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Sri Lanka, Family Tour

Culture, history, flora and fauna, varied landscapes and activities plus of course, wonderful curries and super-friendly people make Sri Lanka the perfect family holiday destination

A superb 2-week family special to Sri Lanka

A 2-week Sri Lanka Family Tour. Explore the World Heritage ancient city of Polonnaruwa by bicycle, scale the dramatic rock fortress of Sigiriya, raft down the jungle-lined Kelani River, hike across Horton Plains National Park to the spectacular ‘World’s End’, go on a jeep safari through Udawalawe National Park, take boat trips snorkelling or whale watching in the Indian Ocean, embark on an ‘urban adventure’ with a tour of Colombo’s night bazaar and of course sample the delicious Sri Lankan curries in local cafes, with plenty of opportunities to meet the super-friendly island inhabitants.

This wide range of activities and stunning landscapes – no less than 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – plus the Island’s rich culture and history, ought to keep families of any age, shape and size happy, enthralled and fascinated.

By switching the beach activities from the south coast to the lesser-known northeast and the Trincomalee, Nilaveli area during the western monsoon means the tour and all its activities are eminently suitable for any time of the year.

This is a private family tour with no fixed departure dates and can therefore be arranged for whichever period suits your family’s time-frame.  The ‘starting from’ price is based on a minimum of 4 persons sharing two double/twin rooms while flights are extra and vary according to the season. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further details or to discuss any queries, tweaks or requests you may have.

Note also that for those with time to spare we offer 2 choices of extensions to the nearby Maldives; an off-the-beaten-track ‘Hidden Maldives‘ option, which is an escorted tour staying in a local fishing village inn, or a stay at the excellent Barefoot Eco-resort. (The Maldives capital Malé is 1-hour flight from Colombo as well as having direct flights to Dubai and the UK).

Sri Lanka

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

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Day 1 - Negombo - arrival in Sri Lanka

Arrival in Colombo and transfer to the nearby beach resort of Negombo for some relaxation time after your flight before a local-style welcome dinner introduces you to the Island’s justifiably famous cuisine.

Overnight: Negombo Transport: Taxi, Walk,  Meals: D, 

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Day 2 - Columbo - city tour and Pettah Bazaar

Optional early morning visit to the lively fish market before a tour of some of the sites of Sri Lanka’s bustling capital Colombo. Visits include the well-laid out National Museum, a look at some of the city’s colonial architecture and a walk through the hectic but fascinating Pettah Bazaar street market.

Overnight: Negombo Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 3 - Dambulla - UNESCO World Heritage cave temples

Heading northeast into the interior our first stop will be the spectacular, World Heritage cave temples of Dambulla. From here we’ll continue through this forested region to Giritale for our accommodation in a superbly situated lake-side resort.

Overnight: Giritale Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 4 - The 'Cultural Triangle' - Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa

Visit the nearby, spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya with an early morning walk to the summit to check out the mountain’s famous ‘Maidens of the Clouds’ as well as its stupendous views. Afternoon cycling tour of the ruined ancient city and medieval capital of Polonnaruwa including a guided visit to the fascinating primate research centre.

Overnight: Giritale Transport: Minibus, Bike, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 5 - Kandy - overand via the spice gardens of Matale

Drive south to Kandy – another UNESCO-listed site – with a stop on the way at a spice orchard before checking in to our lakeside hotel. In the afternoon we’ll have a chance to witness the Buddhist puja or blessing ceremony at the famous Temple of the Tooth.

Overnight: Kandy Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 6 - Kandy - the ancient capital

Morning tour of the town’s celebrated Peradeniya Botanic Gardens while in the afternoon you’ll have the chance to actually learn some local-style, traditional dance and drumming with one of Kandy’s celebrated dance troops!

Overnight: Kandy Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 7 - Kithulgala - rafting and nature hike in Kelanivally

Departure for a scenic train ride through the highlands and plantations to the lush jungle of Kithulgala for an afternoon rafting trip down the picturesque river and a nature hike at Kelanivally rainforest. Overnight in a riverside lodge.

Overnight: Kithulgala Transport: Train, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 8 - Nuwara Eliya - hill country and plantations

Morning drive to the old British hill town and tea centre of Nuwara Eliya with a chance in the afternoon to visit one of the region’s plantations, learn about the tea producing process, (and of course sample the local brews) as well as discovering the Hill Country’s wonderful scenery.

Overnight: Nuwara Eliya Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 9 - Udawalawe - jeep safari in the National Park

Off by train again to the scenic mountain town of Ella from where we’ll continue by road to the superb Udawalawe National Park particularly famous for its elephant and leopard populations. An afternoon jeep safari will be followed by an overnight stay in a tented national park camp.

Overnight: Udawalawe, safari camp or resort Transport: Minibus, Train, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 10 - Tangalle - along the picturesque south coast

An early morning jeep safari in Udawalawe before heading down to the coast and the small town of Tangalle for 2 night’s accommodation in a charming, low-key beach resort. Afternoon at leisure to explore the area or sample the waters of the Indian Ocean.

Overnight: Tangalle Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 11 - Tangalle - at leisure or visit some wetlands

At leisure to relax at your resort or explore the area with options for the more active including a fascinating wildlife watching boat tour through nearby Kalametiya Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary.

Overnight: Tangalle Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 12 - Galle - ancient town and World Heritage Site

Short drive along the coast to another UNESCO site – the well-preserved ancient town of Galle – where we’ll explore the fortifications and narrow lanes of the old Dutch walled town and its Moorish Quarter, spectacularly situated on a rock jutting into the ocean.

Overnight: Galle Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 13 - Galle - morning at leisure or whale watching trip

An optional whale watching trip can be organised in nearby Mirissa (weather permitting) or a morning relaxing before an afternoon drive back up the coast to our final destination – beachside Negombo and a farewell dinner.

Overnight: Negombo Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 14 - Negombo - morning at leisure and end of tour

Morning at leisure in Negombo and end of tour.

Extra accommodation after your tour is available if required

Overnight: Departure Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Sri Lanka, holy man in Trincomalee

Just a few of the many highlights

Cycling tours of ancient cities; Colombo by night, local train through the Hill Country, jeep safaris, nature hikes in national parks, rafting on a jungle-lined river, spice gardens, botanical gardens, Galle, Kandy and much more

  • Our Sri Lanka tour includes no less than 6 UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites
  • Cycling tour of the ancient ruined capital of Polonnaruwa
  • Beach stay including whale watching and snorkelling trip options
  • The spectacular Botanical Gardens and prestigious Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Jeep safari through Udawalawe National Park
  • Sample the fantastic local cuisine and meet the super-friendly residents

Air Departures (UK)

Land Departures

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

Camelot Beach Hotel, Negombo, Sri Lanka view

  • Odd name but top spot to relax in before or after your tour
  • Comfortable rooms, great service and Indian Ocean views
  • Walking distance of market, fishing port and plenty of cafes

The Other Corner, Habarana view

  • Delightful, eco-style nature resort in a forest setting
  • Individual wooden, stilt chalets with private balconies
  • Well-appointed with pool, air-con, restaurant and bar

Lagoon Paradise Beach Resort, Tangalle view

  • Located on a quiet stretch of pristine, sandy beach
  • Mangrove lagoons to explore or a $1.50 tuk-tuk ride to town
  • Excellent in-house restaurant and sunset beach bar

Big Game Camp, Udawalawe view

  • Situated on the edge of spectacular Udawalawe National Park
  • VIP tents complete with bedroom and ensuite bathroom
  • Subject to availabilty

Hotel Suisse, Kandy view

  • A restored, former British governor’s residence
  • Wonderful, central, lake-side location in Kandy
  • Pool, garden, spa, bar and restaurant

Plantation Hotel, Kithulgara view

  • Overlooking the scenic Kelani River, bordered by lush forest
  • Set in a former coffee plantation
  • Colonial style decor

Pigeon Island Resort, Nilaveli view

  • A cosy and comfortable, low-key beachside resort in Nilaveli
  • Situated just north of the old port of Trincomalee
  • Options include snorkelling, fishing and whale watching

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Visas: available on arrival at Colombo International Airport for $40, but to cut down on queuing we recommend that you obtain an electronic travel authorisation (ETA) in advance for $35. 3 days is officially required but processing is usually the same (working) day.

Tipping: we recommend a kitty system for smaller, daily tips such as hotel/restaurant staff and local drivers but which could also include minor expenses such as group tea/coffee breaks etc. Amounts inevitably vary with group size but would generally be in the region of £20-30 or $30-$40 total per person for the 2-week tour. For your driver and guide/tour-leader tips – both of whom will accompany you for the duration of your 2-week tour – we’d recommend approximately $20 per person total for the former and $15 for the latter though of course, this is always discretionary and performance related. (Local currency or USD are fine.)

Meals: breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Typical traditional meals involve fish or chicken curry with a selection of accompanying vegetable dishes and salads, Dishes are usually only mildly spicy and both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour-leader at the start of the tour.  A number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.

Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned. (Our 1-night camping is en-suite but fan only.) We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination.

Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.

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Extensions

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