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Our recommendations in Sri Lanka

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Udawalawe National Park 4x4 Safari with Elephant Transit Home
Activities

Udawalawe National Park 4x4 Safari with Elephant Transit Home

If there's a single word that defines Sri Lanka, it's ‘wild'. This is a destination famous for its wildlife, particularly elephants. Udawalawe National Park, home to some 500 elephants, is considered the best park to spot them in the country. On this tour, you'll visit the park's Elephant Transit Home to see orphaned young elephants being fed and then tour the park in a 4x4 safari. Dilini, one of our expert local guides, says, ‘As well as being a top spot for elephant spotting, the park is great for bird enthusiasts, with over 180 avian species recorded. Keep your eyes peeled for various eagles, owls, herons, and waterfowl.'First up, we'll visit the Elephant Transit Home, where orphaned baby elephants are cared for after rescue from the wild. You'll arrive at feeding time so you can watch the little ones bottle-feed from a viewing platform just metres away. Once the elephants have been rehabilitated, they are released back into the wild, often straight into Udawalawe where they can rejoin the existing wild herds.Udawalawe National Park is centred on a huge reservoir and features vast open grasslands, making wildlife spotting relatively easy as you set off by 4x4 vehicle on safari. It's a great place for spotting elephants, and the lack of tall vegetation makes it perfect for other animal-watching, too. In addition to elephants, you can expect to see water buffaloes, various deer, wild boars, macaques and crocodiles. And, if you're lucky, there's also the elusive Sri Lankan leopard to look out for. To top it off, lunch is included.

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Yala National Park 4x4 Safari with a Local Guide
Activities

Yala National Park 4x4 Safari with a Local Guide

With the world's highest concentration of leopards, Yala National Park should be on any animal-lovers' holiday wishlist. Add more than 300 elephants and 42 other species of mammals and it becomes a must-visit. Nadeesh, one of our expert local guides, says, ‘They may not be as famous as the leopards, but Yala is home to more than 200 bird varieties including the Sri Lanka grey hornbill, painted stork, and black-capped bulbul. A safari here is so much more than looking for leopards – it is likely to be a highlight of your holiday.'It's a fairly long journey so there's a break en route and a stop for lunch in Tissamaharama. On arrival at Yala, you'll set out on a safari in search of Sri Lanka's ‘big four' – leopards, elephants, sloth bears and buffalo. Touring in a 4x4, enjoy pit stops to observe storks and crocodiles in the wetlands or monkeys in the treetops. The park encompasses a variety of ecosystems, including grasslands, shrublands, forests, and coastal lagoons. This diversity supports the impressive array of flora and fauna.Hopefully, with a bit of luck, you might catch a glimpse of the rare Sri Lankan leopard. There are about 100 of them known to live within Yala National Park, but despite boasting one of the highest concentrations of these magnificent felines on the planet, spotting them is by no means guaranteed. They are solitary animals - notoriously shy and elusive, but with such a wealth of wildlife in Yala you are sure to see some memorable creatures nevertheless.

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Sri Lankan Farm and Spice Traditions Tour with Tuk Tuk ride
Excursions & day trips

Sri Lankan Farm and Spice Traditions Tour with Tuk Tuk ride

The Agro Park Millaniya is a great spot to enjoy the true hospitality of rural Sri Lanka while absorbing the sights and sounds of a typical village. As well as exploring this award-winning integrated farm, you'll also visit a Buddhist temple and go on a countryside tuk-tuk ride. As our expert local guide, Kasun says, ‘It's fun and interesting to learn so much about Sri Lanka's traditional agriculture and gastronomy in one location. I am always proud to watch guests discover and taste different local products. The little savoury snacks are a personal favourite.'On your way to the village, take time out to gather your thoughts in a historic Buddhist temple while admiring its artworks, rock carvings and other religious artefacts. Next, hop into a tuk-tuk for a rip-roaring ride through paddy fields and tropical countryside. Then, observe the local cinnamon-making process. You'll also visit Sri Lanka's largest banana gene bank, have a look around a pineapple plantation, and experience toddy tapping.There will be a chance to sample Kasun's favourite traditional snacks and you'll also get to see how coconut oil is produced. And it wouldn't be a proper Sri Lankan countryside experience without some tea picking. To round it all off, feast on a traditional curry and rice lunch, made extra special because many of the ingredients are grown on the farm itself. This tour is a wonderful opportunity to experience local traditions and immerse yourself in the rural culture of Sri Lanka – a great day out.

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Colombo City Tour
Excursions & day trips

Colombo City Tour

Like four cities in one, Colombo is a grand mix of colonial architecture, verdant cricket greens and gleaming skyscrapers. Discovering all its contrasts, you'll visit the bustling shopping district of Pettah and the British monuments of the Fort area as well as Galle Face and the Cinnamon Gardens – all the must-sees of Sri Lanka's capital.

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Kandy Day Tour with Temple of the Tooth Relic
Excursions & day trips

Kandy Day Tour with Temple of the Tooth Relic

Cultural hotspot Kandy, the last capital of a pre-colonial Sri Lankan kingdom, is a must-visit. As well as touring the city, you'll also visit a spice garden, a tea plantation and botanical gardens. Aashvi, one of our expert local guides, says, ‘Kandy's most famous and magnificent temple houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, one of the most revered artifacts in Buddhism. The temple complex is a tranquil contrast to the city itself, which is a hive of activity with tree-lined streets crammed with hawkers, tuk-tuks, and vintage buses.'It's almost non-stop action on this cultural tour. As you weave through the central highlands, you'll stop at a fragrant spice garden in Mawanella and a tea plantation and factory – for a proper cuppa of Ceylon tea – in Giragama. The sight of undulating hills covered in row after row of tea plants is one of the most emblematic images of Sri Lanka. Aashvi adds, ‘Tea is the world's favourite drink if you discount water, with the highest consumption of any beverage. Good quality tea like that found in Sri Lanka contains a high level of polyphenol, which is a health-promoting antioxidant.'As part of your city tour of Kandy, you'll visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic temple – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's home to Buddha's tooth – and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, which are home to more than 4,000 species of plants. To make the day extra special, a traditional lunch is included.

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Negombo Dutch Canal Boat Cruise
Activities

Negombo Dutch Canal Boat Cruise

A traditional way to explore Sri Lanka. You'll visit a Hindu Temple and Dutch Fort in Negombo before trying your hand at haggling in the fish market, then you'll hop on a train and then embark on a cruise on the Dutch Canal, admiring nature, fishermen's homes and more.It's a spiritual start to the day at the Hindu Temple. Learn all about its history and see how different cultures combine in Sri Lanka. You'll also visit the historic Dutch Fort and fish market, then take a train ride to the canal start point – the original way to travel in Sri Lanka.Hop aboard a colourful barge and take off on a journey along the Dutch Canal, whose history goes back to the 19th century. You'll get to know everything about its use through history and admire fishing villages, rainbow-coloured flowerbeds and painted boats that pass you by. Take a break for tea and spot all the birds feeding in the wetlands, soaking up the lush green scenery as you go.

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River Madu Nature Safari
Excursions & day trips

River Madu Nature Safari

In a country as bursting with wildlife as Sri Lanka, it would take something special to stand out from the crowd – but the Madu River estuary does just that. You'll pass dozens of islets and also visit a turtle hatchery.

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Sigiriya Lion Rock and Dambulla Cave Temple Guided Tour
Attractions & guided tours

Sigiriya Lion Rock and Dambulla Cave Temple Guided Tour

Admiring any UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treat. But seeing two in one day is positively spoiling yourself. This history-rich tour takes in two of Sri Lanka's standout sites – the Lion Rock of Sigiriya and the Dambulla Cave Temple. Tharindu, one of our expert local guides, says, ‘Sigiriya is a fascinating time capsule of a place. It was once home to King Kasyapa who built a royal citadel and palace complex on top of the rocky outcrop.'First up is the Lion Rock of Sigiriya – Asia's answer to Machu Picchu. Rising 200 metres above the jungle, it boasts ancient frescoes, terraced gardens and stunning views. Climb the stairs cut directly into the rock and pass through the impressive lion-shaped gateway to explore the ruins of a 5th century royal palace. Tharindu adds, 'The panoramic views from this 200-metre-high rock fortress are nothing short of spectacular, and make the walk up worthwhile.'After lunch, we'll continue to the sacred Dambulla Cave Temple. Created inside five caverns, this Buddhist cave temple is a significant pilgrimage site for Buddhists and a major cultural landmark in Sri Lanka. Adorned with ancient murals depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha, Jataka tales, and various deities, you'll get a close-up look at the artistic traditions of ancient Sri Lanka. As well as frescoes, the caves contain more than 100 statues of Buddha including a vast 14-metre-long reclining Buddha – there is an abundance of beauty here and it makes a serene end to your trip.

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Mirissa Whale Watching Tour
Excursions & day trips

Mirissa Whale Watching Tour

The seas off Mirissa are absolutely brimming with whales and dolphins – and this cruise offers you the chance to see them basking in the Indian Ocean. As well as dolphins, blue, killer and sperm whales can be spotted off southern Sri Lanka. You'll also see stilt fishermen and have free time on Unawatuna beach.

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Yala Safari & Galle Two-Day Tour
Activities

Yala Safari & Galle Two-Day Tour

This two-day tour ticks off everything you've come to expect from Sri Lanka – from animal sanctuaries to ancient temples. Explore the walled city of Galle, visit a turtle hatchery and discover Yala National Park and Udawale elephant transit home. Half-board accommodation is included.

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Madu Ganga Boat Safari and Galle City Tour with Lunch
Excursions & day trips

Madu Ganga Boat Safari and Galle City Tour with Lunch

Galle, the jewel of Sri Lanka, is an intoxicating blend of cultures and architectural styles. As our guide Dinesh puts it, ‘In common with its eclectic building styles, Galle Fort is home to many nationalities and faiths. Still today there's a melting pot of cultures within the ramparts, reflecting its historic role as a place of trade and transit.' As well as exploring old Galle, you will spot wildlife on a River Madu boat ride and visit a mask museum.Our journey begins at Balapitiya with a boat ride on the River Madu to see the biodiversity of the surrounding wetlands, which are home to almost 20 species of birds and a wide variety of reptiles and amphibians, too. With luck, you should be able to spot a range of species during a river safari that'll also take you through mangrove forests. The Madu is dotted with 64 islets, and island hopping is part of the tour. Next up it's the Ambalangoda Mask Museum, a testament to Sri Lanka's rich cultural heritage. ‘The museum showcases traditional masks used in rituals and dramas – each one tells a story,' says Dinesh.After the museum visit we'll head to historic Galle. It will enchant you with its layered heritage, quaint streets and hives of artistic activity. Check out the old Dutch church and the beautiful white mosque at the ramparts by the sea. Oh, and the beaches aren't bad, either. Lunch will be in Galle, and you'll be able to visit a moonstone mine in Meetiyagoda if you'd like, before a final stop at a turtle hatchery.

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Kandy Day Tour by Train
Excursions & day trips

Kandy Day Tour by Train

A train ride through the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka is one of the most scintillating ways to discover the country. You'll trundle through the verdant hills to discover the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, as well as a few other green delights on this full day tour.A scenic train ride through the Central Highlands sets the tone for a great day of exploration. Watch the rolling hills, tea plantations and lush wilderness pass as you make tracks towards Kandy. Once you're there, it's off to the Temple of the Tooth Relic – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's Sri Lanka's most sacred temple, and the complex also includes a royal palace.And you can also look forward to visits to a botanical garden, a tea plantation and factory in Giragama, and a spice garden in Mawanella. What's more, lunch is included.

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