Our People
  • Amy 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.

  • Chris Packham 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.

Sperm Whale, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka – Jaffna and the Northern Province

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

14 Days

Prices Start from

£4,000 ex. flights

For those wanting to explore the slowly emerging North Sri Lanka and travel off the beaten track. A visit to Jaffna makes this an eclectic and varied trip. The region is closer to India than to Colombo and is a world away from the rest of Sri Lanka.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka 1

Sigirya

Clamber up the giant rock fortress of Sigirya.

Dambakola Patuna Sri Sangamitta Viharaya Temple, Jafffna, Sri Lanka 2

Delft Island

A landscape of picturesque lagoons where flamingos flock after the rain.

Maalu Maalu beach walkway, Passekudah, Sri Lanka 3

Passekudah Bay

Join a fisherman on his catamaran at Passekudah Bay.

Leopard, Sri Lanka 4

Wilpattu National Park

Track leopard and search for sloth bear in Wilpattu National Park.

Why we like it

This is the most comprehensive itinerary of the island as it includes the undiscovered Northern provinces. It explores everything that Sri Lanka has to offer. Within 14 days you visit the Jaffna Peninsula, Wilpattu National Park, Anuradhapura and Sigiriya Rock Fortress as well as experiencing a breathtaking train journey to Jaffna and a beach escape on the pristine east coast. Many of these visited destinations avoid the crowds of many tourist hotspots.

Don't forget, we will customise this journey to suit you.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1
    Colombo - Horathapola
  • Day 2
    Horathapola - Wilpattu National Park
  • Day 3
    Wilpattu National Park
  • Day 4
    Wilpattu National Park - Anuradhapura - Jaffna
  • Day 5 - 6
    Jaffna
  • Day 7
    Jaffna - Trincomalee
  • Day 8
    Trincomalee
  • Day 9
    Trincomalee - Sigiriya
  • Day 10
    Sigiriya
  • Day 11
    Sigiriya - Kandy
  • Day 12
    Kandy
  • Day 13
    Kandy - Colombo
  • Day 14
    Colombo
Elephants, Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka
Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka

Wilpattu Safari

Venture out on a game drive into the verdant jungle, home to sloth bear, colourful birds and the elusive leopard. By using smaller, open jeeps, not only is there the chance to explore the less accessible parts of the park, but also plenty of space for taking photographs. Start early, when wildlife is at its most active. What sets Wilpattu apart from other parks is the peace, space and tranquillity away from other safari vehicles. Wilpattu is the largest national park in Sri Lanka, and is fairly unknown still to tourists due to being off limits during the civil war. It has the largest sloth bear population in the country, and leopard sightings are possible, although the exact numbers are unknown. Wilpattu means ‘Land of Lakes’ and is named due to the large number (nearly sixty) of natural lakes spread across the national park.

Diety, Kovil, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Tamil Culture

Situated at the northern tip of the island, the Jaffna peninsula is steeped in history. Having lived through an insurgent uprising, military occupation and extensive damage, Jaffna, the capital of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, is returning to normalcy since the end of a thirty-year-long civil war. It is scattered with ancient Hindu kovils with colourful statues; colonial period churches that date back to the 17C and ruins of ancient Buddhist temples. Visit some of the key sites of Jaffna by bicycle. Ride the iconic older style Lumala rides. A wonderful way to get a sense of the city and the everyday lives of the people in it. Stop off for ice cream at Rio’s ice cream parlour. The city is flat and we would classify the riding as easy and gentle – suitable for most ages and fitness levels. A fun way to visit the fort, the library, and Jaffna church. Spend an evening in the home of a local family, who will cook authentic cuisine, known as Pittu.

Blue Train, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Queen of Jaffna Railway

The Queen of Jaffna train rides again after being off the rails for just short of a quarter of a century. The train marks a cultural bridge between the ethnic Tamil of the north and the Sinhala south. Suspended due to civil war in the ’90s the train runs again along the 250-mile route between Jaffna and the capital, Colombo also stopping in Anuradhapura. A new track will shorten the journey time to around six hours.

Beach, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Beaches of Northern Province

From Jaffna, head to Point Pedro for what could possibly be one of Sri Lanka’s best beaches. Find beautiful soft white sand and cool blue sea and nothing more. Coming east, Passekudah is a pristine beach and the ocean is home to uninhabited coral islands which is great for snorkelling. We recommend Pigeon Island. Whale watching expeditions depart from Trincomalee. The waters around Trinco are inhabited by gigantic blue whales, Bryde’s whale and the sperm whale, as well as the spinner and bottle-nosed dolphins. Prime season for Blue Whales is the second week in March and the magic lasts for 30 days where there is a massive congregation of these gentle giants due to krill feeding season.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Alternative Cultural Triangle

The best way to see the sites of The Cultural Triangle is by bicycle and foot. First explore Sigiriya Rock Fortress as it is one of the UNESCO sites of Sri Lanka. Climb up this rock column, which is surrounded by verdant royal gardens. Arrive at the rock entrance close to dawn to avoid the crowds and be amongst the first few visitors at the site. Sigiriya consists of 1,200 steps at last count. Ritigala is an ancient Buddhist monastery and the highest mountain in northern Sri Lanka. This site is often overlooked.

A great climb for those interested in ascending mountains is the Pidurangala Rock, offering a great addition to the Sigiriya climb, and offering a totally new perspective on Sigiriya from a few kilometres away.

 

 

Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy

Stop off at the second largest city in Sri Lanka, home to the largest botanical gardens in the world after Kew. Kandy is famed for the Temple of the Tooth, believed to house a tooth of Lord Buddha himself. Aside from the mass of yellow-robed priests, Kandy is bustling with colourful markets and local life. A little outside the city and you are welcomed by the verdant green of paddy fields and small villages begging to be explored on foot.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Maalu Maalu £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Beach and Island Escapes

Maalu Maalu is located on a beautiful stretch of coast in the north east of Sri Lanka. The resort is dominated by a huge infinity pool which looks straight out to sea and the sea shanty beach huts that surround it are perfectly designed with rustic and colourful interiors. It is easy to get drawn into the laid-back vibe but if you feel like being more active, there are opportunities to cycle, try out watersports and wander through the on site coral museum.

Uga Bay £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Beach and Island Escapes

Uga Bay is a luxurious hotel with beautiful views of the unspoiled beaches. A combination of lavish surroundings and a peaceful setting, the hotel provides a breathtakingly serene ambience to its guests.

Jungle Beach Resort £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Beach and Island Escapes

Jungle Beach has the feeling of a luxury tree house. With 48 villas facing the beach, lagoon or jungle, thatched with Illuk grass and set around pathways through gardens, there is an air of seclusion. Most villas have private decks and tropical style outdoor rain showers and the beach cabins have their own walkway to the seashore.

View Property

Noel Rodrigo Leopard Safaris Wilpattu £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Tented Camps

Noel Rodrigo’s Leopard Safaris in Wilpattu is found on the edge of the forest, perfect for wildlife spotting, looked down upon by pink sunsets and the reflection of stars in the nearby lake. After years of being off-limits during the civil war, Wilpattu, the largest national park in Sri Lanka is certainly off the beaten track and a must visit the park for the nature enthusiast.

View Property

Vil Uyana £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Wilderness

Surrounded by paddy fields and forest, Vil Uyana has 25 individual villas on stilts. Connected by wooden walkways and decked with wooden floors, each villa has a pitched rattan and bamboo ceiling and a sloping thatch roof made of coconut palms. In-villa dining is available here, while a small spa offers a range of treatments.

View Property

A note on price

Prices will vary depending on the time of year you are travelling. Prices do not include international flights. Please ask one of our Travel Experts for an accurate quote. Flights purchased through Steppes Travel departing from the UK are ATOL protected.

This Itinerary
Price
From £4,000 Per person

When to travel

Sri Lanka in January

Sri Lanka benefits from generally good weather all year round and experiences a tropical climate with the best and most popular to visit being during our winter months, from January to April.

Sri Lanka in February

Visit the Southern and Western coast of Sri Lanka to experience the hot and humid climate in coastal areas or visit the mountainous regions for cooler temperatures with less humidity.

Sri Lanka in March

In Northern and Central Sri Lanka, temperatures will start to rise, and these regions will become more humid with March being generally a dry month for Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka in April

Overall, April is a very good time to visit Sri Lanka, with most of the island experiencing high temperatures and lots of sunshine, all before the first monsoon rains of the year begin in the South.

Sri Lanka in May

From May to August, the country experiences the first of its two annual monsoon seasons in Southwest Sri Lanka. Therefore, during these months it is best to visit Northeast Sri Lanka including Batticaloa and Passekudah.

Sri Lanka in June

Rainfall with continue in the South during the monsoon season whereas in Northern Sri Lanka, June is one of the best times to visit this area with a warm climate and high temperatures throughout.

Sri Lanka in July

In Northern Sri Lanka, the months of June and July are particularly good times to travel to the area, with minimal rainfall, particularly high temperatures and long days of sunshine.

Sri Lanka in August

Throughout the country, you can expect excellent climate conditions. August is ideal month for those wanting to experience both the Northeast and Southwest regions of the island, typically quite unusual due to Sri Lanka’s monsoon seasons.

Sri Lanka in September

September will start to see the end of the monsoon season in the Southwest and whilst rainfall and thunderstorms are less frequent, are still likely across the region.

Sri Lanka in October

Prior to the monsoon season, rainfall is likely throughout the country and can sometimes be unpredictable, meaning disruptions in travel are likely.

Sri Lanka in November

From November to February, Northeast Sri Lanka will experience one of two annual monsoon seasons. Whilst most days will experience rainfall, it is a great time to travel to experience the lush, green countryside.

Sri Lanka in December

Due to the monsoon in the Northeast, it is best to visit the southwest coast of Sri Lanka prior to the second monsoon reaching this area in May. Experience high levels of sunshine, perfect for Sri Lanka’s beaches.

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.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary?


Why Steppes

Get in touch

  • This page is attached to this enquiry

  • By sending your enquiry you are stating that you agree to our T&C

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.