The Enchanted Island ~ Sri Lanka

The teardrop-shaped island

One of the most magical places

Sri Lanka is blessed with rich culture and natural treasures. This comprehensive tour visits both the popular and some of the lesser known sites in Northern, Central and Southern Sri Lanka. This fabulous tour will take you on an exotic journey that you won’t forget! 

You will travel each day to a new and exciting site or town, such as Nuwara Eliya, which is home to the famous tea plantations. Envisage yourself touring the beautiful villages of the South and visiting the stunning cave temples of Dambulla, where you will truly enjoy the full flavour of the rich diversity of this enchanting island.

A landmark destination in the ancient spice route, Sri Lanka or ‘Ceylon’ is a package of exciting surprises. This tropical island is famous for its diverse landscape which transforms from the blue coastal belt to green mountains literally within hours of each other. The island’s lush greenery varies from the coconut palm groves and paddy fields to the green mountains and tea plantations, quite amazing considering the island is only 65,610 in area.

Spices, blue sapphires and elephants have been synonymous with Sri Lanka for centuries as the unique location of this island in the Indian Ocean served as a hub for trading. The aromatic cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and pepper were plenty and the natural sparkle of gems with their multitude of hues iconic to their colourful land. It lured traders and colonisers of the West which resulted in the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British governing the Island each over 150 years, beginning from the 16th Century. This resulted in the island being called the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. The ‘Pure Ceylon Tea’ gained prominence in the world and Royal Colombo Golf Club and Nuwara Eliya Golf Club became some of South Asia’s oldest 18-hole golf courses.

The people of Sri Lanka are made up of diverse races and faiths. Although well on the road to modernisation, the country and its people still cherish their traditional values and take pride in their rich culture, an aspect that continues to attract visitors. 

an adventure of a lifetime

‘Would you like to go?’ was the subject header. Go where I wondered? Fast forward 11.5 hours and I had landed in sunny Sri Lanka. 

I don’t think I’d been that excited in a long time, I practically ran from the plane to the exit. We were met by Vasu, the ground handler in Sri Lanka and Richard, who would be our tour guides for the week.

First stop was Colombo… The hustle and bustle of this incredible city did not disappoint, We headed on a walking tour that started at the Dutch Hospital. We learnt some incredible history walking around, Colombo, before heading back to the Dutch Hospital square where we enjoyed the most amazing meal at Ceylon Curry Club, that included ‘hoppers’ – A must try, imagine a thin crispy pancake filled with a fried egg! Back to the hotel to get our heads down and then up bright and early the next day. Our tour was compact so we could experience as much as possible to understand everything Sri Lanka has to offer for anyone thinking of heading there.

We experienced incredible temples at Umandawa Global Buddhist Village and learnt the history of the monks living there, we had the privilege to spend time understanding their way of life and why they chose that specific path, the stories were beautiful and humbling. It sure did make you sit back and reflect on our fast paced lives. This being said, back on the bus we jumped and off we headed to our next stop.

Tummies rumbling, we stopped at the Water Garden Sigiriya for lunch and my oh my it didn’t disappoint. You felt like you were in the middle of nowhere eating the most incredible fine dining. A hotel definitely worth staying at if visiting Sigiriya.

The elephants were calling at Minneriya National Park, I don’t really know what I was expecting but it blew all expectations out of the water. As the sun set over the hills, we raced towards the reservoir and sat watching as herds of elephants descended for what one can only presume, their evening drink. It felt like it was something out of a movie.

Sun set and completely overloaded with the beauty we had seen in just one day, we headed to bed at the Kandalama Heritance. Not before taking a shower in the most incredible rain shower I’ve ever seen. Envisage showering overlooking the jungle with monkeys running around.

Sigiriya Rock, also known as Lion Rock, was on our itinerary to climb this morning. Shoelaces tied and sunscreen on, off we headed. Story has it, this area was a large forest, after storms and landslides it became a huge hill that was selected by King Kashyapa for his new capital. He built his palace on top of this rock and surrounding areas. Be prepared for a steep climb but when you get to the very top, you’ll see views that you’ll not see anywhere else. It’s kept immaculate by gardeners that climb up daily to maintain the lawns. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could do that climb every day in 30c heat, incredible!

The Royal Botanical Gardens is filled with complete beauty and if visiting it is highly recommended to get a guide. We had the pleasure of being taken around by Mr. Palipana who had a wealth of knowledge and amazing stories to share with us, he really is a walking encyclopaedia. He has to be pre booked and is an additional charge but in my opinion, worth every penny! Do be aware that the gardens are very ‘open’ and can get very hot and humid, so maybe head on over first thing in the morning before the heat becomes too intense.

Sun shining bright, we jumped on the bus and grabbed some water whilst we headed on to a tea plantation, Labookele Tea Plantation, near Nuwara Eliya. On first glance it can seem a bit intense, seeing the elders out in the hot sun picking tea leaves but as we further explored and learnt the history and stories of the tea factories, it became evident that this wasn’t a workhouse, this was a community where they looked after one another. Baskets at the ready, we headed out to the tea fields and started picking the leaves, another humbling experience for the books.

Heading on with our adventure, there was one thing I had to see whilst in Sri Lanka… The Nine Arch Bridge. Yes, it is a train line on a bridge but, it’s so much more than just that and it truly took my breath away. I could have sat on the edge of the bridge taking it all in for hours. The locals gathering with their friends, men selling fruit and musicians making amazing music. It really wasn’t just a train track on a bridge.

Yala National Park, if you are after a safari, this is for you. A 4am start had me up bright and early making a cup of coffee before picking out my safari clothes. Waiting for the keepers to come and collect me from my hut, due to the accommodation being in the safari park and wild animals wondering around, I was filled with excitement. Off we headed on our truck and the first thing we spotted were two crocodiles eating a Pygmy Hippo, this is the wild after all!

Our last evening was spent wondering around Galle Fort. I seriously underestimated this spot. Narrow, bustling laneways and crumbling colonial relics, an ever-present scent of exotic spices and the incredible tropical setting; there’s something about this world heritage site that will charm and captivate you as it did me. Galle Fort is filled with chic boutiques, cafes, and hotels being restored, but it only takes ducking down a quiet laneway to feel as though you’ve travelled back to the 1700s again. With the sun set and the sky purple, that’s right, purple, I’ve never seen anything like it, we headed to the Jetwing Lighthouse for one last sleep.

You’ll find a home away from home here, Sri Lanka really is an ideal destination for those seeking an unforgettable adventure. I can easily say that this is one of my favourite destinations I’ve visited and I can’t wait to return ” ~ Amy 

All the things you need to know

Overnight flight from London (regional connections available) to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines.

Afternoon arrival and transfer to the Cinammon Lakeside (or similar) for 1 night. Enjoy afternoon tea at the iconic Galle Face Hotel.

In the morning transfer to Dambulla. Stay 3 nights at the Heritance Kandalama hotel (or similar).

Drive to the ancient city of Anuradhapura. For 1,400 years this city was Sri Lanka’s capital and contains fabulous Buddhist shrines and relics. Afternoon visit to Mihintale, the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Morning visit to the rock fortress town of Sigiriya. Continue to the 11th-century medieval capital of Polonnaruwa.

Morning visit to Dambulla, home to Asia’s most impressive cave temples. Continue to the beautiful hill station of Kandy and stay 2 nights at the Earls Regency (or similar). Afternoon city tour. Later, in the evening, take time to watch a traditional Kandyan dance performance and visit the Temple of the Tooth for the evening puja.

Kandy is set on the shores of a beautiful manmade lake and the area abounds with rich and varied plant life. Morning visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens. Afternoon at leisure.

Early morning drive to Nuwara Eliya hill station via a tea plantation. Situated at 2,000 metres above sea level, Nuwara Eliya attracted the British in the 18th century and their legacy is still visible. Stay at the Heritance Tea Factory for 2 nights.

Early morning visit to Horton Plains, situated on Sri Lanka’s highest plateau (this excursion involves a 2.5-hour walk*). Horton Plains is inhabited by large populations of monkeys and sambar deer. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Transfer to Ella; the view through the Ella Gap – a break in the hills – is one of the finest in Sri Lanka. Visit the Rawana Ella Falls and impressive Buduruwagala statues before continuing to Yala. Stay 2 nights at Cinnamon Wild (Jungle Chalet).

Morning wildlife safari in Yala National Park. Covering 1,300 sq km, Yala National Park encompasses a diversity of jungle habitats, including scrub, brackish lagoons and riverside locations. Creatures that may be seen include elephants, leopards, sloth bears, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild pigs, jackals, marsh crocodiles and a great variety of birdlife.

Drive to Ahungalla, stopping for a visit to the Elephant Transit home and tour of Galle fort. Stay 2 nights at Heritance Ahungalla or upgrade to the Vivanta by Taj Bentota (Superior Charm Seaview room) from £80. Following day at leisure.

Transfer to Colombo and fly to London with Sri Lankan Airlines.

Visit the impressive Dambulla caves & Sigiriya rock fortress

• Witness a Puja ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth

• Stay in an authentic converted tea factory

• Finish the tour with relaxation on the beach

• 4 & 5-star accommodation

• Flexible extensions, room & flight upgrades available

• Direct international flights with Sri Lankan Airlines

• Transfers in air-conditioned vehicles

• 12 breakfasts

• Wildlife safari & national park entrance fees

  • Light layers, e.g. vest tops/T-shirts, breathable clothing and underwear, light cotton stuff.

  • Sri Lanka is a bit conservative, shorts are fine and so are dresses but we would recommend steering away from anything super short or revealing.

  • For temple visits, covering up is a must – this is easily done by carrying a light sarong for shoulders and wearing a longer light skirt or light trousers. The guide will have some sarongs which people can use to cover up just in case.

  • Sometimes it can be handy to bring a small umbrella, both for any showers that may come and also as a sun shield.

  • Equally a very light waterproof just in case! The rain tends to come in bursts and is warm.

  • Insect repellent, sunscreen

  • Trainers are fine for Sigiriya Rock – it’s not worth packing walking boots for this. Other sightseeing can be done in sandals or trainers as preferred.

  • We don’t personally recommend jeans – it’s just too hot.

  • You may wish to pack a light jacket or cardigan for the evening if you feel the cold. Nuwara Eliya and the hill country is at a higher altitude and naturally will be cooler.

  • Restaurants can be casual wear, you can smarten it up a little but again, personal taste.

  • Hat/sunglasses.

  • Hand gel!


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We are here to help. Our travel experts will organise and book your dream holiday.
call us today or complete our online enquiry form to start your next adventure.