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Sri Lanka – Jaffna and the Northern Province

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

14 Days

Prices Start from

£4,600pp (ex. flights)

This Sri Lankan holiday idea is ideal for those wanting to explore the more recently accessible Northern region of Sri Lanka and travel off the beaten track. A visit to Jaffna makes this an eclectic and varied trip, the beaches of the east coast offer respite, with the national parks and cultural highlights an easy drive away. The region, closer to India than to Colombo, is in complete contrast to the rest of Sri Lanka.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Steps at Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka 1

Cultural Triangle

Known as the Land of Kings, the northern plains are home to ancient capitals, rock fortresses and revered cave temples.

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

Jaffna

Explore this richly diverse town – a captivating mix of Tamil culture and colonial charm.

Maalu Maalu beach walkway, Passekudah, Sri Lanka 3

North East Beaches

Relax on long stretches of white sand over looking the Bay of Bengal

Leopard, Sri Lanka 4

Wilpattu

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.

Explore our suggested itinerary

Sri Lanka on your wishlist? Talk to our experts about tailoring this trip for you.

  • Day 1

    Colombo - Horathapola (Horathapola Estate)

  • Day 2

    Horathapola - Wilpattu National Park (Leopard Trails)

  • Day 3

    Wilpattu National Park

  • Day 4

    Wilpattu National Park - Anuradhapura - Jaffna (Jetwing Jaffna)

  • Day 5

    Jaffna

  • Day 6

    Jaffna - Passekudah (Uga Bay)

  • Day 7 - 8

    Passekudah

  • Day 9

    Trincomalee - Sigiriya (Vil Uyana)

  • Day 10

    Sigiriya

  • Day 11

    Sigiriya - Hanthana, Kandy (The Kandy House)

  • Day 12

    Kandy

  • Day 13

    Kandy - Colombo

Day 1

Colombo - Horathapola (Horathapola Estate)

Driven to the peaceful Horathapola Estate, just one hour from Colombo.

Day 2

Horathapola - Wilpattu National Park (Leopard Trails)

Driven the three hours to Wilpattu National Park – home to birds, sloth and, if lucky, leopard.

Day 3

Wilpattu National Park

Spend the day in Wilpattu accompanied by expert guides.

Day 4

Wilpattu National Park - Anuradhapura - Jaffna (Jetwing Jaffna)

Drive via the ancient city of Anuradhapura to Jaffna, Sri Lanka’s northern capital.

Day 5

Jaffna

Spend the day exploring Jaffna, home to colourful Hindu kovils with colourful statues and colonial period churches.

Day 6

Jaffna - Passekudah (Uga Bay)

Driven to the eastern coast of Passekudah for some time on the beach.

Day 7 - 8

Passekudah

Relax on the beach or join a fisherman bringing in the catch on Passekudah Bay.

Day 9

Trincomalee - Sigiriya (Vil Uyana)

Leaving the beach behind you’ll be driven to the Cultural Triangle and Vil Uyana, near Sigirya, stopping to climb up the impressive giant rock fortress of Sigiriya.

Day 10

Sigiriya

Based in Sigiriya explore the former Sri Lankan capital of Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park, known for the elephant migration during the summer.

Day 11

Sigiriya - Hanthana, Kandy (The Kandy House)

Driven to Kandy and the Kandy House with its lush gardens and stylish architecture.

Day 12

Kandy

Spend the day exploring a tea estate or venture into Kandy to visit the Temple of the Tooth and a city bustling with colourful markets and local life.

Day 13

Kandy - Colombo

Bid farewell to the hill capital and head to Colombo for your onward travel arrangements.

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

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. 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 slightly less well-known due to being off limits during the civil war. It has the largest sloth bear population in the country, and leopard sightings are possible.

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 has returned to a sense of normality and offers a fascinating insight to the majority Hindu north. Scattered with ancient kovils with colourful statues; colonial churches and ruins of ancient Buddhist temples. Visit some of the key sites of Jaffna by bicycle – 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 local cuisine, known as Pittu.

Beach, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Trincomalee

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.

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 tea plantations and small villages, begging to be explored on foot.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

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.

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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.

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Leopard Trails Wilpattu Campsite £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Leopard Trails is an experienced mobile camping company that operates a campsite within the buffer zones of Wilpattu National Park. Leopard Trails prides itself on providing an adventurous camping holiday amidst the wilderness without having to give up modern-day comforts and personalised service. 

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Kandy House £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Boutique

The Kandy House is a smart and comfortable boutique hotel with only nine bedrooms, more akin to staying in a private home. Located just outside Kandy it offers a cool and stylish refuge from the bustling city. There are beautiful gardens set within a six-acre estate, brimming with flowers and hummingbirds, which flit around as you have breakfast. With a pretty swimming pool, wrap around verandas and delicious food it is one of the best original properties in Sri Lanka.

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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 £4,600 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 an 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 set us apart. So too our curiosity. 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 once again?


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