Day 1 – Airport – Dunagaha
(Driving time is approximately 40 minutes)
Ayubowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka! On arrival to Colombo, clear immigration and customs. Exit into the arrival area where you will meet your chauffeur guide and proceed to your first property. Experience your first impressions of this amazing island. Emerson Tennet a traveller to Sri Lanka in the 1850’s wrote:
There is no country in the world that has attracted the attention of authors in so many distant ages and of so many different countries as Ceylon…Its aspects, its religion, its antiquities, and productions, have been described as well by the classic Greeks, by the Romans; by the writers of China, Burma, India and Kashmir; by the geographers of Arabia and Persia; by the mediaeval voyagers of Italy and France; by the annalist of Portugal and Spain; by the merchant adventures of Holland, and by the travellers and topographers of Great Britain …Ceylon, from whatever direction is approached, unfolds a scene of loveliness and grandeur unsurpassed, if it be rivalled, by any land in the universe.
Located in the middle of the functioning coconut plantation Kotaliyadde Estate, Ambarella Lodge provides a perfect introduction into the Sri Lankan culture and has a high focus on environmental sustainability. If you arrive early allow the staff to show you around the spice garden before perhaps relaxing by the pool. Overnight at Ambarella Lodge – Superior Family Room (Double bed + Two Extra Beds). (D)
Day 2 – Dunagaha
After breakfast you explore the local village with one of the community. You will also visit other villages in the area, travelling by Tuk-tuk with a local guide. On a stop at a pineapple farm, you will see a family making wonderful textiles using wooden looms and also a small brick factory. Enjoy the ride as a fascinating assortment of sights and sensations at awaits every turn along the rural back roads in this area, lending an authentic feel to local life. Enjoy a simple but delectable lunch at a local house, before having some time at leisure in the afternoon to relax or further explore the estate. Overnight Ambarella Lodge (BLD)
Please Note – We are using genuine locals to experience the villages in this rural area ensuring a vital source of income to local people. We ask you to be patient as English proficiency is not always to a high level, but your tour guide will help with translation and understanding.
Day 3 – Dunagaha – Ritigala Archaeological Site – Sigiriya
(Approx. driving time – approx. 4 hours)
Today after a relaxed breakfast, proceed towards Sigiriya located at the heart of the cultural triangle. This afternoon, visit and explore the mysterious Ritigala Archaeological Monastery. Think of Indiana Jones – well that is a bit exaggerated, but Ritigala in a way has that feel of the undiscovered, a world away from the most famous sights in Sri Lanka. Make sure you take time to explore in depth and walk all the way to the higher part of the complex. The archaeological site bears a certain mysterious nature owing to the long meditational pathways that open into the thick jungle and large stone-lined reservoirs. Take time to sit down and connect with nature in the ancient meditation sacred grounds.
For the kids there will be an interesting treasure hunt where they will be given a map of Ritigala together with clues for which they have to find answers at different locations within the site. Your local guide will of course assist in finding the answers and at the end, there will be a small gift for the children.
Overnight at Kumbukgaha Villa, Sigiriya – Family Villa (Two Rooms Connected by a common area with Double beds in each room) (B)
Day 4 – Sigiriya UNESCO
Early this morning in the soft light visit the magnificent Sigiriya Rock Fortress (UNESCO). Known as Lion Rock, the site was the domain of King Kashyapa whose aim was to build an impregnable fortress and within it, a heavenly abode. Rising over the dry plains of the Sigiriya district, the tough climb of 1200 footsteps up this flat-topped monodon ends with jaw dropping vistas to the emerald rice fields and leafy villages beneath. On the way to the top, observe the famous Sigiriya frescoes of the buxom, wasp-waisted maidens bearing flowers, amidst the wilderness and ancient ruins. The Sigiriya experience takes approximately 2 to 3 hours depending on the pace at which you wish to ascend and how long you spend at the top.
Tip: We suggest starting the ascent at around 7 am in order to avoid the large crowds of tourists which arrive later and as well to avoid the heat of the day and not to mention the softer light for photographs.
After descending from Lion Rock, return to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure relaxing by the pool for those wishing to remain active, this afternoon take an optional jeep safari (payable locally) at nearby Minneriya or Kaudulla National Parks which often have large gatherings of elephants.
Overnight at Kumbukgaha Villa, Sigiriya – Family Villa – The villas has 2 rooms both with double beds (B)
Please note – the Lion Rock (Sigiriya) ascent takes approximately 2 to 3 hours, depending on your preferred pace. There is no rock climbing involved, only stairs, but visiting the frescoes should not be undertaken by people with joint problems, breathing difficulties, heart problems or vertigo. The top of the rock has little cover, so wearing a hat is advisable. The lower sections of the site still hold a great deal of interest from a historical perspective and the museum is excellent.
Day 5 - Sigiriya – Kandy (Temple of the Tooth UNESCO)
(Approx. overall driving time today is 3 hours)
Today after a relaxed breakfast, proceed towards Kandy, the last stronghold of Sinhalese kings. On the way, visit the stunning Peradeniya Botanical Gardens on the outskirts of Kandy. The stunning gardens make for beautiful walking and children will love to look out for the massive fruit bats! If you wish to do less walking in the gardens you can pay a small local fee for a golf buggy to take you around the gardens which will allow you to see more. After the visit check in to your accommodation and thereafter explore the city of Kandy, a large city that still retains touches of its colonial history in buildings such as the Queen’s hotel a beautiful 19th century neoclassical beauty. Wander around the atmospheric lake and the bustling streets of Kandy with your local guide. Later visit the temple of the Tooth (UNESCO) which is no doubt the city’s biggest pride and draws visitors from all over the world. Overnight at Hotel Suisse – 2 Standard Rooms Interconnecting. (B)
Day 6 – Kandy - Nuwara Eliya - Nanu Oya - Ella (Train)
(Approx. overall driving time today is 3 hours and 2.5 hours by train)
This morning we head up into the verdant hill country to Nuwara Eliya. During British rule in Sri Lanka the highland town became a refuge for families of the elite escaping the baking temperatures of the capital, it also offered a sugary version of “home” complete with a horse race track, a golf course, a Victoria park, botanical gardens and an eclectic mix of neo-tudor building and even Scottish bungalows. Much has changed since the heydays of the town in the 20’s and 30’s, yet the climate is a welcome relief from the lower elevations and a cool drizzle and sometimes fog can shroud surrounding hillsides. Today Nuwara Eliya is a town re-inventing itself after the civil war. After a short look around the town, get ready for a magical train 2 hour journey through Sri Lanka’s hill country. Round each bend and emerging from each tunnel the views of the hills, distant villages and the endless green of lush tea plantations is a joy to behold. Your chauffeur guide will see you on to the train and then will pick you up with your luggage at Ella Railway Station. On arrival, transfer to the hotel where the rest of the day will be at leisure. Overnight at Zion View – Family Room Mountain View (Non A/C – Double Bed + Bunker Bed). (B)
Note: Seats on the train will be confirmed only 28 days prior to the date of travel. Seats from any particular class compartment cannot be guaranteed and will be subject to availability.
Day 7 – Ella (Little Adams Peak and Nine Arch Bridge)
Early this morning in the cool mountain air, set out on a short hike to Little Adams Peak (the hike takes around 1.5 hours and is an easy grade. The best weather is early morning when skies tend to be clear. Thereafter, proceed to the Nine Arch Bridge built by the British in the 1920’s and a remarkable feat of engineering. Afterwards you can also visit a tea factory and observe the process of how the legendary Ceylon Tea is made. Sri Lankan tea, better known as Ceylon Tea has been world renowned for centuries for its quality and distinctive taste. The island’s tea production varies in taste, quality, character and appearance based on its cultivated region. The locally grown varieties can range from the basic strong, black teas to the most expensive such as white tea and silver tip tea that offers a more floral taste. Return to your hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure. Overnight at Zion View – Family Room Mountain View. (B)
Day 8 – Ella - Udawalawe National Park
(Overall approx. driving time today is 2.5 hours)
Today after breakfast, we leave the hills behind and proceed towards Udawalawe National Park for an exciting wildlife experience. On arrival check in to the hotel before setting out on an afternoon safari Udawalawe National park is located between the Sabaragamuwa and Uva provinces of the island. Nourished by the Udawalawe reservoir, it is most popular for elephant sightings. However, the riches within the park do not end there; flocks of deer, wild buffaloes, bandicoots, foxes, water-monitor lizards, crocodiles, sloth bears and a wealth of reptiles may be seen although sightings cannot be guaranteed. And if you are in season from December to April, you are most likely to see a lot of birds, both migrants as well as endemics, make sure to keep a close eye on them! Overnight at Kalu’s Hideaway – Family Chalet (Double Bed + Two Beds). (B)
Day 9 - Udawalawe National Park - Yala National Park
(Approx. overall driving time today is 3 hours not including safari)
This morning after breakfast, visit the Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home which is another interesting project. This this is not one of those places where they use captive elephants just to make money. Here they feed and train the injured/orphaned Elephant calves to don the skills to survive in the wild. Apart from caring for the sick and orphaned animals, it also rehabilitates them before they are released into the wild. Although the visitors are not permitted to be with the elephants up-close and personal, the feeding times of baby elephants scheduled four times daily (9 am, 12 noon, 3 pm and 6 pm) are wonderful opportunities to observe them and can be quite a pleasurable experience. Afterwards proceed towards Yala for another superb experience immersed in nature. You will set out on an afternoon safari into Block 5 of Yala National Park which is much less crowded when compared to hundreds of jeeps that flock to busy block 1. Yala is particularly renowned for its abundance of leopard. Overnight at the Yala Adventure – 2 Deluxe Rooms (Next to each other). (B)
Note – Seeing a leopard in the wild cannot be guaranteed, so please kindly enjoy what nature has to offer on the day.
Day 10 – Yala National Park - Tangalle
(Approx. overall driving time today is 3 hours not including optional safari)
If you did not see much wildlife on yesterday’s afternoon safari you will have the option of a further safari early this morning (not included in the price) within the park. After breakfast, proceed to the tropical south coast and to Tangalle for some relaxing time on the beach and time at leisure after your adventures thus far. Overnight at Palm Paradise Cabanas & Villas – Family Villa. (B)
Days 11 and 12 - Tangalle at leisure
Spend the next 2 days at leisure while enjoying the tropical beach and swaying coconut palms. Overnight at Palm Paradise Cabanas & Villas, Tangalle – Family Villa. (B)
Note: Your chauffeur guide will not be available during these days at the beach.
Day 13 – Tangalle - Galle
(Approx. overall driving time today is 2 hours)
After enjoying a leisurely final morning at the beach, start your journey along the coast to historic Galle. On the way, you can stop at idyllic Heraketiya Bay for a dip in the ocean. This is a nice small beach strip, which is now quite well known among travellers for the stunning backdrop and also for surfing. Overnight Mango House – Family Room (Two Double Beds) (B)
Day 14 – Galle (UNESCO)
This morning take a guided walk around the historic streets of old Galle Fort (UNESCO), a living museum of over 400 years of history. A particular delight is to wander on the well preserved ramparts and admire the impressive lighthouse and the superb views out to the shimmering Indian Ocean. The old fort area also has a myriad of boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants and is a great place to relax and watch the world go by. This afternoon you may wish to take a trip to nearby Unawatuna Beach or just relax in the old fort area of town. Overnight Mango House – Family Room (B)
Note – for nature lovers you can also opt to take an early morning whale watching excursion at Mirissa. Contact us for details as this is a seasonal excursion and can be arduous for children.
Day 15 – Galle - Airport
(Approx. overall driving today is 3 hours)
Transfer up the expressway to the airport at the appropriate time for your onward flight (B)
- Arrival and departure transfers
- All accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary (we can book a range of accommodation)
- Transportation throughout in a private air-conditioned vehicle
- Services of an English-speaking driver / guide – no guiding during the beach stay
- Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
- Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
- Bottled drinking water in the vehicles
- International flights
- Travel Insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Optional activities (such as extra safaris and whale watching)
- Tips (Discretionary)