Our People
  • Amy Waters snow biking Our Team

    Steppes Travel is made by the people who work here. Incredible holidays are made possible because of their vast travel experience and the great enthusiasm they bring to their work.

  • William Dalrymple Our Tour Experts

    We carefully select our experts based on their knowledge, companionship and influence, ensuring that you can travel with the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

  • Liz Bonnin Heroes and Heroines

    The people who lead the way when it comes to those things which matter to us: exploration, the environment, women’s empowerment and education.

Frangipani pool tree day

Sri Lanka Holidays

There’s only one way to describe this place: diverse. One of the East’s sleepier destinations; but take the time to explore it and you’ll find that you wake up to something completely different every day.

Lush, green and without crowds, Sri Lanka has become one of the prime boutique destinations of the East. We love it for its diversity, the people and the exquisite food.

A Sri Lanka holiday will not disappoint. You are guaranteed to experience one of the most idyllic and exotic destinations on earth. Travelling around this beautiful island, you will see rolling tea estates, spectacular views, fascinating historical sites, wide stretches of sandy beach and verdant forests abundant with wildlife, such as leopard, wild elephant and sloth bear.

Train crossing Nine Arch Bridge, Nuwara, Sri Lanka
Nuwara, Sri Lanka
Sisindu c villa exterior
Sri Lanka
Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton, Sri Lanka
Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton, Sri Lanka
Tea Plantation, Nuwara, Sri Lanka
Nuwara, Sri Lanka
Colombo City Walk with Mark Forbes, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Elephants, Sri Lanka
Pinnawala, Sri Lanka
Sperm Whale, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan leopard
Sri Lanka
Maalu Maalu beach walkway, Passekudah, Sri Lanka
Maalu Maalu, Passekudah, Sri Lanka

Why Visit Sri Lanka

With so many different holiday styles, Sri Lanka has something for everyone, from trekking and camping in National Parks, such as Wilpattu, to flying to north-east Jaffna to explore the Dutch forts. Alternatively, you could relax on the glorious sandy beaches around the coast, explore the UNESCO site of Galle or discover Colombo’s fascinating past and vibrant future with a private walking tour in the city.

Experiences

Make the most of every moment in Sri Lanka. Create an itinerary brimming with these truly unforgettable moments.

Meet the Makers – Thimble Workshop

Pay a visit to the Thimble Foundation workshop, offering unique arts and crafts. Support the communities of fishermen’s wives and daughters.

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Culinary Ceylon

At Culinary Ceylon, enjoy home cooking using family recipes passed down from proprietor’s ancestors. Immerse yourself in the local culture with this fully guided, theatrical and memorable curated experience boldly different from an ordinary restaurant visit.

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Cycling the Village Roads of Polonnaruwa

Cycle through the village roads of Polonnaruwa early in the morning to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

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The Elephant Gathering

Witness hundreds of elephants gathering in Minneriya National Park during Sri Lanka’s dry season.

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Private Beach Villa

Rent a fully staffed, private beach villa with family and friends.

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Coastal Adventures

Swim from the clear, calm east coast beaches near Trincomalee or Passekudah.

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Bird watching

Sri Lanka is a birds paradise. Spend a few days in the Knuckles mountain range, a unique ecosystem and home to over 120 bird species.

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Sinharaja Forest Reserve

View the magnificent mixed-species bird flocks of Sinharaja, Sri Lanka’s premier rainforest. Other animals present include leopard, purple-faced langur, barking deer and three types of squirrel.

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Sloth Bears

Observe the Sri Lankan sloth bear in its natural habitat at Wilpattu National Park.

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Gal Oya National Park

Watch elephants swimming across the lake at Gal Oya National Park.

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Explore Sri Lanka

  • Colombo
  • Cultural Triangle
  • Galle
  • Kandy and the Tea Country
  • Negombo
  • Jaffna and the North
  • Wilpattu National Park
  • Yala National Park
  • Mirissa
  • Trincomalee
  • Udawalawe National Park

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Kate Hitchen

My travels were first inspired by my love of the UK, which I take as much pleasure in exploring as countries far and wide. For me, travel is all about the adventure, the people I meet and the food I sample along the way.

In fact, I am never happier than when I’m cycling, trekking or simply eating my way through a country! My heart and head regularly pull me east, notably to India but I may also be found wandering through the galleries and piazzas of Italy or daydreaming about fresh ceviche in the far west.

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Joe Parkes

As a child I read voraciously so the seed of travel was planted by none other than Enid Blyton. Family holidays ran the gamut from icy dips in the early summer seas of Cornwall, to camel rides in north Africa, from Times Square to Tenerife. A GAP year upon leaving school cemented the travel bug. After graduating University and before stumbling, happily, into a career in the travel industry I spent a couple of glorious years exploring southern and east Africa, large swathes of South-east Asia, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

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Frequently asked questions about Sri Lanka

How do I pronounce Galle?

Well, the locals pronounce this fortified city as Gala as in Allah! Western tourists tend to pronounce the word as Gaul (as in ball). They are both correct.

What is the best train rides in Sri Lanka?

Trains are a great way to cross the country at slow speed. The most scenic train journey in Sri Lanka, but possibly the world, is the Kandy to Ella train. Climb aboard the six-hour(ish) journey from Kandy and wind and climb through the tea estates Sri Lanka’s lush hill country.  The Blue Train leaves Kandy or Colombo Fort in the mornings going uphill and From Badulla and Ella towards Kandy at least four times a day.

We personally believe that this train journey is best experienced by purchasing a lower-class ticket. First Class is stuffy with tightly shut windows. Second and third class reserved (wooden benches) offer a more authentic experience, with everybody keen to have a chat. Doors and windows are open, perfect for dangling your feet over and feeling the wind in your hair. We like to get your train tickets well in advance as the popular routes and classes sell out up to two months in advance.

If you do opt to travel first class in Sri Lanka expect softer seating and air conditioning.  The windows and doors will remain locked and you will be sat with other foreigners. Do ask us for information about the observation carriage. They have wide windows, looking back down the track. It is not air-conditioned so the side windows do open enough to pop through your camera lens. The price of a ticket is peanuts, expect to pay between 70p and £5 for your journey.

Do I need to worry about malaria?

Sri Lanka was declared free of malaria in 2017 and 2018 after eradicating the disease in 2016. However, do take normal precautions. Wear long-sleeved tops and avoid skin exposure during dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active. Avoid sitting or staying by any standing water or boggy land. Invest in some repellant when travelling through a jungle and forested regions. Mosquitoes are prevalent and do carry Dengue Fever.

How likely am I to see a leopard in the wild on a holiday to Sri Lanka?

Obviously, wildlife is never guaranteed but chances are good, particularly in Yala National Park which has one of the highest density of leopard in the world.

I would like to explore the north of the country. Is it safe now?

It is safe to visit Jaffna in the north of the country as well as the new beach resorts around Trincomalee on the north-east coast. However it is worth mentioning that in Jaffna there remains a strong military presence. If you like pioneering travel and are OK with basic accommodation then a visit to the very north of the country could well appeal.One of our female travel experts recently travelled to the north and felt extremely safe throughout.

I've visited Yala before, which National Park should I visit next?

Willpattu on the north-west coast is opening up and there is now a comfortable camp there. Willpattu is best for Sloth bear and leopard, however, leopards are more elusive here than in Yala National Park.

Is Sri Lanka a good destination for a family holiday?

Travelling with children in Sri Lanka is very easy as there is no need for internal flights, however, there may be a long car journey as a result of poor planning so allow us to ensure you have bite-sized transfers between locations. A staffed villa during the trip is the best way to relax as a family. Many boutique hotels are small enough to rent the entire property for exclusive use, with staff on hand for your every whim. Sri Lanka is also perfect during the school summer holidays, with the east coast beaches and Indian Jones-esque temples perfect for little explorers.

Is Sri Lanka safe to travel around?

Known for its turbulent history and civil war, peace was declared in Sri Lanka in 2009. It has now very successfully rebuilt itself as a tourist destination and is doing everything to welcome visitors to the country.  Security has been stepped up across the country since April 2019 in response to a singular terrorist attack but the State of Emergency has since been lifted. As when travelling to any destination, we always advise taking precautions when looking after your personal belongings.

What animals will I see in Yala National Park?

With over 126,000 hectares of parkland to explore, visiting Yala is like stepping into the pages of The Jungle Book. Elephants, monkeys, exotic birds and leopards plus an array of other wildlife call Yala home. The park has one of the densest leopard populations in the world.

What currency is used in Sri Lanka?

The local currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee. Roughly the rate of exchange is 235 Sri Lankan Rupee to the pound.

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We had the most amazing holiday. Thank you to all at Steppes and a huge thank you for our surprise meal at Ministry of Crab. We are so grateful.

Sri Lanka

It was all very last minute from us so Kate did a great job in responding to a change in dates and negotiating a good deal.

Sri Lanka

Kate Hitchen's help in organising this trip was excellent. She was very knowledgable and tailor-made our trip to suit our three teenage children.

Sri Lanka

Rainbow Centre building
Rainbow Centre, Sri Lanka

Rainbow Centre

We support projects right across the planet. Explore below to see where and how we’re making a difference – in some cases, we can even arrange a visit as part of your tailor-made itinerary.

The Rainbow Centre provides daily education, food, welfare, medical treatment and loving support to children living in extreme poverty in southwestern Sri Lanka. Its key aim is to enable children to obtain an education and to help them to break free from a world of crime, begging, addiction and abuse.

Read more about The Steppes Fund For Change

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary?


Why Steppes