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Sri Lanka – The Classic Journey

  • TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAY IDEA

Duration

14 Days

Prices Start from

£5,175pp (ex. flights)

This classic Sri Lanka holiday shines a spotlight on varied landscapes, culture and wildlife, before ending with some time on the coast. You are joined by outstanding guides with local knowledge and insider tips, while staying in boutique properties. This suggestion is perfect for first-time visitors but can be tailored by one of our experts.

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka 1

The Cultural Triangle

Visit the ancient heartland of Sri Lanka dating back to the 5th century.

Train into the Hills, Sri Lanka 2

Tea Estates

Discover peaceful tea plantations and endless vistas.

Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka 3

Tracking leopards

Feel the thrill of tracking leopards in the wild with an expert naturalist.

Galle Fort Lighthouse, Galle, Sri Lanka 4

Galle Fort

Head south to Galle for some UNESCO Café Culture and time on the beach.

Why we like it

This classic holiday to Sri Lanka covers all the highlights of this beautiful island whilst incorporating some less visited spots. Accompanied by a knowledgeable driver/guide, discover tea plantations, holy temples, national parks and white sand beaches. Travel into the central highlands for sensational scenery, explore national parks, home to wild elephants, sloth bears, and leopard. The coastal UNESCO Galle Fort is a must-see.

Explore our suggested itinerary

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

  • Day 1

    Colombo (The Wallawwa)

  • Day 2

    Colombo - Sigiriya (Vil Uyana)

  • Day 3- 4

    Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa (Vil Uyana)

  • Day 5

    Anuradhapura - Gal Oya (Gal Oya Lodge)

  • Day 6

    Gal Oya

  • Day 7

    Gal Oya - Dickoya (Camellia Hills)

  • Day 8

    Dickoya (Camellia Hills)

  • Day 9

    Dickoya - Yala National Park (Kulu Safaris)

  • Day 10

    Yala National Park (Kulu Safaris)

  • Day 11

    Yala National Park - Galle (The Why House)

  • Day 12 - 13

    Galle (The Why House)

  • Day 14

    Colombo

Day 1

Colombo (The Wallawwa)

On arrival, you’re met and driven to the stylish Wallawwa Hotel, located just 30 minutes from the airport. If energy and time allow Colombo, with its colonial architecture, markets and restaurants, is worth exploring.

Day 2

Colombo - Sigiriya (Vil Uyana)

Travel north from Colombo to Vil Uyana where you’re based to explore the ancient historical sites of Sri Lanka. Stop en route to climb the rock fortress of Sigiriya.

Day 3- 4

Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa (Vil Uyana)

Spend two days exploring the Cultural Triangle, which stretches from the hill capital of Kandy, to the first Sinhalese capital of Anuradhapura and the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa.

Day 5

Anuradhapura - Gal Oya (Gal Oya Lodge)

Travel to Gal Oya Lodge, with a stop for a local curry lunch.

Day 6

Gal Oya

Based at Gal Oya Lodge, the morning is spent on Sri Lanka’s largest lake, which is home to migratory birds and wild elephants, who you might be lucky enough to see swimming between the lake islands. In the afternoon take a jeep safari to explore the 20-acre forest, still inhabited by the Vedda community – the indigenous people of central Sri Lanka. Relax by the pool and watch nature unfold.

Day 7

Gal Oya - Dickoya (Camellia Hills)

Travel from Gal Oya Lodge to higher ground and the lush tea estates, so iconic of Sri Lanka’s landscape.

Day 8

Dickoya (Camellia Hills)

Walk through local tea covered hills or hike the nearby Adams Peak. For a more relaxed afternoon enjoy a picnic beside a waterfall, before finishing the day with afternoon tea on the lawn and a candle lit dinner.

Day 9

Dickoya - Yala National Park (Kulu Safaris)

Today, you’re driven south, a journey of around four hours, to the national park of Yala – home to Sri Lanka’s leopard population. Your base is Kulu Safaris, a comfortable tented camp where guides and staff are on hand to make the most of this wonderful wildlife experience.

Day 10

Yala National Park (Kulu Safaris)

Today is spent within Yala National Park. Dawn jeep safaris are how the day begins, carefully and quietly seeking out leopard, hidden amongst the forest bush. Back at camp the guides take you to explore the lake by canoe, on a walking safari to spot smaller wildlife and preparing to end the day with another chance to view leopard. The evening is time to talk about your experiences while enjoying a sundowner before a fireside dinner.

Day 11

Yala National Park - Galle (The Why House)

Travel from Yala towards Galle on the south coast, arriving at The Why House – your base for three nights.

Day 12 - 13

Galle (The Why House)

Spend the next two days relaxing on the beach and by the pool. Time should be given to explore Galle, a wonderful place to wander the hidden backstreets, browse eclectic boutiques and enjoy drinks at sunset. Full of life and colour, Galle is an exuberant town, bursting with vibrancy.

Day 14

Colombo

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

Our travel experts can tailor this itinerary to suit you.

More details

Buddha, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Jetavaranama Dagoba, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Lion Carving, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's Cultural Heart

Often referred to as the Cultural Triangle, Sri Lanka’s former capitals of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are located around four hours north of Colombo. These cities showcase the intricate and well-preserved ruins of the palaces, which once proudly stood here.

Anuradhapura was founded in the 5th century BC and was the major centre for Theravada Buddhism, whilst Polonnaruwa is Sri Lanka’s second-oldest city. Wander the sites with a guide on hand to bring the history to life.

Tea Pickers, Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Tea Estates, Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Tea Pluckers, Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle, Sri Lanka

Tea Estates

Few locations in Sri Lanka can match the panoramic splendour of the island’s tea dotted hill country. These former hill stations were once home to the British seeking respite from the heat, with the landscape scattered with timber panelled bungalows and forgotten cricket grounds.

Explore the beautifully manicured tea estates that this country has become famous for. Walk the hills of Adam’s Peak and Horton Plains, picnic by waterfalls and sip tea picked on the doorstep.

Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Leopard in Yala National Park
Lepard Safaris, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Morning Game Drive, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Elephants, Yala, Sri Lanka
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

The Leopards of Yala

Home to the Sri Lankan leopard, Yala National Park is 1,000 square kilometres of untamed jungle. The park is sandwiched between monsoon forest and coastal sand dunes and houses a myriad of wildlife.

Leopards continue to be the main attraction. But with tree-climbing sloth bears, endangered primates such as purple-faced leaf monkeys and bear monkeys and sublime birdlife, Yala is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise.

 

Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort Lighthouse, Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle, Sri Lanka
Aditya, Galle, Sri Lanka
Aditya, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Historic Galle

It is impossible not to be caught up in the romance and history of Galle. This 17th-century fort town is home to an iconic cricket ground, ramparts made for strolling and a collection of shops and restaurants that are unbeaten in Sri Lanka.

Galle is also the gateway to the white sands of southern Sri Lanka. This varied coast offers beaches with a buzzing surf scene, as well as quieter spots where yoga and a good book provide entertainment. With rural villages and lotus-flecked lakes, the region around Galle is worth exploring by bike while based at a peaceful villa.

Accommodation

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

The Wallawwa £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Boutique

The Wallawwa is a small, boutique hotel 15-20 minutes drive from Colombo international, in the peaceful Sri Lankan countryside. A charming former old manor house, the Wallawwa is set in elegant gardens and built with columns, courtyards and verandas. The rooms look out on to a central courtyard with a pond, there is a super restaurant serving Asian food, a spa and a large swimming pool. The Wallawwa is a perfect start and/or end to a Sri Lankan itinerary.

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

Gal Oya Lodge £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Gal Oya Lodge offers environmentally responsible tourism from a nine roomed wildlife lodge, set on 20 acres of private forest. There is two bedroom villa perched at the highest point of Gal Oya Lodge, which has the most breathtaking views and works well for families. Gal Oya National Park is remote and less visited than other national parks in Sri Lanka, however, the journey here is well worth the effort. With the largest lake in Sri Lanka and wildlife viewed by unique boat safari, the lodge and untouched surroundings are unlike anywhere else in Sri Lanka.

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Camellia Hills £££££

  • Sri Lanka

Few locations in Sri Lanka can match the panoramic splendour of the Castlereagh Valley, in the island’s western hill country. This is the setting for five-bedroom Camellia Hills. Overlooking a mirror-still reservoir that spans five kilometres of a deep valley, this boutique hotel sits on a mountainside amidst and overlooking soft green tea bushes and pine forests. A contemporary interpretation of a tea planter’s bungalow, the hotel’s bedrooms, living and dining areas are located across a series of levels, and take advantage of the stunning hill country views.

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Kulu Safari Yala £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Tented Camps

Kulu Safaris offer comfortable accommodation with a minimal ecological footprint while experiencing a definitive wildlife experience.

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Why House £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Boutique

Why House offers a tranquil hideaway set amidst a rural rice paddy. The stunning beaches of the south coast and the UNESCO town of Galle are just a 15-minute drive away.

View Property

Start planning your trip


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Enquire

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

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

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.

Clare Higginson

It was my passion for languages that first encouraged me to leave the UK behind and grab my rucksack. Since then, it’s been a mixture of intriguing cultures, jaw-dropping landscapes and the wonder of seeing animals in their natural habitat that sees me continuously extending my travel wish list.

Talk with our experts
  • 01285 880 980

Charlotte Lawton

My strong sense of belonging in Asia stemmed from a childhood in Hong Kong and Nepal. My Grandmother was born in a tent in India. Some of my clearest memories are of walking through a dense, tropical jungle while hailstones the size of cricket balls rained down on us; of being carried on my father’s shoulders as we trekked through the Himalayas; my mother wearing flipflops on a snowy mountainside; and me falling into Dal Lake in Srinagar as we disembarked from our houseboat. 

Talk with our experts
  • 01285 880 980

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 £5,175 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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