For a holiday where the extraordinary comes as standard, try Sri Lanka.
Often known as the Jewel of the Indian Ocean, it’s home to eight World Heritage sites, temples, tea plantations, an abundance of wildlife and fantastic beaches.
With year-round temperatures between 26C and 34C, Sri Lanka is a perfect winter destination for a tour staying on the West Coast Beaches, and great as a summer family destination staying on the East Coast where the calm seas and beautiful beaches offer great value for money.
Flying time to Sri Lanka is approximately 11 hours direct or 14 hours via the Middle East. Travel Gallery partners with us to create extraordinary travel experiences. They celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2016, headed by Farzana Dobbs who originates from Sri Lanka and today has an in-depth knowledge of and love for the country.
Whilst every itinerary is tailored to meet individual’s requirements, with a focus on boutique hotels, we have put together a tour packed with experiences from cultural sites, plantation life, national parks and wildlife to a short beach stay.
Experience Sri Lanka: A 14-day Tour
DAY 1: To Sigiriya / Anuradhapura
Fly from London to Colombo where you will be met on arrival at Colombo airport by your driver. The guide will be available throughout your holiday. Transfer to Dambulla and on to Anuradhapura. Stay three nights
at Ulagalla Resort. It's pure luxury, built around an ancient mansion and set in 58 acres of paddy land and lakes. The location gives you a perfect base from where to see the Cultural Triangle.
DAY 2: Anuradhapura / Mihintale
Anuradhapura was the grandest city of the ancient Sri Lanka, and its first capital. Now it houses two World Heritage sites.
The Sri Maha Bodhi (Sacred Bo-Tree) was brought as a sapling of the tree under which prince Siddhartha attained to enlightenment and is over 2,200 years old making it the oldest historically documented tree in the world. It sits among a place of history so vibrant you will be stunned.
Just 30 minutes from Anuradhapura is Mihintale, where Buddhism was first introduced to Sri Lanka. On this rock are many shrines and dwellings originally used by monks. A grand stairway of 1,840 steps made of 15 feet wide granite slabs leads to the summit from where there is a splendid view of the surrounding countryside. With a very spiritual feel, Mihintale is an important place for Sri Lankan Buddhists who make regular pilgrimages to its many temples. Return to the hotel mid / late afternoon.
DAY 3: Wilpattu National Park
Jeep Safari day. Wilpattu National Park is situated along the Northwest coast lowland dry zone. It comprises a unique complex of lakes called Villus, surrounded by open grassy plains set within dense scrub jungle. The unspoilt and beautiful park is ideal for those seeking a tranquil, peaceful and undisturbed drive.
The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards and Sloth bears. Alongside these, it is possible to see Asian Elephants, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Wild Pig, Asiatic Buffalo and Mugger Crocodiles, plus scores of rare bird species.
DAY 4: Transfer/ Pinnawela
Leave Ulagalla and transfer to Pinnawela, stopping at the Dambulla Cave Temple, the most impressive in Sri Lanka. From there, drive 30 minutes to Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, home to the largest group of captive elephants in the world. Here you can witness the animals bathing, feeding and playing. Alternatively, visit the Millennium Elephant Foundation, which cares for elderly and disabled elephants. You can help bathe and feed the animals and go on rides around the grounds.
Check in at Rosyth Estate House, Kegalle for 3 nights stay on a Half Board Basis.
DAY 5: Victoria Golf Club/ Kandy Tooth Temple
Depart early for Victoria Golf Club, set on Victoria Lake and an outstanding experience. After lunch, return via Kandy, the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. Witness Kandy Lake, and see the Temple of the Tooth.
DAY 6: Local Excursions from the Estate House
Walk to the Rosyth Tea Factory (10 minutes) and discover how the tea – which some consider to be the world's finest – is produced.
Guests are free to explore the estate, join the ladies plucking two leaves and a bud from the tea bushes or see how the rubber is tapped. Equally take a walk down to the river and discover the small waterfall or to the local paddy fields and enjoy meeting with the local villagers.
DAY 7: Botanical Gardens/ Train to Nan Oya
Depart after breakfast for the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, built by a Sinhala king and expanded by the British during the period of colonial rule. It is 147 acres in extent and provides an amazing variety of trees, plants and flowers.
Later, take a first class train to Hatton (heartland of the Sri Lankan tea country) and on to Nan Oya. Check in for two nights at Warwick Gardens, an ideal base from which to explore Nuwara Eliya or the spectacular Horton Plains.
DAY 8 : Horton Plains/ Nuwara Eliya
Imagine picturesque and beautiful rolling green landscapes and you will have a good idea of what Horton Plains offers. This natural park is home to various forms of flora and fauna.
While here, you may opt to see World's End, reached by a 5km walk through the highest plains in Sri Lanka which lie at an elevation of over 2000 metres. The journey affords the visitor a mesmerising sight of virgin cloudforest and diversity of mountainous flora not seen in any other part of the island.
Later, head to Nuwara Eliya, a little city in the hill that retains its colonial ambience, with its Tudor-style mansions and two-storey shops and houses.
DAY 9: Cinnamon Wild/ Jeep Safari
Depart after breakfast. Check in for 2 nights at Cinnamon Wild, located to next to a wildlife sanctuary, home to innumerable wildlife. It offers a good 4* standard of accommodation. The hotel has 60 jungle chalets and 6 beach chalets all of which have been totally modernised.
DAY 10: Jeep Safari/ Leisure
Yala National Park in the wild south-east is a haven for flora and fauna and excellent game. The beaches are backed by large sand dunes giving rise to lagoons, woodland and scrub bush. It's the premier wildlife location in Sri Lanka.
On game drives by jeep, you can usually view wild elephant, buffalo and boar, huge monitor lizards, macaque monkeys and many rare and endemic bird species: it is also the best place in south Asia to spot the elusive leopard.
DAY 11: Fortress Resort and Spa
After breakfast leave for The Fortress, on the golden southern coast. It is 30 minutes away from Sri Lanka's most historically interesting living fort city, Galle and has 49 guest rooms & suites with 7ft by 7ft super king beds, open plan bathrooms, and state-of-the-art entertainment systems.
DAY 12: Whale Watching/ Leisure
Depart early for Mirissa and whale watching. The best months are December/January and April (February and March are also good), where you may witness the awe-inspiring presence of the Blue Whale, Sperm Whale and Spinner Dolphins.
Day 13: Day at leisure
DAY 14: Colombo City Tour
Colombo is situated on the West Coast. It's the commercial and financial centre of Sri Lanka and by far the largest city.
You can choose to hire a car and driver, take a radio-taxi or for a unique experience take a ride in the humble tuk-tuk.
Check in to the Residence Hotel in Colombo. This is a great boutique hotel and allows you to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Managed by Uga Escapes, this is a welcome new addition to the Colombo boutique hotel portfolio. Colombo has many good shops and restaurants and The Residence is perfectly located for dining out as well as shopping and sightseeing.
Next morning, head to the airport for the flight home.