1. Watching the wild elephants of Wilpattu National Park
  2. Trekking to a jungle village accessible only by foot
  3. Rafting the Kelani River’s raging rapids
  4. Riding the rails through the verdant Central Highlands
  5. Spotting blue whales off Dondra Head

Day 1: Arrive in Negombo

Make the short hop from Bandaranaike International Airport to the pretty beach town of Negombo after meeting your local English-speaking guide. The rest of the day is spent at leisure. Overnight at Jetwing Blue.

Day 2: Negombo to Anamaduwa

Visit Negombo’s bustling fish market and the Hamilton Canal before travelling to Anamaduwa. En route, stop at the ancient Arab trading port of Puttalam and its white, wide-open salt pans. Overnight at The Mudhouse.

Day 3: Anamaduwa

Embark on an early-morning bird watching walk before kayaking the nearby waters. Later, visit the mythical Paramakanda Temple and its intriguing frescoes, located atop a rocky outcrop. Overnight at The Mudhouse.

Day 4: Anamaduwa to Anuradhapura

Travel to Wilpattu National Park and watch out for elephants and sloth bears on a private 4×4 safari. Proceed to Anuradhapura, visiting the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi and Ruwanwelisaya stupa. Overnight at Palm Garden Village.

Day 5: Anuradhapura to Dambulla

Explore the ancient capital of Anuradhapura before continuing to Mihintale, where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. Proceed to Dambulla, where the rest of the day is spent at leisure. Overnight at Amaya Lake.

Day 6: Dambulla

Watch out for egrets, parrots and kingfishers with a naturalist before climbing the dramatic rock fortress of Sigiriya. Later, explore ancient Polonnaruwa before embarking on a village cycle tour. Overnight at Amaya Lake.

Day 7: Dambulla to Knuckles

Experience a bullock cart journey in Hiriwadunna before visiting a rural Buddhist temple. Later, roam Dambulla’s painted cave temples and Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth Relic before arriving in mountainous Knuckles. Overnight at Corberts Rest.

Day 8: Knuckles

Trek through the jungle to Meemure, a village only accessible by foot, stopping for jaggery-sweetened tea en route. On arrival, reward yourself with a swim in a pristine mountain stream. Overnight at Corberts Rest.

Day 9: Knuckles to Nuwara Eliya

Embark on a thrilling white-water rafting trip down the Kelani River before proceeding to Nuwara Eliya. With its lush landscape, cooler climate and colonial-era houses, it’s known among locals as ‘Little England’. Overnight at Anilana Craigbank.

Day 10: Nuwara Eliya to Ella

Learn how to taste tea at a plantation before boarding the train from Nanuoya to Ella: one of South Asia’s most iconic rail journeys. Time permitting, visit Ella Gap, Ravana Falls and Little Adam’s Peak. Overnight at Water Falls Homestay.

Day 11: Ella to Galle

Spend the morning at leisure in Ella before travelling to Dutch-built Galle on the south coast: an important 17th-century trading post featuring colonial-style houses, boutiques and an impressive lighthouse. Overnight at Jetwing Lighthouse.

Day 12: Galle

Travel along the south coast to Mirissa for the final adventure: a whale-watching excursion. From Dondra Head it’s possible to spot blue whales, sperm whales and dolphins just a few miles from the coast. Overnight at Jetwing Lighthouse.

Day 13: Galle to Colombo

Proceed to the airport for your onward flight home.

Activities to consider

  • A 3-night beach extension in Bentota, Koggala, Habaraduwa, Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Negombo, Tangalla, Talpe or Unawatuna
  • Visiting Seenigama’s Foundation of Goodness
  • Sampling the Handunugoda’s Virgin white tea
  • Learning about turtle conservation at the Kosgoda Hatchery
  • Discovering Mulkirigala’s seven rock temples
  • Roaming the Portuguese-built Matara Fort
  • Visiting a lace workshop
  • Seeing the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum
  • Tangalla, Talpe or Unawatuna

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