Wildlife and Cultural Highlights of Sri Lanka

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From EUR 2'195

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On the Wildlife and Cultural Highlights of Sri Lanka, you’ll travel through diverse scenery from the tea-capped mountains to the beaches. You’ll have opportunities to observe wildlife – especially elephants, leopards (if you’re lucky) and primates.  Sri Lanka has an enthralling history dating back from the second century BC. You’ll meet locals from farmers to insightful Sri Lanka Guides who have a passion for showcasing their country. Each night you’ll rejuvenate in some truly unique and special accommodation on this tour.

This is a private trip which can be done with as few as two people. Therefore we can customize it to best meet your needs and interests.

From EUR 2'195

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Day 1 – Negombo

We’ll pick you up directly at the airport and transfer to your accommodation. Relax by the pool or take a walk around a coconut estate. You could even try your hand at making a coconut sambol, a Sri Lankan speciality.

 

Day 2 – Sigiriya

Check out after breakfast. En route, explore the Dambulla Rock Temple – one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s the largest cave temple complex in Sri Lanka and dates back to 1st century BC. It’s been home to monastic dwellings for 22 centuries continuously (including the time during Julius Ceaser’s Roman Empire). The Cave Temple Art are masterpieces of Buddhist Art. On this guided tour you’ll gain insights into its fascinating history. Entrance tickets cost Rs 1500 (~$10 USD per person) and aren’t included.

Then, you’ll check into your accommodation and relax before a two-hour sunset trek to the summit of the Pidurangala Rock where an amazing bird’s eye view of  Sigiriya Rock and lush green surrounds awaits you. Note: this is an easy climb up roughly carved out steps. It only becomes moderate near the summit.

 

Day 3 – Sigiriya

10 am – **Visit a local vegetable farmer and enjoy cooking like the locals. The farmer and his kids will walk you through their farm where you will get insights into their lives and rural livelihoods. You’ll end your visit by learning how to cook a local dish with the farmer’s wife. This is one of the best local interactions on the tour that you’ll remember for years to come.

2 pm – **A private guided safari drive inside Kaudulla National Park or Minneriya National Park. Minneriya is famous for the ‘Gathering’ that occurs in July/August where large herds of elephants gather naturally in their wild habitat. This includes an incredible safari and insights into the behaviour of wild elephant herds. Entrance tickets cost $12 – $14 USD + taxes per person and aren’t included.

**Guests also have the option of including a visit to Polonnaruwa instead of one of the activities above. You’ll cycle around the ruins of Polonnaruwa, a part of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. Polonnaruwa was Sri Lanka’s second ancient royal capital. It was established between the 11th and 13th centuries and has well-preserved ruins of palaces, bath pools, sophisticated irrigation structures. You’ll  be amazed by the architectural marvels from ancient civilizations and the four magnificent Buddha statues depicting the four significant poses of Lord Buddha.

The tour of the ruins will be followed by a short Monkey Trek around the Monkey Kingdom film location to observe the incredible behaviour of Grey Langurs and Toque Macaques.(Entrance tickets to the cultural site are $25 USD +taxes pp. The guided bike tour costs $12 USD pp. Neither are included in the tour price.

 

Day 4 – Kandy

7.30 am – Take a private guided trek to the summit of the Lion Rock in Sigiriya. It’s one of Sri Lanka’s best-known sites and a World Heritage Site.  King Kasyapa built a rock fortress here in the 5th century with an entrance through a giant Lions Paw.  The gardens surrounding the rock are the oldest Chahar Bagh (Persian-style garden layout) preserved in the world. It’s best done in the early morning before the sun becomes too hot. Entrance tickets: $30 USD +taxes per person and aren’t included.

You’ll then make your way to Sri Lanka’s last Royal Kingdom – the historic city of Kandy.

At 4 pm, you’ll take a guided walk through the bustling local market. Here you’ll meet traders selling spices, clothes, fruits and dried fish. Then, you’ll  make your way to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic where you’ll gain insights into the traditions of  poojah (worship). Entrance tickets $10 USD  + taxes per person and aren’t included.

 

Day 5 – Kandy

You have free time until 10:00 am. Then you’ll drive towards the hills of Hantana amid tea estates to visit the Tea Museum. Here you’ll gain wonderful insights into the process of how tea is made.

Following your visit, it’s time to meet more locals. You’ll spend the afternoon with a local dance teacher. His ancestors have been teaching traditional Kandyan dance and drumming for generations in Kandy and have been a part of the annual Kandy Perahera for 400 years! He’ll teach you the art of drumming and dancing for an hour.  Lunch is provided by the family before the dancing and drumming sessions.

*The Annual Kandy Perahera – the world’s oldest procession takes place each year towards end July or in August. You’ll see hundreds of dancers, drummers, fire dancers and elephants parade through the streets paying homage to the sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. Tickets for priority seating need to be booked in advance and aren’t included.

 

Day 6 – Wellawaya

You’ll drive to the central highlands of Nuwaraeliya. From here, you’ll take a scenic train ride on the train from Nanu Oya to reach the hill station of Ella. You’ll then drive another 40 minutes to Wellawaya to a beautiful hotel overlooking some of the most scenic landscapes in Sri Lanka.

 

Day 7 – Wellawaya

This is a beautiful location to experience walking and cycling through paddy fields with your personal guide. You’ll visit the most scenic spots in Ella to explore Little Adams Peak, Ella Rock and Ravana Falls and spend your days admiring the stunning scenery. We’re happy to help you arrange excursions but they’re not included.

 

Day 8 – Yala

You’ll drive to Udawalawe (approx 1 1/2 hrs) in time to witness the lunchtime feeding at the Elephant Transit Home. This is one of the most ethically run homes for elephants. Injured elephants are treated and released into the wild, unlike in orphanages, where they remain for life. It’s a great insight into learning how to care for wild animals in an ethical way. Entrance tickets ~$3.50 USD per person and aren’t included.

After lunch in Udawalawe (not included), you’ll proceed to Yala National Park (approx 2 1/2 hr drive). Here you’ll enjoy the jungle surrounding your accommodation and get ready for an exciting all-day drive the next day in Yala.

 

Day 9 – Yala

You’ll take a private guided all day safari drive to view wildlife and hopefully to spot a leopard. We’ll provide you with a picnic lunch which you’ll enjoy in the jungle. You’ll receive insights into animal behaviour and the ecology of the park. In addition to lunch, you’ll also stop for tea and snacks by a river or the beach. This all day safari will take you on some remote roads into the extreme borders of Yala where few visitors go, increasing your chances for some fabulous wildlife sightings. Entrance tickets $15 USD  + taxes pp and aren’t included.

Yala National Park has a diverse ecology and includes lakes, scrubland, and dense jungle. It’s considered the most wildlife-rich national park in Sri Lanka. The highlights of Yala are its elephants, sloth bear and of course, leopards. It’s home to the highest leopard density in the world. In addition, you’re also likely to spot a large variety of water birds, deer, toque macaque, mongoose, and crocodiles.

 

Day 10 – Galle

You have the option of an early birding trek through the wilderness trails around lakes. Cost $100 USD for two people and isn’t included). Alternatively, you can choose to relax before transferring to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Galle at midday. You’ll have the afternoon at leisure to explore the 17th century Dutch Galle Fort and its labyrinth of cobblestoned streets where you’ll find shops, boutique villas, cafes, antiques,  jewellery and residential houses. We’ll provide you with a map of the key highlights of the Fort.

 

Day 11 – Galle

Depending on when you’re in Sri Lanka, you have three options:

Whale Watching. The best time to see Blue Whales (the largest mammal in the ocean!)  is from December to April. Departure is at 5 am. Cost ~$27 – $45 USD pp and isn’t included.
Lagoon Canoeing: You’ll canoe in a 2or 3 person canoe tour through a mangrove where a guide will teach you about the flora and fauna of the lagoon. this is a gentle excursion with ~ 2 hours of paddling time. Cost $35 USD  pp and isn’t included.
Village Cycle tour: Cost $18 USD pp USD 18 per person and isn’t included.

After the excursion of your choice, we’ll drop you off at the international airport for your night flight back home. Alternatively, you can choose to extend your stay in Galle or explore the southern beaches. No overnight accommodation is included in the tour for today.

You’ve now experienced the highlights of Sri Lanka and had a tour designed around your interests.

You can also view the Wildlife and Cultural Highlights of Sri Lanka itinerary here. 

 

Highlights

  • Visit Yala National Park, which has the highest density of leopards anywhere in the world.
  • Observe elephants up close in an ethical way where your visit helps, not hurts them
  • Experience three UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Observe endangered lorises on a night walk
  • Be awed by Sri Lanka’s most scenic landscapes
  • Interact with locals through authentic experiences

Route

  1. Negombo
  2. Sigiriya Rd
  3. Kandy
  4. Wellawaya
  5. Hambantota
  6. Galle
  7. Negombo