Discover the secrets of Sri Lanka on this spirited journey that takes you to temples, tea plantations and ancient ruins. This lush, tropical island blends beautiful beaches and stunning scenery with sacred sites and fascinating history and heritage. You’ll embark on a wildlife safari, pluck tea leaves and climb the magnificent ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya.
Day 1: Australia – Negombo
Welcome to Sri Lanka! You’ll be met on arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport and taken to your nearby hotel in Negombo.
On the west coast of Sri Lanka, this popular beach town still retains its fishing village charm.
Highlights of this town include the neoclassical St. Mary’s church, completed in the 1920s and featuring a ceiling decorated with vivid religious paintings. Near the waterfront, the remains of the 17th-century Dutch Fort now house a prison. Negombo Lagoon, lined with fishermen’s huts, feeds into the Dutch-era Hamilton Canal. The canal leads south to the capital, Colombo.
Please note: Some flights may depart the day before.
Check in: Passengers will be arriving at various times throughout the day from as early as 6am through to late evening. If arriving prior to standard check-in time, which is generally 3pm local time, you are welcome to leave your luggage with hotel reception and explore your surroundings until check-in becomes available, as there are generally no scheduled activities on Day 1 of the itinerary. The hotel may grant early check-in, however this is strictly subject to availability and at the hotel’s discretion
Day 2: Negombo – Galle – Weligama
This morning, join your guide and the rest of your group for a welcome meeting.
It’s about a one hour drive to Colombo, a vibrant melting pots of races, religions and cultures. Sri Lanka’s capital is a city of contrasts – it’s a busy commercial hub but has a certain laid-back ambience. We’ll take a city tour mid-morning. Depending on the time and weather, we’ll explore this bustling port city on foot or by vehicle. On foot, we’ll soak in the local architecture with a walk through the city, visiting Buddhist and Hindu temples, historic Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque (Red Mosque) and the Dutch Reformed Church (Wolvendaal).
Alternatively, we’ll explore bustling Pettah Bazaar, then Independence Square, Parliament, and the National Museum. We’ll finish with a shopping opportunity for a good cause at the Barefoot fair trade store. Here you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the country and support small cottage industries.
We’ll depart Colombo and head for the carefully preserved colonial city of Galle, on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. It’s an interesting blend of European architecture and south-Asian traditions.
On arrival we’ll set out for a tour of the Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our guide will take us on a tour of the Royal Dutch Fort, exploring the winding passageways, maze of gallery-filled narrow streets and 400 years of rich history. The fort was built first in 1588 by the Portuguese, then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century.
Afterwards, we’ll continue to the beach town of Weligama on the south coast, and settle into our hotel for the evening. B
Day 3: Galle – Yala National Park
It’s a free morning to relax poolside or at the beach.
In the early afternoon we’ll head for Tissamharama, gateway to Yala National Park.
We’ll stop enroute for your first Inspiring Taste, dining with a local fisherman’s family. Learn about their craft and livelihood – including how their lives changed after the tsunami. Enjoy the freshest seafood possible with their family; perhaps a wonderful crab curry, a local delicacy.
After lunch, we’ll check into our hotel and the rest of the day is free for you to explore. B, L
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL INSPIRING SIGHT – VISIT A LOCAL CINNAMON PLANTATION
Day 4: Yala National Park
In the afternoon you’ll be taken to Yala National Park, one of Sri Lanka’s largest and most visited national parks.
We’ll have lunch at a local restaurant before an afternoon Jeep safari. Embarking on a guided game drive to explore the dynamic wildlife here is a thrilling experience. Yala National Park – a huge area of forest, grassland and lagoons bordering the Indian Ocean – encompasses a variety of diverse ecosystems. It’s home to wildlife such as sloth bears, leopards, elephants and crocodiles, as well as hundreds of bird species. B, L
Day 5: Yala National Park – Nuwara – Eliya
After a relaxing morning exploring your hotel surrounds, we’ll head to Nuwara Eliya, a drive of about four and a half hours.
Enroute, why not try a Sri Lankan favourite, Buffalo curd? Served in bright terracotta pots with thick, golden treacle, it’s often eaten as a snack, a side or a dessert. Sri Lankans are famed for their sweet tooth and this is just about as sweet as it gets.
On the way, we’ll make a photo stop at Ravana Falls. One of the widest falls in the country, the waterfall measures approximately 25 metres high, cascading from an oval-shaped concave rock outcrop. The falls form part of the Ravana Ella Wildlife Sanctuary.
When we arrive at the tranquil town of Nuwara Eliya, we’ll take an orientation tour around the city and the rest of the evening is free for you to relax or explore.
Perched on a mountain ridge overlooking lush green countryside, Nuwara Eliya is a peaceful retreat. Often referred to as ‘Little England’, it does have a British country village feel, with its colonial-era bungalows and British history. Located in hill country – tea country – it offers many photo opportunities. There are hundreds of acres of tea plantations and plenty of tea factories to visit in the area. B, D
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL INSPIRING SIGHT – MORNING JEEP SAFARI
Day 6: Nuwara Eliya
We’ll head to a local tea factory this morning to experience Sri Lankan tea culture. Discover the art of renowned Ceylon tea, one of Sri Lanka’s biggest exports, with a guided visit and tea tasting. There will even be a chance to pluck tea leaves yourself!
In the afternoon, relive colonial tradition with an Inspiring Taste, high tea at the celebrated Grand Hotel. It’s a quintessential British experience and a great chance to sample local teas. B, D
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL INSPIRING SIGHT – LOCAL ARRACK TASTING
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL INSPIRING SIGHT – LOVERS LEAP WATERFALL
Day 7: Nuwara – Eliya – Kandy
We’ll bid farewell to Nuwara Eliya and hop onto Sri Lanka’s most famous train to travel to Kandy, the charming hill capital originally known as Senkadagala.
This scenic train ride takes in the lush vistas of central Sri Lanka, with stunning green, lush tea plantations and rugged mountain peaks.
Kandy was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 – the city embodies the style and character of Sri Lankan civilisation; with its lake, temples (including the Temple of the Tooth Relic) and the well-preserved ruins of royal palaces.
Tonight, enjoy a cultural show with traditional dancing.
Please note: It is not possible to confirm the train ticket reservation due to the fact that Sri Lanka Railway has a manual system for reservations. Tickets can only be booked 30 days prior to departure. The 1st and 2nd class is basic but has air-conditioning. 3rd class sometimes is sometimes the only option available. On the rare occasion the train is fully booked, you will travel by coach B, D
Day 8: Kandy
This morning, we’ll visit the golden-roofed Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), a deeply significant Buddhist site. Located in the heart of town, this shrine houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha, supposedly taken from his funeral pyre. The insides of the shrine are covered in beautifully detailed and elaborate paintings.
We’ll take a city tour or you may choose to visit a local market for a fruit tasting and a feel for daily life in these parts. B
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL INSPIRING SIGHT – LOCAL COOKING DEMONSTRATION
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL INSPIRING SIGHT – ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDEN
Day 9: Kandy – Dambulla
This morning, you’ll have the choice again of the city tour or market walk. Then, we’ll head to Dambulla Cave Temple this morning and explore the magnificent cave complex.
This monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been a pilgrimage site for 22 centuries for good reason. It houses 157 Buddhist statues. Also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, it’s the most impressive cave complex in Sri Lanka.
In the evening, take this chance to relax by the pool. B, L, D
OPTIONAL TOUR – OPTIONAL INSPIRING SIGHT – DAMBULLA WHOLESALE MARKET TOUR
Day 10: Dambulla
Early this morning to beat the heat, we’ll visit the magnificent, ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya (also known as Lion Rock). This dramatic rocky outcrop, rising from the surrounding plains, is one of the highlights of any visit to Sri Lanka. Lion Rock is topped by a ruined palace. It’s a good workout to climb to the top, but well worth the effort for the 360 degree views. You’ll see why this natural phenomenon is one of the most popular attractions in this country.
In the afternoon, we’ll visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the second-most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms and another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The fifth-century city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archaeological relic sites in the country, standing testimony to the discipline and greatness of the kingdom’s first rulers. Enjoy a visit to the archaeological museum to get an idea of what this impressive metropolis was like in its prime.
This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner with your group to celebrate your time in Sri Lanka.
Please note: The visit to Lion Rock takes about three and a half hours. You’ll reach the lion paw in about an hour and a half, passing the water garden, boulder garden, Sigiriya Frescoes and the mirror wall. After the lion paw, it’s a steep climb with plenty of steps and walkways – this part of the climb takes about 30 minutes. If you do not wish to go to the top, you can rest at the lion paw until the rest of the group returns. B, D
Day 11: Dambulla – Negombo
We’ll head to Negombo today. Enroute, we can visit a coconut plantation.
In the evening we’ll take a city tour to take in St. Mary’s Church, the remains of the 17th-century Dutch Fort and temples. Depending on what time we arrive, we might take this tour tomorrow. B, D
Day 12: Negombo – Australia
Enjoy one last delicious breakfast this morning, before your Sri Lankan adventure comes to an end.
After checking out, we’ll embark on a market and shopping tour for those last minute souvenirs. Soak up the atmosphere before being transferred to the airport for your flight home.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this extraordinary journey.
Check out: Passengers will be departing at various times throughout the day. Standard hotel check-out times will apply no matter what time your flight is scheduled to depart. Check-out time is generally anywhere from 10am-12pm. You are welcome to leave your luggage at hotel reception and spend your final moments of free time exploring the area or, alternatively, please speak with hotel staff if you would like to extend your check-out time. Please note this service is subject to availability and will likely come at an additional cost. Your tour guide (or hotel staff) will confirm the time of your airport transfer with you directly. B
Day 13: Arrive Australia
Arrive home today. We hope you’ve been inspired.
Excluded from the package price: