From £4,330 pp incl. UK flights
Day 1: Depart on a choice of flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Day 2: Arrive Colombo. Private transfer to Cutural Triangle for 2 nts at Jetwing Vil Uyana
Day 3: Private day tour to Lion Rock of Sigiriya & Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari
Day 4: Private our to Dambulla Cave Temple. Continue to Kandy - City tour. 2 nts Santani Wellness Resort & Spa
Day 5: Free day to enjoy the location, facilities and treatments offered by this luxury retreat and wellness resort.
Day 6: Transfer to Hatton, high in tea country to stay in a luxurious Tea Trails plantation bungalow for 2 nts
Day 7: Hatton Tea Country- Free day to explore the tea country and enjoy the wonderful setting
Day 8: Morning train ride through beautiful hill country. Transfer to Yala National Park for 2 nts at Chena Huts
Day 9: Yala National Park - Morning and afternoon private game drives
Day 10: Morning game drive. Transfer to south coast for 4 nights (or longer) on beach at Anantara Peace Haven
Days 11-13: Free days on the beach and perhaps include a dolphin / whale watching tour
Day 14: Private transfer back up to Colombo in time for your flight home.
Day 15: Arrive home.
Day 1: UK Airport / Colombo, Sri Lanka
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Colombo. Direct flights are with Sri Lanka Airlines from Heathrow, otherwise there are a range of one stop options with such airlines as British Airways, Qatar and Emirates.
Day 2: Arrive Colombo - Transfer to Cultural Triangle
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred straight out to the Cultural Triangle that will take approximately 4 hours. On arrival check-in to the Jetwing Vil Uyana for 2 nights.
This has been picked for its incredible location and convenience for touring. Dotted through a beautiful wetland scene, full of paddy fields, bamboo stands and reed beds teeming with wildlife, this superb boutique hotel with spa is one of Sri Lanka's most successful eco-tourism initiatives. Within the 28 acre private nature reserve the hotel makes the most of the space offering guests plenty of privacy and beautiful views. Just 10 minutes away from Sigiriya Rock. The rest of the day’s free to recover from the journey.Within the Cultural Triangle you have a range of places to base yourself during your stay and we’d be happy to discuss this with you. With some much to do in the area it’s the perfect place to start your holiday, enjoy a variety of experiences and get yourself onto Sri Lanka time.
Day 3: Cultural Triangle (B) - Private Guided Sigiriya & Minneriya National Park Jeep Safari
This morning your private guide will collect you for a tour of the Lion Rock of Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites and a must see in any visit to the Cultural Triangle as a testament to ancient artistry and architectural ingenuity. Built in the 5th century by King Kasyapa as a fortress and pleasure palace it dominates the surrounding landscape, rising 200 metres above the ground. The entrance to the original fortress was through the mouth of a lion, however the ravages of time mean that only a part of the massive paws remain today. The view from the flattened summit of the rock is spectacular and well worth the climb, but those without a head for heights can stroll around the ramparts and pleasure gardens, or take in the famous Sigiriya frescoes that can be found partway up the rock.Return to your hotel in time for an early lunch and then re-join your guide for an afternoon jeep safari through Minneriya National Park which is 30 minutes away. Located between Habarana and Polonnaruwa, the 8,890 hectares of Minneriya National Park consists of mixed evergreen forest and scrub areas and is home to favourites such as sambar deer, leopards and elephants. The park’s main attraction is the ancient Minneriya Tank (built in 3rd century AD by King Mahasena) and is often the best place to observe the elephants who come to bathe and graze, as well as huge flocks of birds (cormorants and painted storks to name but a few) that come to fish in the shallow waters. Back at the hotel early evening.
Day 4: Cultural Triangle (B) - Dambulla Cave Temple - Kandy - City Tour
After breakfast your guide will pick you up for the 2.5 hour transfer to the Ancient Capital of Kandy, stopping at the Dambulla Cave Temple en route. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 1st century BC and the cave system has been in continuous use for over 2000 years. First used as a refuge by an ancient king, who on regaining his throne commissioned magnificent carved images within the living rock. Later kings made further additions and the caves contain over 150 images of the Buddha, the largest of which is a colossal figure spanning 15 metres. Cave inscriptions from the 2nd Century BC are found and on the walls are many paintings most of which belong to the Kandy period (early 19th century). This temple is the perfect place in which to see the evolution of ancient Sri Lankan art and is an important historical site due to the amalgamation of material from many eras.
From here continue on to Kandy and enjoy lunch (own expense) in a local restaurant. Then re-join your guide for a tour of this ancient city that was the capital from 1592 until the rule of the British in the 19th Century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it's an extremely picturesque city with steep, green valleys running away from it in all directions. This afternoon’s highlights will include the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens that’s modelled on Britain's Kew Gardens, the Temple of the Tooth Relic where Buddhists believe they have enshrined a tooth of the Lord Buddha and the 88 foot tall Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue that looms protectively over the city and offers panoramic views over Kandy. Soak up the views before heading on the Santani Wellness Resort & Spa for 2 nights.
Day 5: Kandy (B) - Free Day
The Santani is a luxury retreat 1 hour from Kandy set on its own in a stunning location and as a wellness resort offers a wide range of holistic health packages and individual treatments. It sits above a beautiful 48 acre estate that offers fantastic walking and bird watching opportunities. We’ve therefore left today free to enjoy the resort and its facilities.
However if you’d prefer to be closer to Kandy there are a number of beautiful boutique hotels that sit in the hills above the town and offer a more traditional base from which to enjoy central Sri Lanka. If you for example stayed at the Stone House you would enjoy the hospitality of an ex-colonial home and if moving here we’d suggest you take the Kandy tour on this day.
Day 6: Kandy (B / L / D) - Tea Plantations - Hatton Bungalows
This morning head deeper into the hills until you find a landscape that has a softness to it, as the perfectly manicured tea bushes follow the folds of the gently undulating hills and the narrow roads forms ribbons that reveal one majestic vista after another, whether it be the tree studded estates, the tea pickers hard at work or lake views. No large hotels, instead you’re treated to a range of century old British tea estate managers’ bungalows that have been largely restored to their former glory. Top of the pile as the historic houses that have been impeccably restored by Dilmah Tea Company. Each of the 5 bungalows is exactly as you imagine a colonial tea plantation bungalow to be like: parquet and dark wood floors, open fire places, wide verandas that lead out to landscaped gardens complete with herbaceous borders and magnificent views across the tea plantations.
On arrival check-in to your choice of bungalow for 2 nights. The bungalows are relatively isolated and so they are all-inclusive, including all the meals and most drinks. After you settle in make your way to the veranda for lunch. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore, play a game of croquet, take a swim or relax in the sitting room with your favourite book. Dinner is then served on the veranda or dining room.
Day 7: Hatton Tea Country- Free day to explore tea country and enjoy the wonderful setting (B / L / D)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and then the day’s yours. Tea bushes seem to cover every square inch, to create mile upon mile of perfectly manicured tea terraces that are systematically swept of their tender top leaves by gangs of pickers. These images fill brochures and one of the most popular activities whilst here is to take one of the self-guided trails through the estates to a neighbouring bungalow, where you enjoy lunch (included) and are then transferred back when ready. Alternatively you can walk on or return by a different route to work up an appetite for afternoon tea!
Other popular activities include a tour of the estate’s tea factory. If you’re feeling more energetic mountain bikes are available and Adam’s Peak, one of Sri Lanka’s highest peaks and famous for Budha’s footprint near the summit can be reached from here. Start at 2am the climb takes approx. 4 hours so it’s timed that you enjoy sunrise at the peak. However we wouldn’t recommend you plan too much as the pure joy of staying somewhere like this supersedes everything else.
Day 8: Nuwara Eliya (B) - Hill Train - Yala
Travelling by car in air-conditioned comfort has a lot going for it, but swapping this for the train allows you to immerse yourself more into Sri Lanka life, and from Nuwara Eliya to Ella riding the rails offers the best views of the tea estates, forests, waterfalls and village life. This morning your guide will take you to the station, make sure you get on board and then meet you at Ella station. The journey takes about 4 hours as you follow the beautiful curves and ridges of the hill country landscape.
Time for lunch in Ella and then it’s time to leave the hills behind for the 4 hour drive south to Yala National Park. The changes in scenery are stunning as you start up amongst the tea plantations and then head down through jagged hills along winding roads that dramatically drop away from you to reveal amazing views. Once at the bottom tea bushes are replaced by coconut and paddy fields as you’ve dropped back into the tropics. The day will give you a full sense of the variety Sri Lanka has to offer. On arrival check in to Uga Chena Huts for 2 nights, just outside the park gates.
Chena Huts enjoys a prime location right next to the park and on the beach, although this is just for the views as it’s used as an animal thoroughfare! Beautifully designed to blend in with the environment to create luxury in the wild, each “hut” has a private plunge pool.
If you’d prefer to fly then we can arrange a charter sea plane flight from Castlereagh in Hatton to Weerawila airbase which is about 1 hour’s drive away from Chena Huts.
Day 9: Yala (B) - Morning and Afternoon Private Game Drives
The best time to view the animals and avoid the worst of the heat is early morning and late afternoon. Alternatively we can arrange for you to spend the whole day in the park with a long picnic lunch by the sea as the safari vehicles have to pull up for a few hours in the middle of the day.
On the game drives you are likely to see deer, crocodile, wild boar, monkey, mongoose and elephant in addition to an incredible variety of colourful birds and raptors. If you are really lucky you may also see a sloth bear and leopard, as Yala has the highest density of leopard in Asia. However with this popularity also comes the crowds and during the winter high season you should be ready for a high number of fellow tourists.
Yala is unique within Sri Lanka because of the range of habitats it offers from dense to scrub jungle, open savannah to semi-arid areas, rock pools, ravines and fresh water lakes strewn with prominent rocky outcrops, all bordered by a snaking coastline. Head back to your hotel late afternoon and if you stay in a resort or camp close to the park you may be able to continue on wildlife look out late into the evening!
Day 10: Yala (B) - Morning Game Drive - Beach (B / L)
This morning enjoy a final visit to the park to try and add to your I-spy list of animals and birds. Back at the hotel you have the rest of the morning free, then check-out, enjoy lunch and prepare for the beach. Your guide will collect and transfer you 2 hours to the Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle for 4 nights (or longer) on the beach.
There are a multitude of beach choices, but we think that the Anantara Peace Haven is the best beach hotel as it enjoys an unparalleled location sitting between 2 sentinel like headlands in a pristine bay looking out over a stunning crescent shaped stretch of beach. There is also superb variety of accommodation options. However if you feel like a more relaxed atmospheric stay or are travelling with a group of friends or extended family we recommend the 6 room Last House, the last project of the legendary Sri Lanka architect Geoffrey Bawa that sits on a pristine beach
Days 11-13: Tangalle (B) - Beach Days
3 full days to enjoy your beachside location and perhaps explore a bit further. Dolphin and whale watching tours are particularly popular off the south coast, as is a visit to Galle.
Day 14: Beach (B) / Home
Day free until your airport transfer and overnight flight home.
Day 14: Arrive home
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas International airport departure taxes if payable locally
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels within Cultural Triangle
The Cultural Triangle shouldn't be missed and there's a superb range of hotel options here.
Hotels in Kandy
Sri Lanka’s last royal capital, Kandy sits high in the hills and is home to the Temple of the Tooth.
Hotels in Hatton Tea Country
Atmospheric luxury colonial tea houses are dotted across idyllic working tea country estates.
Yala National :Park Hotels
World famous for its leopard population, Yala is Sri Lanka’s number one wildlife destination.
Hotels on the South Coast Beaches
The continuous ribbon of bays offers a wide selection of hotels from large developments, through hideaway luxury resorts down to colonial style villas. The most popular beach destination during our winter months.
Hotels on the West Coast Beaches
The West Coast boast as string of established beach resorts that offer a fantastic range of luxury beach hotels with good water sport facilities.