the area below and the horizon.
Day 9 – Nuwara Eliya to Udawalawe
You will get an early start on Day 9 as you travel to Udawalawe National Park.It is considered one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. It is not uncommon to see a whole herd of elephants at a watering hole during your visit. Later on, you can enjoy a late afternoon Safari at the Park with the guidance of the resident naturalist. Many other animals, such as water buffalo, water monitor lizards, saltwater crocodiles, deer, monkeys, and even the occasional leopard, maybe seen There is plenty, even for the bird enthusiast, to see. Dinner will follow and spending the night over at the adventurous Big Game Tented Camp in Udawalawe.
Days 10 and 11 – Udawalawe to Bundala and Yala
On Day 10, you will get to visit the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe, an establishment in the country where nearly 35 baby elephants are being taken care of, with minimal human intervention. These baby elephants have either lost their mothers to natural causes or due to perpetual conflict between elephants and humans. Every care is attended to, until they are ready to be reintroduced into the wild to live, in their habitat.
You will then head for Bundala National Park. This Park of 6216 hectares of lagoons, scrub jungles, saltpans and marshes, is the most important wetland sanctuary in Southern Sri Lanka. The area was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1969 and in 1991, Bundala became the first site in Sri Lanka to be designated a Ramsar wetland.
It is acknowledged for its impressive biodiversity in landscape and prolific birdlife: reason why Bundala has been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for its 197 recorded bird species. It is home to numerous migratory birds that arrive for the winter. The visitors will rest and feed by the picturesque lagoons and intertidal mudflats. And the sea turtles can be seen nesting on the remote beaches and golden sand dunes.
The Park is also home to a small population of elephants. Roaming the open wetlands and secluded beaches, they are easy to spot. In Bundala, you will have a good chance of spotting leopards, spotted deers, sambars, crocodiles, wild boars, mongooses, monitor lizards and monkeys too.
Bundala is interestingly, the only National Park where you can see both the Mugger and Saltwater Crocodiles on the same Safari drive - if that kind of detail catches your attention.
Come evening, you will be transferred to the Big Game Tented Camp in Yala, for a relaxing dinner and night over.
Day 11 –
You will enjoy a Full Day safari experience today. Yala is the most visited and second largest National Park in Sri Lanka. Situated in the south-eastern dry zone of Sri Lanka, it is famously known as the best place in the world, to see leopards in the wild. Wildlife Tours Sri Lanka promises the best leopard safari experience, as our experienced naturalists and guides will take you to the areas known for leopard activity. Leopards are nocturnal, so the best chance of seeing one in the wild is either at dawn or at dusk. So an evening Safari at Yala will give you the chance to see leopards as they come out of their daytime slumber. Leopards may be the star attraction at Yala, but elephants, sloth bears, deer, jackals, wild boar, and a few hundred varieties of birds can be found throughout the National Park. After the evening Safari, you will head back to Big Game Camping Site Yala, where you will spend your overnight day.
Days 12 and 13 – Yala to Galle
You will be transferred to Galle after breakfast at Yala, on Day 12. Galle is the largest city and considered the southern capital of Sri Lanka. The main attractions in Galle include: the 17th Century Dutch Fort (a World Heritage Site) with a culture and style of its own, beautiful and rustic houses and shops built in the Dutch colonial style and narrow lanes paved neatly with cobblestone dating back in time. Galle city itself is a bustling place and due to its location on the coast, it is a major hub for fishing, transport, and culture in Sri Lanka.
During the late afternoon, enjoy and relax in Unawatuna; one of the best beaches in the world. The calm waters of Unawatuna Bay and Thalpe offers you a chance to lie down and catch some sun, go for a long walk on a beautiful beach, or just dive into the still waters. Unawatuna is great for diving and snorkelling as well. Look forward to sundown and dinner at your overnight stay at an Unawatuna/Galle hotel.
Come Day 13,
You will have the chance to go to Mirissa, the perfect place to get an organised whale and dolphin watching tour, which happens early morning. Wildlife Tours Sri Lanka provides you the opportunity to see these marine mammals up close in their natural habitat. Several species of dolphin, such as the Bottlenose and Spinner, and whale inhabit these waters. Sri Lanka’s coast has the largest colony of blue whales anywhere in the world.
You also have to choice to merely relax by the beach and soak up the sun. Yet, if you still desire to keep venturing, continue your exploration of Galle Dutch Fort, with its myriad of quaint lanes, homes and boutiques full of knick-knacks.
Come evening, relax in anticipation of dinner at your overnight stay hotel.
Day 14 – Galle to Colombo
You leave the coastal belt, as you are transferred to Colombo following breakfast. The largest, busiest, and most populated in Sri Lanka, Colombo is a colourful city that grew from a small port town to being the most important centre for finance, trade, transport, education, and everything else in the country. A tour of Colombo city and shopping here should be taken up as shopping opportunities are aplenty – from street vendors to the more glitzy shopping malls – and bargains are to be had everywhere. Colombo city is a mix of colonial era and modern buildings, and rapid development over the past few years. Your adventurous tour will wind down with your last overnight stay in Colombo.
Day 15 – Airport
After breakfast, your adventurous holiday in Sri Lanka draws to an end, as we take you ahead of time, to the Bandaranaike International Airport for your departure from the island.