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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 jeep safaris through Minneriya and Wilpattu national parks, take boat trips snorkelling or whale watching in the Indian Ocean, stay overnight in a big game camp 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. Below is our itinerary for the May to October period so if your travel plans are between November and April please ask for our seasonal alternative.

This is a private Sri Lanka 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 port and beach town 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 on to Galle

Optional early morning tour of Negombo’s lively fish market before a short tour of some of the sites of nearby Colombo including the National Museum and some of the city’s fine colonial period buildings. After a local-style lunch in the capital, we’ll continue south to the famous walled city of Galle for a late afternoon walking tour of the ramparts of the old Dutch fortress built on a rock jutting into the Indian Ocean.

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

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Day 3 - The elephant orphanage and overnight in Ella

Some free time in the morning to explore the UNESCO World Heritage town and check-out the narrow lanes of the old Moorish Quarter. Late morning departure for Udawalawe for a visit to the famous Transit Home (elephant rehabilitation centre) before continuing into the hill country and the mountain town of Ella. Time permitting, we can visit the mountain railway’s famous ‘Nine Arch Bridge’ and/or take a sunset hike to Little Adam’s Peak.

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

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Day 4 - Hike to World's End and overnight in a jungle lodge

An early start for a hike across the Horton Plains National Park to the famous, and aptly named, World’s End where the plains abruptly drop over 1,000 metres to lush forests below. Opportunities to discover the region’s fantastic flora and fauna and take in the beautiful Baker’s Falls with a short afternoon drive to Kithulgala and a stay at a riverside jungle lodge

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

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Day 5 - Kithulgala - jungle hike and river rafting

Morning jungle hike to explore Kithulgala’s lush Kelanivally rainforest area as well as a visit to a local village with an afternoon rafting trip down the picturesque Kelani River, (the actual filming location for the old Bridge on the River Kwai movie).

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

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Day 6 - Mountain train ride to Kandy

Back into the hill country with a morning visit to one of the area’s celebrated tea plantations before a departure by local train for a picturesque ride through the hills to Kandy, the country’s second city and capital of the hill country. Afternoon arrival in Kandy where 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, Train,  Meals: B, 

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Day 7 - Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth

In the morning, experience the Buddhist puja (blessing ceremony) at the famous and highly prestigious Temple of the Tooth, which houses Sri Lanka’s most revered religious relic – one of Buddha’s teeth. After a local-style lunch in town, we’ll head out to the beautiful Peradeniya Botanic Gardens.

Overnight: Kandy Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 8 - Dambulla Cave Temples and Minneriya National Park

Time to head north to discover the UNESCO World Heritage site of Dambulla – whose cave temples date to the 1st century BC. In the afternoon we’ll take a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park where we can see elephants, langurs and a spectacular array of Sri Lankan birdlife. During the July to October period, we may be lucky enough to see the ‘Gathering’, where herds of hundreds of elephants congregate around Minneriya Lake.

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

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Day 9 - World Heritage Sigirya and Polonnaruwa

Early morning ascent of the dramatic rock fortress of Sigiriya. This ancient site is built atop a sheer-sided rock outcrop, and we’ll take in the amazing Maidens of the Clouds on our way up the summit for some equally amazing views of the surrounding countryside. Another World Heritage Site is on the afternoon’s menu with a cycling (or tuk-tuk) tour of the historic temples and exquisitely carved statues of the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa.

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

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Day 10 - North to Trincomalee

Today we’ll travel north to the coastal town and ancient port of Trincomalee. Our tour will include China Bay, the old Dutch Fort Frederik, and the town’s lively bazaar, before continuing a short distance up the coast to the beach-side town of Nilaveli for accommodation in a small resort looking onto the Indian Ocean.

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

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Day 11 - Nilaveli - relax on the beach, snorkel or go whale watching?

A day at leisure in this charming spot. Laze on the magnificent beach or explore the local area.  More adventurous options include whale watching, (sperm and blue whales are regularly sighted off the coast), a snorkelling trip on the colourful reef around Pigeon Island, or even scuba diving.

Overnight: Nilaveli Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 12 - Back into the interior and Wilpattu National Park

Late morning departure to Wilpattu National Park – Sri Lanka’s largest, yet one of its least visited national parks or a late afternoon jeep safari and overnight stay in a comfortable tented camp.

Overnight: Wilpattu Big Game Camp Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 13 - Early morning safari and return to Negombo

An optional early morning safari in the park is also on offer before breakfast at the camp and a leisurely return drive south to Negombo Town. Free time in the afternoon before our 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: Minibus,  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
  • Nilaveli beach stay including whale watching and snorkelling trip options
  • The spectacular Botanical Gardens and prestigious Temple of the Tooth in Kandy
  • Jeep safari and overnight camp in Wilpattu 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 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

Sayura Beach Resort Galle view

  • Comfortable, friendly and low-key beach resort
  • A short drive from UNESCO-listed ancient Galle Town
  • Well-equipped with in-house restaurant, pool, beach bar

Oak Ray Ella Gap view

  • Convenient, central location in popular Ella Town
  • Well-appointed with pool, bar, restaurant and WiFi
  • Set amid the spectacular mountain scenery of the Ella Gap

Plantation Hotel Kithulgara view

  • Overlooking the scenic Kelani River, bordered by lush forest
  • Set in a former coffee plantation bungalow
  • Refurbished colonial period decor

Hotel Suisse Kandy view

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

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

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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