Discover the tremendous diversity of the ‘tear-drop isle’ on this varied tour of Sri Lanka, viewing the architecture of its colonial past, the animals of its national park, the ancient remains of citadels and temples, and the amazingly varied landscapes in between
Flight - 1 night
Colombo - 1 night
Galle - 1 night
Yala NP - 1 night
Nuwara Eliya - 1 night
Kandy - 2 nights
Dambulla - 3 nights
Chilaw - 1 night
Explore every aspect of this multi-faceted island, its topography ranging from jungle greenery to tiered tea plantations, palm dotted shores, and lush riverbanks; its history on show in Buddhist, Hindu and Christian temples and churches, Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial monuments, and haunting ruins of once opulent palaces; its wildlife, including leopards and elephants, Hawksbill turtles and Spinner dolphins, and 34 bird species seen only in Sri Lanka.
The tour begins in Colombo, an old trade route port, its modern persona mixing malls and towers with old-world buildings and an oceanfront promenade. Galle was Ceylon’s major harbour right up to the 19th century. Still crammed with colonial buildings, it is now UNESCO-protected. Yala National Park has habitats for 44 mammal species and 200 bird types from spoonbills to sea eagles. Over 6,000ft up in misted mountains, Nuwara Eliya claims the country’s coolest climate and finest orange pekoe tea.
In Kandy, Sri Lanka’s last ‘old kingdom’, iconic monuments stud the lake shore. Rose-quartz mountains and flowering ironwood trees adorn Dambulla’s landscape, the site of an ancient cave temple; and vibrant Chilaw is the place to unwind, on the Indian Ocean sands.
Culture, Countryside & Wildlife
Jules Verne Sightseeing
6 UNESCO Heritage Sites
Rail Journey Included
Local Expert Guide
No Single Supplement
Day 1 Fly overnight from London Heathrow to Colombo.
Day 2 On arrival, transfer to the city centre, with its cosmopolitan tempo and an earth-and-water topography, for an overnight stay at the 4-star Mövenpick Colombo Hotel. (D)
Day 3 A panoramic city tour this morning highlights the capital’s colonial heritage, including the Fort business district, formerly the British administrative centre; and, in the Pettah neighbourhood, the 16th-century Portuguese Kayman’s Gate bell tower; and 18th-century ‘Wolvendaal’ Dutch church, the oldest Protestant church on the island. Leave Colombo this afternoon and visit a turtle hatchery enroute to Galle, a gorgeous 17th century step-back-in-time. Visit the Dutch Fort, first a small fortress foothold for the Portuguese, and later captured by the Dutch, who extended the ramparts to encircle the whole promontory. Overnight at the 4-star Le Grand Hotel. (B)
Day 4 Travel (4hrs) to Yala National Park for a jeep safari in its 130,000 hectares of scrub, grassland, forestry, dunes, and lagoons. This is leopard country, with a high concentration of these prowling predators, joined by elephants, jackals and lizards, crocodiles, sloth bears and spotted deer. Overnight at the 4-star Jetwing Yala Hotel, within the park. (B)
Day 5 Venture into Sri Lanka’s scenic heartlands, visiting the remote rock temple of Buduruwagala, a thousand years old and boasting a huge standing Buddha among its seven statues; and enjoy the rich biodiversity of scenic landscapes around the hillside town of Ella, as you travel to Nuwara Eliya. Built as a hill retreat for British civil servants, with its red phone boxes, Victorian post office, manicured golf course, and boating lake, its ‘Little England’ epithet comes as no surprise. Overnight at the 4-star Grand Hotel. (B, L)
Day 6 Travel by train from nearby Nanu Oya to Peradeniya, close to Kandy (subject to local conditions and schedule amendments). Surrounded by rain forest and tea-terraced mountains, and centred on the parks, palaces, and street markets around the ornamental lake, Kandy’s unmissable monument is the island’s most sacred Buddhist relic, the splendid Temple of the Tooth, open from dawn to dusk and brilliantly lit at night. Enjoy a visit to the temple and an evening cultural show. Stay for two nights at the 4-star Golden Crown Hotel. (B)
Day 7 After a morning at leisure for independent exploration, visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, a 60-hectare enclave set on a curve of the Mahaweli River, where lawns, pavilions and avenues frame bursts of colour in 4,000 species of flora, from palm trees to spices, medicinal plants, and the fabulous orchid collection for which the gardens are renowned. (B)
Day 8 Learn about the production of tea as you follow the tea leaves from plantation to factory; head north for the Habarana area, where dusty rural roads lead to some of Sri Lanka’s most amazing ancient monuments. Stop for a special event at a spice garden, with a lesson and lunch using local spices; visit the astonishing Dambulla Cave Temple, a pilgrimage site for two thousand years, with countless murals and 157 Buddha statues; and continue to the 4-star Jetwing Lake Hotel for a three-night stay, in a peaceful setting near Dambulla. (B, L, D)
Day 9 Perhaps join an optional excursion this morning, to the iconic 5th-century Rock Fortress of Sigiriya (bookable locally, approx. $60). Described by locals as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, the citadel covers a massive, flat-topped rock, 200m above the surrounding landscape, with remnants of a ruined palace, ponds, canals, and alleyways. An afternoon tour takes you to the monumental ruins of ancient Polonnaruwa, the second of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, a 12th-century garden city, sprinkled with shrines, temples, and stone statuary, and centred on the remains of a huge palace. (B)
Day 10 Visit the ‘sacred city’ of Anuradhapura, flourishing for 1,300 years, abandoned in 993AD, and hidden in dense jungle greenery until it was rediscovered in the 19th century. Now a Buddhist place of pilgrimage, it reveals a millennium of history in stupas, monasteries, and temples. Afternoon at leisure. (B)
Day 11 Travel (4hrs) to Chilaw, a colourful, characterful town on Sri Lanka’s western shore, with Buddhist and Hindu temples, a Catholic cathedral, and countless coconut palms hemming the sands. Afternoon at leisure and overnight stay at the 4-star Anantaya Resort & Spa Hotel, set between the beach and the lagoon. (B)
Day 12 Transfer to Colombo airport for the return flight to London Heathrow, arriving later the same day. (B)
†Optional excursion on Day 9 involves many steps and steep inclines.
A 4-star hotel located near to the National Museum with restaurants, rooftop bar, pool, jacuzzi, WiFi (free). 219 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
Overlooking Galle Fort and the Indian Ocean sits this attractive 4-star hotel with pool, restaurants, bar, spa and WiFi (free). 57 air-conditioned rooms.
A pleasant hotel situated at the edge of the famous Yala National Park, allowing easy access to and from the park. Restaurant, bar, pool, spa and WiFi (free). 90 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A former mansion from the Elizabethan era, with charming character, style and antique furnishings, this 4-star hotel has a restaurant, gym, WiFi (free) and 154 rooms with tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
A 4-star hotel with picturesque mountain views, restaurant, bar, pool, spa and WiFi (free). 90 air-conditioned rooms with safe, mini-fridge and satellite TV.
A 4-star hotel in the quiet surroundings of Dambulla. Restaurant, bar, pool, spa, gym. 94 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe and satellite TV.
A 4-star hotel located in the charming coastal town of Chilaw, positioned with a sandy beach on one side and charming lagoon on the other. Pool, bar, restaurants, spa, WiFi (free) and 87 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
Enjoy three nights at The Blue Lagoon Resort located in Kalpitiya town, surrounded by lush palm trees with the beach a few steps away. Sightseeing includes a Jeep safari in Wilpattu National Park, a visit to the Dutch Fort and boat safari on the Kalpitiya Lagoon.
Day 1 Transfer to The Blue Lagoon Resort for three nights. (B)
Day 2 Afternoon Jeep safari in Wilpattu National Park. (B)
Day 3 Afternoon visit to the Dutch Fort and enjoy boat safari on the Kalpitiya Lagoon (B)
Day 4 Transfer to Colombo airport for the return flight, arriving London Heathrow later the same day. (B)
Located in the town of Kalpitiya and surrounded by lush palm trees with the beach a few steps away. Pool, bar, restaurants and WiFi (free). 22 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer and satellite TV.
per person in a twin/double room
SriLankan Airlines from Heathrow
per person in a twin/double room
SriLankan Airlines from Heathrow
Supplements per person
NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
2024: Oct 16
Double for sole use £395 (2024 £425)
Anantaya Resort - Chilaw
Half board £25
Full board £40
SriLankan Airlines Business Class - On request
Extra nights – Colombo
(per night) £105
Single supplement £90
Arrival transfer £35
Extra nights - Chilaw
(per night) £90
Single supplement £70
Half board £25
Full board £40
Departure transfer £50
Extension - Kalpitiya
3 nights £395 (2024 £445; Oct £345)
Single supplement £165 (Oct £115)
Add £595 per person
Arrival transfer add £35
Departure transfer add £50
Air travel, UK departure taxes, transfers, 10 nights’ accommodation, breakfast daily, 2 lunches and 2 dinners, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, visa procurement (ETA), optional excursions, overseas airport taxes, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
Please complete this form and a member of our sales department will contact you as soon as possible to confirm your booking and take payment. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm