Day 1 - Negombo
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. There are no activities planned today until your group welcome meeting at 6pm. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these with you.
If arriving in Negombo earlier, settle in to your hotel room and spend some time poolside or head out on an explore of the neighbourhood.
Day 2 - Dambulla
In the morning after breakfast drive inland to Dambulla and the “dry zone” in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle (approximately 4 - 5 hours). Dumbulla is home to vibrantly decorated cave-temples and a great base from which to explore the area's wide array of natural wonders and historic sites. Continue to the Palwehera area of Dambulla, famous for its mangoes, and rest up in your eco-friendly accommodation, surrounded by green gardens and vast green paddy land. The evening is free to relax.
Day 3 - Giritale
This morning, drive from Dambulla to Sigiriya (approximately 30 minutes). Here you’ll have the chance to shake off any cobwebs with a climb/leisurely walk back in time to the top of enormous Sigiriya rock and its elaborate ancient fortress.
You'll continue on to Giritale this afternoon (approx 1 hour) where you can enjoy some free time and perhaps take a swim in the hotel pool to cool down.
Day 4 - Giritale
This morning after breakfast we will enjoy a leisurely cycle around the Sri Lankan countryside so see how rural Sri Lankan life is as we cycle through villages before enjoying a Sri lankan lunch.
We will head up to explore Polonnaruwa in the evening, once the capital and a thriving religious and commercial centre, you'll have time to explore the area before heading back to your accommodation in Giritale for tonight.
Day 5 - Kandy
Rise early for a guided tour of Dambulla's cave complexes and World Heritage Site, the Golden Temple of Dambulla. While more than 80 caves have been documented in the surrounding area, our time here will be spent in the five main ones, which house 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. From here we'll travel on to Kandy, stopping in at a spice farm en route to see how some of the country's most important exports are cultivated. A traditional Kandyan dance show will welcome your arrival at tonight's hotel.
Day 6 - Kandy
Encircled by verdant hill country and home to a picturesque lake, bustling market, old shops and some great restaurants, Kandy is one of Sri Lanka's most pleasant cities. It was at one time also home to Sri Lanka's last king, who managing to resist European control long after the coastal areas had surrendered. This morning you’ll visit Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth), which houses the country's most sacred relic: a tooth said to be the Buddha's. Pilgrims have been coming to pay homage at this site since the 16th century. Visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens with its immense fig tree and impressive orchid collection. Considered among the finest botanical gardens in all of Asia, this is a great spot for the kids to run around in. Next up, learn the steps to traditional Kandian dancing during some lessons from local performers.
When visiting the Temples you have to take your hats and shoes off, do not leave your shoes at the side of the road or the monkeys will run off with them. Store them with the ‘shoe keepers’ for a small charge or put them in your rucksack.
Day 7 - Kithulgala
Leaving Kandy, travel by bus through the green ranks of tea bushes that cover the higher hillsides on your way to Kitulgala (a journey of approximately 3 hours). Located in thick forest on Sri Lanka’s second-longest river, the Kelani, Kitulgala is rapidly becoming something of an adventure centre. The river, which is where, doubling for Thailand, ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was filmed, is an ideal location for swimming and other water-based activities. While here you'll embark on a nature walk in search of wildlife in Bandarakele and there is the option to go white water rafting. Tonight's accommodation, the Kithulgala Rest house, is set on the banks of the Kelani is rather rustic.
Day 8 - Bandarawella
Today we first travel by private bus past lush green hills and gushing waterfalls to Nuwara Eliya (approximately 2 hours). This old British hill station is the heart of the tea growing industry and full of colonial charm. Built entirely during the 19th century, its old world architecture reflects what you might normally expect to find in an English country village. Once referred to as 'Little England' by British colonialists, it’s a fascinating mix of water buffalo and brick Victorian buildings, golf courses and tea plantations. En-route you will visit Devon and St Clair's waterfalls – the 97 metre high Devon waterfall is one of the most scenic in the country, while St Clair is sometimes exaggeratedly called the ‘Little Niagara of Sri Lanka’. Devon Falls are named after a pioneering English coffee planter – the failure of those plantations due to disease lead to the cultivation of tea, and the rest is history. Later this morning we’ll visit a tea factory to learn about the production of the country’s most important export (and sample a few brews, of course). After lunch we board the train bound for Bandarawela and head to our accommodation and enjoy the views across the hills and tea plantations.
Day 9 - Bandarawella
After a few days on the road, today runs at a bit of a slower pace. Bandarawela is an unhurried, unpretentious hill-country town that exists to supply the needs of the tea plantation workers and their families. The people of Bandarawela enjoy a simple way of life, where school children and grandparents work together harvesting their crops and tending their livestock. Another distinctive feature of Bandarawela is the colonial flavour still preserved in the many old buildings, including the Bandarawela Hotel and the old Cargill’s Supermarket. We'll enjoy a leisurely morning walk through the countryside, past tea pickers plucking the tips of the plants and throwing them into the baskets on their backs.
Tonight we stop in at a local family for some traditional, home-cooked Sri Lankan food.
Day 10 - Udawalawe
After a hearty breakfast and 9am check-out, drive to Uda Walawe National Park (approximately 3 hours). This park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife, with more herds of wild elephant than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Following lunch, discover how this majestic creature has been part of Sri Lankan culture for centuries during a visit to the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, ETH provides shelter for orphaned or abandoned baby elephants with the aim of releasing them into the wild. Arriving at a viewing platform at feeding time ensures you'll get to see the elephants only metres away! Once feeding is over, hop in a jeep for a safari inside the park. Wildlife regularly spotted here includes macaques and larger monkeys, spotted deer, crocodiles and sometimes even leopards. This is a real safari experience, nothing like a zoo or safari park – truly an adventure for all ages!
Don’t forget your camera!
Day 11 - Tangalle
Time for a bit of beachside R&R. Checking out at 9am, drive to the seaside town of Tangalle. With its calm waters, pristine sands and palm-fringed shores, this is just the place to get your beach fix. Arriving at Tangalle by lunchtime, you'll have a whole afternoon to spend either at the beach or lounging about by the pool. The rest of the day is free until our included dinner tonight.
Day 12 - Tangalle
Enjoy a morning at your leisure, either with more beach time, a leisurely local breakfast of hoppers and fresh fruit or perhaps learning the rules of Carrom. In the afternoon we pay a visit to a nearby turtle conservation project, where you'll have the opportunity to see these endangered critters up close and hear about the important work being done to save them. Depending on the season, there might also be the chance to head out on a whale-watching excursion.
Day 13 - Colombo
Today we check out of our hotel in the morning after breakfast and head towards Colombo. On our way we will visit the Tangalle fish market ( this is closed on a full moon and some other public holidays) before we visit the Royal Dutch Fort in Galle and arrive in Colombo after lunch. Here you can explore the city or just relax and unwind in the hotel's pool.
Day 14 - Departure Day
Your Sri Lankan family holiday concludes this morning after breakfast.There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. Additional accommodation is available through your booking agent at the time of booking your trip.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money