From £1,995 per person
Includes B&B accommodation, a/c transport with chauffeur guide, entrance fees & activities, and taxes.
Arrive Colombo airport and greeted by your dedicated Tikalanka chauffeur guide.
Drive northeast to Sigiriya in the island’s Cultural Triangle.
Two nights stay at Kassapa Lion's Rock, which has stunning views of ‘Lion Rock’ at Sigiriya dominating the skyline. This chalet complex is surrounded by woodland, and the lush grounds are frequented by wild peacocks and include a swimming pool. The simple but comfortable rooms are all en suite and a/c with private shaded terraces.
Guided tour of the historic temples and exquisitely carved statues of the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa, with visits to the Quadrangle, Northern Monuments, Royal Citadel Group and Southern Group. Bicycles are available to hire for your own self-guided tour, if preferred.
Afternoon jeep safari in Minneriya National Park, which is part of an ‘elephant corridor’, along with Kaudulla NP, for the vast herds roaming the eastern region of the country from Trincomalee through to Wasgamuwa, Maduru Oya and Gal Oya NPs further south. The park is home to a variety of animals such as elephants, leopards, toque macaques, purple faced langurs, sloth bears, sambar and spotted deer, and about 160 bird species, including many endemics. Minneriya is home to the ‘gathering’ between August and October, when large herds of elephants congregate around Minneriya Lake to seek the last available water at the end of the dry season.
Early morning ascent of 200-metre high ‘Lion Rock’ at Sigiriya to view the surrounding countryside at dawn – a very special experience indeed. The unique rock fortress of Sigiriya is a national icon, despite its origins as a usurper’s pleasure palace housing erotic frescoes! Guided tour of the rock palace and ornamental gardens
Climb gently up the granite massif at Dambulla to visit the most impressive cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, with five ornately and intricately decorated caverns under a vast overhanging rock.
Continue south to Kandy, one of the principal points of the Cultural Triangle and the seat of the last Sinhalese kingdom.
Two nights stay at Hotel Suisse, which is a colonial-style hotel and former British governor’s residence in a quiet and secluded location close to Kandy Lake and within striking distance of the Temple of the Tooth and city centre. Although reminiscent of a bygone age, the hotel has modern refurbished rooms.
Experience the Buddhist puja (blessing ceremony) at the Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka’s most revered religious relic.
Guided walking tour of Kandy, which will take in the Hindu devales, the lake and the municipal market.
Visit the beautifully kept and well-presented Peradeniya Botanic Gardens on the outskirts of Kandy.
Enjoy a performance of the famous Kandyan Dancers and Drummers, with a fire-walking finale.
Head into the upper Hill Country, following the winding, vertiginous roads through the velveteen slopes of verdant tea plantations and past spectacular waterfalls and impressive mountain scenery on your way to Nuwara Eliya, the British colonial capital of the Hill Country and the highest town in Sri Lanka at 1900 metres above sea level.
Amble around the ‘City of Lights’ and enjoy a little piece of England in the tropics!
One night stay at Jetwing St. Andrew's, which is a restored Georgian style upcountry mansion and former tea planters’ club surrounded by terraced lawns and still preserving the charm of a bygone colonial era with its typical Hill Country atmosphere in the heart of ‘Little England’ with a contemporary Sri Lankan touch.
Early morning trek through the heath and forest of Horton Plains NP, via Baker’s Falls, in time to see the awe-inspiring views at World's End before the cloud sets in – circuit is approximately 9 km in length along rough and uneven trails, including a few moderate climbs, which may offer challenges to people with mobility issues. Horton Plains is a particularly good area for spotting endemics, including: Sri Lankan whistling thrush (endangered), Sri Lankan bush warbler, Sri Lankan blue magpie, black-throated munia, orange-billed babbler and dull-blue flycatcher.
Scenic train journey to Ella in the southern Hill Country - subject to availability.
Two nights stay at 98 Acres Resort & Spa, which is a luxury retreat with spectacular views in an idyllic location at the southern end of the Hill Country. Surrounded by the eponymous scenic tea estate in Uva Province, it was constructed with the emphasis on eco-friendliness and sustainability.
- Little Adam’s Peak – Easy walk past tea pickers houses on your way to glorious views over the surrounding area from the peak.
- Ella Rock – Moderate walk with superb views from the southern Hill Country to the south coast (on a clear day!).
- Lipton’s Seat – Viewpoint from where Sir Thomas Lipton, the tea magnate, often admired the 360-degree view, hence its name. Walk to the viewpoint through the immaculately manicured Dambatenne tea estate near Haputale.
- Bambarakanda Falls – Sri Lanka’s highest waterfalls at 263 metres, is accessed from the Ella to Belihuloya road. Only during the wet season.
- Tea factory visit – Tour of a working tea factory to see how ‘two-leaves-and-a-bud’ turns into your daily cuppa!
- Ravana’s Cave – Explore the mythical hideout of the Ramayana, where the demon king of Lanka imprisoned Rama's wife, Sita.
Drop down to the hot and dry southern plain before continuing south to Yala.
Afternoon jeep safari in Yala National Park, which is one of the island's best-known reserves and one of its largest. This region, known as the "Dry Zone", has mostly dry thorn scrub, interspersed with small dusty glades – the ideal habitat to view elephants, Sri Lanka's largest mammal. The park does have a varied landscape, however, from parkland to dense jungle on the plains, scrubland with rocky outcrops and several streams, small lakes and lagoons. The picturesque ocean frontage to the east has wide beaches and high sand dunes. A former hunting reserve, which was transformed into a nature park in 1938, Yala NP, also called “Ruhuna”, is currently home to over 390 elephants, several of which are tuskers, and about 120 leopards, reportedly the highest density of leopards in the wild anywhere in the world. Watching elephants go for their bath at sunset or seeing leopards laze about on the rocks at dusk are the most popular natural spectacles at Yala NP. However, you may also see other species of mammals such as sambar and spotted deer, wild boar, buffalo, musk deer, black bear, the unique small Loris, toque macaque and langur monkeys, jackal, mongoose, porcupine, civet cat, anteater, and the enigmatic sloth bear. Over 150 species of birds have been recorded in Yala NP, including the Sri Lankan junglefowl, white-bellied fish eagle, painted stork, black-necked stork, lesser adjutant, pompadour green pigeon, orange-breasted green pigeon, brown fish owl, red-faced malkoha, three species of bee-eaters, and large numbers of waders (including three species of pratincole and two thick-knees).
IMPORTANT – Yala NP is closed from 01 September for up to 2 months annually as a respite period for the animals and environment at the end of the dry season.
One night stay at EKHO Safari Tissa, which is a former government rest house idyllically positioned on the banks of serene and tranquil Tissa Wewa lake in Tissamaharama. The hotel offers stylishly decorated rooms with spectacular lake views, refreshing swimming pool and dining terrace.
Early morning jeep safari in Bundala National Park, which is the first Ramsar site (wetlands of international importance) in Sri Lanka and it is the most significant wetland for birds on the island outside of Northern Province. The shallow, brackish lagoons and saltpans of the park are among the most important overwintering areas for migratory shore birds in the country. This bird sanctuary is home to every species of water bird resident in the country. The rare black-necked stork is said to be a breeding resident in Sri Lanka. Vagrants turn up occasionally including the capion plover, ringer plover, common redshank, red knot, red-necked phalarope, common avocet and various sandpipers. The forest still harbours elephants as well as toque macaque and common langur monkeys, jackal, leopard, fishing and spotted cats, mongoose, wild boar, mouse, barking and spotted deer, sambar, black-naped hare, Indian pangolin, porcupine, mugger and estuarine crocodiles, common monitors, star tortoise, and pythons.
Drive west along the picturesque and cove-sprinkled southern coastline to Talalla.
Three nights stay at Talalla Retreat, which is a surf, yoga and wellness resort set in a verdant palm tree estate nestled just behind one of Sri Lanka’s most peaceful and protected beaches, a crescent cove of glassy-still, crystal clear turquoise waters, spotless golden sand and tropical sunrises.
Suggested activities (not included in price):
- Bird-watching boat safari through the lagoons and mangroves of Kalametiya Sanctuary near Tangalle, a coastal wetlands teeming with bird life, which is about halfway between Tangalle and Hambantota.
- Visit the most imposing rock temple in the south of the island at Mulkirigala inland from Tangalle, which is situated on an isolated rock 210 metres high rising almost vertically from the surrounding forest and believed to have been founded around 130 BC.
- Early morning boat safari off the south coast from Mirissa to spot blue whales, the largest animal on Earth! Sperm, humpback and orca Whales as well as large pods of dolphins are also regular sightings. Season from November to April.
Continue west along the south coast to Galle, famed for its exquisite colonial-era Dutch fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On arrival, amble around the ramparts and stroll through the Arab Quarter of Galle fort.
Suggested activities (not included in price):
- Boat safari through the mangroves and lush vegetation along the Mahamodara River near Galle, which offers great opportunities for spotting birds, butterflies, monitor lizards, and much more!
- Guided cycling tours of the paddy fields and local villages around Galle.
One night stay at Fort Bliss, which is a comfortable four-bedroom town villa with courtyard garden and sit-out veranda within the Fort. Elegantly furnished and built in harmony with the original colonial Dutch architecture of the 17th century, it is located only a few metres from the famous ramparts.
At leisure in the morning,
Suggested activities (not included in price):
- Guided tour of the house and gardens of Lunuganga near Bentota, which were lovingly created over several decades by the world renowned architect, Geoffrey Bawa, as his vision of a tropical garden idyll. The Italian garden with spectacular views over lakes and tropical jungle together with a simply designed plantation house are one of the lasting legacies of Asia’s most famous architect.
- Visit the tropical garden paradise of Brief near Bentota, the life’s work of Bevis Bawa, famed bon viveur and brother of Geoffrey.
In the afternoon, head north to Negombo on the island's west coast close to the airport.
One night stay at Villa Hundira, which is an elegant home-from-home situated in a secluded location on Negombo lagoon. The comfortable and stylish rooms are complemented by a relaxed ambience.
The following day, transfer to the airport for your flight home.